Accidental Monterey

Fun with sandpipers and filters

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

Today was a Saturday, and I had no obligations! First, Liza and I woke up and played a game that her Baba Alla had brought from Russia. The fun part was, the rules were in Russian, so we couldn’t read them. We got to figure out how to play by looking really closely at the cards. Turns out, it was an “opposites” game. Black,white, long, short, fragile, durable, things like that. It was fun to watch Liza figure it out!

Russian opposites game

Then Liza and her Momma went on an adventure to The Monterey Bay Aquarium and to visit with some friends. I figured that I would go for a walk around Salinas. I bundled up and headed off. As I was walking, I was chatting with Auntie Bridgett on the phone. “Why are you walking around Salinas?” She asked. “Head for the ocean and walk on the beach!” So I did.

John Cerney art in Seaside

The Number 20 bus runs right down West Alisal, and goes to Monterey, but I got off in Seaside. I wanted to walk along and beach and end up in Monterey for lunch. Stopping at Starbucks (which I never do!) to get warmed up, I headed under the freeway and walked on the sand. Heading south, in one of those wonderful accidental miracles, I ran into my old friend Barbara Snell, who was heading north. She is a beach-walker, too, and had a bag of trash she had collected. We caught up and chatted and then went on our ways.

Me and Barb

Once I got to Monterey, there was a lot to see. There was a Jade Festival, where people were selling beautifully polished stones of all sorts…jade, quartz, hematite, and even iron pyrite, which is called “fool’s gold”. There was a jazz combo with a singer, and I listened to them for a while. They were delightfully smooth, even in the blustery grey weather. Of course, the historic architecture is always fun to look at.

Classy architecture at Franklin and Calle Principal

For lunch I decided on The Crown and Anchor, a wonderfully kitchy English- Style Pub on Franklin. They were decorated for the Royal wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle, and I watched some of the wedding re-plays on the news broadcast and I had roasted corn soup and bread.

Inside the Crown and Anchor

While I was eating and realizing how tired I was, I checked my phone and saw that I had walked about 3 miles along the sand. It was time to go home. I walked up Alvarado to the Monterey Transit Plaza and caught the good old Number 20 back home.

Tomorrow, Auntie Olga, Cousin Liza and I  plan to celebrate (belatedly) the Royal Wedding and get haircuts!


Grandma Judy



Adventures in Transit

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

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Auntie Olga, ready to roll!

Today was another adventure. Auntie Olga, Cousin Liza and I went to the John Steinbeck library, but this time, we took the bus! We figured with the bus ride replacing the mile walk, we could enjoy more time at our destination. Since both the number 20 and the number 25 bus run between our house and downtown Salinas, even on a Sunday we don’t wait more than a half hour for a bus, and much less if you plan right.

We left the house earlier than usual, and Auntie Olga still had her coffee cup. Liza found some lemon grass and noticed that the leaves look like hearts! Somewhere along the way, Liza found part of a pencil sharpener and started creating tiny bouquets in it…blades of grass, a tiny belladonna daisy, and some small magnolia seed pods.

Chatting with John
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Liza explaining her bouquet

She was explaining all the bits of loveliness in her creation when we noticed that Rick’s brother Kevin was riding up on his bike! We had hugs all around before the bus came and took us to the Steinbeck library. We turned in books, got new ones, and Liza made us a fabulous pretend lunch from the library’s toy kitchen. We realized that we weren’t just pretend hungry, we were really hungry!

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Liza’s food truck

Auntie Liza suggested lunch downtown, so we walked to Portobello’s new location on Main. They were closing in 15 minutes, so we took our seats at a table outside to enjoy our burgers and quiches. The food was very good, and I introduced Auntie Olga to Messiah Beer. The weather was cool, but we had coats and were very comfortable.

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Driving Auntie Olga

In the Steinbeck Center, Liza had fun showing her mommy all her favorite things…the red pony, the model A car, the children in the migrant field camp, and Doc Ricketts’ boat. And as she looked at the exhibits, Auntie Olga’s mind was racing…how could she use this museum as a teaching resource for her class at Central Coast High School? John Steinbeck’s work encompasses history, literature, and science. The museum itself is a graphic artist’s dream. I got the business card of the director so Auntie Olga could contact her about curriculum.

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“I nearly always write…just as I nearly always breathe.”

When we were done at the museum, we walked just across Salinas Street to the transit center and caught a bus within a few minutes. We walked the few blocks home and nodded off into napland.


Grandma Judy

Monterey Adventure

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

Yesterday, Cousin Liza and I got to go on another adventure. We walked to Sunshine Donuts on West Alisal for a treat and, more importantly, change for the bus. I haven’t figured out Monterey-Salinas Transit’s pre-paid system yet, so I am a slave to dollar bills and quarters. We found our bus stop and waited, not very long, in the strong morning sunlight.

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Playing with Shadows

The number 20 bus took us through fields and across the Salinas River. This is a very odd river, as rivers go. It flows north, which not many rivers do, but is also an UNDERGROUND river most of the year. The rocks that form the bed of the river are porous and when there isn’t enough water, the water level drops below the rock level, and the river disappears! It is still flowing, though. Airplanes taking pictures show water flowing into the bay, even when the river looks dry!

We continued past Marina and the big shopping area at Seaside, catching my first look at the Monterey Bay since last July. It was so bright blue and beautiful, a perfect January-summer day. We got off the bus at The Window on the Bay, a wonderful park that Mayor Dan Albert of Monterey created years ago by having the city buy of the small businesses in this spot so people could play and sit here and see the Bay. When Mayor Albert retired, he said it was his greatest achievement as Mayor. I agree.

Walking through the flowers and volleyball courts, we got to the beach. We took off our shoes and got used to the feel of sand on our feet. Cousin Liza had fun deciding how wet to get…first just the bottom of her feet…then we rolled up her overalls a bit. Then just her ankles… and we rolled them up a bit more. Then she stopped being afraid and got wet clear up to her knees, and the overalls did too! But that’s part of the fun.

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Wet Feet Liza

We built a princess’s sand castle that ended up having a face made of rose petals, seaweed and rocks. There was a smaller castle nearby, “for the prince”. No idea who he was….

There were a lot of people having fun on the beach! We saw a girl’s surfing club, a kayaking class, and people walking their dogs.

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Surfing Class
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Liza and the Princess Castle

For lunch, we said good-bye to the sand and walked to Sapporo, a wonderful Japanese Restaurant and sushi place by the Monterey Yacht Club, above The London Bridge Pub. We had a view of the harbor. We saw some young sailors bringing in their FJ sailboat. They reminded me of Liza’s Daddy David, years ago.

guys at yacht club.jpgWe did the kid’s maze and watched the waiter make “training chopsticks” for Cousin Liza with a rubber band and a roll of paper. We ate grilled shrimp, spicy tuna, and rice. So tasty!

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Delicious Lunch

By now it was really warm, and all our layers of clothes from the morning were stuffed into my bag. We headed to the Monterey Transit Center on Tyler. Liza climbed up a great concrete wall and we played Story Cubes until the bus came. After our long day in the sun, Liza had a little nap on the bus, but woke up just at the right time so we could walk to her house. Then we BOTH napped!

After dinner, Liza’s Daddy decided we should have a fire in the backyard and make s’mores, and then we went for a walk around the neighborhood. This was just about a perfect day!


Grandma Judy