Monterey for days
Monterey was an unexpected stop for us. Initially, we had hoped to sail roughly 300 miles directly from San Francisco to Santa Barbara, but we are learning quickly that Mother Nature will play just as large a part in voyage planning as we will. A large storm rolled in, which prevented us from leaving for nine days. Lucky for us, our friends on s/v Namaste were also stuck, which meant tasty potlucks and excellent company. Our first few nights in Monterey were whiled away amidst laughter and games of Pirate Fluxx (thanks again, Ronan!) and Monopoly Deal.The “best” chowder in town
Monterey is known for its chowder, and local restaurants are not shy about touting that they have “the best chowder in town”, a slogan pasted across nearly every restaurant on the historic Fisherman’s Wharf. Many of the restaurants offered samples to lure passersby in for dinner and to prove that their chowder was indeed the most delicious. During our first evening walk, we were hungry for a chowder bread bowl, but given our tight budget, we wanted to be certain that we had indeed found the best chowder before choosing our dining destination. By the time we had sampled the dozen chowder options on the Wharf, we realized that both our bellies were already full, and we laughed our way back to the boat. Fortunately, we had ranked our options, and knew just the spot when we met for dinner with s/v Namaste a few days later.Mama comes to Monterey
My mom and stepdad had planned to drive from Southern Utah and meet us in San Diego. We were thankful that they were understanding that we could not sail quicker down the coast, and they made the 10-hour drive to Monterey, rather than the 7-hour drive to San Diego, to spend a few days with us. Our first official visitors!
They treated us to dinner at Rappa’s, where Neil, my mom, and I enjoyed shrimp scampi, grilled mahi with mango salsa, and rockfish. My stepdad opted to stay out of sea and went with a chicken sandwich. The seafood was rather epic, and not a morsel remained on any of our plates by the end of the meal! My parents also shepherded us to Costco, where we completed our final bulk provisioning for our voyage. Whew…Trekking for tacos
During the days, we explored the waterfront and worked on boat projects. No longer having a car means that we rely almost exclusively on our feet to get around. One day, during a six-mile stroll for a six-dollar part, we discovered Pico de Gallo, a hole-in-the-wall Mexican eatery that we couldn’t resist. A chili verde taco plate with rice for $3.50? YES, please! After eating tacos two consecutive days (yup, we dragged my parents there with us, too), we decided we better lay off the Mexican food. After all, we’re going to eat more than our fair of tacos in the next few months!
One afternoon, we set out on the self-led Path of History walking tour through the town. Because we were visiting during the off-season, however, the tour was rather disappointing. We followed the path only to find each historic building closed for the season and little information offered along the way.The waterfront beach walk and side streets of Cannery Row were a different story, however. It is well-worth exploring and should not be missed! The beach front park between Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row offered beautiful ocean vistas. Numerous placards offered information about wildlife and history that enriched our visit to an area that might otherwise seem kitschy given its hordes of semi-tacky gift shops. Several statues and monuments also offered glimpses at the characters and cultures that were associated with Monterey when it was at its prime as a sardine canning mecca. The Cannery Row Monument, which was dedicated earlier this year, is a most beautiful tribute to the town’s colorful past and to Steinbeck, whose stories immortalized it. Fitting that Neil started (and finished) Travels with Charlie (thanks, Wilson) while we were in town. When nature calls
Monterey boasts the largest marine sanctuary in the United States, creating a safe haven for sea lions and seals, whales and dolphins, otters, and a host of marine birds. One of the results is a population of sea lions that rivals that of the city. Day and night the bark of sea lions echoes across the harbor, their pungent odor wafting with the direction of the wind. I came quickly to love their song. I found myself reminiscing on being lulled to sleep as child by the lullaby of a knot of frogs who lived buried along the muddy shores of our ranch’s pond.Each day, fishing boats set out early, returning with a fanfare of hungry seagulls ready to nip at scraps from the day’s catch. One afternoon, we were delighting in a close-up encounter with a sea otter the size of a Labrador, so cute and playful floating leisurely on its back. For as much curiosity as we had about him, however, our sea critter couldn’t have been more disinterested in us. As we chattered about how tremendous we found the experience, it seemed that nature called. The adorable little beast shit in the water! Not so cute…but all the more amusing!