Charming Carmel and its Valley

The quaint and ritzy Carmel-By-The-Sea was our next stop along the California coast. Loren had been before and wanted Kristen to see it in all its glory. We drove through a few random neighborhood streets to get a feel for the residential area, where every single street is lush with trees and gardens and unique, just-the-right-size homes. We walked only a few minutes along the white-sand beach at the end of Ocean Avenue, as the weather was a bit nippy, and then proceeded to grab lunch, via high Yelp ratings once again.

Our choice was a good one; we ended up sitting outside at a cute bistro called Basil. In order to sample a few different dishes, we split two appetizers and one big salad. The shrimp plate and lamb meatballs were the winners.

To take in a little more culture, we walked around and found ourselves at the Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting Company for coffee and (of course) blogging. It was the perfect place to just chill for a couple hours.

Our next stop: Carmel Valley, the inland companion town to the chillier Carmel, with rolling hills and warmer weather. We arrived and unpacked at Sarah and Taylor’s house, a large but cute ranch-style u-shaped home, which wraps around a magnificently old live oak tree. Unfortunately, these trees were getting hit with an infestation of gross little caterpillars (soon to be moths), which were hanging from a line of silk literally everywhere. As soon as we arrived we walked right into them, and afterwards kept finding them on our clothes.

The awesome live oak tree that dominates the yard

These guys were in full swing when we arrived

Wild turkeys in their yard

After a wonderful dinner at a nearby Greek restaurant with the happy couple, we went back to their house to wind down and then hit the hay. Lovable black cats seem to be a theme on this trip. At four of the homes we’ve crashed at, there has been a really cool black cat living there. One of the cats at Sarah and Taylor’s house, Cowboy, got into our bed and went to sleep with us. He even came back the next morning and helped wake up Loren, cute little guy.

Thanks, Taylor & Sarah

Sarah was at work teaching kindergartners, and Taylor was in the metal shop making art, so we set off to explore Monterey, an historic town known for its world-class aquarium and charming Cannery Row. But we were on a different mission; Kristen actually lived here for a year at age four when her Navy dad was in postgraduate school, and we wanted to find her old house. Her faded memory of the house at such a young age made it nearly impossible (“I think that’s it!” “No, wait maybe that one!”), but it was still fun to try.

Did Kristen live here?

Before heading further up the coast, we stopped in Sand City to see Taylor’s current sculpture projects, and Kristen lucked out with another Hawthorne family guided tour. We saw the super-cool loft apartment above the metal shop where Taylor used to live, and another gallery space filled with modern paintings, sculptures, and furniture.

From there, we shared a bowl of veggie soup, splurged on some delicious strawberry-rhubarb pie and savored a cappuccino at Sweet Elena’s, and moved on.