After leaving Yosemite, Brooke and I acknowledged that we were woefully behind on our blog-and-photo duties. We agreed to take a short break in a safe area of Merced so we could catch up. We spent Monday and Tuesday in the parking lot of a TA Travel Station in Livingston where I had enough cell service to work and there were bathrooms and showers nearby and available. We parked in the shade and propped open the doors to enjoy the breeze and worked diligently except for a few interruptions. Between work for me and art commissions for Brooke, along with joint production of some blog updates, we became very loosely acquainted with a friendly, local, neighborhood vagrant.
In exchange for parking lot lodgings, we were happy to purchase $13 showers from TA. It was after one of these that we learned of a problematic “regular.” There was a woman who liked to loiter around the store and then lock herself in the showers that had been left open for cleaning after they were used. I’m not sure what she was hoping to accomplish by doing that but I suspect her objective was to seriously piss off all of the employees who worked there. After being ejected from a shower and getting caught trying to shoplift, the clerk who was trying to help us called the police on her. We watched from the van – we were sleeping in the parking lot so it was hard to miss – while the police arrived, returned the stolen goods, put her in the squad car, and drove off. It was an ineffective maneuver though because she had returned bright and early the next morning. She didn’t bother us personally though and the rest of our time in Merced was uneventful. Once we were reasonably caught up, we headed west once more towards Monterey.
We added Monterey to our list of destinations after a string of unrelated recommendations and we do not regret it. There was a Safeway in Monterey that very noncommitally agreed to allow us to sleep in their parking lot if we purchased groceries there and there was a gym in town that we could shower at. We intended to visit the Monterey Aquarium but found that it was a little too expensive for our budget but were still overly excited to complete the Scenic 17 Mile Drive. The Scenic 17 Mile Drive is a toll road that takes you all the way around the Monterey Peninsula and then back up the eastern side as a complete circuit. Along the way, you pass through the Del Norte Forest, beside some popular ocean views where seals, dolphins, otters, and whales are regularly seen, and some extremely expensive beachfront houses that would really be better described as small castles.
And what a drive it was. Along the outskirts of the uninterrupted coastline, rocky outcroppings rise out of the water around which otters and seals play. On top of the rocks, particularly one named Hunter’s Point, approximately two hundred billion seagulls live. Just inland from the beaches and cliffs are grassy areas where wild oceanside-dwelling deer and wild, golfing retirees peacefully coexist. You can’t pet any of them, but the deer are notably more social than the golfers.
On our second day on the peninsula, we made the short drive down to the Monterey Harbor just for tourist points. It was a chilly day and the harbor unsurprisingly reeked of fish, which was a turn-off for us so we snapped a few quick photos and took off.
Fully satisfied with another round of west coast scenery, we took our leave of Monterey that night and headed for Treasure Island just outside of San Francisco where Brooke connected us with a Couchsurfing host. We’re working hard to catch up on blog updates (and very nearly there!) but, as usual, everything is fine.