Return to Monterey

For our last family vacation before Hubby started work (Yes, he’s coming out of retirement people because retired people don’t build houses!), we took a long weekend trip to Monterey.

My hubs is a California native and yet, already, with this trip, my boys have seen more of California than my hubby ever did and they’ve only be residents for two years. Ha! What we can say? We like exploring in small bits. Monterey came as an idea from my youth. When I was in Sixth grade, our class went on an overnight camping trip to Monterey. What do I remember about this trip? There were tidepools, my group slept in a pop-up trailer, (which I wish we had now), the aquarium, and riding the bus while the boys were blasting Beastie Boys from a boom box in the back. Those were the days. How that bus driver never lost their mind I’ll never know. (JV- if you’re reading this remind me to tell you about Ms.Gruel’s take on that trip…I keep forgetting)

If you think about it, this was a group of twelve year olds. Not an eight year old and a six year old. There were many moments where I thought, what was I thinking? But also some wonderful memories too.

Lodging: Being retired military has its perks. We were able to get a three room suite on the Presidio of Monterey for a fraction of the cost of a hotel on the economy. The boys had their own room and TV!!! (they love having a dedicated television with cable; they do not have either at home). The Presidio is very small and quiet for a military post, but there was still playgrounds, a PX and never ending homey feelings. We don’t miss being in the military as much as we miss being around it.

PFT Anyone? Just me and the deer on the field. So pretty and pristine.

Completely clear at the top of the hill. This was right around our lodging near the bottom-ish of the hill. I went straight up hill for the first of my run, so it would all be downhill for the end. Got lost in the fog and had to run uphill to get back. *FAIL* I loved the trees of Monterey.

The safety of the Presidio allowed me to get up the first morning and take a nice run around post. I needed it after an almost 6 hour car ride (thank you Garmin and traffic) the day before. The boys were troopers, but let me say, we have since decided we are not going in the car longer than three hours as a family again for a long while if we can help it.

Aquarium: The Monterey Bay Aquarium will ruin you for any other aquarium. Hands down the best. (The BEST Jerry, the best!) Fortunately and NOT, this was hubby’s first visit. So much to see, yet two little minions who kept darting here and there in excitement, meant we couldn’t enjoy much for long. With the large crowds I was so nervous one of the boys would go missing; after an hour I was maxed out. Not to mention the lack of available water fountains not helping the situation. So all in all, it was a very enchanting and expensive hour. Now what do I remember most about this aquarium 30 years ago? There was a long hallway for an entrance and a lady with an accent desperately trying to find the bathroom. Oh man, pre-teen girls are ruthless. My girlfriend Javonna and I laughed about it for days (probably months). Even my family knew the story as I retold it in fits of laughter when I returned. It has been quoted tirelessly through the years, “I don’t want to leave yet, I just want to use the bathroom”

John’s face says it all.

Tide Pools: Ya, that didn’t happen. We did make sure to visit the beach and do our yearly dip into the Pacific. Oh how I miss the ocean. So do the boys. We could’ve spent the day at the cloudy beach with them running up and down the sand dunes and they’d have loved it. Probably more than the aquarium.

Other items of note: There is a charming free trolley that runs around town; we enjoyed riding that. Easy on and offs. We visited the oldest church in California and the Denis the Menace playground. The weather was PERFECT. I can’t tell you how nice it was going from triple digit heat to sunny and 65. It was so nice we ended up walking roughly Six miles in one day. Packing the boys at times as well for a bit of cross-training.

Wave dancers.

Must do – fountain in the lion’s mouth. Hubby remembered one from his childhood at the Oroville playground. Cottonwood doesn’t have such things…at least not that I remember.

We rode the trolley as close as we could get and then walked to the Oldest Masonry church in California. Which turns out is still “open for business”, which we listed to on the outdoor speakers.

