Shades Of Gray

Shades of gray. That’s the misty chill of Monterey, our base for the first week of vacation on the California coast, far from the thick stormy humidity of home. It’s quite stunning here; the milky veiled sky melds seamlessly with the churning foamy sea. The winding rocky coast teems with sealife, seabirds and seasounds.

We walked the old fishing village-turned-tourist-attraction called Cannery Row – unofficially renamed by John Steinbeck with his novel based on the characters and scenes from Monterey’s historic working-class fish-canning industry: “a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream…. tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honkytonks, restaurants and whore houses”…

Mission No. 1 for me in any new place is to delve into its history, understand its roots, how it developed and by whom. That’s the only way, I think, to become intimate with a place.. (with a person, too, for that matter). Steinbeck is just one of the many writers and artists who have come to the Monterey peninsula and found a muse.

And then there is the outlet mall.

They put it in one of the old restored canneries, built in 1927. I wonder if they opened an outlet mall thinking people would find it an appealing reason to visit.

During our stay, we hiked the cool breezy canyons and redwood cathedrals of Big Sur, strolled the charming streets of Carmel, photographed the fishermen on the wharf in old Monterey.

That big bold untamed wildness has lured a century’s worth of kings, rogues, writers and artists. It can certainly lure visitors without an outlet mall. Can’t it??


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