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Cool Family Visit

Sept 22-24
written September 24+
Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,

After months of very hot weather, we are taking a break with a trip over to the Pacific Coast.  I'm sure we should have done this earlier, but taking a few days off has just seemed impractical, what with the garage and bocce project and normal Mamo duties.  Oh well, better late than never.

We chose to cross the San Joaquin Valley by a different route than normal.  Starting out west from Fresno, we passed through three towns.  Kerman, not far from Fresno, was an OK little farming city.  Farther along,  Mendota was a larger, grimmer farming town, and Firebaugh was somehow in between, not grim, but not a place that will become a tourist Mecca anytime soon.  On the Fresno and Kerman side of the valley, most orchards and vineyards were reasonably green, and in the middle, there were vast fields of cotton.  However, on the western side, several orchards were being removed for lack of water, despite the massive California Canal that passes through, on its way to Los Angeles.  Almost a half-million acres of the valley are fallow this drought  year.  If orchards are part of that, the trees die and replacement takes years.

d140922_02_smallsanjuan.jpgd140922_04_lunch.jpgOver on the San Francisco Bay side of the hills, things are greener and we stopped in the small town of San Juan Bautista, a place that IS a legitimate tourist destination.  This particular Monday was pretty quiet, but we did have a very good Mexican lunch at Dona Esther's.  We sat in a large patio garden, surrounded by all sorts of plants and flowers.  We highly recommend the food, the service, and the patio!

d140922_12_snacks.jpgd140922_14_dinner.jpgOur real goal was to meet up with family in Monterey and Pacific Grove.  Marianne's step-mom Klare hosted a Monday dinner with brother Chris and his family.  It's always fun getting together with the Hidas clan and being able to see how Adam and Spencer have grown yet again.  Nice family, nice dinner.  Thanks Klare!

The next morning, we went out to Carmel Valley and thoroughly enjoyed the patio dining at Cafe Rustica, Klare and Jack's standard breakfast spot on every other Tuesday.  From there it was a short walk in the local hills and then back home to rest, something we do quite well.  From resting, we had yet another meal, this time Klare and Marianne's cooking.  Jack and I contributed wine.  After that, Marianne napped, while I forced myself outside to explore a bit of Pacific Grove.
Walking down to the beach, I passed one house that seemed to need our help.  Just kidding -- NO more projects.
Closer to the beach were several old and not-so-old houses that we would take in a minute, if we won the lottery.
Down at the beach, water was quiet and tide was low.  Pleasant.

Wednesday morning we headed up to lunch with Gabby and the kids.  It was a quick stop, just enough to get a few more snapshots so we don't lose track of the growing grandkids.
An eager greeting.
Talking and playing before lunch
Sam and Ava reading to each other (really!) after lunch.

From there it was the long ride back to the still-sweltering valley.  At least we have new, cool, memories.

John and Marianne


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