Tag Archive | Monterey

2019 Morgan Cotes du Crow’s

This wine was one of my August wine club selections from the wine shop in town.

Morgan Winery was founded in 1982 in Monterey County; their tasting room is in Carmel, California.  This wine is sourced from their vineyards in the Arroyo Seco and San Lucas appellations of Monterey County.

This Rhone-style blend has a dark ruby red color, and a heavy consistency that sticks to the edges of the glass.  The flavors are raspberry and cherry, along with a light woody tannin.  I opened it on Tuesday, and enjoyed a glass, then got pulled away by life for the next two nights.  It was still delicious on Friday!

This wine was aged in French oak barrels, with 15% new oak that added a hint of spice to the flavor of the wine.  It is not your standard GSM blend, as it contains Tempranillo instead of Mourvedre, but it works for this wine!  The blend: 52% Syrah, 44% Grenache, 4% Tempranillo.

If you have a chance, check this wine out!  You won’t be disappointed.

 

California Road Trip: Monterey State Historic Park

On our way back to the hotel after visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium, we took a look around a few of the buildings of the Monterey State Historic Park.  A little history lesson: Monterey was first established in 1770 by Father Junípero Serra and explorer Gaspar de Portolà.  Spain had begun colonizing Alta California, in 1769, and the San Carlos Borromeo Mission de Monterey followed a year later.  When Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, Monterey came under Mexican rule.  I didn’t know it then, but Monterey was actually California’s earliest capital city (from 1777 to 1846 – under both Spain and Mexico) and the site of the state’s first constitutional convention.  Monterey changed hands again in 1846 during the Mexican-American War, and once it was in American hands, the capital was moved away from Monterey.

Pacific House Museum - Built 1847 - Adobe Architectural Style

Pacific House Museum – Built 1847 – Adobe Architectural Style

The Monterey State Historic Park consists of several buildings located throughout the downtown area, built at various times in the 1800s.  Most are only open on the weekends, so Jon and I didn’t get to tour the inside of any of them, but we were able to check out the outside of the Custom House, the Pacific House (which contains the museum) and the Cooper-Molera Adobe.  The Custom House is the first government building in California, built in 1827, and it is the First California Historic Landmark!

Monterey Custom House - Built 1827 - Adobe Architectural Style

Monterey Custom House – Built 1827 – Adobe Architectural Style

We were able to stop in at the Cooper-Molera Adobe garden and gift shop.  They have one room of the home open daily, so you can get a little of the feel of the home.  One of the outbuildings contains information on the families that lived there. This adobe was built in 1823 by Captain John Rogers Cooper, a New Englander who sailed to Monterey on a trading mission.  He met and married a member of one of California’s most well-connected Mexican families.  After John Rogers Cooper’s death, he left the home and property to his wife, and it was eventually passed down to Cooper’s granddaughter Frances Molera.

Upon Frances Molera’s death in 1968, the property was willed to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, who leases it to the California Park System.  It has been restored and furnished with period furnishings left by the family.  The room that we were able to visit contained several beautiful pieces from the late 19th century – it would be interesting to see the rest of the home!

Historic Barn at the Cooper-Molera Adobe

Historic Barn at the Cooper-Molera Adobe

Well at the Cooper-Molera Adobe

Well at the Cooper-Molera Adobe

At the Cooper-Molera Adobe (or the other Monterey SHP buildings when they are open) you can pick up a brochure detailing a walking tour around town showing the locations of the twelve buildings of the Monterey State Historic Park, as well as several other historic buildings (55 in all) in Monterey.  The route is about two miles, and there are little medallions embedded into the sidewalk that show the route.  Touring these homes and buildings will certainly be on my list for my next trip to Monterey!

California Road Trip: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Our next day in Monterey was dedicated to going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  We slept in a bit, and then walked from downtown out to the Aquarium – a distance of 1.7 miles.  It was a great walk along the harbor towards Cannery Row.  There is a nice paved walking trail that goes right along the water, then breaks away from the water to meander through a park, and a cute touristy shopping area.  Once we got to the aquarium, there was a long line.  I didn’t realize it was Spring Break for California schools – Spring Break at home wasn’t for another week!  So although we had to share the aquarium with more (SCREAMING!) children than usual, we enjoyed the visit.

Harbor Seal Outside Monterey Bay Aquarium

Harbor Seal Outside Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium opened in 1984 on the site of a former cannery.  Cannery Row was the home base for an active sardine fishery from 1916 until the final collapse of the sardine industry in 1973.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium primarily focuses on plants and animals that are native to the Pacific Ocean, and they are one of the premier research institutions in the United States for several animals, including Great White Sharks.

