Friday, April 29, 2016

Monterey Fisherman's Wharf

A smaller version of San Francisco's Pier 39, Monterey Fisherman's Wharf attracts a lot of tourists to its shops and restaurants. Everything is packed into one pier.

View of Yachts from Municipal Wharf II
Although, there is another pier close by: Municipal Wharf II, where locals gather to drop their lines along the Fishing Promenade.

We strolled along the main commercial pier, peering into the shops, touching collectibles, buying t-shirts, and reminiscing how things hadn't changed much since the last time we were there. The sights and sounds were the same; the smell of the ocean permeated the air.

I meandered around shooting pictures of anything interesting that caught my eye. Here are a few:

Extra-Added Attraction

Oh, and always on the lookout for wildlife wherever I go, I did see a seagull sitting on a rock, contemplating what he was going to do next ... maybe fly to Salt Lake City for the weekend? Who knows?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Monterey Coastline: Spanish Bay

Click on Image for a Larger Picture
Situated along the west coast of Monterey’s Pebble Beach, Spanish Bay is actually a public beach. It can be accessed via Sunset Drive in Pacific Grove for free, but since we were doing a nice automobile meander, we paid our entry fee to the 17-Mile drive into Pebble Beach property.

As usual, there were a few swimmers and surfers at the southern end of the coast, at Moss Beach. On a previous visit there, we walked along the wooden boardwalk to the Inn at Spanish Bay.

This time, we just parked and I got out to take some photographs of the beach. It was chilly and windy, so the wife stayed in the car.

My pictures:

Monday, April 25, 2016

Point Pinos Lighthouse

On the Wednesday before our wedding anniversary, we did a drive around in Pacific Grove (where the Monarch butterflies assemble in the winter) to avoid the traffic jam to and from Carmel Valley Ranch, where we were staying.

One of the things I always wanted to do was visit Point Pinos Lighthouse, where I could wander the grounds, take pictures of the historic lighthouse, and visit the little museum it houses.

The lighthouse has been in operation since 1855, and sits at Asilomar Boulevard, near the northwest terminus of Lighthouse Avenue in Pacific Grove.

As usual, I forgot to do some research on Google. Guess what. Remember when the Pacific Coast Air Museum in Santa Rosa was closed during our visit there last year? Remember when the Sonoma County Museum in Santa Rosa was closed as well?

Well, I did it again. Point Pinos Lighthouse is closed to the public on Tuesday and Wednesday.

All I could do was take a picture between the links of the fence barring our entry and commiserate with the elderly couple that also was stymied by the closure.


Now I have to wait until the next time we take an overnight trip to the Monterey Peninsula area and expose ourselves to the constant traffic jams in the area.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Pacific Grove Natural History Museum

I'm a sucker for museums, natural history museums in particular.

So it's no surprise that one of the places I wanted to see on my next trip to the Monterey Peninsula was the Pacific Grove Natural History Museum.

Pacific Grove, aka "Butterfly Town USA," is the little city (population 15,500 or so) where Monarch butterflies gather en masse during their annual winter migration down south. Like by the millions.

It was the wrong time of year to see them, but that’s okay. Two places I’d had on a “To See” bucket list were the Point Pinos Lighthouse and the Pacific Gove Natural History Museum. I finally got a chance to see them last month.

Built in 1883, the museum is about the same size as the Las Vegas Natural History Museum. Most of its display area consists of birds, more than 400 specimens are displayed, including the formidable-looking California condor, and an extinct passenger pigeon.

‘Nuff talk. It’s time for photographs, a few of the many I took.

The Back Yard

It’s also got a back yard with more than 100 plants native to Monterey County, and a huge piece of jade:

Cross this one off my bucket list!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Perfect End to a Frustrating Restaurant Safari

Our first full day at Carmel Valley Ranch, I figured we’d do Carmel, starting with breakfast. Little did I know that it would turn out to be a day full of frustration.

Do you know you can’t find street parking in Carmel? But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’d searched Yelp and found a little restaurant called “Katy’s Place,” but for the life of me, I couldn’t find it. So we started driving around the area looking for another café to patronize. We saw a few little restaurants, but there was no nearby parking. Plus, none of these places had parking lots.

We crisscrossed Carmel looking for parking lots (I know they have them because we’d been there before), but I couldn’t find one convenient enough. Come to find out much too late, there was a parking lot about two blocks from where Katy’s is supposed to be.

I gave up, and headed on to Pacific Grove. When we got to the Carmel-Pacific Grove turnoff, we encountered – guess what, no surprise – a traffic jam with a long line of cars. I see where Pacific Grove got the “Stall Craig” memorandum as well.

By this time, I was starving, but we eventually entered the Pacific Grove commercial area full of cafes and Italian ristorantes. Unfortunately, the one we picked was closed on that particular day.

