Monday, October 29, 2007

Day 57 -- Driving in the clouds

The free continental breakfast at the Morro Bay motel never materialized. Maybe it was because there were only 3 or 4 rooms occupied. No big deal. I figured I would find something on the road. Route 1, to be exact.

Around Cambria I saw a little village-y looking street and decided to pull off and look for a bakery. There was an internet cafe with frou-frou coffee drinks and baked goods. Just what I needed. While I nursed a mocha and cranberry scone the proprietor and I chatted about the town and about my travels. A few locals came in, including a young woman wearing fairy wings. For Halloween.

As I headed north, I looked for the funky little motel I'd stayed in 7 years ago. I remembered that it was just past the place where the elephant seals gather. I couldn't remember the name of the area, but apparently it is Piedras Blancas. I found the elephant seal site, but didn't see any motel. Then further up the road I passed it, but it looked like it might be out of business as there was no sign out front. It was pretty run down back then.

Then it was on into Big Sur as clouds came down to meet the road. I can't afford to stay at the Ragged Point Inn -- at least, not on this trip -- but I was intent on stopping there again to enjoy the view and maybe a hot blueberry muffin. (Yeah, yeah, I know. I'd just had a scone.) When I stopped there 7 years ago, the sky was bright blue, but today I could only catch brief glimpses of the coastline through the fog. There were no hoards of hummingbirds this time, but a single one did come out to greet me and I could hear others in the trees.

You can probably drive from San Simeon to Monterey in about 2 hours, but you can also turn it into a full day trip by stopping at the many view points and exploring the beach access trails. Today I made a quicker trip of it than I had previously. For one thing, the views were restricted by the clouds, but also the few routes down to the water were closed due to extreme fire hazard. There wasn't going to be any sitting on the rocks watching the waves this time. So I put on a tape of nature sounds mixed with soft music, rolled down the window, turned on the heat and enjoyed the drive. Even when a light rain began to fall, I kept the window open. I made a few stops along the way to take pictures or just marvel at the view and arrived in Monterey around 3PM.

I immediately located the motel I had picked out and got a room. With so much time left in the day, I decided to walk (about a mile) towards Fisherman's Wharf.

When I lived in Monterey 30+ years ago while attending the Defense Language Institute (DLI), I didn't drive. I walked, took the bus, and caught rides with friends. It was a long time ago. I have only vague memories of how the streets connect, and many landmarks have changed. But I managed to find the waterfront, have dinner and get back to my room. I plan to stay for two more days. List of activities include time at Point Lobos State Reserve, a visit to the Presidio where DLI is located, and maybe a whale watch cruise. The weather is supposed to improve.

Oh. And while I was at dinner the waiter asked if I was here for the conference -- the librarian conference. (Do total strangers think I look like a librarian?) I suddenly remembered that the Internet Librarian conference is in Monterey in late October or early November. I've been wanting to get my job to send me for years but have never managed to coordinate it. Maybe I can get in to see the exhibitors hall. I'm sure I'll find vendor invitations on my desk when I return to work next week.

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