There is plenty to do and see in the Monterey Bay area. My personal favorite spot is Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, between Monterey and Salinas. Of the nine race tracks I’ve run at speed, Sonoma Raceway is the only one I think is more fun.
On Thursday, June 22nd, I met Tom Kelly and Marie DeMarbiex, Greg and Eunice Magill, and Bob and Kathleen Swanson at the Aliso Creek rest stop, our starting point for our run up to Monterey. Lisa had planned on going, too. But our cat, Mario, is having health issues. So she decided to stay home and watch over him.
Our first stop was for lunch at a small restaurant right on Santa Barbara’s East Beach. I lived in Santa Barbara for about a year and East Beach was my regular weekend spot. I learned most of my volleyball skills there. It was a bit disheartening to realize that it had been 40 years since I had been there last. When did I get so old?
We also made a gas and Starbucks stop in Buellton. My cousin Anna lives there and she recognized my car as she drove past the Chevron. She contacted Lisa through Facebook to see if it really was my car that she had seen. Lisa confirmed that it indeed was me. So Anna stopped by for a quick “hello”. Yes, I do have family everywhere!
Our hotel for the weekend was the Lighthouse Lodge and Cottages in Pacific Grove. It wasn’t anything special, although the remodeled rooms were nice. My room had a small balcony off the back, overlooking the adjacent cemetery. Yes, it was quiet. What was really nice was the hotel’s location. It was a short walk to the Point Pinos Lighthouse and what passes as a beach in Northern California. There was also a nice golf course, complete with deer spectators.
Friday was the track day, so we all got up early and headed to the track. It was very foggy when we arrived, but the fog burned off just as the first run group began their session. After we completed our track time and the “transponder hunt” (ask Tom), we had a nice outdoor dinner at Tarpy’s Roadhouse.
On Saturday, Bob and Kathleen went back to the track while the rest of us took a Lyft into Monterey. We had a nice lunch, did some shopping, mingled with the crowd and finished it off with ice cream at Ghirardelli’s. The hotel was only 2 miles from the Monterey shops, so we thought we would walk back. After a few blocks, we gave up and called for a Lyft. My brother had driven down from the East Bay area to play golf with one of his regular golfing groups. We had dinner together Saturday evening. As I said, lots of family.
Bob and Kathleen decided to stay an extra day while the rest of us drove home on Sunday. We stopped for a barbecue lunch at Willow Ranch in Buttonwillow. It’s our regular dinner spot when we’re at the track in Buttonwillow. The food was good as always, but their air conditioning system wasn’t working and there were triple-digit temperatures outside. They had brought in portable AC units, which made it bearable, but we left just as they closed because of the heat.
Driving home through Los Angeles was the usual traffic nightmare, made worse than a typical Sunday because of a brushfire near the freeway. We decided to take I-210 around the north to I-15. My navigation kept trying to take us back to I-5, so after a while, I just ignored it. Unfortunately, that meant I missed what would have been a shorter route, so we ended up driving a few more miles than necessary. But we all did make it home.
I will probably plan another Monterey Run for about the same time next year. Speed Ventures rents the track at least once a year. They’re no longer my favorite group with which to run, but their Laguna Seca weekend has a 92dB noise restriction. Most other weekends are limited to 90dB. Hopefully, we’ll have a bigger group join us, including some non-racers. Thanks to Tom and Marie, Greg and Eunice, and Bob and Kathleen for making this one fun!