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Archive for December, 2011

The mission in Carmel has a lovely garden.  We zoomed in just a bit before they were closing:

Carmel mission garden gate

Wandering around with no particular agenda is my favorite way to travel.  Time was a bit constrained here, but a lot of prettiness can be absorbed in a short time:

I love the bright colors against the muted stucco and rock

The mission itself is lovely, and we were able to spend a bit of time in the interior of the church.  Look at that ceiling:

Inside the Carmel mission church

 

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Have yourself a merry little Christmas…

love that sky!

Whatever holiday you’re celebrating at this festive time —

All the best to you and yours, now and in the new year!

— Susie C.

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Sometimes it’s the little things that catch my eye, like this pretty curved gate with a Norwegian surname above it on the arbor:

I like the little purple flowers climbing on the left side, too

Or windows that look just a little bit different:

Check out the ripply glass in these windows

Or something strange found on the beach!  The next photo requires some explanation.  If you read the Monterey Bay Aquarium post, you know about the giant kelp forest the aquarium was able to grow in their huge tank.  In nature, giant kelp anchors itself in the ocean by attaching itself to rocks at the bottom.  After a storm, you might walk on the beach and see this:

A kelp anchor washed up on the beach in Carmel after a storm

Next time I post, there will be photos of the second mission established by Fr. Junipero Serra and the Spaniards — Carmel Mission and its gardens:

Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo

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Let’s start off this post with another storybook photo:

The air was soft with mist, and the front garden looked so pretty

The trouble with photographing Carmel houses…it’s like eating potato chips.  You can’t stop at one!

Yet another charming old Carmel house -- I promise I'll stop now

Think I’ll switch to a photo of a Carmel resident who neither golfs nor drives a Lexus, but does enjoy dining alfresco:

The houses are only one part of the prettiness equation.  You have to add  trees, shrubs, flowers and the ocean nearby to achieve Carmel’s total beauty.

These fuschia blossoms were stunning

Don’t you want to sit here with a glass of wine and a book?

 

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Carmel is on the Monterey Peninsula.  It’s an artsy, exceptionally charming seaside outpost of exorbitantly expensive real estate (as are most California seaside outposts, come to think of it), and many people are able to indulge their architectural whims:

A Tudoresque building on the main drag through Carmel

Carmel is a great place to walk, and you never know what’s around the next corner:

Hope my husband and I look this content down the road... 🙂

There are sweet-looking cottages with down-home charm:

Charming cottage complete with daisies

…and there are architectural extravaganzas:

Getting close to the ocean. (Can you tell?)

Doesn’t this look like an illustration from a fairy tale book?

I want to see the secret garden behind this heart-pierced gate

More Carmel later…

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After spending a day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, we decided to cruise along and explore Monterey Peninsula.  No, you don’t have to drive along the 17 Mile Drive toll road (although I have before) to see beautiful sights:

Monterey Peninsula's rocky yet flowering coastline

There are lots of places to pull over, park, gaze at the ocean or go walking:

The Monterey Peninsula -- beautiful to drive, beautiful to walk

There’s plenty of gorgeous scenery, and beautiful houses if architecture interests you:

Pacific Grove, Monterey house -- seems inspired by Greene & Greene houses in the Arroyo Terrace historic district in Pasadena, CA

Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach are linked by the 17 Mile Drive toll road.  There you will find The Lone Cypress perched precariously on its outcropping (the most photographed tree in America?), but you won’t find it here from me today.  🙂   Instead, how about this photographically neglected stairway:

Old stairway down to the rocky cove

And one more photo, just a little lagniappe:

Afternoon stroll -- no guardrails, no problem! 🙂

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The Monterey Bay Aquarium facility is impressive.  An expansion was added on to the original building, and this upper-story bridge links the two:

View from the upper walkway to the new section of the aquarium

I really like the rhythm of the lines separating the glass panes, not to mention the view.  Ah, the view…especially nice in the (expensive but worth it) restaurant!  🙂

The building(s) have quirky, beautiful touches that are really impressive.  Look at this detail of the sculpture just outside the edge of the tank:

The sculptured octopus tentacles and shells look so amazing

The next photo is not, I repeat, NOT, seaweed:

Leafy sea dragons!

Sea dragons live in Australia are related to seahorses and pipefish.  They not only look like seaweed, they move like it, too.  I’ll give them my vote for Second Best Underwater Camouflage.   (Octopuses get the gold medal).  🙂

Wow!

You can see them at the aquarium in Long Beach as well.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium provides a safe haven for many rescued creatures, and I’ll finish today’s post with a shot of one of them:

A beautiful creature in a beautiful place

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I love aquariums.  There’s something fascinating about getting that window into another world that intersects with ours, teeming with creatures who have lives of their own.  When I’m looking at them, I can’t help thinking — what are they thinking when they’re looking through the glass at us?

Anyhow, I love ’em all — Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Birch Aquarium in La Jolla, Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach; but let me give special credit to the place whose people figured out how to grow a giant kelp forest in an aquarium and keep it alive — the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  They figured out that giant kelp need water surging back and forth to imitate the ocean’s wave action, so they installed a huge pump to do just that.  Voila!  A living kelp forest in a three-story tank!  Divers feed the creatures:

There’s a crowd in the auditorium watching the crowd in the aquarium 🙂

Oystermen may not be too crazy about these voracious little guys, but c’mon…how cute is he?

Sea otters appeal to the puppies-and-kittens chunk of my brain

Of course, they’re not the only cute things at the aquarium.  Many of these penguins from various parts of the southern hemisphere were rescued from the brink of death:

Volunteers are the lifeblood of the aquarium, and there's a long waiting list

For beauty, elegant lines and downright weirdness combined, it’s hard to beat flamingos:

The birds that inspired millions of kitschy plastic lawn ornaments

Yes, they do get that color from eating brine shrimp, packed with beta carotene.  Eat nothing but carrots for a while and see what happens to you!  🙂

Next time: the Monterey Bay Aquarium and sea dragons…

 

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Hooray!  I found my Monterey SanDisk, and now I don’t know — should I start with the wonderful aquarium, or show you the view where we stayed?  Okay.  View first:

The view of Monterey Bay marina from the Northern Lite's back door

What you can’t see in this photo is the London Bridge pub a short stroll south where the bartenders know how to pull a decent pint of Guinness.  The outdoor patio is dog-friendly, too.  A short stroll north is Fisherman’s Wharf, lined with tourist-trap restaurants and bars, and touts in front trying to hustle you inside.  It reminded me of chewing gum sellers in Ensenada hustling cruise ship passengers.

If you keep walking north along Fishermen’s Shoreline Park, you’ll see this fountain:

From a distance, it looks like a dandelion puff...

...but you can see the flock of birds when you get closer

I’m going to need a couple of days to show you the amazing Monterey Bay Aquarium further down Cannery Row, but for now I’m closing with this:

Dusk falling -- a nice time to stroll on a beach...

...like Municipal Beach nearby

 

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Since I can’t find the *%#! SanDisk with Monterey Bay on it, let’s default to nature today!  Actually, this calla lily is too pretty to be considered an emergency substitute:

They were hiding behind the shrubs, but I found them...

And this would look at home in grandma’s garden:

...or maybe it belongs on a parade float with thousands more

Of course, swallows’ nests are part of nature, too:

Swallows' nests look like alien pods from a sci-fi movie

Come to think of it, don’t cactus and their flowers look otherworldly, too?

  …these are so cool…

I think I’ll finish today’s post with this guy:

He's doing what I like to do -- hang out by the water. 🙂

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