Man, Day 7. So Day 7 is THE day. THE CALIFORNIA day. Like, when people talk about driving the California coast, this is the kind of day they are talking about.
The morning of Day 7, some of us were up early (me, Nickie, Owen, Tony, Larissa, Mia, Laura, Will, and Jack) and some of us were not (Matt and Myles.) Those that were up early hopped in the car to take a quick trip on the 17-Mile Drive.
But making such a journey required sustenance. And really there is no better sustenance than donuts. I mean, they’re filling. They have the sugar to keep you going. And they’re round.
We all drove over to Red’s Donuts to stock up.
Those that follow my Instagram know I kind of have a special relationship with donuts. We even have a special hashtag (#GoodyDonutChallenge) to keep track of all the donuts we eat. It’s a beautiful hashtag.
We ordered a dozen to cover us all. On account of they looked delicious AND it was around ten bucks for a dozen. Which is unheard of in this era of donuts.
As you can see, we went heavy on the glazed, but there were some sprinkles in there, jelly, a couple chocolate frosted, some cinnamon. A whole plethora of donuts.
I went for the chocolate frosted.
Mia had the sprinkles, which was a solid choice.
As you could see from those pictures, these were relatively simple donuts. Traditional, but still very good. Plus, they were our first donuts of the trip. And you never forget your first.
Your first donut.
Of your trip. Or something. Whatever. I gotta write 17 of these posts. It can’t all be gold.
With our bellies full of frosting and sprinkles, we were ready to take on the 17-Mile Drive. The cost to do the drive was $10.50 per car. But not only does that get you the opportunity to drive on a street, they also give you a free piece of paper.
It was a beautiful morning and there weren’t many people on the road this early. We didn’t have a ton of time so we didn’t stop at every vista point. But we did stop at a few.
We got some glimpses of what looked to be some pretty incredible golf. I mean, of course.
Ha…of course. I didn’t even mean that one.
Check out this tee box.
Mia was legit FASCINATED by this squirrel so I told her I would take a picture of it. Hope it didn’t have the plague.
And of course we visited the Lone Cypress. Because no Cypress should be a Lone.
Like I said, our time on the 17-Mile Drive was short-lived. We had A LOT to do today. We were back to the hotel by 9AM to bring both Matt and Myles breakfast before heading to our next stop – The Monterey Bay Aquarium!
Definitely a pretty great aquarium. But to be fair, they could have simply had a swimming pool filled with these guys and I would have been happy.
You otter know…there is legit no cuter animal.
When I hit the old “Aq,” there are three main places I make sure to stop. Hm? Oh, “Aq”? That’s what us fish-heads call the aquarium. Sorry, I will try to keep it more layman moving forward.
But yeah, three main places. The aforementioned otters (because they’re cute), the jellyfish (because they’re beautiful), and the penguins (oh, because they are also cute.)
So check, check, AND check. But even beyond those, this aquarium had all kinds of stuff to sea. Ha, I mean see. Sorry, I have an ocean full of puns.
We ended up spending a couple hours there, which really did seem like enough time. I felt like we got to see most of the aquarium AND we had nachos and beer in the cafeteria. So we obvs made the most of our time.
We ended up leaving the aquarium around noon. Lunch was an hour and a half drive away, reservations were at 2:00, and we wanted to take our time on CA-1. The Goodys took the Mustang for the first half of the drive, with the plan for the Nerneys to take it after lunch. We figured this would be best since this was THE drive of the trip.
The Nerneys were on their own schedule for part of the drive, a little bit ahead of us (per youge), and stopped at a beach on the way.
For us – there were vista points all over the place. Of course we pulled over. THEY’RE VISTA POINTS!!!
But I mean. That vista? Pfft, that vista is CRAP. Because a little further down the road, we hit this whole situation.
I mean, we didn’t hit it. We like, reached it. Anyways, it’s the Bixby Bridge is what it is. Named after the famed star of The Incredible Hulk, Bill Bixby, this bridge….
No? Well, whatever. Relax. It’s a real pretty bridge.
Hey, here are the Nerneys.
While we were out taking bridge pics, Myles had to pee. So I took him to the backside of the bridge to find a secluded spot. This both afforded him some relief and allowed me to get some different perspectives of the bridge. Win-Win. Well, Win-Wee.
Next up was…
And lunch today was a lunch we have been looking forward to for a while. Lunch today was at Nepenthe! We have had multiple encounters with complete strangers that, upon telling them we are doing this trip, have ended with “you’re going to Nepenthe, right?” So annoying, right? Mind your own business, complete stranger.
But seriously, while the food is good and all that, it’s the fact that this place is legit situated on a cliff in Big Sur that really draws the crowds in.
Beautiful. And the view is nice too. Rawr.
But yeah, this place is bonkers pretty.
We put our names in and a few of us headed to the bar while others grabbed a place to wait on the deck. Of course, I got a rum punch. And of course, Matt did too.
And of course Larissa got a wine.
And of course the kids played on their phones and enjoyed each others’ company.
We were seated within ten minutes. And man, this place was legit beautiful. And it was about to get beautifuler. On account of us being there.
It was hot out there. Like, real hot. In fact, at one point we grabbed another umbrella and pulled it over to provide a little more shade.
