The Gilroy Garlic Festival Is In Town

Three garlics by kightp
Three garlics, a photo by kightp on Flickr.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival
     The Gilroy Garlic Festival is everything Garlic. Garlic ice cream to garlic everything else. It is the place to be if you are a lover of the garlic. Chefs come from all over the United States with their latest garlic creations and just hope that they will be that talk of the garlic capitol of the world that is Gilroy Ca for this one usually very hot dry weekend in July. So bring your water and bring your appetite and bring your imagination for whatever can be imagined that can be made to taste better with garlic. What is it going to be. I mean who would have thought seriously ice cream? But, it's a perpetual best seller, every year.
     Some people won't be able to make it to the festival and for those, try this roasted garlic recipe. I'm not going to lie to you it's not like being there. But it's still really good on a nice french bread or with crackers.

Roasted Garlic Recipe


1 whole head of garlic with most of the white papery material removed be careful not to tear apart the cloves, leave the head intact.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
Cut off the top of the garlic head about halfway down so that all the cloves are cut.
Coat your baking pan with olive oil
Use one tablespoon of olive oil over the head of garlic where you cut it and then sprinkle salt over the same area.
Place the head in the baking pan and cover it with aluminum foil and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the garlic cloves are soft.

After you take it out of the over let it cool so it's easier to handle then you can easily open the cloves with a knife and spread the garlic on bread or mix it with butter or use any way you would normally use garlic. However it has a much different flavor.


10 Free Things To Do In Monterey Ca.

Free Things To Do In Monterey
     When your on vacation it's always nice to save a little money. Especially if you have a family or young kids along on the trip. Some of this stuff will suit both adults and children so that way everyone enjoys their trip. So here are my top 10 free things to do in Monterey Ca.

Rehoboth Sandcastle Contest 6 by vpickering

The Beach
     The beach is the number one free thing to do in Monterey. Why, well because the beach suits everyone and it's definitely free and available always. The beaches in the Monterey area are very different so there is something for everyone. You can go to Lovers Point in Pacific Grove for little ones so there is not much surf so less worry about the waves due to the breakwater. Or if surfing is your thing check out Carmel Beach. If you are a hang glider or para sailor then you need to go to Marina state beach. So as you can see there is definitely something for everyone. Whether it's climbing on rocks or building sand castles. Or even flying a kite, the beach is the spot. Hey maybe you just want to work on your tan and read a book from cover to cover while your kids play on a Boogie board. Whatever it is, the beach is the best free thing to do in Monterey.

The Pacific Grove Bike Path
     The next thing on your list should be the Pacific Grove Bike Path. But specifically the purple carpet section. It's one of my favorite place to go for a walk or a bike ride because when it's in bloom it's really beautiful. Not only that but this bike path basically connects the whole Monterey Peninsula and beyond. It goes through Pacific Grove, Carmel, Monterey, Seaside, Sand City, Marina and all the way out to Watsonville. So basically it can take you wherever you want to go in the Monterey Bay area.

Festivals and Fairs 
     One of the great things about the Monterey area and all the little cities and large towns is they all have their own identities. From those identities come all the festivals and fairs we have going on basically year round. The picture above is from the Feast of Lanterns in Pacific Grove which is a very unique event that's been going on for about 100 years. If you come into PG during Feast of Lanterns time you will see the whole town, houses businesses trees covered in paper lanterns for the occasion. It's really beautiful.
     Some of the other festivals and fairs are the artichoke festival, and the strawberry festival. First night Monterey on New Years Eve. Just something going on every month at least.
Fisherman's Wharf Sign by Lisa Andres

Fisherman's Wharf Clam Chowder 
     A favorite of mine is to go to the Monterey Fisherman's Wharf and do a clam chowder tasting. Basically all of the local restaurants are handing out free samples of their clam chowder.  The best way to get it in my opinion is on a cold day in a sourdough bread bowl. So hit up all the local chowder samples and see who has the best chowder in Monterey. By the way don't forget to Facebook like or Tweet about your winner. These chef's put a lot of work into their chowder and they would appreciate it. Later in the week if your looking for a seafood place don't forget about the place that made the best chowder.

Monterey Museum of Art
     Every third Thursday of the month The Monterey Museum of Art offers Art After Hours. A free art showing and they always have wine and live music and sometimes even hors d'oeuvres. So come out on Thursday night and see some local and national artists showing some of their latest works.

Monarch Butterfly by Tolka Rover

The Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove
     The butterfly sanctuary in Pacific Grove is exactly that a sanctuary for Monarch Butterflies on their long journeys from Mexico to Canada and back again. The do this throughout their life cycle. If you are lucky enough to come here and see them all here in late February march you will get a chance to see them all fly away at once it is truly an awesome sight. At first they just look like part of a tree but then you realize it's thousands of monarchs all piled together on the limb of a eucalyptus tree. They also have demonstrations on what you can plant in your own garden to help the monarchs along on their journey and just so you can see more monarchs in your own day.

