Sunday, October 4, 2015

Day 3 - Mill Valley through Big Sur and Why Monterey Made Me Cry

Today was another really awesome day, in spite of being really disappointed in one part of it.

We started off toward the Golden Gate Bridge. While making a detour to the Recreation Center to get a sticker for the truck window, we came across a deer. She wasn't concerned at all about vehicles, so we just sat there taking pictures of her for a bit.

Got some nice shots of the bridge even though the fog hadn't lifted all the way.

While we were driving through San Francisco, I was amazed at how much it reminded me of Guayaquil. The architecture is very similar, houses stacked up on the hill. Just brighter colors in Guayaquil!

San Francisco:


Guayaquil seems to be more colorful and with less fog!

I was so excited to be going back to Monterey that I decided to forego a lot of San Francisco this trip and head on down south. Monterey is a very special place to me. It's the first place I went when I left home. It's where I rented my first apartment, bought my first vehicle (a little red moped), where I got married the first time, and a lot of firsts. In many ways, Monterey of the early 1980s holds a more special place in my heart than the town where I grew up. There are some places in Monterey that hold very special memories.

One such place was the cliffs by Fisherman's Wharf. On countless days, I would walk down the hill from the school or the barracks, across Lighthouse Ave, and perch in a little crevice in the rocks on those small cliffs. Many times, a sea otter would be in the area. I would frequently buy a cheap little ball to toss out to him. I could sit and watch him play with the ball for hours. Eventually, he'd get tired of playing and let it drift. It would usually drift up to the rocks, and I would climb down to retrieve it. If it didn't drift to the rocks, well - I was much younger then. This was such a special place for me that even having some guy flash me there one time didn't ruin it for me. This was where I developed my love for marine mammals, and sea otters are still my favorites.

I was expecting things to be updated. I'm not naive enough to think that my favorite place to get fried squid rings and french fries would still be there, but I did intend to check. I've been craving them since I left in 1983. So much better than the calamari you get anywhere else - and TENDER!

So, we pulled into Monterey. Del Monte Ave is much wider than it used to be, but that's okay. Lots of new places. But still okay. The Naval Postgraduate School doesn't appear to have changed at all. The lot on the other side of the street is more groomed. Still good.

We get to the Wharf, and the cliffs have been leveled. Instead, there is now a concrete walkway with benches and such. Kind of a non-green park up against the bay. I cried. Fisherman's Wharf has lost its feel. You don't have to guard anything from the seagulls. In fact, there weren't that many seagulls to be found. A few, but they kept their distance from people. I was looking forward to getting squid and fries on the wharf and fighting the gulls for my fries!

Cannery Row was like just about any tourist area you come across. In fact, it reminded me of Naples, Florida, all the way down to Bubba Gumps at the waterside. They have painted and rehabbed the buildings and overhead walkways, though, - and added a John Steinbeck statute and wax museum, which I really should have expected.

And, I was looking forward to seeing the Monterey Aquarium. When I was there, there was a little marine rescue organization that would eventually grow into the Monterey Aquarium, known worldwide for their conservation work and lauded as one of the best aquariums in the world. It's a sprawling complex. So big that they should have a lot more exhibits than they do. But, they would have to remove a few gift shops and turn off some of the television sets showing what the animals in the exhibit were doing sometime in the past. There was also an area where food vendors gave samples of their offerings that you could buy in stores and such. Not like a restaurant coaxing you to eat at their place, but like the samples you get at the grocery store. In fact, the one we sampled was to buy that particular brand of tuna. They mixed it with pico and served it with chips. But the exhibits they did have were well put together, if not well lit. Here's the flamboyant cuddlefish.

A colony of sea lions used to inhabit these rocks. I decided to leave the rest of Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Carmel to my memories, so we left, heading to Big Sur.

South of Carmel, I decided to break the law and step into the ocean. From what I could tell without getting out in there, the waves are about like some of the beaches in Ecuador.

Big Sur did not disappoint. It was beautiful then, and it's beautiful now. Here are a couple of shots.

A huge herd of elk along the side of the road!

And, elephant seals!!! I really don't understand the people who were on the other side of the parking lot taking pix of the sunset and ignoring these guys! As the only other person taking shots of the seals said, "That sunset sucks compared to these guys!"

Sing it, Sister!!

And, to top it all off, when we stopped for the night in San Simeon, I got my big, tender squid that I've been jonesing for since 1983! With a glitch, another awesome day!

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