Monday, October 19, 2009

Extra - My Monterey Trip

I woke up before 4:00 so just got out of bed and puttered, throwing the last few items in my suitcase and getting on the road on schedule at 4:30 so I could be at Nancy’s before 5:00. The flight was uneventful. We picked up our car (a Hyundai Accent with zero pick up) and headed to Monterey, stopping for a late lunch at In & Out Burger on the way. By the time we arrived at Nancy’s parents’ house, we’d already been up for more than twelve hours and it was only 2:00. Despite Nancy’s insistence that her parents were not talkers and would not “visit” with me, I spent the afternoon doing just that, first with her dad and then with her mom, who was making the only dish in her repertoire for supper – beef stew. Having been warned of her lack of cooking ability, I watched with trepidation as she sprinkled things like sugar, lemon juice and various other additions into the pot. Despite the odd ingredients, the stew was delicious. After an early supper, Rita got behind the wheel of her ancient diesel Mercedes and drove us to 17 Mile Drive. The sun was setting as we got to the lone cyprus but by leaning on the railing and using the night setting on my camera, I was able to get some beautiful shots. After the sun went down, it was pitch black so we inched our way back home and I sat like a zombie in front of the TV while Rita flipped channels, waiting until 9:00 so I could go to bed. Tomorrow would be a busy day.

Since the first rain since March was forecast for Tuesday, we had to fit everything in on Monday. Nancy decided to stay home with her dad while Rita and I headed down the coast for “the tour.” Cleary Rita was a pro at this because she narrated along the way and stopped at the scenic overlooks with the best picture taking opportunities. She even counted between the lighthouse flashes so I could click exactly when the light went on for the perfect picture.

Our first official stop was at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park to see the waterfall. The scenery was gorgeous and I took lots more pictures, coached on many of them by Rita, who is a skilled photographer. There was a perfect little brook (the one that fed the waterfall) that I was aching to get my feet in but it didn’t have easy access and I resisted. We drove back north from there to Pfeiffer Beach, which is accessed by driving a single lane road down the side of a mountain. The terrain changes as you drive down from redwood forest to cyprus lined beach. The waves breaking through the rock arches along the coast are gorgeous and I took many more pictures.

Our last stop was another state park to see the redwoods. Rita scammed her way in by saying we were going to the restaurant and we promptly headed up the path to see the trees. Rita was dismayed that her favorite trail was closed because they’d had a fire there this summer. I was fine with that because at this point, I was having trouble keeping up with Rita, who is a dynamo with the energy of someone half her age. The redwoods were majestic and I struggled to capture them adequately with my camera. As we were headed back to the car, Rita offered to take a couple’s picture. While she coached them on the best place to stand, I stepped off the path and headed for the stream, which was only 10 feet away and easy to get to. I pulled off my shoes and socks and stepped in for some quality California wading. I didn’t have my feet in the water for a minute (it was freezing cold!) but when I turned around, Rita was not there. I had been sure she’d see me, maroon clad butt in the air, just off the path. I hurried up to the road in my bare feet and looked down the hill. Still no sight of her. I was feeling bad that she might be worrying so threw my shoes and socks on my now muddy feet and started down the road towards the car, calling her name as I went. When I got down to the parking lot, there she was coming out of the gift shop. When she’d finished taking the picture, she’d missed seeing me off the path, assumed I’d headed back to the car and ran down the hill. She seemed unbothered by my wading escapade and we headed back home. Despite any turmoil I caused, I was glad I waded. It would have been criminal to miss an opportunity like that!

After washing my feet and changing my socks, Nancy and I headed to Cal State Monterey Bay, where we were meeting my old boss from UNL, Jim Main. I’d emailed him when I’d realized he was so close to Nancy’s parents. He was taking us on a tour of his campus, which was on the old Fort Ord and so was full of abandoned military buildings, which you know I’d love to see. He drove us all around and showed us both the refurbished parts of the base and the old dead part. We ended up at his house, which is both sides of a duplex that used to house officers but has been made over as staff housing. Because it’s in such a rich area, lots of the staff rent converted quarters on campus. It’s a sweet deal. The houses have been redone to modern standards and are huge.

We picked up Jim’s wife Camille and John Marker, another UNL transplant whom I’d never met but the more the merrier. We went to Taste of Monterey, a wine club they belong to, for a wine tasting. After sampling 5 different wines, we each got a glass of our favorite and sat overlooking the bay to enjoy them. We then headed upstairs to a seafood restaurant for a fabulous meal. Nancy hit it off so well with Jim and Camille that she and her family are now invited to a Husker game party the day after Thanksgiving, when they’ll be in town visiting her parents again. It was a wonderful time and I let Nancy drive home because I’d had four (!) glasses of wine (one normally makes me useless.)

It was pouring rain when we got up on Tuesday. Nancy and I had poo poo-ed their “storm,” thinking they were being weanies but it was a storm indeed. We watched sheets of rain blowing in the wind and could hear branches splitting and debris hitting the roof. Rita thought we were nuts but Nancy and I headed out to do some shopping. Armed with a list from Andrea, we went to Parker-Lusseau bakery in Monterey for croissants and then hit the Trader Joe’s, which was conveniently right behind it. Then it was on to a yarn shop in Pacific Grove, where their electricity was off so I opened a blind and shopped for sock yarn in the semi-dark. They had some beautiful hand dyed yarn but it was $22 and not quite enough for a pair of socks (WTF?) so I only bought one skein of a pretty variegated bamboo.

With every passing minute, the rain was coming down harder. We drove back toward the local shopping center where Nancy wanted to hit a couple of thrift shops. We ducked into the first restaurant we saw and had soup and fish tacos then ran across the parking lot to the first thrift shop. By the time we got there, I was soaked to the skin. It seemed like Nancy took forever in there and we still had another store to hit and the market. On day ten of my cold and now soaked to the bone, I just wanted to get home and have a cup of tea. Two stops and many bags of groceries later, we headed home to make dinner for Nancy’s parents, something we’d planned to do from the get go.

Well, we arrived to find that the electricity had already been out for 5 hours so no tea, no dryer for my clothes and no stove. I took a quick shower in the dark, put on dry clothes and settled into a chair in the atrium where it was light enough to knit. I listened to Nancy chatting with her parents in the living room and we all waited for the lights to come on. Rita got out candles and at 7:00 we decided to go out for dinner. The local Chinese restaurant was crowded and hot but we filled our bellies then went back home to pack in the dark, going to bed early since there wasn’t much else we could do. The lights came on at 12:05 a.m., which woke us up. They’d been out for 13 hours.

We pretty much got up the next morning, ate breakfast and headed to the airport. My plans to take the rest of the week off had been nixed by the inept plumbers who were behind on redoing my bathroom so I’d called work to say I’d be in on Thursday. That put a damper on the end of my trip but more on that in the next post. We had another uneventful trip home, except for my ire at the plumbers, which caused Nancy to offer me one of her happy pills. I declined. I dropped Nancy and got home ~8:00, at which point I unpacked and fell into bed. It had been a wonderful trip and it was good to be home.

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