another misAdventure

"We are all of us living in the shadow of Manhattan."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Watching for the Lines

Yarr, it be time to finish the tale of the trip to the rugged coast of California.

No, I won't try to continue in "Pirate".

Friday we relaxed a bit, didn't try to get out the door too early. We left the hotel sometime close to 9am and drove south to the Monterrey peninsula. We only had a bit of information to go on -- some vague recommendations from Kalen and a little bit I gleaned off the internet. Mainly, I got the Wikipedia page on Monterrey, and from there I had a link to the convention and visitor bureau. So, I had some idea how to get to Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row in Monterrey, and figured we'd play it by ear from there.

Two hours later, after driving through some of California's agricultural land (I saw workers harvesting something, I think it was artichokes), we got to the northern edge of Monterrey. Slowly, we could see ocean closer and more frequently through the hills on the right side of the highway.

The signs on the interstate indicated a tourist information center at the Monterrey exit (didn't I just do that the day before?), so we followed the signs. As we got in, there were also signs pointing us to Fishermans' Wharf and Cannery Row, so that part would be easy. We found the info center, but I didn't spot a good parking area right there, so we drove on a bit and found metered parking a bit further along, just at the near end of Fisherman's Wharf, and right next to a beach.

The first order of business was to do something Ellen wanted to make sure she did -- get her feet into the Pacific. She'd already swum in the Atlantic, so she had to hit the opposite coast. We took off our shoes and socks, rolled up our cuffs, and took a walk along the beach for a short ways, maybe a quarter of a mile. The water was too cold and rough here to be good swimming, so I'm glad we hadn't planned anything like that.

At the far end of the beach we came back inland, got our feet cleaned of the sand, and headed for the information center which I knew was pretty much in-line with that point on the beach (despite where Ellen thought it was :-)). We picked up a bit of information there, including a directory for Fisherman's Wharf, Cannery Row, and Carmel, and a map of 17-mile drive. Other than that, the info center seemed to be aimed at passing along lodging information, which we didn't need.

We skipped Fisherman's Wharf because we didn't see anything we wanted to do there. Instead we headed for Cannery Row and the first order of business -- lunch. Ellen picked out a place called "The Fish Hopper", which was pretty good. We got a table right by the window looking out onto the ocean. I had a chicken sandwich with melted cheese and grilled onions (very good), and a cup of clam chowder (excellent).

We shopped around Cannery Row for a while. Ellen got a couple of new penguins and some fudge, and I got a batch of saltwater taffy, picking out a couple pieces of each flavor that sounded good.

From there, we took off toward 17-mile drive. I hadn't known about this before getting the information at the info center. This was a drive along the ocean and winding through four golf courses, including the famous Pebble Beach golf course (home of the Bing Crosby pro-am, when he was alive). We spent a lot of time (almost three hours) going along the coastal part of the drive, maybe 10 miles of the total 17, stopping at most of the scenic views and taking a ton of pictures.

At the far end of the drive was the town of Carmel-by-the-sea. Here's where the plans went a little awry, but I blame the map. I knew that there was a beach at Carmel (Kalen had talked about it), and I figured we could watch the sun set there and then have some dinner, or maybe do both at the same time if we found an appropriate eating establishment. The map I had made it look like the business/restaturant section of Carmel was right by the beach. We found that section of town, and parking seemed to be a bit of a premium, so we parked and walked toward the ocean.

The map was MISLEADING. The beach was actually probably a half mile, maybe a bit more, from the edge of the business district, and down a fairly steep hill. Oh, and there was a parking lot RIGHT THERE. By the time we actually got to the beach the sun was half-way set. We watched the last of the setting sun, then watched the beach at twilight for a while. Ellen called her mom to say she called from the beach, and then when she was ready we hiked back up to the restaurant area, way up the hill.

Anyway, Ellen picked a nice place for dinner, and I had a very nice cut of prime rib that they had as a special. I didn't check the price when the waiter was listing the specials, but it turned out to be surprisingly reasonably priced.

Then it was time to head back to the hotel in San Bruno. I got a little lost around Monterrey gettng back to the highway, but once I realized I'd gotten off track I found my way back OK and got back to San Bruno at about 11pm. At which point I crashed into bed -- really hard.

Saturday we slept in a bit, got everything packed, and headed out. We stopped at the IHOP in San Bruno and had a good-sized breakfast because we knew we wouldn't have a good chance to eat again until that evening around home. The flight got off on time and the pilot even promised we'd be in early due to a tail wind (he turned out to be right).

At one point in the flight, Ellen looked down from the window of the plane and asked me what we were over. I told her I didn't know, because I hadn't been watching for the state lines down below, but if she found one then they usually had the state names on either side of the line, so she could tell where we were. Of course, she didn't believe that. Later, when I was sitting by the window, I told her I was watching some of the lines below. She asked if I could see the state names, and I told her "no, they were too small". I then went on about how the state names were on signs beside the lines, and that they were really there for the people on the ground, not to see from the air. But the people down below did find the signs useful.

Of course, here I was telling the truth, because I was talking about highway route markers. :-) But I kept up obscuring what I was talking about, and she just thought I was telling stories. I guess I was just in a mood like that after reading "Anansi Boys".

More on that in the next post.


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