I think I mentioned that some of this blog would be to highlight the not-so-great aspects of travel. Some of you may know that I come from a travel industry background. It was my career before I went on to librarianship. So, one of my pet peeves is sloppy management on the part of purveyors of hospitality, especially when they perceive you, the guest, are the one at fault when they are the ones going against a standard practice. One case in point was my modest campground site near Santa Cruz, New Brighton Beach State Park. I rolled in late in the evening after dark, something I generally avoid doing, but I got lost a few times, even with my GPS. After arbitrarily choosing a campsite, Mavis and I fell asleep for the night. We were woken up the next morning by the park manager who informed us that I had chosen the one campsite that had been reserved. I apologized, having not seen any indication tacked to the numbered signpost. We do it different here, he said, as I should have read it on a sign when at the pay station. I bit my lip. Really?, I thought. Every other state or federal campground in the west uses the signpost method, but they’re special. I just shrugged and offered my apologies to whomever I inconvenienced. They moved on and I tried to salvage the day. I walked to the ocean and spied a number of educational signs that highlighted the history of the area as being one of a mid-19th Century Chinese immigrant fishing village. That and the varying array of plant life and, ahem, the Pacific seemed to calm me down. I considered staying another night. But, of course, as I was heading back, yet another person from the campground, this time a ranger informed me of “my” mistake. Again. Yes, yes. I get it. I’m outta here. They had coin operated showers anyway. Grrr.
So, Mavis and I moved on to Monterey. Originally when I conceived of this project I imagined I would take the coastal route all the way to the Mexican border. I very quickly realized that that was financially unfeasible as California is freaking expensive, regardless of how or where you camp, or where you do your laundry. (At one point I did laundry there and it cost me $3.75 for a standard wash, $2.00 for a dry. Water is a scarce commodity in California, so I’m sure that is reflective in the price.) Monterey, as abundantly beautiful as it is, just sealed the deal. It would be my last stop on the coast.
I found the main branch of the Monterey Public Library, California’s oldest library dating back to 1849. Its current incarnation is a beautiful mid-20th Century building featuring beautiful wood finishes, an open floor plan, an extensive magazine area, and an outside terrace. The special collections were wide and varied, with one display featuring the history of Monterey and its contributions by those of Japanese ancestry. Another collection, and this was a new one for me, was a seed catalog, where you can “check out” plant and flower seeds to add to your garden. Very cool. The atmosphere itself was a bit non-library-like. It was a bit noisy as the kids in the children’s department located on the main floor was singing Christmas carols that day. Almost every seat was taken though and electrical outlets were scarce. The library however is certainly loved and used by its community. I saw many smiling faces and happy librarians. I felt very comfortable there.
Later that evening Mavis and I decided to stay at a city campground located at Veteran’s Memorial Park near the VFW. Monterey has a large military community due to the presence of the army presidio located in the heart of town. I noticed staying in the campground itself was a handful of vets who formed a tent ring in the center of the park. The campground itself was clean, cheap for the area-$30.00, and had good facilities though I noticed the sites were a bit close together. Mavis and I chose a site next an amazing spider web (pictured below) and listened to the sounds of seals on the wind emanating from the seashore. The next morning we were off to the Aquarium.
Pictures below (click to enlarge): A.) Mavis sniffs our campsite. Notice the bear-proof storage locker. B.-E.) Various species of mushrooms found on my walk to the sea. F.) The beachfront near the Chinese Fishing Village learning area. G.-I.) Learning plaques located near the Village. One about local aquatic birds, another about the Chinese Fishing Village itself, and another about the Civilian Conservation Corps who built the interpretive learning area. J.-K.) More views from the second floor of the Monterey Public Library. "Reading is Good for Business". L.-M.) The first floor magazine area. N.-R.) The current display featuring the history and contributions by the local Japanese-American community. S.-T.) The circulating seeds. U.) A nice book display. V.-W) My neighbors at my Veteran's Memorial Park campsite; a spider and some very loud black birds.