Go: Carmel-by-the-Sea, Part 2

Even though Carmel is only 1.5 hours south of Silicon Valley, getting there was so fun that I'm writing a whole article on it. My phone told me to drive 17-South to 1-South to Ocean Avenue, Carmel. Here are the interesting in-between bits.

HOW TO GET TO CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA

I shifted into getaway mode the moment I quietly closed the front door behind me at 6:45 am on a Friday—ninja mom on the loose. First thing first, I was excited to stop at Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company before getting on Highway 17. On my way there, I spied an intriguing queue forming in the morning dark outside Manresa Bread. My attention was captured, I had to investigate. I parked my car, joined the line awaiting its 7 am opening, and purchased a pastry to go. I like trying new things, so I bought the one item I'd never heard of, a Kouign Amann. Anything that comes out of Manresa's oven is so sought after that they usually sell out before their 3 pm closing time.

My Kouign Amann (what the heck is this thing I bought?) and I continued on to Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company where I sipped my café-au-lait and took in the local scene; I always enjoy the ambience there. I then got on Highway 17 at about 8 am. While passing Lexington Reservoir and marveling at its water level and feeling so excited about the two days ahead of me, I saw a police car hiding in the shadows. I exhaled and thought to myself, "Good thing I'm not rushing and I'm driving with the flow of traffic, no need to worry." Next thing I knew, flashing lights were in my rear view mirror. I was devastated; isn't it against the law to pull over a hard-working woman on her way to get some time of refreshment? I learned that the speed limit suddenly drops to 50 and the cop knew he could easily bust someone, I just don't understand why he choose me over the Tesla. Tears of frustration rolled out of my eyes, this wasn't the drive I'd imagined. I was so upset I could hardly look at the officer; I'm still hoping he ripped up the ticket out of compassion. Nevertheless, I was on my way over the hill soon enough with the wind knocked out of my sails and driving in the slow lane.

I'd always been intrigued by the enormous yellow sign for St. Clare's retreat on the left side of 17, before Scotts Valley. Free as a bird, I took the left-hand turn and followed the signs to St. Clare's, which ended up being an outdated, sketchy place. I three-point turned outta there as fast as my minivan could maneuver and got on North Rodeo Gulch Road. What a discovery! The narrow, winding road high in the mountains gave me a bird's eye view of the coast and then dropped me down all the way to 41st Avenue, Santa Cruz. This surfing hamlet is called Pleasure Point and is my favorite Santa Cruz neighborhood. I parked where 41st meets the ocean, strolled the coastal walkway along East Cliff Drive, and then sat at my favorite beach. On my drive out, I stopped at Amazon Juices on 41st Ave. for a Brazilian açai bowl—refreshing and delicious, a definite must try. Fueled up and explored out, I headed straight to my final destination of Carmel-by-the-Sea.

The third and final article in this mini-series will talk about what to do while in Carmel. Stay tuned!

p.s. The Kouign Amann was to die for.

Even the waxed paper bag was beautiful. Hidden within: my mysterious Kouign Amann.

Even the waxed paper bag was beautiful. Hidden within: my mysterious Kouign Amann.

A tractor scene along North Rodeo Gulch Road, cutting over from Highway 17 to Santa Cruz/Highway 1.

A tractor scene along North Rodeo Gulch Road, cutting over from Highway 17 to Santa Cruz/Highway 1.

Welcome to Pleasure Point, my favorite Santa Cruz neighborhood.  

Welcome to Pleasure Point, my favorite Santa Cruz neighborhood.  

The Pleasure Point coastline along East Cliff Drive.

The Pleasure Point coastline along East Cliff Drive.