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From Land Rover to Cannery Row – Carmel and Monterey, CA

January 25, 2010

More from my motorcycle adventure through the western and southern United States. This report picks up on my 23rd consecutive day on the road. I spent the last few days in the Napa Valley and this morning I’m getting ready to leave Petaluma California for Carmel and Monterey.

I woke up suddenly to the sound of feet dragging along the road and several voices in animated chatter. I unzipped the tent, and gazed bleary eyed, at a group of about sneaker clad oldsters power walking past my tent. It was 6:00 a.m.  I gave them a dirty look and zipped the tent shut. Twenty minutes later the group went ’round again, with the same dragging feet and loud, babbling conversation. Apparently, dirty looks won’t work with this group.

I guess you can’t blame them. In the KOA world, a motorcycle and a one man tent don’t count in much in the social strata. I’m very certain that my method of transportation and choice of sleeping quarters were baffling to someone sleeping in a $250,000 motor coach.  Why is it that these land yachts all seem to be driven with steely eyed determination by silver haired ex-bank presidents?  It was too much to think about that early in the morning, so I stuffed a set of ear plugs in and went back to sleep.

I woke up at 9:00 and headed for the shower. After, I put on my riding clothes, packed my gear into the panniers and put the MotoFizz on the bike. Despite the rude early morning wakeup, I cheerfully punched the starter button and the Futura barked and rumbled into a steady idle. I did have split second wish to be riding something with a much louder exhaust.  Do a few burnouts I thought. Maybe a wheelie or two.  Set off a few car alarms. Show these bastards who they are dealing with.  But, it was a beautiful morning, and I chose to simply ride quietly away.  My destination this morning was Carmel, approximately 170 miles south.


Riding towards the Richmond Bridge, north of San Francisco.

SPIDI’s great Penta gloves.


The traffic was heavy approaching San Francisco and I slid over into the HOV lane and kept a steady pace through traffic to the city.


My first stop was the Quail Lodge in Carmel for a visit to the Land Rover Experience Driving School. Full disclosure, I’m an off-road driving instructor for Land Rover and Michelin. It’s not my career, merely a fun way to meet people and constantly test “theoretical” off-road ideas with $100,000 vehicles (and get paid to do so!). I wanted to stop and visit the school and meet the staff and tour the facility. The Lodge, the Land Rover School and Resort are all fantastic.

If you have not had an opportunity to try a new Land Rover off-road you should. Land Rover manufacturers amazing vehicles. The 2010 Range Rover and Range Rover Sport are ridiculously fast. No this is not a paid advertisement! LOL. Trust me, these vehicles, in completely stock form, can outperform most heavily modified 4×4 trail rigs (as long as we are not talking about seriously deep wading).


After helping to wash and detail the vehicles, I bid my goodbye and headed over to Carmel for lunch. I rode around for a bit and settled on the touristy thing.  I parked the bike and walked into the Hogs Breath Inn (Clint Eastwood’s place). The food was surprisingly good.  I had Fish Tacos and spent a pleasant hour talking to a beautiful blonde woman at the next table about traveling, California, and why we both missed New York City.



I spent the rest of the day walking around Carmel and hanging out at the beach. Carmel is a dog friendly town and it’s not uncommon to see dogs of all sorts in bars and restaurants. Typing this now I can’t really seem to recall much that stands out about Carmel – other than it’s a lovely place on the water.  I read somewhere on the internet or one of my guide books, that it is illegal to wear high heels without a permit. I did however; see several lovely women in heels without the authorities in tow. Clint was nowhere to be seen.

That evening I rode into Monterey to meet my family for dinner. I was told to meet them at Bubba Gump’s. I arrived a bit late.  Although Carmel to Monterey is a short ride the traffic was horrible.  I parked the bike and met everyone. Thankfully Bubba Gump was just a meeting point not a dinner destination. We decided on the Monterey Fish House and had a pleasant dinner overlooking the water. The food was fine and the service was very good. The waiter dutifully accepted what must have seemed like an endless stream of cameras from an assortment of family members for pictures.


