A Monterey Rundown

When Alex told me he had booked a site at a racetrack I had visions of Ricky Bobby and spectators sitting in lawn chairs on top of dilapidated RVs. “This is going to be interesting,” I thought. But now that we are on our third day at Laguna Seca in Monterey, I am again reminded that expectations are rarely realized.

Our camper is currently perched on top of a hill that overlooks the hills surrounding Monterey. Campsites create a corkscrew of fire pits and picnic tables around the hill’s perimeter and at its base is the famous racetrack which sets the stage for daily car races.

The days are hot and we can hear the roar of the cars as they turn the bend. But the nights here are warm and a light fog sets in so that just a thin strip floats at eye level. Above and below the fog is crystal clear as if there were a parfait of cloud surrounding our hill. When the sun sets the trees, which look like large bonsai, become black silhouettes and the sky above Monterey turns pink. It is mid week so neighbors are rare. We are spoiled to have this view all to ourselves.

I have continued my playground and children’s museum tour here in Monterey. Our first outing was to the “Dennis the Menace” playground, a large adventure zone with several play structures including a suspension bridge, an historic steam engine and a tube slide. While it’s difficult to get bored here, I echo another parent’s sentiment that it’s “the most dangerous park I’ve ever seen.” Who knew what was lurking in the sandy floor and the jagged edge of concrete tunnels made me cringe.

Afterwards we all walked down Fisherman’s Wharf where each restaurant had cheerleaders handing out samples of their clam chowder in an effort to lure in customers. We sampled several, each different from the last. At the end of the pier was a restaurant where each window had a 360⁰ view of the bay. I managed to spill a piping hot sample of clam chowder on my shoulder while trying to wrangle Elias. Most people would leave the scene; we decided to stay for dinner. The wharf is a tourist trap but the view of the bay with its myriad of sailboats is worth the trip.

Yesterday was a visit to the Children’s Museum, of which I’m starting to consider myself a pro. This is the fourth museum on our trip and perhaps one of the best next to the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum. If it weren’t for the trains at San Luis Obispo, Our visit in Monterey could take top honors. Being Monterey, there was a child’s putting green and pee wee size marina. We spent most of our time in the kitchen, naturally, and stomping “grapes” in a wooden barrel. Elias 2011 will be ready to be corked next summer.

Eight loads of laundry later (yes eight!) we were all on the southern shores of Monterey in Pacific Grove. Here is where the beaches run wild. Sea otters bob their heads while others lounge on backs for an evening meal. Rocks form jagged castles for seagulls to perch on. The fog is thick and cold. With sweatshirts pulled tight we talked about the ocean’s scope and its incredible range of personalities. Here we are where the wild woman has begun to calm, whose skin has thousands of stories to tell and whose mind still has a fiery bite. It is beautiful here and I am particularly taken with it.

With picnic in hand we jumped into a gazebo in a tiny park in Pacific Grove, a town whose storybook downtown is lined with petite Victorians, some that seem no larger than a room or two. Each block fits several of these small homes and as you drive further out of town unique homes are tucked under cypress trees so that they blend into the landscape.

Tonight we are tired. We’ve packed in a lot and still have the aquarium and Carmel to visit. Xavier is asleep in my arms but Elias refuses to fall asleep (sigh). When he does I hope he dreams of sea otters and fishing boats. How sweet that would be.

**I had some great pics from the last few days which got corrupted when I tried to save them. They are lost forever. No one is more said than me. Sorry!**

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