Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Monterey to San Francisco

Before I forget, something else I didn't mention was that Monterey is home to a large sea lion population. The previous night when we were heading down to the pier, we heard loud 'arf arf arf' noises literally a dozen streets away from the ocean front - amazing how far sound can travel (either that or they are loud noisy buggers...probably both actually)

Tuesday the 9th of December.

We checked out of our motel and drove down to Cannery Row to see what it was all about.
Cannery Row was named due to containing many sardine canning factories, although these are no longer in operation (they closed in the mid 50's).

Cannery Row

Arguably one of the greatest American writers, John Steinbeck hailed from nearby Salinas and set two of his novels on Cannery Row (Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday). Simply walking along the row, you soak up the history and begin to see what inspired him.

John Steinbeck banner - he is obviously very well regarded in these parts!

I think it probably was a little rougher during the 30's and 40's though as Cannery now consists of arty type stores, cafes, gift shops and upmarket hotels. The gift shops here are a cut above the 'same old' stores we have seen previously on our journey (consequently a little more expensive too). It was here that we finally indulged ourselves in a caramel apple covered in walnuts - delicious! I also got the chocolate covered gummi bears here too (another yummy treat I sent back to the folks in NZ). We also got some American fudge which was okay but I prefer the 'hard stuff' Russian fudge rather than the soft 'cookie dough' type.

One of the highlights of this area was visiting a huge two story antique store inside one of the old canning warehouses called the
Cannery Row Antique Mall. It consisted of many, many different dealers but with one main place where you make purchases (a single checkout makes it a lot easier). There were so many goodies here; plates with pictures of classic cars (plates were made in the 80's), old toys (some still boxed), antique furniture, hand made teddy bears, ornaments, dolls, classic board games, videos, old post cards (from all over the world - even NZ) and some brilliant pictures from fruit crates ranging from the 30's to 70's. All in all, it was brilliant and we spent nearly two hours looking around. To anyone who is a retro fiend...Lizzy, Sarah and Sonia - you know you would love it here!

Cute house opposite the Cannery Row Antique Mall

From the antique store we moved back a few streets and I located a second hand bookstore where I picked up two of the Bernice Summerfield New Adventures...this only leaves me with five to go before I have the whole set. Hooray!

All of the streets near Cannery Row have names like Lighthouse Ave, Foam Street, Wave Street etc which really captures the essence of Monterey.

We left the Cannery Row area and were in two minds whether to check out Pacific Grove or head straight for San Francisco. We decided to check out PG (as it is known to the locals) as we had heard some amazing things about Monarch Butterflies and a little sanctuary they have there. Pacific Grove is also very close to somewhere called Pebble Beach. Seems they hold a golf tournament there or something.

We got to the butterfly sanctuary and at first glance it didn't look like much...but after a looking through a telescope trained on the leaves of some of the tall trees we saw a few
Monarch butterflies surrounded by leaves. It was then that I realised that the leaves were also butterflies and one of the docents (volunteer guide) said that they had counted over a 1000 of them the previous day. Apparently they can be up to 11,000 Monarch's in the sanctuary at one time. It was a worthwhile experience.

We saw wild deer in the sanctuary!

I know it's not a Monarch...but it was a good photo

See all the orange things - they're Monarch butterflies!

Click on the photo to see it more clearly

Another pic, zoom in to see better

After the breath taking wonder of seeing hundreds if not thousands of Monarch's in flight, we decided to migrate ourselves north. Next stop San Fran!

It was a mostly uneventful journey, although we did spot a VW ute/pick-up of a type we hadn't ever seen before, so that was cool.

A VW ute/pick-up

Finally we arrived in SF and as we were a little early, thought we could fill in a bit of time by going over the Golden Gate bridge. It was night time and hard to take a decent photo but I did get one which I have tweaked to make it a bit easier to see.

Golden Gate bridge at night

After our drive across and back (dutifully paying the $5 toll on the way back) we headed for Barry's place which was just off Haight Ashbury and where we were staying for the next six nights. We first met Barry at Sarah & Dan's wedding in December 2007 and she's awesome! A lovely person and most gracious host. Sha and I are deeply indebted to her for putting us up and all her helpful tips as to what is worth doing and seeing in San Fran. Thanks Barry!

Tomorrow - we make it Northwards to Sonoma, Wine Country!

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