Sunday, July 12, 2009

Staycation is now an official word (kinda)

There is no official "American English" dictionary. Such a dictionary would be counter to the basic ideal of Freedom of Speech. However, we do have dictionaries that stand as an authority of sorts. A bunch of new words were just added to Merriam-Webster dictionary. Among those words is staycation, which is defined as a vacation spent at home or nearby. Not mentioned is how close to home "nearby" represents. It is an overnight stay about hour's drive away from home? Or is it just travelling locally and coming back home within the same day?

Allie and I took a short vacation on Thursday and Friday to the Monterey Peninsula. I had originally wanted to take a road trip to Santa Barbara, but that seemed a bit too far for the limited time available to us. By comparison, a trip to Monterey can be called a staycation.

We hit up some of the same old places, like Cannery Row. We also explored something new to both of us; Carmel Valley, with its several wineries.

We stayed overnight at Green Gables Inn in Pacific Grove. This place was once made nationally famous with one of the commercials where Visa brags about being accepted at a place that did not accept American Express. As far as I noticed, they still do not accept American Express, but they do take Discover. I used my MasterCard.

Green Gables Inn just started up a new website where they can take online reservations. It is promoted as a quaint Bed and Breakfast. However, it is kind of a hotel with suites (self styled "boutique hotel"). Some of the rooms are in the main Victorian home, but there are also separate suites in a second slightly more modern building. The suites have old charm (so called "Victorian"). The building is very old, so some modern considerations are not addressed, such as sound dampening between rooms. However, it does have modern amenities too, such as a large romantic bathtub with jets. The location doesn't get much better. The view of Monterey Bay is awesome. It is within walking distance of both Cannery Row and Lover's Point. The staff is very friendly and will make you feel like you are at home. Overall, the experience is very pleasant.

We did lunch on Friday at the Fishhopper on Cannery Row. I asked for a table over the water. They sat us right at the very edge of the dinning room that jets out into the bay. It was like our own personal sea life zoo. We had fun spotting seals lounging on nearby rocks. Then, as a special treat, the sea otters starting show up in the kelp forest. I spotted 5 of them. I believe that is the most I've ever seen at one time. There was a squadron of pelicans that zoomed by skimming across the surface of the water, also the usual gulls chilling out. The only fish we saw in the ocean was actually fulfilling the role of meal for one of the sea otters.

Though I'm from Monterey County, I've not travelled every road. One area I've not explored before is Carmel Valley. A 20 minute short drive from Carmel-by-the-sea, it might as well be a world away. It is in the middle of rolling and lush hills. Several wineries can be found along this route, allowing one to make a day of wine tasting. It isn't over commercialized or crowed like Napa Valley has become. It is very quiet and laid back. We only spent Friday afternoon there. Northern Monterey Country actually has quite a diversity of wineries and might be worth a dedicated wine tasting trip one of these days.

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