boondoggle: northern california

northern california / elizabethcraneswartz.comsince we're on the subject of travel, I thought I'd throw some of my favorites from my quick trip out west. I met Bob after his meetings (and by meetings, I mean golf) and joined another couple for three days in gorgeous monterey bay. there was literally ZERO agenda which was a nice change of pace but in retrospect I should've done some actual research instead of googling nearby sites/sights at breakfast each morning. it all worked out but I now realize how close I was to the heart castle and I'm kicking myself.the inn at spanish bay / we stayed at the inn at spanish bay (one of the three pebble beach resorts) which is aptly described as 'contemporary comfort tucked between forest and ocean' with incredible views of the pacific. we woke up each morning and walked along the coast watching surfers and returned to eat breakfast watching rabbits and deer along the scottish-style, spanish bay golf course. we had a late lunch the first day at pebble beach, enjoyed a little shopping and made sure to be back at the inn to nab a spot for the sunset.the inn at spanish bay / elizabethcraneswartz.comand this is tracy, she was in charge of pouring the rosé. for some reason this is the only photo I have of the gorgeous tiered terrace with firepits overlooking the greens with a perfect view of the sunset. the inn at spanish bay / and this is the evening entertainment. every night at 5:30 a bagpiper 'puts the course to sleep' in the scottish tradition. he plays for an hour (he does NOT take requests - some rowdy guests asked) and it was magical. between my badass big girl camera and my phone I think I have 30 photos from this night alone.

the inn at spanish bay / elizabethcraneswartz.comBob was all excited with this shot because it's the inn's famous logo.the inn at spanish bay / elizabethcraneswartz.comthe inn at spanish bay /

caught 'gramming. Bob snapped this of me getting the rosé sunset shot above. I'm the one in the middle, crouching in someone else's firepit space.the inn at spanish bay / elizabethcraneswartz.comand this is me not caring.the inn at spanish bay / elizabethcraneswartz.comand this is the seagull who brazenly stole the whole block of cheddar from our cheese plate. he also got away with lettuce, a tomato and countless crackers from other guests. inn at spanish bay / elizabethcraneswartz.comand these are two people I don't know but I wish I'd stopped to get their info because I'm awfully proud of this shot.carmel by the sea /

the second day was started like the first - a leisurely hike/walk followed by breakfast and then we headed into carmel (or carmel by the sea) for strolling and a late lunch where I proceeded to take 50 photos of succulents, tiles and doors (and my new sparkly shoes) but I'll spare you the details and just show the highlights.

carmel by the sea / carmel by the sea / carmel by the sea / elizabethcraneswartz.comcarmel by the sea / carmel by the sea / carmel by the sea /

I was here years ago (like 20) and while the town itself is still charming with so many fabulous details throughout, it's not nearly as residential as it used be. it's more 'upscale tourist' than 'boardwalk tourist' but it was a little disappointing. I was hoping for cute boutiques & shops but it was more real estate offices and 'local' art galleries. so after using the google a little more we hopped in our rental and drove south to big sur.big sur /

it was breathtaking. windy and a little treacherous at times but absolutely worth the drive. in total we drove about 30 miles south and stopped here and there to check out the coastline. garrapata state park was one of our first stops filled with unexpected flora and fauna.

big sur / elizabethcraneswartz.combig sur / elizabethcraneswartz.combig sur / elizabethcraneswartz.combig sur / elizabethcraneswartz.combig sur / elizabethcraneswartz.combig sur / elizabethcraneswartz.combig sur / elizabethcraneswartz.combig sur /

a love how people are starting 'love locks' on the wire railings down to the beach.

big sur /

other notable stops along the PCH were bixby bridge and hurricane point. we saw a few whale spouts, plenty of surfers and only a few seals. (sea otters?)big sur / elizabethcraneswartz.combig sur / elizabethcraneswartz.combig sur /

truthfully, the drive south is much better than the drive back north since you're on the opposite side of the road. we headed straight back to monterey for some more strolling and a late dinner. monterey bay / elizabethcraneswartz.comI will say this - I was SOOOO disappointed in monterey. it was super touristy and not the upscale kind. we ate at fisherman's wharf overlooking the harbor and it was surprisingly good but this only made me wish we'd gone further south to san simeon for the hearst castle rather than coming back for dinner. if we had shifted our whole day by 2 hours (a morning stroll thru carmel then hit the road) it would've worked out.big basin redwoods / elizabethcraneswartz.comour last morning was spent tidying up and heading out with no plan other than get to san francisco for dinner. again, the google told us of multiple routes but since the other couple we were with had never seen redwoods we headed to big basin redwood state parkbig basin redwoods / elizabethcraneswartz.combig basin redwoods / elizabethcraneswartz.combig basin redwoods / elizabethcraneswartz.combig basin redwoods / elizabethcraneswartz.combig basin redwoods / elizabethcraneswartz.comit was magestic and impressive and I'm so glad we went. the drive up and down was horrific but otherwise it's worth a visit. they have the park mapped for different trails depending on length and skill and we stuck to the smallest of them all which gave a great overview of the history of the semperenvirons (that's latin for sequoia redwoods) and interesting facts. (like semperenvirons)gioia in san francisco / elizabethcraneswartz.comI had a ridiculously early flight the next morning so we grabbed a bite at gioia (pronounced 'joy-a') on polk street - a sweet gourmet pizza place based on a recommendation from a friend. it was outstanding and I can't recommend it enough. and as a thank you for sticking with me and making it ALL THE WAY to the end of this epic post, I offer you the other places he recommended in case you have more than 8 hours in san francisco - umami for sushi and A16 for italian and coqueta for spanish tapas and terzo for italian small plates. please go eat for me and report back.

*a big disclaimer here: this was a total 'fly by the seat of my pants' rundown. if you're interested in real, actual, honest to goodness recommendations on big sur check out alison's post on her babymoon which sounded AMAZING and megan gilger's great post on all things big sur.

**again, thank you for making it this far and indulging me. it's just so nice to have a badass big girl camera that takes great pictures. I'll try to hold back next time. xoxoxo

*** no promises.