Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
After too much time marking, we have a road trip! A small road trip. Just a couple days over on the coast, celebrating a birthday and meeting up again with family and friends, to the degree Covid caution allows us.
On Friday the 24th, we charged up the Tesla and headed west. I was glad to leave behind the 100F+ weather for the much cooler Pacific Coast. The forecast high for Monterey was about what the forecast low was for Fresno. Marianne favors the warm weather. I do not.
Our first stop was the cemetery where the last generation of Marianne's family rests. She watered the plants on her mother's, father's, and step-father's graves. Our own final resting spot is there too, but we have no plans for moving in anytime soon.
Lunch was out in Carmel Valley, far enough east that the temperature was a pleasantly warm 80F, just 10 minutes from the coast's 67F. We ate at the Corkscrew Cafe, in a very pleasant patio. It's a recommendation, even if we observed that the menu is a bit limited.
Back in Monterey, we settled into our hotel. We use the Best Western chain because they are generally available wherever we go and are neither too fancy (& expensive) nor too plain. We have accumulated "Platinum" status and this time that meant we got a larger-than-normal end unit and a good parking place. It does not take much to make us happy!
In a neighborhood walk, we ran across a great house project! The old ramshackle place is actually a commercial property, but we imagined it could be restored to a comfy residence. So what if it is surrounded by doctors' offices? Of course, it is probably a million dollars or two, so well above any budget we might have. That is the story of any place we have looked at near the California coast.
Now we need to get ready for the big birthday party.
Early on Saturday morning, I did my normal travel stop: Tesla Supercharger plus Starbucks for coffee and diary-writing. From there it was a bakery breakfast and then a little drive around town. A nice, slow start.
But the big happenings were at the Hidas house, Marianne's childhood home. It seemed like years since we had come to this gate and the warning (or welcoming) barks from inside. Covid had chased us away, but it was great to be visiting again, even if we "needed" to stay outside.
Thanks Klare for having a birthday!
Chris and Leisa had done a huge amount of work preparing the yards and a mountain of food. I'm sure Adam and Spencer helped too, but at this stage they cooperated by keeping the cats up on the ping pong table, out of the way.
Klare was indeed surprised and she enjoyed hugs all around.
Toasts and a few gifts finished off the celebration.
Klare and Jack escaped before the required family picture. As the staff photographer I need to do a better job remembering these staged shots. (My normal staged shots are of flowers, so I'll throw one of those in, just for balance.
We need to have more of these family gatherings, but waiting for 90th birthdays will not be enough. What can we think of?
On Sunday morning, we checked out and went over to have breakfast with Gabby, Mamal, Ava, and Sam at their hotel. It was nice to chat, but our visit had to be short because normal duty was calling them. Sam had baseball practice back home in a few hours and Ava already was scheduled to meet up with friends. Young families really have little spare time.
Marianne and I did, however, have lots of time before our next appointment. We were on our way to visit Rita in Santa Cruz, but we had four hours to make the one-hour trip. We tried to think of time killers. Marianne suggested looking at new houses in Seaside, a relatively affordable area with new housing, but I vetoed that. As much as we would like to move to a California coastal area, doubling our house cost for half the size just discourages me. We need a Lotto win.
We stopped for shopping in Moss Landing. We covered the village from one end to the other, not hard to do, and found only a single shop that held any interest. It seems that other places that we have found interesting in the past did not make it through the Covid times.
With more time to kill, we continued north and detoured via Aptos, Rio Del Mar, and Capitola, all small towns that were quiet beach communities many years ago, but which are now crowded tourist destinations. And the tiny beach-town shacks that are not million dollar vacation homes are now million-dollar commuter homes for Silicon Valley.
A few blocks from Rita's house, we stopped at a real estate open house, just because we still had too much time. It was a mini-development of two lots, each with two small homes. The asking price for both lots, all four homes, was 4.5 million. Dollars. That's over a million for each 800 to 900 square foot house. If you are not from California, you just don't understand.
By now it was time to see Rita. We schlepped our bags into her more-than-800-square-foot home and settled in. Her grand daughter Aurelia came by for a visit and we all walked down to the neighboring boat harbor.
Out on the lighthouse, Rita showed Aurelia the bronze plaque that noted the Prindle family as donors to the 2002 restoration of the monument. Yep, there was Rita's name.
From there, we walked back through the boat works, past a pair of works-in-progress, to the secret gate into Rita's back yard. We sat down in this lower patio and just enjoyed the jungle plants, more talk, and quiet.
Up in the kitchen, Aurelia performed as the sous chef for our evening meal. After eating, Rita gave her permission to go into the other room and watch whatever she wanted on TV while we adults talked boring adult talk.
After the grand daughter left, Marianne and Rita went off to watch whatever TV they wanted (Netflix), while I looked out over the darkening harbor and settled into my YouTube favorites. Each to their own screen.
On Monday, we will need to leave chilly Santa Cruz for boiling Fresno. I expect a temperature change of about 50 fahrenheit degrees.
John and Marianne