Home: America’s Best Value Motel
The hiker/biker camp was relatively packed in the morning, and it had almost entirely turned over to “our” side of the line. Kyle was still there, as well as the younger local “hiker”, and Sean the sleeping-bag guy had returned but was keeping himself invisible. Then we’d added Russell, a “hiker” interested in exploring an adventure-based life, and Colin, a biker that we’d heard mentioned a bunch a few days ago by Jarvis, as the two had become friends riding together for a couple weeks. Colin noted how strange it was that he now counted Jarvis as one of his best friends, even though they’d only been together for a couple weeks, but we totally get it. Something about this life means that bonds can easily form on an accelerated timetable. Especially between guys as interesting as Jarvis and Colin, the latter of whom we talked with about recycling-efficiency, riding conditions through Big Sur, water purification, semiconductor manufacturing, and Commodore 128 architecture, all before breakfast was done.
Chris, the campground host, overheard us talking about Carmel, and came by to chat for the first time. He immediately sold Rett on the idea of staying longer and doing a whale-watching tour, but also, concurred with Colin and a couple other people we’d talked to over the last week, who said that biking through Big Sur really sucks over the weekends, and thus heading out straight after Thanksgiving would probably be especially nasty.
Since we’d gotten to the end of our third night of camping allowed at Veterans Memorial Park, and had reserved a Thanksgiving motel anyway, we packed up camp for the first time in a while, and headed back down to the waterfront, where we grabbed a picnic table/viewpoint to hang out at for a few hours. Rett made a few Thanksgiving calls with family, we watched the seals and otters, and we talked it over and made the decision to stay another three days in Monterey before moving on through Big Sur starting Monday. It means we’ll have spent nearly a week “stuck” in Monterey, and nearly four weeks since we first arrived in San Francisco, only three or four “normal” bike touring days north of our current location. But Monterey is a pretty good place to be “stuck”, and our spreadsheet shows we should still have plenty of time to reach Christmas in Palm Springs, so taking the logical decision to stay put overcame the emotional fear of being too stuck-in-place.
We rode back up a hill to check into our motel (though not as big as the one to the campground) and got cleaned up (after five nights out camping) for Thanksgiving dinner. We’d only booked one night, but made the on-the-spot decision to book a second (rather than returning immediately to the campground), because we realized that a 3pm to 11am stay with a dinner out and sleep filling much of that time wouldn’t give us that “laze about during/after Thanksgiving” feeling that we craved.
While we know that choosing this life closes the door on a lot of things that we enjoyed from our previous life, we’re not quite ready to just give up on holidays, even if we can’t do them with family as we’d prefer. Rett’s first idea had been to find an AirBNB with a kitchen somewhere, and we’d cook a semblance of a Thanksgiving meal for ourselves. But we couldn’t find a place anywhere along our route that would work for a reasonable price. So next was finding a restaurant doing a Thanksgiving dinner, and that’s part of why we’d been moving so slowly, since such places wouldn’t exist south of Monterey.
Rett found Peter B’s Brewery was doing a Thanksgiving plate, was relatively casual, and didn’t require reservations, so that’s about perfect for bike-touring Thanksgiving. We had to wait a while, but that’s ok, we took another walk on the waterfront, and then had fun chatting with Sean and Jen from Modesto, a bit of the “travelers away from home” commiseration I had been hoping to find.
The oldest brewpub in Monterey (1996!) right in Tourist Central would normally spell some boring-ass beers, but due to a new (female!) brewmaster, their beers were surprisingly creative, personal, and excellent. And our plates of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, green beans, and cranberry sauce, while not up to the home-cooked standard we’d gotten spoiled with for years at my Uncle Ken and Aunt Dee’s, were also surprisingly good for a place that doesn’t normally have any of that stuff on their menu. And no, unlike most of our fellow diners, we didn’t need our slices of pie boxed up for later!