Travels with Luna: Monterey, Salinas, Barstow

Our adventure began with a lot of stress, truth be told. On Saturday, July 8, we got up and I started packing. I ran some errands—to pick up bottled water, cash for tolls and parking meters, gas for the car—and we finally headed out around 11 a.m.


We made a stop at Starbucks—of course—and then at the new house in San Rafael, and then we went south on the 101. We detoured for a few minutes up and down the Marin Headlands for some gorgeous coastal views. Then we were south, across the Golden Gate Bridge, through San Francisco, and on to Highway 1—that’s the Pacific Coast Highway—through Pacifica and Davenport and in to Half Moon Bay for lunch.


We stopped at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company—chosen for its online claims of dog-friendliness—and ordered fish and chips takeout (and some chicken for Luna) to picnic in the car. The food was, honestly, terrible, but it was nice to stop on a sunny day for a bit anyway.


After Half Moon Bay, we drove through to Monterey. We had some drama about leaving the dog in the room alone (the hotel doesn’t allow it, but there was a mixup with the dog sitter we hired and we wound up just ordering room service and watching movies on Pay-Per-View). I had listened to Cannery Row all the way down and continued/finished listening to it the next day.


The next day, I dropped some laundry off at a local fluff-and-fold, and we drove out to Salinas to see the National Steinbeck Center.


And yes, Rocinante was there in all her glory.


Some of the exhibits were a little uninteresting to me personally, but I did enjoy the stuff about Travels with Charley and Cannery Row, those being the two Steinbecks most fresh in my mind.


The folks at the Steinbeck Center were really nice—the cashier woman and her teenaged helper were both lighthearted and jovial, and the docent who ran the guest book had been there for over a decade and demanded a reason for visit from each person who entered. (This last bit was a little intense, truth be told, but I enjoyed that she took her job so seriously.)


After wandering through the museum, I stopped by the gift shop and got some coffee mugs and a bookmark for Luna and I, and a Western Biological Institute t-shirt for Andres. We drove over to El Charrito for burritos and tortilla chips, and then Andres went on his way.


That evening, I hopped in a taxi and went down to Cannery Row, where I discovered this disturbing bust of John Steinbeck’s head, and listened to a funk trio play in one of the tourist bars for a little bit.


We ended the day safely ensconced in our hotel room, tired from the beginning of the trip and ready for sleep.


The next day, we drove from Monterey over to Salinas again to fill up the gas tank and grab some chicken nuggets for breakfast. I stopped in Monterey before we left to pick up my laundry, and we dropped off my audiobooks of Cannery Row and All the Pretty Horses (a bust of a narrator unfortunately) in someone’s Little Free Library. After Salinas, we headed south and east to Bakersfield, where we stopped for a late lunch at Sonic and for my weekly therapy appointment. We gassed up again, then headed further south to Barstow where we were staying for the night.


I went across the hotel parking lot to a Chili’s, where I had an enormous bowl of pasta and finished reading my Southern California book for the trip, Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block. My waitress had bomb fingernails.


We hit the sack pretty early. The next day, I tried to fulfill my first Andres-Souvenir-Scavenger-Hunt job and went looking for something train-related at the Harvey House, but it was closed. So I got him a picture of a train.


With that, we bid a very fond farewell to Barstow and to the state of California. See ya next month, California.


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