Monterey, Carmel, and Santa Cruz

Some fifty years ago, my Air Force enlistment took me to Monterey, California. There, I married and lived for three months in an apartment created from the second floor of a house owned by an Italian family named Balestreri. I was reminded of this family when I read a book about a certain restaurant on Cannery Row in Monterey. The founder was also a Balestreri, although evidently an earlier arrival to the US than our non-English-speaking landlords. This experience provided quite an introduction to married life for us, a couple who had grown up in quiet, non-confrontational families. To us, it seemed that the nights were full of family members killing each other, only to be surprised by the living family members strolling around as if the multiple murders had not actually occurred. And I guess they must not have, because they were all at it the next night, and the next night, etc.

Young Tom Clark recently added a part-time job to his full-time work as a translator, and that part-time job takes place in Monterey, although he is not required to be present all semester, and it gives him an excuse to fly out from Pittsburgh and visit the Pacific Ocean, which has become something of a religious experience for him. Folks have worshipped more foolish objects.

A trip to California is always in the do-able category for me, and my car gets very excited at the prospect. So I drove down via Davis (and the O’Brien family) for a couple days visit. We walked around the old town a bit then decided to drive on this gorgeous day along the 17-Mile Drive, a toll road that serves the wealthy community resident therein.

Both of us were staying at the Munras Inn, wonderfully convenient as it is a couple blocks from the school at which Tom is teaching and therefore in the heart of Old Monterey. An easy walk to anything within the city. Tom says everything is different from our time in Monterey fifty years ago but I don’t have his memory, so everything is nearly completely new.

My then-wife attended Monterey Institute of Foreigh Studies for an intensive Japanese course in 1970. Different building, different owner, but still going.

California is a paradise for flowers, and this Mexican Dry Sage caught our attention easily.


Tom used to walk over to the beach at Asilomar, just to see the sun set. More than once. He tells us that we are to scatter his ashes on this beach when his time comes. I’ll probably be gone already, so it’s up to you.

This is to show you the benefit of California’s policy of not “selling the beach” in real estate deals. You get the beach, they get the view.

Here’s part of the view.

More of the beach at Asilomar.

Even more Asilomar.

Tom looks over his final resting place.

17-Mile Drive

This gorgeous road takes you to various scenic views of the sea shore, passing by dozens of houses even you can’t afford. What struck us as very, very strange was the fact that in some sections, nearly every house was for sale. Before you buy, try to figure out what that's all about.

I don’t know whether these trees are unique to Monterey, but they sure stand for Monterey in my experience.

Some of the rich people (or their houses, anyway).

Moving in on the “Lone Cypress.

The Lone Cypress.

We dined that evening at a restaurant in Carmel. Recommended by a shop owner on the main street, the choice was confirmed both by our experience and also by one of my current neighbors, who have a house in Carmel and visit frequently. No picture, but check out La Bicyclette.

We had all the next day free, so decided to drive over to Santa Cruz, where I had gone to college. My familiarity with Santa Cruz is very dim so we concentrated on The Boardwalk, but parked far enough away that we got a good feel for the surrounding neighborhood. There were few people on the boardwalk, both because the season is over and also because of the inevitable construction. But the weather couldn’t have been more accommodating, so we spent a few hours hanging out there. I took some pictures a few years ago that will have do for illustration.

Lunch on the Santa Cruz wharf. The juice was to die for, and the view—well, you can see.

That’s it for now. Until next time...