Sunday, June 27, 2010

On the Road

Gee, it was just about a year ago (July 4, to be exact) that we left on our whirlwind bus tour that took us as far east as Mount Rushmore. Time sure flies by.

We just got back from a short trip up north today (Saturday) but this time we drove. The advantage to taking a bus is not having to worry about driving or locating your destination. The advantage to driving yourself is being on your own schedule (including where to eat) and the flexibility that brings. Having a GPS overcomes the issue of finding destinations. I didn't refer to a map the entire time.

One thing I noticed is that as we got out of the area, the roads seem to be in better shape. I don't know why the roads in the greater Los Angeles area, and in particular the 10 freeway in the SGV are the most tore-up in America, or so it seems.

A vacation is not a vacation without stopping at In-N-Out, and that's where we had our first lunch on the journey - in Ventura. Amazingly this one wasn't crowded. We got there around 11:15 which is on the early side but still, no matter what the time of day, rarely do you see an In-N-Out with empty tables.

Our ultimate destination for day one was Pacific Grove. When I tell people about going there, most have never heard of the place. If you are one of them, it's a small town sandwiched between Carmel on the south and Monterey on the north and if you ask me, it has more character than either of them. It's a quaint, quiet place where you can pull over to park right next to the beach, get out of your car, and there it is - with no parking or beach access fees, and no houses blocking your way.

Although its been several years since the last visit, it really hasn't changed. In fact it hasn't changed much since the kids were little and we used to go there most every year. Here's some then and now pictures for you - well actually, they are not true then and now since the "then" locations or subjects don't correspond to the "now" locations, but it's then and now of the area in general:

Here's the museum - on a sunny day.

Here's the uncrowded beach - again, on a sunny day. Catching the sun up there is a hit and miss affair.

This is actually in Carmel:

This is on the main drag in Pacific Grove. Still looks pretty much the same!

Here are the "now" pics (pardon the boring composition but I ain't no professional photographer):

The main street (Lighthouse Avenue):

Now here is a change. This used to be a book store with a coffee/chat area but now it is a coffee/chat area with a book store.

We ate dinner at a place called Max's Grill, which had very favorable Yelp reviews. The reviewers were right - excellent food and service. It's owned by a Japanese couple - the husband is the chef and the wife is the hostess. Aside from them we were the only Asians in the place which was quite different than being in the SGV. Our waiter was a young white guy with a bald head (that seems to be the trend these days) and was very good. If ever you are in Pacific Grove at dinnertime, I'd highly recommend giving them a try.

After dinner we drove over to Cannery Row. Here's some pictures:

More posts tomorrow and thereafter..

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