Leave a Message on The Sand City Sand Hill For a Loved One
     This is one of my favorite ones of all. If you drive past Sand City Ca you will see it that giant sand hill sticking up next to Hwy. 1 with messages written on it with the brush that is on the hill. Some just say I love you mom. Hey don't we all. To M heart Y or you get the idea so one of the best free things to do is to go out to that sand hill and leave a message to a loved one and drive them past it unsuspecing. Or sneak out of your hotel room in the morning for a walk and put up the message and drive them past on your way to breakfast. Pretty cool in my book.

Point Lobos Cove by Ed Bierman

Walk Into Point Lobos
     If you walk into Point Lobos State Reserve in Monterey you will get a treat of one saving ten dollars on parking because that's what it costs to drive your car in and park. Then you will get to explore the miles of trails and beutiful coastline that is Point Lobos. This is truly one of California's Gems. It ranks up there in my mind with Yosemite and that is pretty hard to do. But for true coastal beauty a day a t Point Lobos is unsurpassed. The docents really know their stuff they can answer all of your questions yet will stay out of your way if you just want to hike and take pictures. Don't forget your camera and your loved ones.

Explore The Tide pools at Asilomar Beach
     The Tide pools here are really amazing you can spend a day or several days climbing around on the rocks and checking out all the sea life that inhabits all the cracks and crevices that finds their home here. Your kids will love it as well as the kids at hear. You can find everything from anemones to mussells to small fish to stars you name it it's here. Please just look and don't take anything but pictures we want this place to still be around for our grandchildren. It is a very unique place to visit and there is a very nice beach near by so when you are done here you can go there and play.

Spend a Day at Dennis the Menace Park
dennis the menace park by jenn l.     This is everyones favorite playground. You see it as soon as you drive in to Monterey and every kid and some adults eyes are glued to the windows saying I want to go there. You really should. They have some of the best rides of any playground I've been to. A real steam locomotive,  a huge bridge across the whole playground, you can even stick your head in a lions mouth. The rides have gotten tamer as the years have gone by and I'm sure the litigation piled up. This playground used to be known for toys that could maim you. Not anymore, it's very save now.  If you have kids you have to spend one day of your trip here. Don't go on Monday they are closed for cleaning.

This is my list of free things to do in Monterey Ca. If you can think of anymore please leave them in the comments or if you did some of them on your trip and enjoyed them leave a comment and let the business or park know that you appreciate the free day. That way it stays free and they know people appreciate it.

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Hotels Near the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Hotels Near the Monterey Bay Aquarium

    The Monterey Bay Inn -242 Cannery Row Monterey, Ca 93940

     Best Western Plus Victorian Inn -487 Foam St. Monterey, Ca 93940

     Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa -400 Cannery Row Monterey, Ca 93940

     Spindrift Inn -652 Cannery Row Monterey, Ca 93940

     Intercontinental The Clement Monterey -750 Cannery Row Monterey, Ca 93940

     Holiday Inn Express Cannery Row -443 Wave Street Monterey, Ca 93940

     Cannery Row Inn -200 Foam St. Monterey, Ca 9394
     The hotels near the Monterey Bay Aquarium run the gamut from  cheap hotels in Monterey to luxury hotels that say call us for the price type places. There are even dog friendly hotels in Monterey. There are many choices for finding a place to stay in Monterey.  So the differences are you can find a room anywhere from $100.00 with 2 stars all the way up from there to about $500.00 for 4 stars. So, there is quite a range in price and it changes with the seasons and holidays like everywhere else. So that $100.00 hotel might only cost $80.00 in the slow season and higher in the high season.

     Most of these hotels near the Monterey Bay Aquarium offer a Monterey Bay Aquarium discount which can dramatically reduce the cost of your hotel aquarium package when you add up all the costs so it's something worth looking into. So even if you don't stay in one of these hotels it's worth asking at any hotel you stay at in Monterey if they offer an Aquarium Discount.
     One thing nice about staying near the aquarium especially for families is that you are pretty near everything from the Monterey Bay Aquarium to Fisherman's Wharf to Cannery Row which was made famous by Steinbeck but don't expect to see the same Cannery Row that you read about in the book. Much like Books made into movies now Cannery Row is so Commercialized you wouldn't recognize it from the book. Cannery Row is still a nice place to spend the day and do some shopping and eat some good food at a nice restaurant. So if you are looking for a Hotel near the aquarium there are many choices that will suit your needs whatever they are with plenty of things to do from restaurants to clubs to the wharf nearby. One thing you always see on tourists here and San Francisco even is those sweatshirts that say Monterey on them. So whatever you do no matter the weather report don't forget to bring a sweater because it can be very hot in the day and very cool at night as soon as the fog rolls in it changes and you are looking for a place to buy a sweater and you are stuck buying a $35.00 sweater. Don't let the sweater happen to you come prepared.
Hotels Near the Monterey Bay Aquarium

