March 15, 2005

monterey report

Waking up on Saturday mornings almost always sucks. Especially when the alarm goes off at 6:05am. Who in their right mind wakes up that early? Well, you do when you're about to be whisked away for the weekend to Monterey Bay, to visit with the fishies.

I may have been awakened by the alarm at 6:05am on the morning of March 12th, but that doesn't mean I actually got up at that time. The daily virtual-snooze scenario took place like it does everyday... awakened by the alarm only to quickly reprogram the cellphone for a later alarm time. It's funny when I set it wrong in my morning haze. Being a half-hour late is always fun.

I dragged myself out of bed just shy of 6:30am, which was fine. Erik was to be picking me up at 7am, and I had prepared everything save for a few key toiletries the previous night. I doddled and paced and checked and checked again as I stood waiting for Erik's call.

The ring came right on time, and I told my pops "See you Sunday night!" as I ambled out the door, ready for the road. After making our way out of Simi (thank goodness!), we stopped, briefly, so that Erik could fulfill his morning caffeine quota at a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf somewhere in Oxnard, and breakfast was just a little bit further up the 101, at the Summerland Beach Cafe.

hey, where'd it all go?

Funny thing about driving a MINI anywhere - you're bound to get comments. And we met that goal early, standing in line on the steps of the cafe, while waiting to be seated. Something about someone owning a classic MINI in Lebanon, and hijinks involving the tipping of said MINI.

We were seated at a small table directly under an autographed photo of Mayim Bialik. Score! The breakfast erred on the side of perfect, with some of the best bacon I've had in years. Then it was back in the MINI to figure out which way we were going to head next.

The plan was to take the 154 to the 246 through to Solvang, and further north to the infamous Ostrich Farm. The weekend was mostly overcast, but as we crested the 154 to drop into the Santa Ynez Valley, the fog disappeared and we were greeted with blue, blue skies. Erik successfully navigated us to a nice view of the Cold Springs Bridge. After copious photo-taking, we were back on the road, towards Solvang and the ostriches.

Emus and ostriches may be smelly, but they are also almost endlessly entertaining, especially when your driving companion insists upon feeding said dirty, dirty birds. The emus looked absolutely ferocious and I would not have attempted to pet one even if Erik offered me a nice shiny new quarter. I felt freaked out enough just by getting close enough to get a good shot of them.

And then, the ostriches. I still don't believe Erik's quip about humans being able to ride them. I can't really say much else about the ostriches, so I'll leave you to this video:

820kb .mov file (right-click, save as, people!)

Back to the road... we decided, at the last minute, that, yes, we would have time to hit the Santa Rosa Road to take us back towards Santa Barbara. Shortly thereafter, it seemed like a bad idea, but now, it was worth it. Bicyclists literally took over the pass the entire time, as they were participating in some sort of ride (century, half-century, whatever, all new to me). It was fun for me, as passenger, to sit and watch Erik try to navigate through the swarm of cyclists.

bicyclists everywhere! (and yes, that is us driving on the wrong side of the road)

Before too long, we were back on the 101 headed South (?!?) towards Santa Barbara, because Erik just HAD to show me UCSB. We parked on campus and walked through to some student center, where Erik illegally purchased a copy of iLife '05. Heh. After that, it was time for lunch. The hike down into the township of Isla Vista was enough to make me hungry again.

And hungry I needed to be, apparently, because I was excorted to FREEB!RDS, a 24-hour burrito place right off campus that rocks harder than any other burrito place I've been to. It's a choose-your-own-burrito-adventure, people! Need I say more? I stuffed myself silly and we lugged it back to Erik's car, climbed back in, and thought, "Next stop - Elephant Seals!"

The next stop actually turned out to be a Chevron Station in San Luis Obispo, but that was hardly worth mentioning. Then we were back on the 1 heading towards Morro Bay (so foggy we couldn't even spot famous Morro Rock!!). Through the winding roads we went, and stopped off near Point Piedras to watch another smelly species, the elephant seal, essentially sleep.

Oh, there were some entertaining moments: a pair of seals whining/yelling at eachother, a baby seal tragically confusing a bull seal for a female one (to the great entertainment of any teenage boys in the area), and the most people-friendly squirrel I've ever come in contact with (I was convinced it was gonna climb up my pantleg and bite me).

After we got out fill of seals, we once again made for the road. Did I mention that is was overcast? Well, it only got moreso as we wound our way up into the fog-swamped abyss formerly known as the fun twisty section of Highway 1. Visibility became a bad joke. A pull-out that I am very familiar with became a near-death experience as Erik nearly careened off the north side of it, nearly missing the turn-off entirely due to the heavy fog. The ocean below us only existed as an aural sensation. It was like that "Love Will Turn Back the Hands of Time"/death scene in Grease 2 with all the fog. Well, not really, but it was THICK!

very, very, very foggy

Again, back to the road - target: Monterey. This couple of hours was rather exhausting for Erik, I imagine, because it was fairly tedious for even me, and I wasn't even driving. When Carmel came in to view it was a glorious thing, because we knew that Monterey (well, actually, Marina) was just precious few miles away.

We arrived at our lodging just after 6pm, and collapsed from exhaustion, forgoing even the sweet relief of dinner.


It took forever for me to get out of bed on Sunday morning. I just didn't want to. Erik was awake at some crazy hour like 6 or something, but I just kept sleeping. All I can remember is that we were outta there before checkout time, and ate breakfast at the nearby Denny's. This was maybe the nicest Denny's I've ever been to. the decor was interesting with all the primary colors and our waitress was truly the nicest, most concerned server I've ever encountered. She truly looked like she loved her job. Someone get that woman an Academy Award!

After a filling breakfast we drove down to the Aquarium. I had never been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium before, and while I found it smaller than I had imagined, I still had a rockin' good time watching all the jellyfish, seeing a Great White Shark, and marveling at those funny sea otters.

After the aquarium we strolled a short ways down Cannery Row to the Ghirardelli Chocolates store to pick up some chocolate treats for my borderline-diabetic father and to engage in some hot fudge sundae-eating of our own. Can I get an "mmmmmmmm"?

"Heyyy, where'd THIS come from?"

Back to the MINI, and back to the road. We rode the 68 out to Salinas (I slept during the majority of this boring road), gassed up, and then rode the 101 down. By late afternoon we had psyched ourselves into having another go at FREEB!RDS, this time enjoying parking right next to the eatery (code word: "enjoying"). Stuffed silly again, we trekked down the remaining road until Simi Valley.

Erik helped me in with my bag, and he was fortunate enough to encounter my father in his post-jam session drunken stupor. My dad actually had some of his buddies over, which almost never happens, and they, apparently, had a good ol' time strumming and crooning Johnny Cash songs. Did I mention that my father was sloshed? That's always fun. Erik was a gentleman not to run, mad, out of the house (as I most certainly would have done in his position). He left a little while later, leaving me to collapse on my overly-comfy bed. *Sigh* It was a good weekend.

posted by julie at March 15, 2005 10:26 PM

things people have said

"Heyyy, where'd THIS come from?"

I would be more concerned about where it's going...

so said: Voldemort at March 18, 2005 11:45 AM


so said: julie (me) at March 18, 2005 01:53 PM