Saturday, January 11, 2020

California Road Trip - Part 3: 17-Mile Drive

One of the prettiest stretches of coastline that I saw during my recent trip to California was 17-Mile Drive in Monterey. This scenic road meanders around the Monterey peninsula, offering spectacular views of rocky beaches, crashing waves, and abundant wildlife.

Ink & watercolor in a 5" x 6-1/2" Khadi hardbound sketchbook with rough textured 140 lb. paper

I  did small sketches in my Khadi sketchbook at many of the stops along the way, roughing in each little drawing with pencil first then quickly inking it. I painted the page later at home in my studio using QOR watercolors, which I've been having fun trying out lately.

Click to enlarge

It was a beautiful sunshine-y morning when we set off that November day, and we had clear views of distant mountains at our first stop on "Huckleberry Hill". (Isn't that the cutest name? I think I sketched it for the alliterative name more than the view.)

Continuing on, we traveled downhill through evergreen forests to windswept Spanish Beach, where explorers camped while searching for Monterey Bay back in 1769. 

17-Mile Drive hugs the coast for most of its length, and one of the most popular pull-off spots along the water is "The Restless Sea", where the turbulent waters of the Pacific smash onto the rocky shore. I could sit and watch the show for hours!

The clouds had moved in by the time we arrived at "Bird Rock", where thousands of birds congregate on an off-shore island...

and sea lions swim and play in the surrounding waters, hauling themselves up onto the rocks to nap in the sun. The sea lion sketch was added later at home using an online reference photo, since they were too far away for me to see from the shore.

We drove past the immaculately groomed Pebble Beach golf course and stopped at several more beaches to look for sea glass and heart-shaped rocks. Our last pull-off was at "The Lone Cypress", a 250-year old tree which has stood on a rocky promontory since the late 18th century.

There were also cypress forests, "ghost trees", and grassy meadows to see along the way. It was a beautiful, relaxing drive with lots of variety in the scenes I found to sketch.

If you ever have a chance to travel to the Monterey/Carmel area, don't miss the 17-Mile Drive. It's an American treasure.

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