Our driving day to San Benito was a bit of a comedy of errors. Dom went to hook up the truck, only to find that we had driven over a large screw and had a flat tire! We lucked out and found a tire shop around the corner, which was close enough to drive the truck over for repairs. Then as we were pulling out the hook up came apart, and the truck jack lift stopped functioning! We managed to get hooked back up and hit the highway for our drive to the Thousand Trails resort an hour outside of Monterey in San Benito. CA. We pulled into the main gate and were promptly cut off in a rather epic way by another pick up truck (the driver later apologized profusely) and then spent another 45 minutes aimlessly driving around trying to find a spot (the ranger had failed to mention that most spots - indicated by a tent sticker and/or a red dot had no electricity). Fun times! We eventually found a spot and settled into an impromptu dinner using what was left in the fridge and pantry, as we weren’t up for an hour plus drive into town. Juliette then managed to tip over our full Berkey filter, leading to a rather spectacular water explosion all over the floor. At that point we got everyone ready for bed and decided to call it a day, no sense in tempting fate!
We had planned one full day in Monterey, and took full advantage, driving into town to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, with a stop by Whole Foods en route for lunch. Juliette had made a quinoa salad which we conveniently left sitting by the door, along with the apples we had planned to snack on. How is that for organization?! In the end it turned out to be lucky that we left the quinoa dish behind, but we’ll get to that later!
We found some fantastic choose your own adventure (aka ingredient) sandwiches in the deli area of Whole Foods, which we paired with some delicious House Kombucha. We were big fans of their brew, it was less sweet than typical store bought kombucha, and they had some delicious flavour combinations (vanilla sarsaparilla, lavender lemonade, and black rose) Yum! It was a gorgeous sunny afternoon, which we took full advantage of by sitting outside.
We drove over to the aquarium next, and spent a lovely afternoon exploring everything the facility had to offer. We loved the Otter exhibit, watched several of their films (narrated by a live staff member who was available for questions afterwards), learned all about octopuses and other cephalopods in their Tentacles exhibit and viewed some innovative art making use of plastic ocean debris, which further reinforced our existing plans to use reusable containers as much as possible! One of the guides also pointed out some metal sculptures, which we had noticed at each of the exhibits, letting us know that they were there for hearing impaired visitors to feel the shapes of the animals they couldn’t see. The one he pointed out had shells, sea asparagus and barnacles, we also saw a big sculpture of a very cute otter by the otter tank.
We took a walk down by the water front, which consisted of quaint shops and a couple of really lovely parks. One included a row of houses that depicted the history of the local immigrant population (Spanish and Japanese) who worked at the local cannery. We drove from there to Earthbound Farms located in Carmel-by-the-sea. We try to shop local as much as possible, however Earthbound Farms has often filled in the gaps during winter months in the great white north, so it was pretty exciting to visit. Juliette visited a couple of years ago on a trip to the Esalen Institute, so she was able to help with location information.
We stopped by Whole Foods again on our way out, as we had a few temperature sensitive ingredients we needed for dinner, then we listened to Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run on our ride home. We are approaching the half way point now, and are throughly enjoying both the content and his eloquent and lyrical writing style - even the kids!
Our original plan was to leave for Santa Barbara the following day, but the weather changed our plans for us. We woke up in the middle of the night to howling winds and a rocking RV, harbingers of a massive storm. Power kept flicking on and off, until it finally died altogether in the morning. Before our internet cut off we were able to find some weather warnings for the area, and that, combined with massive wind and rain led us to decide that staying put was the best option. We made toast and nut butter for breakfast (thank goodness for our propane stove, we usually use electricity for cooking, but the propane certainly comes in handy!) and enjoyed the quinoa salad Juliette had made the day before for lunch. So as it turned out, forgetting the salad ended up being for the best! Our power turned back on just after lunch, which allowed us to make popcorn and have a fun family movie afternoon with the kids. We had purchased ingredients for curry the day before at Whole Foods, and enjoyed Juliette’s One Pot Curry for dinner. By the time the evening rolled around the storm had calmed down enough for us to get a good night’s rest.
We spent the next morning catching up on writing and taking the kids out for a bike ride - where Armand kicked his training wheels to the curb for the first time! In the end he decided he wanted his training wheels back on, but it was an excellent first step, and the video we took of him succeeding in his endeavour gave him a good confidence boost. Juliette finally tackled the big bushel of garlic we found in Hopland, pureeing half of it for later use (stored in a mason jar in the fridge) and leaving the second half to tackle once the kids were in bed that night! We drove into Carmel-by-the-sea the following day, stopping to visit the Carmel Mission before driving along the coast. We stopped for dinner and picked up more groceries before heading back to the RV to get a good night’s sleep in preparation for an early departure the following day.
San Benito Highlights
Monterey Bay Aquarium - We were so impressed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, they had an amazing exhibit on octopuses and other cephalopods in addition to narrated films and helpful guides. We really liked their exhibit on plastics, using art to promote a more eco-friendly approach.
House Kombucha - We found this delicious Kombucha brew at Whole Foods, and appreciated that it is much less sweet than other conventionally brewed kombuchas. Their flavour combinations are pretty fantastic also!
Earthbound Farms - We had a wonderful time at Earthbound Farms, selecting organic produce and exploring the herb and children's gardens. It is an awesome spot!
Esalen Institute - Juliette traveled to the Esalen Institute a couple of years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed her experience. It is very free spirited in its approach (with swimsuit optional hot pools) but is well worth a visit, they offer some amazing programs and the history of the institute is very interesting.
Born To Run - We have been thoroughly enjoying the audio version of Bruce Springsteen's autobiography, read by the author himself! It has taken our appreciation for the artist and his music to a whole new level.
Carmel Mission - One of the oldest Missions in California, the Carmel Mission is located in Carmel-By-The-Sea.