Here is my long overdue report about our journey and first weeks in Monterey. Technically we live in Pacific Grove (it’s kind of like a North Park / South Park thing). We’re one digit off in zip codes and physically very close. But Monterey is more North Park (denser, with more to do and probably more tattoos) and Pacific Grove is more South Park (more parks and families, good public schools, but more stuff to walk to than there is in South Park like banks and other useful sundries).
As far as our journey went, it was super smooth and sweet. I’ve definitely never had so many friends express such warm feelings and come over to say goodbye (and I’ve fled many a urban center). It made the leaving all the more difficult, but solidified the reason I loved living in San Diego. My parents and brother coming out was also super sweet and supportive. It obviously helped us save a bunch of money, and made the whole transition smooth. Max and my mom and I took two days to make the trip (stopping in Santa Barbara) so there was plenty of time at parks with the driving portions strategically planned during nap time. The second day of the trip Max slept 3 hours out of the 4.5 hour drive and arrived at a house with a whole room set up with his toys. He felt right at home.
So that gets us to…. what is there in Monterey besides a kick-ass aquarium. Well, here’s a quick run-down of our findings as well as photos of our first weeks here. AND IF YOU DON’T WANT TO READ THIS REALLY LONG POST, YOU CAN JUST SCROLL DOWN TO THE PHOTOS AT THE BOTTOM:
1) First off, people here love the hospital and hate the weather. It’s as if nobody here has heard of Portland. Truth be told, we’ve enjoyed the weather thus far. Plenty of grey (which makes for much better outdoor photo ops – not as much shadow), but some sunny days too. And about 10 degrees cooler than San Diego. And the hospital seems pretty great, which is grand since that’s where Jason works. He is so far loving his job.
2) Coffee Shops and Bakeries – within a 3 minute walk of our house is Pavel’s Bakerei. In the photos there is a series of Max devouring a blueberry danish. Definitely yum and big-gulp-sized croissants. My preference is the Happy Girl Kitchen which is a 15 minute walk (along the beach!). They do drip coffee one at a time (from a San Francisco brand Blue Bottle), host canning classes, have tons of preserved goods and superbly executed baked goods by a woman Stephanie who studied in Paris (from whom I’ll be taking a class at the end of this month). Stephanie was one of the first people we met when we did a reconnaissance mission here in January. She turned us onto Pacific Grove.
3) Parks – the Caledonia Park is about a 7 minute walk from our house and has your standard play stuff and collection of moms trying to stay sane. It does have a little table top track where boys seem to congregate and race cars. Very popular. And – judging from my sweep of local parks – these table top tracks seem to be more of a staple here.
4) There is the beach here within walking distance. We haven’t made it to Asilomar Beach which reportedly has great surfing and is also within walking distance. I have to admit in terms of playing in the sand, I like the Carmel beach even though it’s in Carmel. The sand is prettier, it’s cleaner and there’s less seaweed. I don’t know how I ever got so wimpy when it comes to beaches.
5) The “My Museum” is like San Diego’s Kid City. We got a pass and have been there once.
6) Parents Place – I’m digging this spot. So far we’ve only been to the Friday cooking and art classes. The classes are from 10am – 1pm, but it’s all very casual. You show up and leave whenever you want. There are stations for different art projects and cooking projects (in two separate rooms) and you can participate as much or as little as your rugrat wants. You can also just play with the toys they have inside and out and just hang with the other parents. I like the art class because the teacher Linda makes lavendar-scented, pink, sparkly play dough and plays classical music. It is very soothing after a morning melt-down.
7) Second Hand Shops – There is a great density of antique shops, consignment shops and second hand stores. The range is vast. I’m loving Candy’s “Good Stuff” second hand shop (super funky) and the Goodwill. I guess if you’re a movie star you could afford things from Trotter’s Antiques ($4000 bedside lamps for starters), but there are other more price-friendly places for us less-informed, less-well-off hunters of things used. And there’s a wonderful children’s consignment shop called Chatter Baux that is so filled to the brim with so much stuff that makes you feel really bad for ever buying any child’s clothing new.
Our House - 605 Pine Street. Built in 1905. We’ve really been enjoying it and are working on fixing up the guest bedroom first, so we welcome all. Max loves riding his bike in the house (since we don’t quite have the furniture to fill out) and having a room dedicated to his playing. It’s a lot of fun.
9) Friends – We miss everyone. There are a lot of military families here, so there’s a lot of transition. Luckily for us, one family we met at the park live 3 blocks from us and actually aren’t military (the father, Mikko, works at the hospital too). They have a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old and we’ve been able to have some of those impromptu play dates that make life so much more bearable.
10) Ice Cream Shop – within walking distance. Very funky with occasional live music and an Elvis Pinball machine.
11) Other culture – the Whole Foods here stocks Bust Magazine. Welcome to Central California. Jason has been missing the San Diego local breweries. Local music is more folky. I don’t think I’ll be going out for any punk music or fancy cocktails anytime soon (not that that’s so much on my agenda at 32 weeks pregnant). I did spot a place in Seaside (I think) called the Alternative Café where Mark Mothersbaugh reportedly has played. If this is true, seems like it could hold some potential.