Rants aside, we’ve had a really nice trip through this part of the California coast. The weather has been absolutely stunning. Bright, sunny, warm days and nights that cool down enough for superb sleeping.
The best thing about the Monterey County Fairgrounds RV park was that it was walking distance from Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row. It was a healthy walk, maybe a mile and a half to two miles each way, but walkable nevertheless. So, after breakfast on Saturday morning, we set out for the tourist areas of town.
Monterey has a bike/walk path that parallels the main drag and takes you all the way from near the fairgrounds to the above-named places and beyond if you choose to keep walking. We followed the path all the way down to Fisherman’s Wharf. But before we hit the shops and such on the wharf, we had to walk around and see what boats were anchored and speculate whether or not they were heading further south. It is the right time of the year for that after all. There are some interesting boats anchored or moored in Monterey Bay and I got photos of a few.
Our next stop was Fisherman’s Wharf. I know this is a classic tourist trap but, heck, we’re tourists, no? And, I was amazed to see that all the shops on the wharf were amazingly reasonably priced. Everything seemed to be on sale. Maybe it was an end-of-season thing or maybe, like so many furniture stores, everything was always “on sale”. But I found myself wishing I needed a fleece pullover or some sweatpants, or a fleece-lined, hooded jacket. Maybe just a long-sleeve t-shirt. Everything was so cheap! $19.95 for the jacket. $15.95 for the pullover. $12.95 for the sweatpants. Etcetera. But, alas, I just couldn’t convince myself that I needed anything. Where the heck would I stow it if I did buy it? Lulu found herself a couple pairs of earrings but she only spent around $17 on two pair and they’re small and easy to store.
We walked from the Wharf down to Cannery Row. The prices weren’t quite as good down there. We spent a lot of time wandering around a 2-story “Antique Mall” and never even made it up to the top floor. Once again, having absolutely NO storage space kept us from spending money.
We had originally intended to go to the Monterey Aquarium but we just couldn’t justify the $34.95 (each) admission charge. Just seemed a wee bit excessive to us so we skipped it.
By mid-afternoon we were getting pretty pooped and hungry so we headed back to Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch. I don’t know how many restaurants are on the wharf, must be at least a dozen, but they all had hawkers out front offering free samples of their clam chowder. We skipped the samples and decided on the Old Fisherman’s Grotto which had won the “Best Clam Chowder in the ????” award for like the previous ten years in a row. Can’t remember for sure what the competition was but they won it. Of course, seemed like every restaurant claimed to have won one “Best Calm Chowder” award or another. But, The Old Fisherman’s Grotto was the one we chose. We ordered fish and chips with a cup of chowder and a couple of beers. First, they served the coldest beer we’ve had in a restaurant since we’ve gotten back to the US. I swear, I feel another rant coming on about the tepid beer that’s served these days. Yech! So, kudos to the Grotto for their beer temperature. Next was the clam chowder. I’ve ranted before about the dearth of good clam chowder on the Oregon coast. Frankly, I expected this chowder to be good but didn’t really expect much beyond that. I mean, just how good can clam chowder get anyway? We were pleasantly surprised when we sipped our first spoonfuls. This stuff was REALLY good. Lulu suspects that part of it was that they used real cream instead of milk. I don’t know what it was for sure but it was excellent. It was right up there with the oyster stew at The Sea Hag in Depoe Bay, Oregon. Very, very rich and clammy. The fish and chips were good and plentiful but I wish I’d just ordered a big bowl of chowder instead. Fully sated, we waddled back to the Fairgrounds to retire for the night.
Before I get off the subject of the Fairgrounds, though, I have to share this.
When we first started walking around the grounds, I thought that the stage area looked kind of familiar. And then it came to me. I’d seen this stage in the movie, Monterey Pop. This was the site of the Monterey International Pop Festival back in 1967. Sadly, I wasn’t allowed to attend the show but some of my friends were. They regaled me with stories of the acts they saw: The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Hugh Masekela, Eric Burdon, The Byrds, Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin, and the list goes on and on. Seeing this stage, I was amazed to see just how small the venue was. This was no huge arena, this was a small county fairgrounds stage. Man, I wish I could turn back time.
Here’s the full lineup:
Friday Evening, June 16
The Association|The Paupers|Lou Rawls|Beverly|Johnny Rivers|Eric Burdon & The Animals
Saturday Afternoon, June 17
Canned Heat|Big Brother & The Holding Company|Country Joe & The Fish|Al Kooper|The Butterfield Blues Band|Quicksilver Messenger Service|The Steve Miller Band|The Electric Flag
Saturday Evening, June 17
Moby Grape|Hugh Masekela|The Byrds|The Butterfield Blues Band|Laura Nyro|Jefferson Airplane|Booker T & The MGs with The Mar-Keys|Otis Redding
Sunday Afternoon, June 18
Sunday Evening, June 18
The Blues Project|Big Brother & The Holding Company|The Group With No Name|Buffalo Springfield|The Who|The Grateful Dead|The Jimi Hendrix Experience|Scott McKenzie|The Mamas & The Papas
Today we broke camp and headed south along Highway 1. Once again, the weather was absolutely stunningly beautiful. We did have to put up with the previously mentioned bicyclists screwing up the flow of traffic but, other than that, it was a great ride. At one point we stopped to take a few pictures and caught this red-tail hawk (I think) just floating in the air. He had the wind figured out so that he could just stay in one place. He didn’t move fore or aft nor side to side. When I’ve seen turkey vultures do this, they tend to rock side to side to keep stable I assume. This guy just sat there rock-solid. It was kind of weird but really cool.
We had to stop for road construction a couple of times. Once, as we were just past the “town”of Lucia, there was strange looking bridge project going on.
We were stopped for about 20 minutes waiting for our turn. When it came, we were anxious to see what this structure looked like up close. It was awesome! Built of concrete made to look like carved stone. I have no idea what the idea is nor can I figure out where the other lane of traffic is going to go but the structure was pretty amazing.
Awhile later, we passed a herd of cattle between the highway and the ocean. There, standing among the cows, was a zebra! That’s right, a ZEBRA! Who knows what else may have been standing there among the cows if we’d had time to look further.
Highway 1 is extremely windy and curvy and slow along the stretch from Monterey to San Simeon but it is so beautiful that it’s worth it. I doubt we’ll choose to drive it when we return to Oregon for Christmas but at this time of year, when the weather is good and you’re not in a hurry, it’s the road to take.