Seaside and Back
Pedaling along Ocean View Boulevard in Pacific Grove, I am
spellbound by the ice plant – a purple flag unfurled across the
rocks. I am about to enter the bike trail that winds from here
to Marina. I catch a glimpse of myself in a window and notice
that my spandex pants fit me better.
my doctor got right in my face and warned me to slash my carbs
and fat - or die of a stroke or heart attack - I have lost
weight. The inner tube once encircling my hips has deflated to a
mountain bike tire, and I’m hoping it will eventually downsize
to a small hula hoop.
rate, a nice nine mile cycling is just what the doctor ordered.
So I fly by Berwick Park, a grassy knoll studded with graceful
cypress trees and the perfect setting for weddings, Frisbee
tosses or lounging. A kaleidoscope of catamarans and sailboats,
with their brilliant spinnakers billowing in the wind, makes the
Lickety-split, I pump through Cannery Row, narrowly escaping
tourists who are walking and gawking at the myriad gift shops,
eateries, wax museum, candy shops and other venues that keep
them wide-eyed while they slurp luscious ice cream cones.
A whiff of salty sea air and the barking seals announce that I
have arrived at Wharf No. 1, and memories plunder me: posing in
an instant photo booth with a boyfriend, clam chowder and French
bread, “Annie” in the Wharf Theatre.
always take a circular whirl around the huge splashing fountain
at Portola Plaza and then head down to Pier No. 2, where I can
still see the imprint of the red flying horse that adorned the
working cannery there. Today there are no fishermen in yellow
rubber suits, unloading a waterfall of flipping, gleaming
sardines. However, I eye the tugboats, little trawlers, sleek
sailboats and even a lavish yacht or two.
on the trail again, I pass beneath a lush grove of eucalyptus
trees – dad, always playing with words, called “You-klie-peetus”
trees. I momentarily remove my hands from the handlebars, look
skyward at the silvery tips of these aged trees, and breathe in
their musky scent. As always, I seem to connect with my father,
now gone nearly 14 years.
little further along, I spy the lake at the Naval Postgraduate
School and sigh. I used to love to cycle or walk inside the
fence where I shot roll after roll of photographs of Nazi
helmeted wood ducks, black swans, and any number of lake fowl.
But since 9/11, the hurricane fence has been replaced by an
intimidating garrison of concrete and wrought iron.
I’d give for one more look at my elephant tree. In the fall,
this Copper Birch was resplendent with gold doubloons. And its
wrinkled trunk looked exactly like an elephant’s foot. I adored
it so much I would take friends to see it.
Everything changes. But some things for good. The trail has been
greatly improved, and a long S-shaped section winds to the top
of the dunes for a spectacular view across the ocean looking
back to the Peninsula. I pass the big wooden cross, erected by
Spaniards, I think, and see sunbathers lolling on blankets and
languidly walking the waterline.
my ride at Sand City, high on a bluff overlooking, Marina where
hang gliders and Para sailors dangle in the now still air.
This is the pinnacle of my ride, although heartier cyclists
continue on to Marina. But I am well satisfied that I have
enjoyed a stunning day in my beloved Monterey, and head back for
home, telling my metabolism, “Burn, baby, burn” . . .