Really Starting Out – Days 1 and 2

Allan & Muriel at the Los Olivos Inn Day-1

Dinner Day 1 Overlooking Monterey Bay

Dinner Day 1 Overlooking Monterey Bay

Wednesday August 6, 2008 (Muriel)

Allan and I finally got our luggage packed and crammed into my car, along with bags of AAA tour books, maps, a backlog of unread magazines and books, birding optics, walking sticks, hiking boots, computers, cell phones and assorted other electronics, driving away from our townhouse just before noon. It’s not easy to pack for a three-month trip!

Once we were on the road we had the chance to notice that it was a beautiful mid day, sunny with just enough ocean haze to soften the horizon over the ocean. We drove up the coast through Santa Barbara before turning inland and taking an alternate route past Lake Cachuma and on to a late lunch at the Los Olivos CafĂ© in the charming and – since the movie “Sideways” – famous town of Los Olivos.

After we had been served and each taken a sip from a glass of white wine and Allan had taken a bite or two of his Pacific chicken salad and I had taken the same from my favorite curried chicken salad, a photographer walked over and told us she was taking pictures for a wine and food magazine. I was sure she wanted us to move out of the way so she could get a better shot. We were comfortable and just settling in to enjoy lunch. In other words, we dreaded having to interrupt our delightful state. Much to our surprise, her request was to take our picture. We didn’t have to move out of the way. So perhaps one of these months our picture may be in a magazine for wine fanciers. In any case, there is a picture of the two of us on Allan’s camera that was taken by a professional photographer on Day 1 of the Kotin Big Trip. An auspicious beginning!

The rest of the drive to Monterey was uneventful. Outside temperatures reached 100 F. By the time we neared the coast, we were cooled by a low cloud layer to the 50’s.

The Lexus GPS was disappointing. Our Lady of the Dashboard tried to confuse us several times on the way by her voice’s poorly timed correct instructions and also not getting quite correct whether we were just following the road or turning. Fortunately the map pictured on the display was more accurate than what The Lady told us. We had asked the GPS to route us its short route. It had us travel farther north and loop back south as we neared the coast, following much of the strange way it routed me and a friend to Audubon California Conference at Asilomar last fall. Instead of our traveling through the scenic areas to the south, we drove along the edges of abandoned barracks and other buildings of the closed Fort Ord, the back of California State University at Monterey Bay built on part of the former fort, and semi-industrial areas of Seaside. It was rather interesting, but not a route we would have chosen. We decided that we would try not to rely excessively on Madam GPS.

We settled in at the Portola Plaza Hotel, next to the Monterey Conference Center where Allan will be teaching a class on real estate to members of IEDC (International Economic Development Council) tomorrow and Friday. We made dinner reservations, spruced up and got directions to the restaurant we picked, about a mile away from our hotel.

We discovered that the bellman must have given us directions for driving, not walking. The sidewalk disappeared. Then the shoulder disappeared. Fortunately the one lane, limited access road was wide enough to keep us out of traffic. Fairly soon we came to a sign saying no pedestrians allowed ahead, that pedestrians should take the path to the nature walk. Apparently we weren’t the first crazy pedestrians to walk to that point. We were delighted to take the path down to a walkway/bikeway along the bay. As we walked along we were serenaded by Western Gulls and sea mammals. Cormorants and Brown Pelicans rested on crags rising from the luminescent gray water, and sea otters scooted around on their backs.

As we neared Cannery Row we found the street that would take us to the Duck Club Restaurant. We were seated by a window. We watched Western Gulls below us, saw a large sea otter zoom past on its back, and identified the cormorants that flew by as Pelagic. Dinner was delicious. We didn’t want to walk back in the dark, even with possibly better directions and got a lift back to our hotel.

Thursday August 7 (Allan)

Even though this is a vacation, I taught most of the day. There is a national economic development organization known IEDC (International Economic Development Program) of which I have been a member for many years as well as former vice president and board member. They have a certificate training program that I help design many years ago and one of the required courses in real estate development as it applies to economic development. IEDC asked me to teach it this time in Monterey and since it was on our way I agreed. The class was too large and the room an acoustical challenge but the students, (all economic development professionals) seemed interested and engaged so the day was tiring but fun.

Muriel spent the day catching up on email and taking a short walking tour of the fisherman’s wharf part of Monterey where we had dinner with a fine floor show of gamboling and honking sea lions.

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