Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Visiting Monterey

Friends are going to Monterey. My favorite places there are the beaches at Asilomar, the park south of Carmel at Point Lobos, a French restaurant (VERY inexpensive, which is amazing) called Fifi's in Pacific Grove just down from a big intersection in a small shopping mall with easy parking, the excellent natural history museum in Pacific Grove, and best of all, Dennis the Menace park, just north of downtown Monterey next to a lake. It's a well-kept secret known primarily to locals. I have taken adult friends there and even though the park could be described as simply a large outdoor gym, we have had a lot of fun climbing around all the equipment (quite sturdy enough for adults), swinging, etc. Free, and I think open daily except Monday. The cartoonist Hank Ketchum lived in Carmel, and he designed and paid for the park as his gift to the city. Other than the name, there is not a single commercial reference -- no T shirts can be bought, no stuffed animals, no refreshment stands, no way to spend money at all. Just a place to have fun, and watch other people having fun. (If you go to the aquarium, its gift shop, while excellent -- they have a particularly nice selection of posters and prints -- will probably pry some cash away from you.)

The library in Monterey was a favorite hang-out for me and for my brother. We'd ride our bikes down hill to the library, past the motel with the huge aviary full of canaries (which my classmate Gloria's family owned). We'd hear weekly readings from the then-new novel "Mr. Bass's Planetoid" by Eleanor Cameron. Going home, we'd walk our bikes up the long, steep Martin hill past a fascinatingly dangerous rock quarry [now completely covered over and converted to a tony housing development], turn left at the top, and find our way back to our home on Via Ventura -- which, last time I was there, looked almost exactly like it did when we lived there.

Carmel Mission is another nice stop, with a big park-like space still attached to it -- nice gardens and a particularly nice fountain, and a small museum. Not the best-marked spot -- not much in the way of signage even when you are right next to it.

A far more obscure mission is located on Highway 101 east and south, in a hot valley -- but it's one that still preserves a lot of what its original self must have been, since there's no urban encroachment. Ah, here's what I located on Google: "To visit Mission San Antonio, leave King City by crossing Highway 101 towards Jolon on County Road G14. The mission, about 10 miles west (inside Fort Hunter Liggett Army base), is the third founded by Father Serra in 1771. It seems virtually untouched by time, and both church and the museum in the cloisters are worth the detour. Nearby Lake San Antonio County Park offers camping, hiking, watersports, and other activities." I don't know anything about the county park, but there is also, in the miniscule town just south of the mission, an old hotel built about two feet from the railroack track that went in presumably in the mid-1800s; it's another museum, with two or three small rooms. BTW, the town of Jolon is pronounced "whole OWN".

--Rachel Holmen

sent via wifi from my Palm Tungsten T3

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Funny, I found this post vicariously through research on Julia Morgan who designed both "The Hacienda" and a bell tower. I grew up in the area near Asilomar, but closer to Santa Cruz; and I have a schoolmate who was last seen in Jolon. I have had many dreams about the Carmel Mission, though I'm not sure if I ever visited it in my youth or not.I once had an overwhelming need to do a chart for MZB, which was partially satisfied by a relative who stated that she had Scorpio rising. I don't suppose that you would have any further insight on that?