Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Bay-Area Attractions Blend in Monterey

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADeer manicure a Monterey Peninsula golf course.

Story and Photo

By Cecil Scaglione

Mature Life Features

MONTEREY —- The cops warned us about the raid.
The man in the police uniform announced a few decibles above Rosine restaurant’s late-lunchtime chatter: “You have 17 minutes to move your cars.”
We either had to finish eating in that time or rush out and move our vehicles from their
downtown parking spots before a fleet of tow trucks swooped down Alvarado Street to move
them for us.
Right behind them was an army of vans and pickups that swarm into the commercial core of this
city of 29,000 to set up a weekly farmers’ market and craft fair that has been pleasing penchants ranging
from popcorn to porcelain, and puppets to pumpkin bread since 1991.
The rush is repeated every Tuesday throughout the year. Most of the produce on sale springs out of the neighboring salubrious Salinas Valley. It has been dubbed the Valley of the World by Salinas’ native son, Pulitzer- and Nobel-prizewinner John Steinbeck. It is also the model for “East of Eden,” one of his many renowned novels.
Cradled between the Coastal Range on the west and Pinnacles on the east, this funnel of fertility
stretches some 100 miles south to the Paso Robles-San Luis Obispo-Morro Bay region.
Earlier in the day, we covered the Presidio and Fisherman’s Wharf, smaller but more comfortable
versions of their similarly-named counterparts several miles north in San Francisco. They’re
much more accessible in this City by the Bay – Monterey Bay.
Within strolling distance are Cannery Row, also made famous by Steinbeck, and its world-
renowned aquarium. The carnival atmosphere of the Wharf, with its cotton candy and pull taffy, is so permeating you
begin to look for fire eaters and bearded ladies. Spielers shout enticements and offer cuisine
samples to lure you into whatever restaurant they happen to be standing in front of.
Dining is not to be pooh-poohed here. Menus at eatery entrances feature dishes ranging from
abalone to zucchini. If there isn’t  enough there for the gourmand, you’re still  here, just minutes away in Cannery Row with its eclectic array of boutiques, saloons, and dining dens. It also serves as a megaphone proclaiming the
dozens of wineries and their products in the Monterey Peninsula as well as reminding visitors
this is Steinbeck country.
The late author’s home town is 30 minutes east of Monterey’s neighbor, Marina, with its spume-
sprayed sand-dune beaches. There’s a Steinbeck Center in Salinas that fleshes out the author’s
course from farm laborer to literary lion with such memorable titles as “Tortilla Flats,” “The
Grapes of Wrath,” “Sweet Thursday,” and, of course, “Cannery Row.”
This agricultural hub feels longitudes away from the scenic and storied 17-mile drive, Pebble
Beach and Big Sur. Aiming your auto west for just half an hour gets you right back to the
brisk Pacific breezes that constantly massage these shores.
Our first approach was made by taking the winding 100 mile coastal Highway 1 from Carmel to Cambria.
If you plan to make this drive, take plenty of time and film. There are vistas at every curve of the
road, and there are hundreds of curves. You can also take time to visit the fabled Hearst Castle at
San Simeon or stop for a respite at the Arthur Miller Library tucked into a rock-and-tree-walled
nook alongside the road.
A pleasant surprise at the northern tip of the Monterey Peninsula are the vistas from Ocean View
Boulevard, which borders the coastal edge of Pacific Grove, Monterey’s western neighbor. And
you don’t have to pay the $9.75-per-vehicle required to take the 17-mile drive. It was
worth the price because we got to see the famed California mission at Carmel, Monterey’s
southern neighbor, before we began the scenic drive from that city’s entrance.
We also got to see deer pottering about on the golf greens overlooking Spanish Bay. This was
reprised the following morning when a doe and fawn traipsed below our balcony at the Asilomar
Conference Center, a rustic retreat on the Pacific dedicated to the simple life. It was a culture-shock away from our previous night’s stay in a luxurious Marina Dunes suite on the opposite side of Monterey Bay.
Mature Life Features, Copyright 2004

Written by Cecil Scaglione

June 23, 2013 at 9:06 am

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