Tuesday, January 16
Today was my last day in Monterey. It’s been an action packed eight days and I am sorry to leave but ready to go on to a new place. Which I’m not, actually, doing right away: I’m leaving Monterey proper but I’m only going up the road a bit to Santa Cruz, which does not really count as a new place since it’s actually still on Monterey Bay. Still, it is the other side of the bay and the bay is big. There are two freaky places easily reachable from Santa Cruz (at least I think they’re easily reachable, but I have thought that before. . . cue banjo music here; I’m looking at YOU, Big Bear Fucking Lake) the Mystery Spot and the Winchester Mystery House. I feel like Velma! Mysteries! I have been planning on the Winchester Mystery House since I first heard about it when I was a kid, so I’m excited as hell about that. I had never heard of the Mystery Spot before but of course, once I had, it became a must see. But that is still in the future! Let us talk of Monterey, soon to be in the past.
I went whale watching last Friday. It was delightful, at least for me, because to quote Ratty, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, so worth doing as simply messing about in boats. But as for seeing whales, well. I was really, really glad I had brought binoculars and felt sorry for those who had not, particularly the kids. Whale watching is not, um, exciting. You go out in a boat and chug around and it’s all good and then the crew gets excited and says WHALES AT TWO O’CLOCK and everyone rushes over to one side of the boat, except you because you are both polite and slow, a deadly combination, and then you get over there and there is. . . a ripple on the water. Perhaps a blowing like a fountain, very small and distant. I am exaggerating, but not too much. I did see a couple of tails, but they were far, far away. Still, who cares? It was fantastic AND we also went right up close to the sea lions at the harbor breakwater. As always with furry marine mammals, I am in LOVE with them and with this California where there are large and chill wild animals so close to people. In the East the most we get is groundhogs and the occasional deer and they run as soon as they notice they’ve been spotted. Anyway, I took the newest whale watching company, Discovery Whale Watch, and it was much, much less crowded and a smaller boat than the other ones who were loading at the same time, so I recommend them highly. They were very laid back and chill and it was more like being out on a boat ride with your friends than being on a Tour.
On Saturday, I got my hair done! It looks fantastic if I do say so myself and I am extremely happy. I even got my eyebrows waxed, which I have not done in umpty squazillion years and now I feel as if I look better than I have in forever. I went to Studio 519 in Pacific Grove and they could not have been nicer; also, they start serving margaritas at noon, so make your appointment for later in the day. I got there at 9 and there was coffee, thank the gods. Alas, my fatal glamour was utterly unsuccessful at the Bulldog, a pub the hairstylists recommended. I went in for a drink and sat at the bar but nobody spoke to me for the hour I sat there, nor did anyone respond to my no doubt pathetic attempt at friendly small talk. I mean, the bartender did, briefly, but that was it and at the end of it I crept out sadly. *
On Sunday, I went for a long walk at Asilomar State Beach, which is right there on the edge of Monterey although it says it is a whole different town, Pacific Grove. It is mind blowingly beautiful, all rocks and waves and tide pools. And on Monday, I drove to Big Sur: I did the other half of the Pacific Coast Highway, or, well, almost all of it. I went about 20 miles south of Big Sur and then I turned around. I have nothing to say about it that hasn’t been said a hundred million times before: yes, okay, it really is the most scenic road in America, better than the Blue Ridge Parkway (ocean AND mountains wins out over mountains alone, sorry) and definitely, but definitely, everyone should see it. That said, I wish everyone wouldn’t have gone to see it all together on Monday like we did. If you are expecting peace and quiet with your crashing waves and fog and mind blowingly beautiful bridges, you need to be on the Cambria half of route 1. The Carmel half is packed. I went to lunch at Nepenthe, which is the recommended place by everyone, and had a ridiculously overpriced but quite delicious lunch. $17.50 for a grilled veggie sandwich, but it was a very good sandwich and the view alone is worth it. After I turned around, I went to Carmel by-the-sea, which seemed overall way too quaint, way too shoppe, and way too chichi for my taste. I did however go to the Photography West Gallery and become enchanted with Roman Loranc, so that was cool; I like finding photographers I have never encountered before and also I want my prints to look like that, sigh, and then I chatted for a while with a painter in an abstraction gallery that I liked.
Today, which is Tuesday, I finally got the CD player in the truck fixed, and I got gas, and I got a prescription filled – did you know that if you have Obamacare Blue Cross in NC you can’t use it anywhere but NC? Neither did I! And now I’m scared. – and I sorrowfully and with a heavy heart said a final goodbye to my old and beloved iPod Classic. I took it to two places and both of them gently informed me that it was too old and too far gone to save and so at the second I said, do you have a recycle bin? And the lady there (Monterey Computer and iPhone Repair; she was super, super nice) said, sure, but maybe you want to. . ? And I said, what, bury it? I guess I could make a little tombstone. And we both laughed but you know neither of us was entirely kidding.
Tomorrow, onward! Mysteries! And on Friday, SAN FRANCISCO and I get to see some actual people I know there and have social time! I feel a bit like a Sim – my social is so low, now, that it seems just a matter of time before I drown in the pool or jump up and down and scream or set fire to the kitchen or something.
* Bartenders and servers need single lady of a certain age sensitivity training. Look, going into a bar or restaurant alone is HARD for me. I was raised to believe that nice girls just did not do that, and it’s been surprisingly difficult to shake. Even after years of near professional level drinking and practically a masters in dive bar studies, I feel anxious and scared when I go into a bar alone. So when I do manage it, I’m not there to stare at the wall or my phone for 45 minutes then leave sadly. Really, I’m not, I could do that at home and the wine would be better and my pocketbook would be happier. I’m there to chat with people. I’m not looking to pick anybody up – that’s a whole other discussion – I just want a little human contact. A joke. A bit of a conversation. So if you are the bartender or the server, maybe make an extra effort? Maybe steer your single patron to a seat by a friendly regular? Maybe if you are talking with some regulars include them in the conversation? Please? I tried again today; returning to the Taste of Monterey that I had enjoyed so much last week. But this time, the bar area, which is off to the side, seemed almost full and the very young host was bound and determined to steer me to a table. A table for four, completely isolated, and he seated me with my back to the bar, which was far away anyway. So I got to sit alone, in a completely empty dining room, listening to happy conversation and laughter literally behind my back but so far away. I got sad and then I knocked my glass of wine back like a shot and left. Yes, I should have protested – I did try – and probably I should have just gotten up and walked over to the bar and the hell with him and the server. But you know, the onus should not have been on me. Please, oh please, food and bev people, give a bit of thought and consideration to your single patrons?