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Postcard Fun Facts

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Big Sur
Big Sur has been called "the greatest meeting of earth and sea:" a dramatic series of steep slopes plunging from windswept crests some 1500 feet above sea level down to the blue and white waters of the Pacific. In places bare of all but chaparral and cattle, the slopes around Big Sur are cloaked in pines, coast redwood, cedar, and tanbark oaks.

Bixby Bridge, Big Sur
A marvel of engineering, Highway One winds high above the sea through Big Sur. Visitors can stop and enjoy the spectacular views from numerous turn-outs. Bixby Bridge is world famous and a favorite of photographers who want to capture its elegance and strength on film. At 714 ft. long and 260 feet high, it's one of the ten highest single-span bridges in the world.

Carmel is an unusual place, even for California. Here, dogs get their own menus in local bistros, residents insist on their right not to have home postal delivery, and trees are regarded with great reverence. It has ordinances prohibiting neon signs and house numbers, and the wearing of high heels is discouraged. And yes, Clint Eastwood was once the mayor.

Carmel Mission
Second in the great chain of 21 Franciscan missions, San Carlos Borroméo de Carmelo was founded in 1770 by Padre Junipero Serra. Serra brought with him the distinctive Moorish-influenced architecture of his native Majorca. The belltower, with its exterior stairway, is unique among the missions, and Carmel is one of the few built in stone instead of adobe.

Carmel River Beach
The deeply sheltered bay at the mouth of the Carmel River saw one of the first European landfalls on the West Coast: Sebastian Vizcaino named the river during his expedition of discovery in 1602. Nowadays, its soft silver-white sands make it a popular place for picnic parties, dog walkers, and photographers.

Colton Hall
Colton Hall in Monterey is the site of the first California Constitutional Convention in 1849, and is one of several stops along Monterey's "Path of History" free walking tour.

Fisherman's Wharf
Fisherman's Wharf is Monterey's seafaring centerpiece. The whale blubber and ambergris of 1845 gave way to sardines and squid 75 years later. Today the old warehouses and fish-packing sheds house small shops, clam chowder joints, and elegant restaurants. The Wharf Theater presents plays and musicals, while the Wharf's end is an embarking point for fishing charters, whalewatching boats, and sightseeing craft.

Monterey Bay
A seagull's-eye-view of Cannery Row reveals the changes fifty years or so have wrought in Monterey's seascape. Where dozens of fishing boats once loitered off-shore from shoulder-to-shoulder canneries, now kayaks and marine wildlife play. The Monterey Bay Recreation Trail hugs the coast from Lovers Point in Pacific Grove all the way to Castroville, 18 miles to the north.

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Discover life in Monterey's bay without leaving dry land at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Dedicated to marine research and conservation, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is known throughout the world for its interactive exhibits and ability to present marine life on a truly grand scale.

Monterey Coast
The restless Pacific froths over the rocky shores of Monterey County. Oftentimes the sea can be dangerous in its unpredictabilitythe local advice is 'never offend the ocean by turning your back on it'but when the summer fog lays a calming hand on it, it can stretch as flat and limpid as a piece of grey silk.

Pastures of Heaven
John Steinbeck first described the verdant upper valleys in The Pastures of Heaven (1932) as: "a long valley floored with green pasturage on which a herd of deer browsed. Perfect live oaks grew in the meadow of this lovely place, and the hills hugged it jealously against the fog and wind." The region is now one of Monterey County's premier wine-producing regions.

Sea Otter
One of Monterey Bay's most endearing inhabitants, the southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) is regularly seen all along the shorelinerolling in the kelp off Cannery Row, cracking open clamshells on its belly beside Fisherman's Wharf, and snacking on crabs along 17-Mile Drive. Otters wear the world's densest fur coats: more than a million hairs per square inch!