Paul and I are celebrating our 9th anniversary this Tuesday (the 7th) but since Paul has work and it is a weekday, we decided to splurge on a nice hotel in Carmel for the weekend rather than anniversary gifts for each other. Paul got off work a little early on Friday and we got to Carmel around 4:30. After checking into our hotel (the Normandy Inn right on Ocean Ave.) we wandered around a couple of shops (well, a toy store and the candy shop - those are our priorities) and just enjoyed the lovely weather before having a nice dinner at "The Grill" restaurant.
I posed Clara with her legs crossed for this picture and it freaks me out how grown up she looks in it. This was at our hotel.
This is the "Cottage of Sweets". Paul got a chocolate covered pretzel, I got a cherry cordial, and Clara got a red licorice stick.
After dinner, we headed down to probably the prettiest, most perfect beach in all of California. The sand is so unbelievably fine and soft and white. There were quite a few other people down there enjoying the sunset with us.
Is this not the cutest profile ever?
We found a jellyfish that had washed up on shore.
Clara was in heaven splashing in the small waves and letting them chase her up the beach.
I love this shot of us - kind of faded by the backlighting with waves coming in behind us. It is so summery and California-y and vintage-y.
And this is maybe my favorite picture of Clara from the trip. I just wanna squeeze her little face!
We finally dragged Clara away from the beach and went back to the hotel to swim in the pool. It was a heated pool but because it was late it was getting chilly. But Clara was delighted to be wearing her swimming suit (seriously, she kept telling us "swimming suit! swimming suit! HOORAY!!") and she loved "swimming" back and forth between us in the pool. We swam until she started shivering with cold and then told her we needed to go and she begged "no! no! no! more! stay! swimming!" so we stayed longer. It took three or four more tries and her lips turning blue and full body shivers on her part before I put my foot down and told her we were officially done swimming because it was too cold. I really need to get that girl enrolled in swim lessons because she loves being in the water.
On Saturday morning, we woke up and started out the day with a drive south down through Big Sur. We've done this drive before but not since Clara was born. It is one of the most rugged and majestic drives we have ever done. The scenery is just breathtaking and it was especially dramatic with the light fog coming in off the ocean and the morning sun coming down over the mountains.
This is Bixby Bridge built in 1932. We always stop here to take pictures.
I have always wanted to find a waterfall called McWay Falls and we finally looked up directions for how to get there this time. There is a super easy and short hike in and it was the perfect time of the year for this trip because the wildflowers were blooming like crazy so it was an especially lovely and fragrant hike. Clara picked little bouquets until Paul spotted poison oak, at which point we kept her really close to us and wouldn't let her touch most of the plants (which she was not too happy about).
The waterfall drops right out onto the sand. It is just lovely and serene and I'm so glad we finally found this spot. Too bad Clara was tired at that point and sick of being held to avoid poison oak and there were cliffs dropping away from the trail that made it treacherous so we didn't spend much more than a few minutes enjoying the view before heading back.
Clara loved this tunnel and ran up and down its length a bunch of times. We taught her to yell "echo!" in it and she thought that was pretty neat.
Paul helped Clara throw rocks in the stream on the way back to the car.
Another thing I have been wanting to do was go visit the mission at Carmel. It is the second oldest mission in California. There were a bunch of missions established in California by the spaniards when the area was being settled back in the 1700's and they were super important to the development of the state, so in 4th grade, all California public school students (I think) do a report on the mission of their choice. Both Paul and I have talked about our mission reports and what we remember from them. I am pretty sure my report was on the La Purisima Concepcion mission and I have fond memories of visiting it with my family after doing my report in 4th grade. The Carmel mission is very beautiful (only the chapel is original - the other buildings are all reconstructions). There were these cool pictures on the wall in the visitor's center that were taking in the early 1900's when the mission was largely forgotten (it had been abandoned by 1851 and only partially restored when the photos were taken).
There is construction currently going on to retrofit the building against earthquakes so there was some scaffolding around. This isn't a really old building compared to some of the churches Paul and I have seen on our travels through Europe, but for California this is one of the oldest standing structures in the state and it was pretty neat to see it.
The gardens were beautiful. I paid a little bit more attention to the flowers since I now have the teeniest bit of experience with gardening. I actually recognized the Jupiter's Beard plant, which I planted in front of our house and that was weirdly exciting for me.
We had to stop to smell all of the flowers with Clara but she was very good about not picking them (although there were a couple of close calls).
I love the red tile roofs and stucco look of old California architecture. It just makes me happy.
Paul had some coins in his wallet and he let Clara throw them into the fountain. I think he forgot to teach her about the "making a wish" part though.
This is Junipero Serra - the priest who started the Carmel mission.
It was a lovely little trip full of fun and new things that we haven't done before in this area.