     The Monterey Bay Inn -242 Cannery Row Monterey, Ca 93940

     Best Western Plus Victorian Inn -487 Foam St. Monterey, Ca 93940

     Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa -400 Cannery Row Monterey, Ca 93940

     Spindrift Inn -652 Cannery Row Monterey, Ca 93940

     Intercontinental The Clement Monterey -750 Cannery Row Monterey, Ca 93940

     Holiday Inn Express Cannery Row -443 Wave Street Monterey, Ca 93940

     Cannery Row Inn -200 Foam St. Monterey, Ca 9394
     As you can see there are many hotels with a lot of range in price for everyone. The couple on a weekend trip to the big family summer getaway. Whatever your case is, a Monterey Bay Aquarium Hotel has something for you. Location, convenience and access to everything that you come to Monterey for. 
     A lot of your price will be determined by whether you stay literally on the ocean or a little bit inland. Or, even if you have an ocean view room or a garden type view in the same hotel so shop accordingly. Because really if it's a family trip with the kids do you need the ocean view room right on the beach or could you have the ocean view a couple blocks away from the beach to save a couple of bucks to spend on some other fun things. Where as if it's a romantic getaway with your wife or girlfriend then you might want to spring for the ocean view at the beach.


Monterey County EV Charging Stations

charger by drwhimsy
charger, a photo by drwhimsy on Flickr.

Where Can You Charge Your Electric Vehicle
     In Monterey County there are several places that have electric vehicle charging facilities. They are of differing designs and ages as the technologies have rolled out but most EV drivers have the necessary adapters or they should.  So here is a list of places you can charge your EV while your are visiting the Monterey Bay area.

EV Charging Station Locations

Del Monte Center in Monterey Ca. - 1410 Del Monte Center Monterey Ca.
This is a really great location for vehicle chargers as you can go into the mall and do a little shopping while your vehicle is charging. Another nice thing about these chargers is they are all located in the parking places closest to the actual mall so you are guaranteed good parking as well. 

West Custom House Garage  - Washington Street and E. Franklin St. Monterey Ca

Costco Salinas - 1339 N. Davis Rd. Salinas Ca.

Rabobank - 1285 N. Davis Rd. Salinas Ca.

Victory Toyota - 5 Herzinger Plaza Seaside Ca

Oxton Kennels - 400 River Rd. Salinas Ca

Recently another charging station has been added in Watsonville

355 Main St Watsonville Ca 95076

     This is a pretty good list for Monterey, Seaside and Salinas we definitely need more EV charging stations for Monterey county. AMBAG the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments has gotten a grant to place three more public EV chargers in the Monterey Bay Area. But those locations have not been determined yet. Hopefully it's near you when you are running out of juice. Seriously though we need to see more of these come online before we can see more EV's on our roadways.

charger, a photo by drwhimsy on Flickr.


You Can Run The Salinas Valley Half Marathon

     The Second Annual Salinas Valley Half Marathon time is upon us again. The race is on Saturday August 06, 2011. There are still spots open for registration but get them in quick as this race filled up pretty fast last year. They are enforcing a 4 hour finishing time. The course will be closed at noon.
     Now that we have all that information out there we can actually talk about the race. It starts at the Soledad Mission in the Salinas Valley near the small town of Soledad. I didn't even know there was a Mission at Soledad until I came here. Of course I read in school of the missions at Carmel and San Diego but not Soledad. This is really a nice area you will be running in. It is known as the lettuce capital of the world. However it's really so much more than that. You will be running on small country roads surrounded by fields of yes lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower. Miles and miles of vineyards and old barns and tractors line the roads. The aid stations have lots of Gatorade and Hammer products as well as a full Strawberry aid station at something like mile ten. This I have to say was most peoples favorite aid station. It provided just that little extra boost of energy from real food to get you over the hump. This run let's you begin to see how this really is a place that can feed the world. Because as far as you can see there are crops as you look out over the Salinas Valley but on the other side of the road is the beginnings of the Santa Lucia Mountains rising up out of the valley. This is definitely a race to put on your calendar especially since it hasn't filled up yet.
     Okay where to stay? You can get a hotel in Monterey which helps if you want to do some sightseeing  the day after the race or make it a 3 day weekend. Monterey is about 1.5 hour drive time from the Soledad Mission so you will need to plan this so you can be where you need to be on race morning. Another option would be to stay in Soledad. There are two hotels one a Best Western and a Super 8 next door. I have actually stayed in them both and would recommend them. The Best Western has a pool and a hot tub if you think you might need that after the race. Staying in Soledad would only put you about 15 minutes away from the start line and help a lot with your scheduling. Then if you wanted to drive on to Monterey for that three day weekend you could do that. Personally I always like to stay close to the race location when I go out of town for runs.
     One of the great things about this event is it's a community event. It also seems to be an event that beginners flock to which is great for a sport like running or any sport really we always need new people to take up the sport. One of the reasons for this I think is the different training programs offered specifically for this race. There are training programs put on by the race itself that started on May 4 and go all the way through to the Success party on August 10th. If you are not local on they are providing 4 different training programs online through depending on your level of fitness. Then the Monterey Fleet Feet Sports is putting on a training program as well, not to mention the local Salinas and Soledad YMCA.


