Monday, September 5, 2016

Some More California Coast Favorite Memories: Monterey, Et Al

This is another post specifically to show certain members of my family who are taking a trip to California from Utah to go to a 49er's game this month.  Of course, they've already planned their 4-day itinerary, but I still can't help myself from injecting a couple or so ideas they might be able to at least look out for.  For example, they are going to the aquarium in Monterey, but I happen to know it doesn't have to take a whole day to see the aquarium, as wonderful as it is.  And it is a doozy, all right!
(Also, this is another post where I have borrowed pictures from the internet because all the pictures I've ever taken there are actual prints stored away in boxes that are not at my ready at this time.  Just clarifyin'.)

On the way south, rounding the bend in the highway approaching Half Moon Bay, less than an hour out of San Francisco, the ocean comes in to mighty view (again, because it's mostly in view all the way, and then you can't see it for a minute, and then whoosh, there it is again!) and on the opposite side of the road are pumpkin fields. This surprised me so much, I wrote a poem about it once.  Or at least tried to write a poem about it.  It wasn't very good...or poetic.  I don't know what made me think I should try to write a poem about something that was already poetry.

Eventually, they might notice the iconic artichoke fields, although maybe they look just about like any other field at this time of year.  I love to see them when in cardoon season:

Right around the corner, actually almost in Monterey, in Pacific Grove, is the entrance to 17 Mile Drive.  Can't miss it.  And you shouldn't miss it.  It won't let you miss it.

As long as you're on 17 Mile Drive, take a second to drift into Carmel-by-the-Sea.  (I know it's mostly known simply as "Carmel," but that is just not as romantic or historic a name, is it? I mean, when I was a kid growing up in the desert, I didn't dream about visiting Carmel.  I yearned to be by the sea in Carmel-by-the-Sea!  Big difference!)  

If, while you're there, you happen to cross paths with my old friend Clint, ask him to play Misty for me!

Hahahaha...Oh Man, I just couldn't resist!

You should have time to, and it would be a shame if you didn't, visit the Mission San Carlos Borreo del rio Carmelo. 

I have a picture of Dad by this mission.  I think Katy and Jillian are in the picture, too.  We went there at some point, the four of us.

I've taken too many road trips between San Francisco and Big Sur with family and friends to keep them all straight in my head and am having difficulty remembering exactly which stops I made with whom. 

Some of us went camping on Thanksgiving at Big Sur, some of us kayaked in Monterey and Santa Cruz, some of us stayed in the kitschy-pink Lover's Point Inn in Pacific Grove and listened out the window across the way to the otters crack their dinner on rocks balanced on their tummies, some of us attended a retreat at the Quaker Center in the Santa Cruz mountains.

Fourth of July fireworks out over the ocean in Half Moon Bay, twilight concerts on the beach in Santa Cruz,  hiking in sand dunes at Ano Nuevo State Park to see the elephant seals and being surprised by a squeaky mouse struggling to get out of a snake's opened-mouth death grip. 

Once I was sitting on the sand, looking for sea glass while Katy and Kaid swam in the bay in Monterey.  I looked up and saw 12-year-old Kaid a few feet in front of me, looked back down to find more glass, looked up again and Kaid had been replaced by a sea lion pup! 

It's just kind of magic, that part of the world and those moments we experienced. 

And, oh yes:

It's just so fun!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Friday, September 2, 2016

Klezfest, Oysters, Mixed Up Memories

My poor little brain has been awash lately with so many memories of when I lived in California that  I was just about to write a blog post for each one of them that I could think of.  I've changed my mind, because that's a lot of remembering and would be too much writing, I think.  Or maybe too much second-guessing about the importance of writing memories and who cares and are they memorable memories, or is it just that I have too many neuroses?

I will say, though, that there are some things I just feel like writing about and one of them is the Klezfest that Constance and I went to somewhere on the Northern Coast of California.  These Red Hot Chachkas performed at that time with a few other Klezmer groups.  It feels like the event was held on a compound of some sort, but probably it was just a community center in a small coastal town, somewhere near or at Inverness? 

And now that's my telling of the memory.  What else can I say?  We drove out there, listened, danced and ate kosher somethings.  I've long been interested in many things Yiddish, probably since the first time I read Leo Rosten's book, "The Joys of Yiddish."  I wore out my first copy of the book, couldn't stand to be without it and when I couldn't find another one to buy, I kept borrowing it from the library.  I eventually found another to purchase and I have it stashed away with other treasures.

I was living in Salt Lake City at the time.  There was a Jewish deli downtown, (owned and operated  Dutch holocaust survivor, Lu Dornbush,) where my sister Deborah and I decided to expand our horizons by tasting cream cheese and lox on a bagel.  It was a wonderful sunny summer day and we had traveled by bus from my apartment in Sugar House.  We ogled all the pastries and other foods, but our minds were set on cream cheese and lox.  It was going to be a taste of adventure, something we'd only known about from books and movies.  We stepped out onto the sidewalk and shoved huge bites of bagel and thin strips of orange-pink salmon into our mouths.  EW!  What's this?  It's just raw fish!  Deborah choked and sputtered, actually gagged for several moments.  I laughed so hard, I began to choke.  Such innocents, we were! The world was so much larger in those days.  Since then, I've eaten and enjoyed a lot of unusual and seemingly unfood-like foods, and I even like smoked salmon, now, too.  But happy were we for not trying it out inside the store.

One striking question I have as I recall this event is, how did we choose that particular food item?  I know we decided on purpose before we even went into the store.  That was the mission.  Cream cheese and lox.  Deborah and I both took a lot of things seriously that we gleaned from the media, and, for me, it was that from then on when anyone in a movie or on television casually mentioned cream cheese and lox, I would relate to the experience.  We probably didn't have enough money to head back in and order a piled-high Reuben or even a couple of pieces of  Rugelach with which to wash down that lingering fishy taste.  

(Years later I was to meet this beef brisket Reuben in San Francisco at Miller's East Coast Deli. Did it blow my socks off, you ask?  Yeah, I think it sorta did.)

The only other time I saw my sister have such a strong reaction to any kind of food was many years later when she took a swig of my daughter's fresh raw goat milk out of curiosity.  "This tastes like goat hair," she exclaimed to my wonder that she knew what goat hair actually tasted like.  Why is it so funny to see someone so stunned and displeased with something they have just unwittingly done?  I don't know, but I laugh.

(This picture is from a few years earlier than the 70s when Deborah and I were there. Except from the cars, this is pretty much how it looked mid-70s, only not so faded!))

Several years after that experience at the kosher deli, I met my friend Constance, who lived in SLC at that same time as I did.  We didn't meet until at least a decade (or more) later in San Fransicso.  Constance had better memories of that deli.  Did she even work there, at one time?  Something like that.

But back to Klezfest California.  That might have been the same trip we took in search of hidden-gem-status barbequed oysters on the half-shell.  A bit of a juxtaposition, you say?  Maybe.

(Only one other book in my whole life has been as endearing and hilarious to me as was Rosten's lexicon of Yiddish .  It was "The Last Catholic in America," by John Powers.  I wore that one out, too, while I laughed until I sobbed and couldn't catch my breath.  You had to be there, and you probably had to be me. I wonder if it would do to write about a couple of my favorite books and what actually endears them to me.  I never enjoyed writing book reports in little school, hated writing reviews in High School, and almost enjoyed reviewing them--with annotations-- as an English Lit Major in college!  I loved reading and discussing, though, discovering the symbolism and how it all so poignantly showed the predicament of man.  I'm over it, but there are just some things still near and dear, so maybe I will write about them.)

Forewarned is forearmed.