Wednesday - Monterey, Chocolate & 17 Miles
Comes the dawn – or a couple of hours near it, anyway – and I get up. Dee Dee remains asleep, so I decide to go walkies.
The morning air is rather misty as I trudge across Munras to the long, linear shape of Don Dahvee Park. After a brief tour of the shopping mall on the other side of it, I continue my walk down the park and Munras towards the ocean, a couple of miles distant.
It's still pretty early, so most everything is closed. Eventually, I find my way down to the waterfront (discovering along the way the turns we should
have made the night before) and stroll down it a bit. I see the old train station
– now quite trackless – and then start to head back up towards the hotel through downtown Monterey.
a nice little city. Much of it seems to date from the 20's and 30's with interspaced Spanish/Mexican-era buildings here and there (all equipped with plaques telling you about them – and the sidewalks include markers pointing your direction to the next historical building, a nice touch for walkers). A few modern buildings intrude – but not too intrusively.
I stop at a supermarket, grab some sourdough, and head back to the hotel.
It's a couple of hours later, Dee Dee's up and we head out for our first day's tour of the place. Top of our list (thanks to a flyer in the motel lobby) is a tour of a chocolate factory
, just to the northeast of us in Seaside.
The tour was actually pretty fun. When I use the term "factory," of course, you see a big warehouse-y building filled with machinery. Here, the factory is more the back room of the candy shop. It's still filled with machinery, but given its size, that's only a few pieces.
Conveyor belts roll bits of fillings through miniature waterfalls of chocolate, big mixtures stir vats of melted chocolate, workers carefully roll things in their hands...covered in chocolate...
...there's definitely a chocolaty theme going on here.
After the tour, we headed back a bit and stopped to have lunch at Del Monte Express
, a hamburger restaurant with a train theme (heck, it's named
after the train that used to run to Monterey from San Francisco), so, obviously, I had to eat there! Models of trains line the walls, a miniature train circles the dinning rooms, posters advertise old train routes.
And hamburger's come in metric-ton sizes.
Oh, they're nothing special - at least, the ones we had (but there are about fifty other
varieties) - but, darn, are they big. I don't recommend this place unless you're really hungry - but if you are, this is the place to go!
After lunch, though, we come out to the car and discover that it's trying to rain! Oh, not hard - and it keeps stopping - but it is
Through this rain we head over to "Cannery Row"
and then drive by
the Monterey Bay Aquarium
. This is definitely one of the sights we want to see, but between it now being early afternoon and the rain, there's now no parking anywhere near the place - and we don't want to walk through the rain from where we can
park. So I keep driving around for a bit, to see if something opens up.
Don't ask me exactly how, but somehow
we end up in Pacific Grove
. It's right next door to the bit of Monterey that has Cannery Row. This is the town that has the monarch butterflies return to it every year - though we're a couple of months too late to see that.
What we do
see as we drive along the coast is a whole plethora of 19th and early 20th century homes. One particularly nice Victorian catches our eye and we stop to check out what proves to be the Green Gables Bed & Breakfast
It's a lovely place, built in 1888 and nicely maintained/restored to remain looking like that era. It looks right out over the sea and - had we the money (and the pre-knowledge of its existence!) this is a place we would have liked to stay at while we were here.
Coming back out we discover, "Hey, the rain stopped!" Since we're driving along the coast anyway - and its proved to be rather scenic, we continue it. A bit further on we stop at
a place where the waves crash on the rocks and discover that we can see otters playing in the kelp just offshore. Lots of otters - and seals! We watch them for nearly an hour as they roll about the water (with "clack, clack, clack" sounds coming in as they whack sea urchins sitting on their tummies with rocks) then continue on.
Another stop, a bit further along the coast, and I'm out trying to do the Official Kite Fly for here.
Actually get the parasail up and flying pretty good (even when someone else's kite nearly tangles in it), but I don't even try the stunter.
We pass by Point Piņos lighthouse - featured in the "Fremont Jones" book "The Bohemian Murders", by Dianne Day - but it's not open on weekdays, then round the corner and discover we're at the entrance to "17 Mile Drive."
"17 Mile Drive" basically is the main road through the gated community of Pebble Beach - a gated community just stuffed with golf courses ("Pebble Beach," amongst others). But - for a fee - they'll let non-residents in to drive the Drive past those golf courses, past lovely chunks of rocky coastline, and past the famous "Monterey Lone Cyprus" that's pretty much a symbol of Pebble Beach.
You also pass a lot of big, big
homes. The older ones are nice, but the newer ones...boy! Some of those houses are seriously ugly!
We stop many times along the way to get out and view the view - which, of course, is the whole purpose of the drive. At one stop we get accosted by ground squirrels. Another time a whole section of the coastline is blocked off with curtains so no one can disturb the seals having pups on the beach below.
Finally we stop at the "Lone Cyprus"
site and I get out to take my pictures. Mind, this tree probably has more pictures taken of it than any other (including some of the larger redwoods - which are pretty photogenic in their own right), from vacation snaps to serious photographers out to make an award-winning shot, but I figure I'll take a whack at it anyway.
Came out pretty good, I think.
We now curve back inland and up, passing over the "high" spot on Pacific Grove (with a view up the coast back at Monterey and beyond) and then drop back down to one of the other exits. The sun is setting, the rain is returning, and we head back to the hotel...
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