Eats: We had joked about when we lived on the East coast and would look up places to eat that had been featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”. Only to find ourselves in one accidentally. Ha! What are the chances?! I might also point out, the local Cheesecakes could take some tips from this place. If you name your restaurant Cheescakes, you might want to put those bad boys in a case right by the entrance to lure people in and you might also want to make some really good cheesecakes. Like beyond over the top deliciousness. Cheesecakes of Redding, you need to go on a research trip. Rosine’s has you by a mile! (just click the blue text to see what I mean)

Food and a Photo bomb. I heard last week on the radio, pictures of food were “okay” to post for vacation photos. Toes in the sand a definite no, no. So here is the food. I’ll save the toes for the next trip. 😉

The drive home was just as long as the drive down, only with four or five added stops. I lost count. Ugh. It was so painful!! We did stop at Granzella’s in Willows and ran into some friends. I do love when that happens. I don’t know when we’ll be back to Monterey (Any chance there are flights between Redding and Monterey?), but safe to say, it will be when the boys are MUCH older.

Family selfie on the beach.

A camping we will go

The weather has been vacillating so much lately; we’re in that late stage of Spring, where you think it might not get to 100 degrees this year, but in the California valley, it’s just a fact. It WILL get over a 100 degrees this year. Several times. The first time it threatens to get close – high 90s – it feels as if you’ve instantly landed in the middle of the Sahara, whereas July when it’s been over 110 for several days on end, if it dips into the 90s, you think you might have to grab a sweater.


This view never gets old.

This weekend was that high 90s weekend. And of all the timing, we made good on our year long, well overdue, promise to camp on the Property with the boys. Vance was still working full time last Summer, despite asking for part time, which led to many delays on the camping adventure and the boys finally settled for camping in the backyard. As Facebook told me this morning, it was exactly a year ago. Fancy that.

Now that hubby is our home person, threatening to go back to work, we have lots more time for adventuring on the weekends. This was it. The weekend before the last week of school. I can’t believe the school year is nearly over already. Isn’t it fitting that hubby would go back to work just as we get to Summer break?! But, I digress. The camping.


Long live the Roadrunner. For some reason all the years in the bag have made the underside of the rainfly sticky. Now we’re debating if we need a new tent, but first maybe we should start camping more than once a decade.

We decided to make a late start due to the heat and headed South late in the afternoon. A stop at the 4H tri-tip drive-thru on our way, where thankfully my sis and brother in law were running the stand. Otherwise, we’d have ended up with a whole tri-tip and no way to slice it. This year they changed the sides and man oh man was it good. Corn on the cob, garlic bread, ranch beans and tri-tip. Anyhow, the heat could not be avoided and by the time we had one tent up, mattress blown and bags in, the boys were down to underwear only. Ha!


See the expression on Brendon’s face. It closely resembles the sigh from hubby when I pulled out the camera. What?! Documentation people!

After both tents were up, unearthing our tent from its pre-Brendon cocoon, we decided to celebrate. By celebrate I mean, sit in the shade and drink cold drinks.


McNulty Base Camp. Under the watchful eye of Shasta in the distance.


Dinner #2.

I can’t say I did much adventuring. I was more like the camp host. The boys went off with hubby to look for tracks and general mayhem. Not too much you can get into in an oversized subdivision, but they had a good time.

For dinner we had the previously mentioned tri-tip. Then later, for second dinner we had hot dogs. John was an eating machine! And of course after all that we had S’mores. Yum, yum, yummy. I stumbled on a new recipe for s’mores awhile back – instead of using chocolate pieces which don’t like to melt (although, this weekend, they probably would’ve been pudding in mere minutes), we use chocolate frosting on the graham crackers. Works so well!


Prepped and ready. See that frosting??


The finished product.

The night. Well, it was a very long night. I started getting a monster headache right before we went to bed. Probably due to not enough water, too much wine and sugar. Whatever the reason, it made for a terrible night’s sleep. The boys seemed to do alright. Minor shuffling about. The heat never really subsided until the wee hours, so by the time daylight broke, we were all up and not feeling very rested.

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The boys ran about, up and down the hill a couple times, we had breakfast and broke camp. Thankful we were only 30 minutes from home. Both boys said it was a super time sleeping in their tent on the hill and of course all thoughts of uncomfort replaced by dread of unpacking. By mid-day, mommy was in much need of a nap. And that’s just what she did.

And a few random extras:


How happy was hubby I got him this chair for his birthday last month? When I gave it to him, he looked uninterested, but let’s just say that all changed this weekend!



My big little one. Lassen in the distance.


Me with the little little one.