The Whales are Visiting Monterey

Humpback Whale @ Monterey Bay by Gina's foto's

     It's that time of year again when the whales are coming back through the bay. However this year seems to be a little different as more whales are here and they are hanging around longer.  So if you are here in Monterey you should take a whale watching trip to get up close and personal with some of earth largest creatures. The different types of whales we have here are Gray Whales, Humpback Whales, Blue Whales, and Killer Whales. So there is something for everyone in this list. Mostly what we are seeing now are the large number of Blue Whales and Humpback Whales and they are here feeding on a large amount of krill that is in the bay right now.
     One of the best ways to see the whales is by taking a cruise on one of the whale watching tour providers located around the Monterey Bay. They can take you to the whales and help you get good pictures and some of these trips are even led by  a Marine Biologist so you can feel free to ask questions and get some good answers. 
Whale Watching in Monterey

Whale Watch Monterey - they are located at the end of the Monterey Fisherman's Wharf.

Randy's Fishing Trips - I know it says fishing trips but they also provide whale watching trips.

Princess Monterey Whale Watch - This group has shorter 2and a half hour and 3 hour trips if that is all that fits in your itinerary. They also offer booking online which is nice.

Whale Watching Checklist
     Okay so your going whale watching in Monterey Bay. You all ready told the kids saw the smiles on their faces  and are getting ready to go what do you need to take with you for a good trip.

Things You Should Take Whale Watching on Monterey Bay

  1. The number one thing is a good attitude. Let's face it you are going to be on a boat for four hours with a large group of people trying to get that perfect pictures so try to take a good attitude with you. I promise you will have a great time and you will get your great pictures.
  2. Camera- I don't know how many times I have gone out whale watching and someone would say I wish I brought my camera. Most of us have a camera nowadays on our cell phone but it's just not as good as a regular camera. Also don't forget Batteries and if you still use it film for your camera. This would be a bad time for your batteries to go dead.
  3. Sunscreen- Monterey Bay is a very mild climate area often covered in fog. However don't let that fog fool you into thinking you don't need your sunscreen. The fog can deceive you and you can get a pretty good sunburn.
  4. Clothing for the weather- Now our climate here is mild like I said above but it's also known for changing on a dime.  Meaning it can be cold and foggy then warm and sunny or the other way around. So, you need to dress for the conditions and put a coat or whatever other clothes you think you might need in your backpack.
  5. Lunch- Most of these trips don't provide food so you need to bring your own. Don't expect to bring a huge ice chest on board the boat if everyone did that there wouldn't be room for the people so just a sandwich from the deli and some drinks or what you like.
  6. Something for your small children to do- If you have very small children then bring some coloring books and crayons or something like that for them to do when they get bored. You won't have this problem with older kids they will be blown away by the whales and wildlife but the little ones need something to do.
  7. If you get seasick - Try to take Dramamine or another available medicine to help you with the sickness. Some people just get seasick but it's worth it to spend a day with the whales on Monterey Bay.
  8. Take your sense of excitement because this is a pretty exciting thing. How often do you get to be this up close to wildlife in it's own habitat. Not at the zoo. Even at the Monterey Bay Aquarium you are not in the animals own habitat but it's a different experience. So by all means take your sense of excitement.
  9. Bring your friends- This is one of those trips that is on a lot of people's lists and while you may be in Monterey for business or a family trip or whatever try to take as many friends along as possible. It's a really cool thing that you will remember together even after you forgot what you shot at spyglass.
  10. Go home with great memories and great pictures. This is really a trip to remember. Share it with your friends and family and make it a yearly event.
     So, take all of these things with you on your whale watching trip in Monterey Bay and you will have a blast. This seems to be the largest group of whales we've had in a couple of years so get your trip set up and get out there. After you get off the boat you will still have that rocking sensation like when you are on the boat. It's kinda funny and the kids think it's hilarious. After you get off the boat if you are hungry or are freezing because you didn't bring warm clothes stop along the wharf for some clam chowder in a bread bowl the best way to warm up.
 Humpback Whale @ Monterey Bay, a photo by Gina's foto's on Flickr.