California Musings - Day 4 (July 7)

Wednesday, July 7th we let the kids sleep while Ivan and I went to the one computer in the hotel "business center" ( a desk on one side where the coffee machine was) to check out our route to Monterey. After confirming our thoughts, we headed out to Ralph's to buy a few snacks for the road and fill up with gas. Down half a block and across the street from our hotel, we knew this wasn't like any shopping center at home when we got out of the Suburban to discover music piped from the buildings to fill the parking lot with soothing, peaceful music. Inside the store people were pleasant and helpful as we bought chips, cheese cracker packs, and bottled water. After filling up with gas at the nearby station it was back to the hotel for breakfast, showers, and loading up the family.

We had an extremely pleasant drive as we took Hwys 101/1 to Santa Barbara and then found our way on Hwy 101 up through a mountain pass (we went through fog and a 20 degree temperature change!) and back down into some of the most beautiful open farmland I've seen in a while. Golden mountains shimmered in the distance as crops abounded around us. We stopped in Los Almos for a bathroom break (silly us - we got mixed up thinking of nuclear testing - but then realized that was in New Mexico). We stopped in Santa Maria for lunch and Eli finally got to try an In-N-Out Burger. A stop at Costco to adjust Emma's glasses (a tiny screw was coming out), a visit to Walmart for a new memory card for Ivan's camera - and we were back on the road. Grandma had brought crossword puzzles from the newspaper and they became a group effort, everyone contributed. Then came the excitement (mostly Mom and Dad) as we came into Salinas - there was the farm that grew the lettuce we buy each week at Costco!

We hung a left and headed into Monterey (did you know that John Steinbeck was from there?). Our Super 8 Motel was easily found and checked in to. After depositing our things in our rooms (once again - boys and girls rooms) we drove down to Cannery Row and looked for someplace to eat. Settling on Sly McFly's (touch of nostalgia for Back to the Future), we soon realized we had made a mistake. The menu wasn't really as good it seemed when we had looked at the menu posted outside - and the dance floor in the middle of the room, the dark lighting, and the band being set up didn't bode well for a family dinner. We paid for the drinks we had already gotten and left. We went across the way and settled on Louie Linguini's - which turned out to be a good choice. Coming out the sun had set and the scene across the Bay was very pretty. Walking around a bit in the shops was a nice way to spend some time. Sue bought a jacket as we began to be a bit concerned about just how chilly San Francisco might be, and Alcatraz (our scheduled tour for Sunday) was rumored to be even colder. Back to the motel once more we went. Everyone worked on postcards to mail out the next day and chilled for a bit. The pool was not operational, but it was a bit too chilly anyway to swim. A most successful and enjoyable travel day.

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