Big Sur California
Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.
– John Steinbeck, Cannery Row

I can think of only two major mentions of Monterey, California in pop culture today. One is the John Steinbeck quote above. The other is HBO’s hit miniseries “Big Little Lies.”

Steinbeck’s quote brought little comfort for me in the months leading up to my move to Monterey. But the opening sequence of “Big Little Lies” made my heart flutter.

It begins with a beautiful drive down highway 1: Waves crash against the rocks. Bixby Bridge towers over pristine ocean views. And a stretch of misty mountains sits against California’s rugged coastline.

Needless to say, I was geeked to drive along this scenic route for a grand welcoming into Monterey — my home for the next two years.

But in May, just weeks before my move, a massive landslide cascaded down Highway 1, burying a quarter mile of the road with dirt and rocks.

So we took the backroads into Monterey. We drove by sprawling hillsides, rustic ranches and convenience stores before we made it into town that day. Though the countryside scenery was lovely and deserves appreciation, my first impressions of Monterey were un-inspiring. It was hard to let go of Big Sur.

But over the next few days, my crabbiness left me as I explored more of the coastal town.

Riding west through Del Monte Avenue leads you to the historic district and Fisherman’s Wharf. The bay sits calmly along the route and seems to be a central fixture of every experience in Monterey.

Having lived in the city for a few years, I was afraid Monterey wouldn’t provide much accessibility. But I’m happily surprised by the transportation options. A free trolley takes you to popular attractions in town — including the aquarium and Cannery Row. A coastal recreation trail spans 18 miles and offers gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean. And if you’re ever itching for cityscapes, The airport Airbus takes you all the way up to San Francisco.

More good news: I finally got to see Big Sur! The iconic roadway is still open if you hit it from the north side of Highway 1 and it’s less than an hour from Monterey. We took the drive up on a whim. So the trip was a little rushed and the tourist crowds are pretty thick this time of year. Normally, we’d plan better by plotting routes and researching sunrise/sunset locations. But right now I’m just grateful I have the opportunity to see it at all.

In the words of Madeline Martha Mackenzie..

Sometimes I’m just holding onto this idea of perfection so tight, something has to give

Check back frequently for new Monterey photos. 

Visiting the area soon? Watch out for a regularly updated shortlist of what to do, eat and see in Monterey and an upcoming blog on some of the filming locations for “Big Little Lies”.


San Carlos Beach

San Carlos Beach

Monterey Old Fisherman's Wharf

Monterey Old Fisherman’s Wharf

San Carlos Beach with my love Michael.

San Carlos Beach with my love Michael.

Homemade lavender lemonade

Homemade lavender lemonade from Happy Girl Kitchen in Pacific Grove.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium was the inspiration for the marine life center in the 2016 animated film “Finding Dory”.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

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