Monday, May 27, 2013

Monterey Bay

I think there is an old saying "you can never go home".  This was certainly the case with our visit to Monterey.  Monterey was where Allan and I met while he was a tennis pro and I was working for the phone company deciding where to install public phones.  We first got to know one another by being actors in the California First Theatre doing melodrama plays, he always as the villain and I was always the heroine.  At that time both Monterey and Carmel were both villages in their size and charm.  Now they are built up with new buildings everywhere and Allan barely recognized the area where he grew up so many years before.   We did find a very small but interesting farmers market at the Barnyard in Carmel.  Fresh hummus, Italian spiced mozzarella, quiche and other vegetable tarts, plus some fresh apricots and Royal Anne cherries.  Also in the Barnyard was an SPCA consignment store which had lovely leftovers from all the rich ladies in the area and I was able to pick up several name brand shirts and tops that looked brand new, all for $4 each.  Have I mentioned that I love consignment stores. 

While visiting Monterey, we found an rv park located just off the 101, south of Gilroy and north of San Juan Bautista.  Betabel RV Resort was a great find, with large spaces, many shade trees, and a dog walk adjacent to their community vegetable garden.  It was easy access to Gilroy for food shopping and also easy access to all of the towns along the bay.  We headed out one fine morning to the mission of San Juan Bautista to plein air paint and no sooner were we out of the truck, then eight school buses pulled up releasing swarms of elementary school urchins, the kind that spit water on each other from the water fountain and make brilliant remarks like, "oh look, a statue of that dead guy who is in our book".  Poor Father Serra, he couldn't have imagined he would be reduced to such ignominy.  In the photo you can see them as they were just released from the bus, within moments they had covered the land like locusts.  We took a few photos, got back in the truck and headed up to Fremont's Peak. 
Now if you ever get over this way, a word of advice, don't bother about going to the top of Fremont's peak.  It was 13 miles up the road and took 45 minutes to get there, up and up, curving and looping and downshifting until we finally arrived to find a small campground with sparse vegetation and an outhouse AND they wanted us to pay $6 to use the spot for the day.  They should have been paying folks to go there.  We could see the Monterey Bay way way way out there over the top of what must have been Watsonville.  So back to Jardine's in San Juan Bautista for lunch.
We tried to plein air another day in Elkhorn Slough, a place that we always used to go, back in the old days.  Now it turns out that you have to go through an orientation to walk and we would have to dip our shoes and easel tips in Lysol and walk over half a mile to get to where we could set up.  We just looked at each other and got back into the truck.  This plein air stuff is just plain hard work, mostly in finding a location that will work.  We thought if we headed over to Moss Landing maybe we could find a spot to paint, but the day had turned cold and the wind had come up, so we finally gave up and headed back home to the rig.
On one of our last days in the area, we went over to Santa Cruz and were pleasantly surprised that the city had done a nice job in reconstruction after the earthquake had leveled some of the older buildings a few years back.  Pacific street used to be a snarl of cars and people, but it is now more pedestrian oriented and there are kiosks and outdoor cafes and trees along the way.  Very continental.  We hit the used bookstores right away and whiled away a few hours before driving down to the old lighthouse and eating our sack lunch while looking at the surfers trying to catch a wave.
It was a good end to a bittersweet visit.

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