The 17 Mile Drive, which winds its way beside one of California’s most stunning stretches of coastline, from Pacific Grove to Carmel-by-the-Sea, has to be one of the most breathtakingly spectacular natural spots in the world. The foaming Pacific Ocean sweeps in its curling breakers, in a seemingly endless stream of white crested rollers which crash onto the sandy outcrops or swirl up against the rocks. The air is heavily perfumed with sea water and the fragrance of pines and cypress. Overhead a symphony of screeching bird life hovers in the thermals. The yellows, greens and pinks of the coastal foliage splash their colour along the shoreline and on a day when the world is dazzled by the sun’s brilliance under a periwinkle sky, I doubt there could there be a more beautifully dramatic spot.
We explored this piece of heaven on earth on our bicycles, soaking in its beguiling atmosphere as we furiously pedaled up and over the slopes gasping on every corner, not for breath but in wonder at nature’s magnificence.
Some how you can never quite be prepared for the view of the 200 year old world famous Lone Cypress Tree which steals your breath away so swiftly you have to stop and simply marvel. The curving headland fades behind in the background as puffs of low cloud hang to it mysteriously. From when this spot was first discovered in 1542, by the exploreer Cabrillo, people have wondered at different times of the year whether they were seeing clouds or snow. Cabrillo called this point Cabo de Nieve, Cape of Snow to describe the mostly white landscape he saw before him.
In 1774, Tomas de Pena, the founder of many of California’s beautiful Missions, renamed this most westerly point on the Monterey Peninsular ‘La Punta de Cipreses’, Cypress Point, as it is still named today.
A ghostly quality has descended and it is hard to believe that you haven’t somehow stepped into a different day or even a different season. The world has been transformed as a swirling, chilling mist closes around us. Somehow it just adds to the wonder and mystery of this area, the stunning 17 Mile Drive on the Monterey Peninsular in California.
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