Sardines at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Sardines at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

They have an Open Sea exhibit, jellyfish of every size and shape, sea horses (they are so cool!), and a Kelp Forest with lots of native fish living among the beautiful tall plants.  Jon and I really liked the Open Sea exhibit – it was very peaceful just watching the tuna and the sharks mingle with the sardines and other fish.  I imagine that they interact as they might in the wild.

Giant Sea Bass at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Giant Sea Bass at Monterey Bay Aquarium

We also really enjoyed the bird aviary.  The Aquarium has a program for raising and releasing several species of birds, but there are a couple at the aviary that cannot be released for whatever reason, and they use these birds to raise chicks from incubated eggs at the Aquarium.  You can get super-close to the birds in the aviary, but they are just going about their business, not paying any attention to the people watching them.

Sleepy Bird at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Sleepy Bird at Monterey Bay Aquarium

All in all, we saw Sandbar sharks, Leopard sharks, Hammerhead sharks, Sevengill sharks, several kinds of tuna, Giant Sea Bass, Giant Pacific Octopus, a Leatherback Sea Turtle,  Sturgeon, a dozen types of seahorses, a dozen types of jellyfish, Wolf and Moray eels, giant Lobsters, Puffins, Penguins, Snowy Plovers, a Laysan Albatross, White Sturgeon, Bat Rays, and many other animals.  It was a great experience, except for all the screaming children.  My ears certainly took a beating and I fought a headache most of the time that I was there.  But I did enjoy my visit.

A Gorgeous Black and White Bird at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

A Gorgeous Black and White Bird at the Monterey Bay Aquarium – I Loved This Little Guy!

After we left the Aquarium, we walked back up to the hotel through Cannery Row.  It is a strip of touristy gift shops and high end boutiques.  We stopped and had a late lunch at the Ambrosia Indian Cafe, with Basmati Rice, Butter Chicken, Tofu Masala.  It was quick and delicious and really hit the spot after our hours at the Aquarium.

The best part of the walk back to the hotel was along the marina.  There we spotted about a dozen harbor seals sunning themselves on the rocks in the shallow waters close to shore.  They are very cute – they balance themselves on the rocks – heads and tails held up!  It looks like they are planking – what I wouldn’t give to have core muscles like that (without the blubber of course)!  We also saw a couple of sea otters, but unfortunately they were a bit far away to get a good photo.

Seals "Planking" in Monterey

Seals “Planking” in Monterey

I really loved my visit to the Aquarium and walking along the boardwalk enjoying the sunshine with Jon.  And the day wasn’t even finished!

California Road Trip: Monterey

In my last post, I shared our visit to the de Young Museum and Girl with a Pearl Earring.  After our visit to the de Young, Jon and I wandered around Golden Gate Park for a little while.  We considered going into the Japanese Garden, and we wanted to, but we didn’t have very much time before we needed to be getting back on the road.  So the Japanese Garden goes on the list for next time we are in San Francisco.  I swear the list grows larger with every trip I go on!

A View From Outside the Japanese Garden, Looking In

A View From Outside the Japanese Garden, Looking In

After a brief delay due to not being able to figure out where the car was parked (you know you have done it too!  I just admit it!), we were back on the road.  We traveled through strip malls, business parks and suburbs for miles, on our way to Monterey.  Fortunately, the traffic through San Jose wasn’t too bad, and pretty soon we were driving through some beautiful farmland.

We arrived in Monterey and got checked into our hotel, which was right downtown.  It was about 5 pm, and the hotel desk clerk told us that there was a downtown Farmer’s Market until 7, so we checked it out.  It was amazing to see all the fresh produce available in March!  Strawberries, radishes, and lots of food stands, including freshly made donuts, pizza and Mexican food.  Wow.  If I lived in Monterey that would certainly be on my list of things to do each week!

Radishes at the Farmer's Market in Monterey

Radishes at the Farmer’s Market in Monterey

After perusing the Farmer’s Market, we wandered down to the Fisherman’s Wharf.  We were hungry for an early dinner, and we wanted to see what our options were.  I found it to be a very interesting experience.  There are a ton of restaurants on the Wharf and they all have somebody outside trying to lure you in.  They each have a big stock pot with clam chowder, and they offer you samples, trying to show you that their clam chowder is better than the next guy’s.  And they have plated meals to show you their specialties, whether it is lobster fettuccine or oyster shooters.  If you aren’t ready to commit quite yet, they pull out the free appetizer coupon…

Jon and I went all the way down to the end, assessing our options, but I was distracted – by a Sea Otter!  There was a guy swimming around in the marina, so I watched him for awhile and got a couple of photos!  I was pretty excited, because he was the first Sea Otter I saw on our trip!  There is also a dock right off of Fisherman’s Wharf where a group Sea Lions have made their home.  They were very close!  I really enjoyed watching them sun themselves on the dock and I marveled at the fact that they were able to climb on the railings of the dock.

