Our visit to the newest U.S. National Park, Pinnacles NP, was a fun adventure. The park is located about 20 miles south of our campground and around 40 miles south of Hollister, CA. There are actually two sections to the park and we visited via the eastern entrance. The western entrance is quite a bit farther from us and the two sections of Pinnacles aren’t connected by road. After seeing the visitor center we drove on to where the road ends and began a 20 minute hike to Bear Gulch Cave from there. This is a talus cave which means it was created by boulders and rocks falling and choking the narrow canyons creating ceilings, passages, and rooms (http://www.sfnps.org/talus_caves). The trail to the cave is fairly easy in spite of there being a few narrow passages and moderate inclines. We were only able to go into the lower half of the cave. The cave is home to Townsends Big-Eared Bats, a protected species in the State of California. This time of the year there are still bats in the upper portion of the cave so the public is kept out of that area. We did see two bats on the ceiling in the public area of the cave. There are many hiking opportunities in this national park, several appear to be rather challenging. The short hike we took, though, is only considered to be “moderate” and, really, most any reasonably able person should be able to do it.
Our other sightseeing adventure was a day trip to the Monterey Peninsula. The area is only 25 miles or so directly west of our campground. However, because of the mountains it is actually a 60 mile drive on some rather busy highways. We started our tour at the Museum of Monterey. The admission is free for the month of September. The first floor is filled with works by local artists. I especially liked the stained glass pieces of art. The second floor has historic memorabilia from the early Native Americans and other early settlers and immigrants. The Maritime historic memorabilia is quite impressive. There’s a captain’s quarters, items used on the sailing ships, and a variety of scrimshaw that is interesting. Nearby is Old Fisherman’s Wharf with several restaurants, whale tours, and shops. Of most interest to us were the many sea lions that are resting on the supports of the wharf and also swimming below us.
After having lunch we took a leisurely drive along Ocean View Blvd. stopping at several public access places along the way to watch the ships, wildlife, and the waves. The views are amazing and there are many places to stop and soak it all in. We saw more sea lions, a few dolphin, and a wide variety of birds. At Asilomar State Beach we took a stroll down to look at the tide pools.
This was our last visit to the Pacific Ocean on this trip before turning east and beginning our slow journey back to Texas.