Between the poles of San Francisco and Los Angeles, California doesn’t have much to offer. It’s rolling hills, mountains, and that sweet smell of manure. Ah, the Central Valley, fields of food, and slaughterhouses. You could drive miles and miles and wonder why you ever bothered with the late, great Golden State. Buck up, little lad or lady, and steer for the coast.
Any place in California that fancies itself “the Cradle of History” has to be a stone-cold gas. By “history” they must mean California history, which is respectable and at times nifty, but it’s a far cry from the “Cradle of Civilization” Baghdad can boast of being. California on one hand and all of human civilization on the other — it’s tight.
Monterey has gone the way of most of coastal California. Though it had the distinction of being the capital of Spanish and Mexican California, it has since become a curious tourist stop for people who dig on marine life. From a thriving fishing and canning Mecca, it has become a groovy kind of academic hub, specializing in linguistics studies.
Then, there’s the cultural clout and cache the city still carries around like a locket. Of course, if you’re savvy to the music scene, then you know Monterey vis-a-vis the defunct Pop Festival in ’67 and the on-going Jazz Festival. Woodstock gets the glory, but Monterey set the template. Yeah, to have been around in the late Sixties, tripping the light fantastic to the likes of the Who, Janis Joplin, and Otis Redding.
Want to get deep? Charter yourself a little dingy for the day and head out a few miles offshore. The yawning Monterey Canyon is the deepest underwater canyon in the Pacific. Of course, it’d help if you had some scuba savvy and a cozy little room in a Monterey hotel to recover in. Hey, be sure you curl up with your favorite Steinbeck novel in homage to the town the man couldn’t leave.