Thursday, August 27
We broke camp at Pfeiffer State Park after breakfast, assisted by some curious and apparently fearless blue jays.
The plan was to spend a chunk of the day in Monterey, including experiencing some of the bike riding that lovely town has to offer.
After driving up the coast and completing the drive through the Big Sur area, we found ourselves a place to park where we could get the bikes out safely and leave the van for a while without risking a ticket. There was a small parking lot in El Estero Park, which proved to be perfect, especially as we discovered that most of our destinations for the day were also close by, so we wouldn’t have a lot of additional driving.
We didn’t ride as far as we might have liked on the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, since we had a late afternoon appointment and we didn’t want to be rushed to get there, but it was quite lovely.
We paused part of the way along to have some lunch, sitting at a picnic bench and watching a venue (or is it a kettle?) of turkey vultures enjoying the coastal air currents. I have to put in a link about the vultures here because they’ve been the most commonly seen bird of prey on our entire trip around the US. I already knew about the fact that these birds feed primarily on carrion that they detect mainly by smell, but I did not know what a collection of the birds was called. Apparently a group is called a venue but they are called a kettle if they are circling in the air.
We only rode about 12 miles but it was really enjoyable and pretty.
After our ride, we found our way to the Monterey Sports Center, which was less than a mile away from where we had first parked, and paid a day-use fee. Since we were going to be camping in the evening, not to mention we had a meeting, we felt we should shower after our ride. We were actually surprised that the campgrounds on the coast have showers and toilets operational, but we’ve been getting into the campgrounds late enough that a shower isn’t always practical.
The sports center was certainly well appointed and we enjoyed the cool indoors and free wifi while we waited for each other. We have a padlock with us somewhere, but it wasn’t easy to lay our hands on, so we just took it in turns to shower.
We still had a bit of time to kill before our meeting, but we noticed that there was a bike shop next to the coffee shop where we were going, so we decided to pop in there and take a look around. We can’t really help checking out a bike shop if we’re right there and have the time! We were immediately impressed that two of the staff at Bay Bikes were women. We wandered around the store a bit and then one of the women engaged me in conversation. The three of us had a lovely chat about biking, our travel, and so on. Her name was Hanna Muegge. She is apparently one of the top CAT 1 women’s cyclists in California, as well as a grad student at Monterey Institute (now known as Middlebury College). She reiterated for us something we had learned from another friend, that it’s pretty hard for women cyclists at the highest levels, since they get very few of the perks that the men get.
It was now time for us to head next door to meet with Mary Jeanne Vincent. Mary Jeanne is the aunt of one of Angie’s cousins. She lives in Monterey and is a moving-and-shaking woman business owner who also happens to be a career coach. Cousin Annette had thought that if we are planning on relocating to the region, she would be a good contact to have for networking purposes. Even at our first meeting, we knew that this would be a win. Mary Jeanne was totally on the ball. She heard our story and had some good input for us, including a couple of connections that might help us with the moves we want to make. We really enjoyed getting to know her from a social standpoint too. What a lovely lady.
As for the coffee house, we were not as impressed. Since they seemed to offer a lot of specialty teas, we figured we’d ask for tea instead of coffee. We assumed they knew how to serve tea. Not exactly. Lukewarm does not make a great cuppa. To serve a good cup of English tea, for example, even if you are doing a custom tea bag in the cup, you should be providing boiling water. We let the servers know there was a problem, so they popped the cups in the microwave! It didn’t help that much. This is not what I call a great cup of English tea. It was just a hot drink now! Not going on the can’t-wait-to-go-back list.
After we finished our meeting, Angie and I headed off toward our campground for the night at New Brighton State Beach, which was only about 45 minutes up the road. It was already getting dark when we got to the park and found our site, so we decided to make sure we got the tent up and make a simple dinner.
It was a lovely evening, and another full moon night.
We enjoyed watching the moon come up and going to sleep so close to the ocean, though to be frank, we could hear Highway 1 more than the sound of the waves for much of the night!