“Otters?!?” we asked in bewilderment. “Yes, otters that’s what they are,” explained my patient friend who has lived in Monterey her whole life before being swept off her feet by an East Coast man. A gang of Rhode Islanders have come to her hometown in preparation for their wedding. Each of us was in awe as we stared out into the ocean and discussed the spectacular beauty that makes up the Monterrey Peninsula.
“Those look like oversized Bonsai trees,” describes a friend of the Monterrey Cyprus which is one of the few trees in the area able to withstand the fog and salt sprayed sea winds. We later saw the most photographed one in the world. It’s a lone Cyprus tree sitting on the edge of a rock formation overlooking the ocean. The tree is located on 17-mile drive, a toll road that offers amazing views of the coastline, the Del Monte Forest and views of the infamous Pebble Beach Golf Course.
“What are those giant worm like things washing up on the beach? They look like something from an alien horror flick?!?” With a smile she answered, “That’s kelp from the dense forest beds surrounding the area. It’s the reason the otters live here.” Realizing that the kelp is harmless, one of the boys automatically grabbed a long, 15 foot piece and starts chasing us girls on the beach before throwing it on the windshield of our rental car. These shenanigans conclude our tour of the coastline that morning.
On the big day, we make our way to the most beautiful church I have ever seen. My dear friends are getting married at the Carmel Mission. The 18th century styled Franciscan mission impresses as soon as you walk into the flower filled courtyard. A bell tower, fountain, and elaborate gothic alter embody everything you dream of when you picture a Spanish colonial mission. I will never forget the dramatic moment when the heavy wood doors opened to reveal a silhouette of the gorgeous bride with sunrays shining behind her, filling the grand mission with light and beauty.
There are plenty of must see attractions and dining to be had on the Monterrey peninsula before you leave town. Be sure to check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium, browse the eclectic shops and galleries along Cannery Row and Ocean Ave in the nearby town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Conclude your stay with a memorable dinner at the four diamond rated “Sardine Factory” which has been a dining destination since 1968 or at the cliff side “Pacific’s Edge” restaurant in Carmel. Request a table by the window just before sunset and watch the sun dip over the ocean horizon.