Saturday, March 28, 2009


Because our travel day was Friday, and we knew the roads would be clogged with visitors to the wine country and the beaches, we were up and on the road early for our drive from Paso Robles to Salinas. Another beautiful day for driving.

Our route wound through some of California's premier agricultural areas, with a quilt of crops spread around us. Lettuces of many colors, broccoli and strawberries, with patches of wildflowers addiing color on the grassy green hillsides.

We were in place at the Salinas Elks Lodge (read our review and see more photos here), backed up to a golf course, by early afternoon. Unlike our travels in the southwest, by the end of this short travel day, Scoopy's huge windshield was smeared with the bright yellow innards of countless squashed bugs. Odel did a major cleanup before he snapped our solar screens in place.

Then we were off to Old Town Salinas to visit the National Steinbeck Center for all things John Steinbeck, a native. Naturally, the largest exhibit area was devoted to an examination of Steinbeck's life and writing, but I found myself more interested in the exhibit describing the history of agriculture in the area - especially the packaging that enabled transport of local produce further and further afield. When we stopped to buy packaged "Herb Salad Mix" for dinner at Safeway, it occured to me that it was probably picked within 50 miles of our current RV site.

We had picked the Salinas Elks Lodge because of its proximity to the coast and Monterey, and we were up early this morning to drive the 16 miles to Monterey before the road was too crowded. We had a long walk on the "coastal trail", a paved walking/biking trail that runs from downtown Monterey, past the Monterey Wharf and on to Cannery Row (and beyond) before it was too jammed - but even early in the day we mingled with joggers, bikers, parents pushing strollers, dog walkers...

Parking lots were filled with bodies wiggling into wet suits, and kayakers unloading their watercraft. The sunshine was dazzling, and the color and movement fascinating, the views spectacular.

When we got back to the car, we headed farther south, to Pacific Grove and a seafood restaurant we had tried to visit (it was closed) many years ago. This time, it was open and not too crowded, so we stopped in for lunch. I had a delicious seafood quesadilla (shrimp, crab and scallops) and a glass of wine; Odel had Shrimp Fettucini Alfredo - good, but accompanied by garlic bread that was so stale it seemed leftover from last night. Not really worth driving out of our way to eat there, but we took another beautiful walk afterwards that made up for his mediocre lunch.

By the time we got back home, we'd walked at least five miles. I settled down on the bed for a little reading which, thanks to my lunchtime wine, turned into a little napping, instead. What can I say? I'm a lightweight!

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