Music: Monterey by Danny Gottlieb with Joe Satriani

Today marks the end of a one week stay in Paicines, CA.  We didn’t intend to stay this long, but due to some unforeseen events, we found ourselves kind of stuck; albeit happily so.  This is a beautiful place, with gently rolling hills and wide open spaces.  Everything is lush and green and the wildlife is active.

Although we’ve been here before, we’ve kept ourselves busy with things to do over the last week - visiting family and friends, touring new spots along with a couple of old favorites from our last visit.  And although we didn’t really want or plan to, we made several trips into Salinas.   

Our first trip to Salinas (about an hours drive west of camp), was made to drop off and replace one of our trailer tires, which, tired of its rough life, disintegrated into pieces shortly after leaving Yosemite.  We chose Salinas because it’s the closest city large enough to have a national tire store – one that we hoped would have our specific tire in stock. Not so, unfortunately, but they assured us they could quickly order one to our specifications. So we left our order in the hands of the good people at Firestone, knowing we’d be ready to go in a couple of days. 

Note:  when ordering a tire, it’s a good idea to know all the needed details: brand, class, size, tread type, desired PSI.   We did, and were prepared.  One other note: when the tire salesman gives a quick glance at the piece of paper you’ve given him with all these details, cheerily says he’ll order it for you, and then sends you away, you should really insist he keep the piece of paper, or at least write something down. 

We drove away from Salinas on to Monterey to see the aquarium.  We’ve been told in the past that it takes between six and eight hours to get through all the exhibits there.  It took us about an hour.  That’s just us, though.  With several play areas, a few exhibits made almost entirely of cartoon depictions of sea animals, and multiple touch pools– we found it to be pretty geared towards kids.  Not that we don’t enjoy poking at seaweed and petting starfish, but really, once you’ve tricked one sea anemone into closing, haven’t you tricked them all?  We didn’t stay long at the aquarium.  We chose, instead, to get back outside and enjoy the sunshine, so we took a nice walk through the Cannery Row shops and on the boardwalk.

Our second full day in town we drove up north, to areas just west of San Francisco.  We visited our Aunt Cookie, who took us out to a wonderful, authentic Mexican restaurant for lunch, and in the evening we visited our friends Jason and Donna who made us some amazing Thai food at their home.  It was a fantastic food day, and great visits with gracious hosts!

On our second trip into Salinas, we didn’t have any plans other than to pick up our tire.  We arrived to find they’d gotten the tire order about half right.  It was the right brand and it was round.  Unfortunately, it wouldn’t have supported the weight of our trailer, so we nicely asked them to try again.   Leaving exact instructions on what was needed, we left it in their mostly capable hands. 

We canceled reservations at our next stop, and extended our stay in the area for a few more days (hope to see you next time, Sequoia National Park – they’re just big trees, right?).  About half way back to camp, we had a premonition and decided to call Firestone, just to be sure they really, truly did had everything right.  “It’s lucky you called,” said the salesman.  “We didn’t have the right tread type.”  Indeed – luck may be all we can rely on.

Waiting for the tire has been one of the overriding themes this stop, but really, it’s afforded us the opportunity to do a couple of things that we wouldn’t have otherwise.  We took a trip to Pinnacles National Monument, which was beautiful, and took a really fun hike on a trail that leads down through a cave and then back up to a high overlook.  The cave is actually made from fallen boulders.  You can shine a flashlight up and see all the pieces of rock overhead, just hanging there.   Standing underneath, it’s hard to keep the thought out of your mind that we’re right on the San Andreas Fault here.  It’s a little disconcerting! 

On our third trip to Salinas, we were skeptical and a little worried.  Fortunately, we found the right tire waiting for us.  It wasn’t until we got back to camp that we discovered the tire had only been inflated half-way, but that’s okay.  We can deal with that ourselves.  If we never have to drive to Salinas again, we’ll be happy.  For now, on to Acton, CA and more sunshine! 


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