If any other place in Northern California could vie for my residency, other than Petaluma, it would probably be the Monterey Peninsula.  Monterey is a place of such beauty, serenity, and unique character; from the quintessential charm of Carmel to the hum of Cannery Row. It captured my heart many years ago and I’ve been back again and again.  Just far enough from the chaos of the Bay Area to feel like a vacation but close enough to manage in a weekend; Monterey is my ideal getaway.

Over the years Monterey has not only been a wonderful escape for me and my family, it has been witness to some very important events in my life.  It was nine years ago last week that my husband and I married in the San Carlos Cathedral* in Monterey.  A little over a year before that my husband proposed to me on a bench along Carmel’s Scenic Road, overlooking Ocean Beach.  In those years our life was a bit different and we traveled a bit differently than we do today.  It was more quiet dinners and sunset walks, leisurely cups of coffee and scenic drives. Now our trips have a more spirited atmosphere. With the fruit of our union squawking from his car seat, it can take a bit longer to get there and back.  Dinners are more quick and convenient than quiet and the coffee is almost always “to-go”.  Our lives may have changed but our enjoyment of Monterey has only grown as we discover new ways have fun.  

During our trip to Monterey last week we traveled, as we often do, without many plans.  We just let our impulses carry us; guided by the weather and our collective mood.  Entering the area I spotted a sign for the Salinas International Air Show featuring the Air Force Thunderbirds.  If you’ve been reading this blog you know we love our planes so that got added to the itinerary for Sunday.  The spectacular weather on Saturday lured us down to Big Sur for brunch at Café Kevah, Napenthe’s understated little sister down the hill. Eye-popping views of the coastline were the backdrop to a California-style meal while we watched our son surprise birds on the patio.  On Monday we sipped Ghirardelli hot chocolate from a Cannery Row balcony before heading down to the one must-do thing we had planned for the weekend; lunch at Vivolo’s Chowder House in Pacific Grove. And, our son would not let us leave without spending some time combing through the tide pools to look for bizarre little creatures.

Our weekend in Monterey may have been one of many but it was like no other. We’ve covered all of the territory before but as a family we have been able to rediscover an old place in a new way.  The activities are more “active”, the restaurants are more kid-friendly, and we are inspired to do things we haven’t for years, like tide-pooling.  The familiar and comfortable Monterey Peninsula welcomes us back again and again, never failing to deliver on a wonderful weekend.

*Side Note:  The San Carlos Cathedral was built in 1794 and it the oldest continuously functioning church and the oldest stone buildling in the State of California.  It was recently restored by TransMineral USA, Inc., a Petaluma company!