Emerald Bay is bringing back memories for my mother, of vacations long ago when she was a Lawson, not yet a Francis.
Up the road from the state park, a roadside motel triggers another flashback.
“There it is.”
Dad quickly pulls over. We take a couple of photos.
“We had a nice two-story room with a fireplace,” she says. My cousin kept trying to start a fire in the fireplace by wrapping logs with toilet paper.
“Did it work?” I ask.
“No, but we used all the toilet paper.”
Most of the day is spent on the road, on I-80 through Sacramento and then down through San Jose to Monterey. The pines and redwoods and mountains vanish from my car window, turning into a parade of highway exits.
This is yet another time I separate myself from the outside world with my iPod. Mom and Dad might have the cheesy AM standards station on in the front, but in the back I have at least six hours’ worth of classic rock, classic soul, movie scores, a couple of show tunes and oodles of Genesis tracks, pre and post Phil Collins.
With a lunch break in the middle, we roll into Monterrey around 4pm. Finding the motel becomes a problem. We make one turnoff, then another, but can’t find Fremont Street. Mom finally calls the motel and asks for directions.
“We’re a little lost,” she says.
It’s almost like saying you’re a little intoxicated.
We find the motel and then find our way to Cannery Row. It’s my first trip here, but it’s the second for Mom and Dad.
The water is too cool for me to want to dip into, but I have some moments to stand in the sand and meditate on the gulls and waves and sailboats in the distance.
We hit the shops. Dinner comes from an Italian place down the street from Bubba Gump’s.
Our server leads us out to a table overlooking Monterey Bay – a table for two.
“Oh, I didn’t know he was with you,” the perplexed staffer says, even though I was standing right by Mom and Dad.
Am I vanishing?
She scoots a couple of tables together and solves the problem.
Some more window shopping comes after the meal, poking around the unique establishments of Cannery Row. It’s getting cooler and Mom still can’t believe I’m not wearing a sweater.
“I have a thick skin,” I explain to her. Actually, it’s not as thick as it used to be, but that’s another blog post...