After dinner I realized that I needed to find a place for the night. I hoped that I could find something reasonable on a weekend evening. Along Munras Avenue, there are several budget hotels. I liked the looks of the Surf Inn and turned into the parking lot. The owner apparently drove a Range Rover as one was parked in a reserved parking spot. AH! I thought, a kindred spirit.

I walked in and inquired about a room for the evening.   The owner, an elderly Indian gentlemen, said he had a “very nice room that had been recently re-decorated” for $65.00.  It sounded good to me and I paid and got the key.  I tried to talk Land Rovers with him but he was clearly not interested in discussing Land Rovers or anything else with me. I was like “I went to the Land..” and he just walked into the next room and shut the door.

Key in hand I walked to my room. What the owner neglected to tell me was that the room was windowless, had no air conditioning, and had apparently been a storage room at some point in the past, and was filled with an assortment of mismatched furnishings. Now in the old I-Banker days I would have stormed back to the lobby and gone ballistic, but I was relaxed and having a good time, and didn’t care all that much.


No windows, no AC, charming.

 

I got out of my riding gear and unloaded the bike. The answer is yes, if you’re wondering if I had driven Land Rovers and walked around Monterey in Leather pants all day.

Hey, I’m doing my part to promote inappropriate travel wear. I changed into a polo shirt, shorts and flip-flops and took a taxi back to Monterey. I had a few drinks at the Crown and Anchor and somehow ended up in the legendary Monterey dive bar Segovia’s on Lighthouse Ave. If you like old school bars and Schlitz in a can, this is the place.


After a handful of drinks, I Taxied back to the hotel and decided to have a nightcap by the pool. I rummaged around my travel humidor and came up with a Davidoff Double R. I grabbed my cutter and lighter out of my tank bag and settled down. It was a bit cold, but the cigar was great and it was another fantastic star filled Nor Cal evening.

I woke up the next morning feeling just about crippled. The bed was absolutely horrible. Coming from a guy who had cheerfully been sleeping in a tent with a sleeping bag and air mattress, this comment deserves some attention. I staggered into the shower and let the hot water run. It was not a pleasant start to the day.

For whatever reason, I was weirdly and unusually cheerful and completely willing to just write it off, even after looking at the “Continental Breakfast” of stale, mangled white bread, Cheerios, and a handful of packets of peanut butter. I began to worry that I had brain damage or something – as any one of these events would have usually sent me into full Noo YAWKER mode. Normally I’d have been yelling and screaming, demanding things and complaining loudly to whomever would listen.

Have I been exposed to California for too long? I wondered. How far away is Nevada? If I ride the Aprilia at a steady 130-140 MPH, can I make it before I completely change and become permanently cheerful?


 

You worry about things like this in California.

I put those thoughts out of my mind as I rode away from the charming Surf Inn.  I find that a good day on a motorcycle can solve just about any problem.  This morning, I decided to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Quick tip – metered (cheaper) parking can be found on the side streets near the Aquarium. 

 I had a VIP access pass (my niece is a guide) so I was able to cut the line and enjoy the exhibits.  Inside the Aquarium, I was amazed by the Ocean’s Edge Wing’s 33 foot high, 1.3 million liter fish tank.  If that’s not big enough for you, the Outer Bay Wing has a 4.5 million liter tank featuring one of the worlds largest single pained glass windows. 

Over 1.8 million people a year visit the aquarium and it can be very crowded.  Thankfully today it was not.  You need at least half a day to really enjoy all the Aquarium has to offer.

 







Tomorrow – Laguna Seca, and Oceanside, CA

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. steve and sharon permalink
    November 2, 2013 4:38 pm

    Any used leathers for sale?
    Steve

    • November 5, 2013 11:37 am

      New Spidi Gara in a size 58 with upgraded SAS-Tec reactive back armor.

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