Just down the street, we found a little barbecue place with an oil drum smoker outside just pouring smoke into the air. That’s where we went – the Little Chicken House.

The place is small – a couple of guys handling the chores, a couple of tables, and chickens roasting right in front of a small three-seat counter. Everything was clean, and it smelled great in there.

It was the best move I’d made all day. Copious amounts of mouth-watering, facial-smearing, finger-licking food.

The wife had a pulled pork sandwich (which she couldn’t finish) and a side of cole slaw. I had a two-meat plate (chicken and pork ribs) with a side of amazing baked beans.

I don’t want to say it was the best barbecue lunch I ever had, but if I had a better one, I sure don’t remember it.

Sometimes our frustrations get paid off in the end, no?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Carmel Valley Ranch

Front Entrance
Checking in at the Carmel Valley Resort, I was reminded of a sign that hung in a photography shop I used to frequent during my early working days in Hawaii: “This is a class joint. Act respectable.”

Registration Fire Place
The resort is as classy as one can imagine. Once we found the registration area, check-in was a breeze. No long counter with semi-impersonal personnel waving you over. Nope. None of that. We were invited to sit in comfy chairs at a desk with the representative as she did the necessary paperwork.

I had to use the restroom after our hours-long journey (see previous post), and by the time I returned, everything was completed and the wife had our keys. With map in hand showing how we get to the bungalow suite, we jumped in the car and found our way there.

Only one thing: You gotta walk long curvy, paved paths to get to the suite. My legs got tired.

But, the room is very nice, very classy, and well appointed. It had a fireplace with wall controls, a comfy sitting room with amenity shelves and cupboards, a big easy chair in the bedroom with a huge posh ultra-soft bed. We spent a few minutes trying out all the light switches.

Here, let me show you:

Valley Kitchen

That night, we had dinner at their Valley Kitchen restaurant.

We shared a brisket-wild arugula with asparagus salad, flavored with a feta cheese spread and a mild vinaigrette.

We each got our own plate (they called it “Let’s Share.”)


For my entrée, I had the most tender medium-rare pork chop I’ve had in a long time.

It was accompanied by a smoked, encrusted thick slice of bacon.

The meats were all nestled over grilled asparagus, which themselves were arranged on creamy, buttery mashed potatoes.

Shame on me, I forgot to take a picture of the wife’s meal; I even forgot what she ordered.

Extra Added Attractions

Wandering around the cabins and golfing green were deer and turkeys:

I couldn’t help thinking: Venison and Roast Turkey.

Many thanks to my son and his wife for this elegant 50th Wedding Anniversary treat.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Enroute to Carmel Valley Ranch

I don’t drive as much as I used to, since I don’t have many things to do, or places to go since I retired. But I’ve often mentioned on Facebook that whenever I do go out, it seems the traffic people send out a memo in advance that I’m going to be on the road, figure out where I’m going, and start construction on the streets in my path.

It seems the transportation department people in California have been alerted in advance of my travels.

Our planned route from Fremont to Carmel Valley Ranch (the 808 into the 17, to California 1 to Carmel Valley Road) is supposed to take about two hours, according to Google Maps. Given Google’s propensities for run-around errors, I mentally added a few minutes.

Silly me, I forgot to factor in the “Memo Syndrome.” The trip turned out to be four-and-a-half hours.

All was sailing smoothly until we came to the 17-Cal 1 turnoff. The turnoff was packed. We crept, we crawled onto California 1. Then, it took us a little over a hour to go the next 10 miles. It cleared up, but about a mile to the Cal-1/Carmel Road intersection, it slowed down to a crawl – a ve-e-e-ery slow advance.

Carmel Valley Ranch is ‘way up the valley, and after the turn, we were sailing along nicely when we saw a “Road Work Ahead” sign, then an “Expect Delays” sign, before joining a long line of cars stopped on the road. About 20 minutes later, we began moving again and the mile-long line made it past a road crew worker brandishing a “Stop” sign.

I hit the Internet on the long stop and discovered the road crews had started resurfacing the day before and wouldn’t be done until after we were well on our way back to Fremont. That would wreak havoc on our plans to leave the resort and tour Carmel, Pacific Grove, and Monterey during the next few days. Big delay leaving, big delay returning. Every time. Eww.

So then, I missed the tiny hidden turnoff to Old Valley Road and had to turn around and double back. Once I found it, it was smooth sailing to the Ranch’s entrance. The guard gate guy waved us through and I began searching for the front office. I made the mistake of depending on my GPS to guide me. All it did was guide me in … circles!

When the guard gate finally came back into view after 20 minutes of frustrating “no, not there; no, not there,” I broke down and asked directions. The guard told me to make a u-turn and meet him on the other side of the guard shack.

He then checked me in and told me how to get to registration – straight shot – and that he’d alert them that we were on the way.

I shouldn’t have been so macho. Should have asked directions anyway … a curse on the GPS lady!