At the moment, I am between mini-adventures. I’m about to embark on the 5th Annual Le Quad Goes Camping camping trip, and can’t freaking wait. A long weekend in Big Sur with some of my favorite people on the planet? It can’t happen soon enough really.
A couple weeks back, I went to the Monterey for the 62nd annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The Concours d’Elegance is a car show, but one of the most elite, showcasing immaculate and expensive classic cars. It’s bascially the Academy Awards of the classic car world. The whole Monterey Bay Pennisula gets abuzz with car fever, and there are more shows, events, and races than one can possibly attend. Loving vintage and being a professional car fool’s daughter, it is one of my favorite times of the year.
My dad has been going for the past 30 years, and I’ve gone on and off throughout my life. The past several years have always been particularly awesome, because through being a judge for the event and an automotive journalist, my dad always is on some car company’s press package, and the rest of us get to freeload and tag along. Not only do we get into the show, which is expensive, but we get into the best parties, hospitality suites, and get put up at fantastic hotels.
When I travel, 90% of the time I’m in hostels or someone’s couch. I really do enjoy this type of travel. But on Concours weekend, it’s a nice break to sit back and enjoy the fine things in life that I normally miss out on.
Friday I got off work at 4 and hightailed it out of San Francisco. I drove through some unique farming towns down the 101 and on the 156: Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world, and Castroville, the artichoke capital of the world. All I can say is that when you are driving through Gilroy, you know it. Not only are there signs everywhere for garlic this and that, but the stench hangs in the air.
Our hotel this time was The Clement Monterey on Cannery Row. Monterey began as a fishing town and had a short-lived industry of canning sardines and squid. When the last canneries closed in the ’70’s, Cannery Row was considered the rough side of town, but these days it is the trendy and touristy, with the aquarium, shops, galleries, and bars. So a room on Cannery Row with ocean views is a pretty nice deal.
The hotel itself was pretty nice too! It’s funny, you know you work in retail or a service industry when you stay in a nice hotel like that and don’t know how to act to the people that work there. I know that things like taking your bags, holding doors, and showing you to your room is quite customary, but I’m not used to it and kept forgetting. And I noticed that all the guys and gals that worked there were pretty chatty with me, probably because they recognized that I’m not a rich asshole. Judging from the Lamborghinis parked out front of the hotel there were already plenty of those staying for the weekend.
Friday night I had dinner with my sister Mel and her boyfriend Scot at Vivolo’s Chowder House. My family has been going to the Chowder House for as long as I can remember. It looks nothing special and plays easy listening music, but the chowder is out of this world. They actually have a full menu, but when you go to a restaurant called the Chowder House why have anything else?
Afterward we drove over to Pebble Beach. There is nothing in Pebble Beach except a golf course, resort, and private mansions. And rich people. But at this time of the year it is overrun by car people as the actual show takes place on hole 19 of the golf course. Friday night there is always a big dinner that my parents go to, and then my sister and I show up for the best party of the weekend, the Mercedes Benz afterparty. Everybody who’s anybody in the exciting world of cars and journalism is there, the liquor is top shelf, and there is always quality entertainment. So Crown Royal and ginger ale in hand, I mingled and waited for the show to start.
Our entertainment for the evening was none other than Chaka Khan! For a woman pushing 60, she looked and sounded amazing. We were so close to the stage and it was surreal being that close to a music legend. Apparently if you want to make a room full of middle aged car PR people and journalists happy (many of whom were gay, interstingly), you have to give the people what they want. And what they want is Chaka fucking Khan. I’m a bass player so I love funk, and I have to admit disco is a guilty pleasure, so I had a great time. We left at 11:30 but the party was still going strong.
Saturday my parents were out and Mel and Scot took the morning to sleep in at their motel, so I took the day to leisurely explore the comforts of the hotel. I got room service for breakfast. I checked my email at the business center. I took full advantage of the pool and jacuzzi that were vacant (mine! They were all mine!) I snapped a few camera phone pictures for your enjoyment.
When Mel and Scot finally came around I met them at Tillie Gort’s Cafe. Tillie Gort’s is a more recent discovery for me, but it’s a charming organic and vegetarian friendly cafe that has been there since 1969. It’s a cozy spot for a light bite or coffee. I had an artichoke and tomato quesidilla with their homemade salsa that was very yummy. After a bite, we met up with our parents and walked around Monterey to hit up our favorite spots. There is a record store that Mel and I like called Recycled Records and we always find something good there. I hit up the dollar bin and found a Graham Nash record to take home to Zac and a Bob Seeger record for me (another guilty pleasure, I’m afraid). I also found a pair of Gap jeans for $9 at Good Stuff, an odd little thrift shop where I’ve had luck in the past. It’s a weird space that looks tiny but is quite deep, and is run by very Christian African American people so there is always Gospel music playing.
Our parents had yet another dinner thing to go to, so Mel, Scot and I had dinner with Ellen, a family friend that is like an aunt/older sister/drinking buddy to Mel and myself. We hit up Hula’s Bar and Grill, a fun Island themed restaurant with good fish and appropriate tropical drinks. Ellen and I each had a couple One Eyed Pyrat’s, a fantastic drink with Pyrat rum, pineapple juice, and ginger beer. I heartily recommend it if you want a tropical drink that’s not too fruity or sweet, but a little zesty and refreshing. Over dinner, we learned that Ellen is moving to Oahu for a new job. Nothing like starting over in paradise! I love her dearly and she’s had several roadblocks in recent years, so I couldn’t be more happy for her. I wonder how cheap I can find tickets to Oahu now that I have a place to stay all lined up? According to Kayak.com, a mere $254!
I just looked at my word count and realized that I’ve bored you for over 1200 words, and haven’t even gotten to the show yet, so I’ll make this a 2 parter. Also, I’m driving down to Big Sur today for some campin’, and realized that that is farther than I thought so I’m anxious to get on the road. Expect more classic cars, tales of drinkin’ and campin’, and the continuations of my adventures in Australia to come!
Good Luck and Happy Travels,