But the real problem was lunch. I was having an internal crisis. While I came in expecting to order their famous Ambrosia Burger (ground steak sandwich, served on a French Roll, with their Ambrosia sauce), I also was intrigued by the French Dip. Especially since the night before, we had a heated sandwich discussion and I declared the French Dip one of the best.
Thankfully, Tony was having the same internal dilemma. Which meant one thing. Splitsies!!
I ordered the burger, he ordered the French Dip, and we split.
Both sandwiches were insanely good. I think I give the edge, actually, to the French Dip. While I know the Ambrosia Burger is their specialty, the prime rib used in the French Dip was hella-good.
Overall, it was a great lunch. Eating, drinking, laughing. The food was great. The view couldn’t be beat. And the service was impeccable. So I mean, of course we got dessert.
We all split a couple pieces of banana cream pie and, despite the heat, got a couple coffees to get us through the rest of the drive.
That banana cream pie by the way? It was….wait for it…
Yeah. Rull good. Such a great lunch. If you are making this drive I highly HIGHLY recommend making a reservation here. And now, we are those annoying “You’re going to Nepenthe, right?” people.
And then…we were back on the road. Like I said, we decided to switch cars at this point. The Nerneys took the Mustang and we took the Suburban for the rest of the Day 7 drive.
We had another stop planned as well. We had heard a lot of people talk about McWay Falls being a must-see stop on CA-1. And I mean, it definitely sounded like a must-do. A waterfall on a beach? I love both of those things.
Did it live up to the hype? Read on to find out.
Also spoiler alert. It didn’t.
In order to reach McWay Falls, you park at a lot in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park for $10. I have seen people talk about parking on Highway 1 and making the walk over, but we didn’t really see any areas to do so. So we parked down in the lot. Again, for $10.
The walk out to the Falls is a little over a half mile there and back.
The end of the trail offers you this view.
Which, yeah. It’s definitely pretty. But that’s it. You pay the 10 dollars, walk out to see the Falls from quite a distance and walk back. It did look like at one point there was more of a trail so you could walk further on, but that portion was closed. So this was it.
Maybe it’s the fact that we had just recently visited Yosemite and had waterfalls left and right but eh, this was a bit of a disappointment.
McWay? More like Mc…WAYYYt a minute, that’s it?
Although of course Mia makes the place look much cuter.
We maybe spent like 5 minutes there and soon made the walk back to the cars and headed for the hotel.
Our home for the night…actually, our home for the next two nights was in Cambria, CA at the Sea Otter Inn, a motel we were REALLY looking forward to.
We all arrived, checked in, and put in our breakfast orders for the next day (more on this in the next post…but sneak peek? It involves a picnic basket.)
The girls stayed back with the kids and hit the pool while Matt, Tony, and I drove to a nearby market to stock up on some things – beer, wine, Bloody Mary essentials. You know, the basics.
We were also asked to pick up some Diet Cokes. Which proved to be a lot more difficult than it sounded as this market had no soda “section.” Instead, they had random cases and 12-packs situated in random spots throughout the store. One endcap had some Coke and Sprite. Another, RC Cola and Root Beer. No Diet Coke. We had essentially given up when, amidst the whiskey and vodka, we found one single 6-pack of Diet Coke way in the back of the shelf.
You’re an enigma, rando Cambria market.
And then it was back to the motel. The Sea Otter is an insanely charming little place right across from the ocean. And they have these awesome little fire pits to sit at and look out over Moonstone Beach and out to the ocean. Well, across the parking lot and over the beach and ocean. We kind of immediately made our way over to one.
We hung out at the pit for a little while but it was already close to 7:30 so folks were getting hungry. The group voted on eating at Moonstone Beach Bar & Grill, which was a short 2 minute walk away. I know, this motel was awesome.
It was cold out that night, but we told the staff we would be ok with a table outside. There were heaters outside AND we were made of hearty New England stuff. Bring it on, Cambria. Bring it on.
I like to think Matt and Laura are blurry in this picture because they were doing the Night at the Roxbury dance at the table.
My meal started with a Grey Goose martini, dirty. As many good nights do.
We also ordered a half dozen oysters. And these suckers were big.
They were pretty good, though. Nice and fresh and what not.
I got pictures of legit NO OTHER FOOD, but for my meal I ordered the 10 oz. Grilled Porterhouse Pork Chop, served with shoestring onion rings and a sesame BBQ sauce alongside smashed potatoes with a garlic cream sauce.
I love me a good pork chop and this one was really good. The sauce served with it was insanely smoky so like, not for everyone. But I quite liked it.
And I must have blacked out after the pork chop because this is the only picture it looks like I took that night post-pork chop.
Pork chop blackouts are rare, but they do affect a small percentage of us. Now, the prescribed treatment is to stay away from pork chops entirely but since that isn’t happening any time soon, I have learned to live with them.
But I wasn’t the only one that hit the proverbial wall. Mia was also falling asleep at the table so after dinner was over we all made the walk back to the hotel and went straight to bed. The next day was America’s birthday so we wanted to be well-rested. On account of last time I went to one of America’s parties, I fell asleep. And America totally drew inappropriate pictures on my forehead.