California sunshine: Part 3

Sunday was sweltering in Monterey. I made it there mid-morning, found a free place to park, and walked downtown. I started with an iced coffee drink and half an hour reading the local weekly paper, which I think is one of my favorite ways to enjoy being a visitor in a city. Monterey is one of the few places I’d thought about moving to after college. It’s incredibly beautiful, but somewhat small and a magnet for tourists. Fishermans Wharf is probably the most magnetic part of town, but also just about the only place I knew of to walk around. I gazed out over the water as the day heated up. Once again I felt overdressed in cords and a long-sleeved top. I rolled up the hems of my pants to take a quick walk in the ocean, which was surprisingly cold. The sand and shell bits were uncomfortably coarse on the bottoms of my feet. I stepped very carefully among the sea anemones and pieces of trashy debris. Looking up at the pier, I noticed a long row of restaurant windows where people could sit and watch beachgoers like myself.

Just off the bike path there was a little promontory with a picnic table and a few trees. I walked to the edge of a short cliff, where I had an amazing view of blue sea, white rocks, and glossy-coated seals lying in the sun. Next time I’m in the area I’d love to go kayaking in the bay. As it was, I felt unprepared and financially unequipped for such activities (even for a trip to the aquarium). I killed a little more time at the bayside before getting in touch with my friend Nikki, who lives in town. We found each other walking down the same street in opposite directions; I called her to see where she was, and she looked across the road and saw me. We had lunch in Pacific Grove at an outdoor table. She told me of her plans to live in Palestine after graduation. I talked about my lack of a love life in Portland.

Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay

She gave me directions to Point Lobos, which I hoped to visit before going back to Salinas for a family dinner. I didn’t have much time. I took the first trail I found, which led to Whalers Cove. The water was clear blue and filled with kelp waving in the surf. Dozens of seals with their pups were lying on the sand or perched on intertidal rocks. I snapped a few photos and took a short walk along the cliff’s edge. Looking at my watch, then, I decided to leave the coast and drive back to Salinas. My aunt, uncle, cousin and I had a nice dinner at the grandparents’ house. I tried to tell them something about my life in Portland, but that life is so mundane I can’t always figure out how to make it sound interesting.

Whalers Cove at Point Lobos

Whalers Cove at Point Lobos

I left before sunrise the next morning to ensure that I got to San Jose in time for my flight. I enjoyed my last views of the California hills, and the last time I would hear more Spanish than English stations on the car radio. Luckily I returned to Portland on a gorgeous spring day—with no work obligations. I love vacations.

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