A Sea Otter Clutching His Dinner in Monterey

A Sea Otter Clutching His Dinner in Monterey

Sea Lions at Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey

Sea Lions at Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey

Eventually I had to pull myself away so we could get some dinner.  We decided to try Rappa’s at the end of the Wharf – Jon was intrigued by the fact that they had oyster shooters.  I tried out a Carmel Wheat beer from nearby Carmel that was very good.  We started out with a half dozen oysters on the half shell – Jon got four and I had two.  They were really delicious – so fresh!  I was in the mood for steak, so I had the rib eye topped with mushrooms, with local vegetables and seasoned rice.  Jon had char-grilled cod with local vegetables and seasoned rice.  Our meals were very good, and it was nice to be able to just look out at the water and watch the boats and the sea lions go by.  Perfect…

Dinner at Rappa's in Monterey

Dinner at Rappa’s in Monterey

After dinner, we explored the Wharf a bit more – we poked around in a few of the souvenir shops and made a stop at Carousel Candies.  Carousel Candies specializes in salt water taffy, and has been making it since 1960.  They also make handmade chocolate and handmade caramel apples, but we were there for the taffy.  This was the best taffy we have ever had!  And Jon loves salt water taffy, so we always get some when we find it.  It was soft and chewy and stayed soft for at least a couple of weeks after we bought it!  I know that because I hid a little stash from Jon so I could have some later – I had to hide it or he would eat it all!

Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey

Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey

On the way back to the hotel, we checked out some historic buildings that are part of the Monterey State Historic Park.  More on that in an upcoming post!  And we ended the evening with a view of the most beautiful moon.

The Moon in Monterey

The Moon in Monterey

Planning for the California Road Trip

Jon and I had some vacation scheduled for mid-March and of course, it fell to me to make a plan about where we should go.  Jon needed to take his vacation before the busy spring/summer season starts.  For those of you who have followed this blog, you know that I was also dealing with my sweet kitty Martini, who was undergoing chemo treatment for lymphoma.  I wanted to go to Virginia, but I was too anxious about flying somewhere and having something happen to Martini, so we decided on something within driving distance.  Sadly, we made the decision to euthanize Martini on March 1 – she was no longer holding her own against her lymphoma.

So, the idea of a California Road Trip was born.  I had been aching to get to San Francisco to see The Girl with a Pearl Earring, the famous painting by Johannes Vermeer.  The painting is currently on display at the DeYoung Museum until June, on loan from the Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery in the Netherlands.

Jon had been itching to visit Point Reyes again; he took a day trip there when he lived in California and really enjoyed the small town on the coast.  And what do you know?  Point Reyes National Seashore is there – an opportunity for me to get a stamp in my National Parks Passport!

We also wanted to visit the Northern California coast – we have seen most of the Oregon coast and the Southern California coast, so it seemed like it just had to be done.  There is also a National Park there – Redwood National Park.  Coast Redwoods are the world’s tallest and oldest trees.

And no trip to California would be complete without wine.  We have visited Napa, Sonoma, and the Santa Ynez Valley, and we wanted to add another wine-notch on our belt so to speak.  We had heard that the Anderson Valley is known for their Pinot Noirs, with cool night temperatures from the coastal fog that settles in the valley.  It sounded like a win!

To round out the trip, I planned visits to Monterey and Sacramento.  Monterey because I have heard nothing but good things about this little seaside community.  And Sacramento because Jon’s long-time friend lives there.  And I think Jon secretly wants to relive his memories of living there.  Or perhaps not so secretly.

So, just like that, we had a plan.  Who am I kidding?  I google-mapped distances, figured out where there were historical sites and national parks, tried to plot overnight stays in the most convenient, yet still affordable locations, and asked Jon 57,975 times for his input.  Which was answered each time with a “Yeah, I’ll look at it tonight.”  And finally I just planned what I wanted to do.  Because secretly (or not so secretly), I would rather just do what I want to do, and hey, if Jon isn’t going to provide input, then who cares!

And that is how the California Road Trip was born.  My series of posts will be coming over the next few weeks!