Breaking up is hard to do: Me and my ongoing love affair with Monterey

Ahhhh Monterey peninsula, I just can’t let you go…I know we’ve gone our separate ways, but like a little lost puppy I keep coming back. It’s not you—it’s me. Shhhhh—don’t say anything. Let’s enjoy the moment. Despite your icy waters and that you sometime wrap me up in your cool fog, your warm moments of sun and coast have my heart. Not to mention those sea otters are so damn cute.

Yeah, I know…Dave can’t you just let it go? Nope. What can I say? After a back and forth relationship with this beautiful city over the last few years, I really was saying good bye. I just needed one more perfect day… Ahhhh, a perfect day in Monterey…all that’s missing is me standing out with my boom box blaring Peter Gabriel for this break-up/make-up scene to be complete. Yes, this really was the last time (for now). Seriously, Monterey & I are really breaking up—for good this time. I seriously mean it. We’ll still be friends though. We just need some time apart.

After four years in command of my battalion, the 303d Information Operations Battalion based out of Camp Parks, California, 100 miles north of Monterey, I relinquished command in late September 2020. I kept my car in California at my aunt & uncle’s house in Santa Clara after my family moved to Tennessee. I intended on coming back out every month for drill, but with the Coronavirus shutdown, I didn’t go out to California from February until September 2020. Then following the change of command, I jumped in my car and planned one more visit to Monterey under COVID conditions for a day. It was time for good bye.

Like any good day in Monterey, it started with a run. I coordinated with my triathlon club for a “non-club sanctioned coincidental meet up” at Palo Corona Regional Park in Carmel Valley. Palo Corona is my favorite trail in the Monterey area. Between the old golf course of Rancho Cañada and the wide expanse of Palo Corona park, with views to the ocean, five miles on its trails are sheer bliss. And when I wanted more, I ventured up the hill to the top for a real butt kicker. Naturally, on what I expect to be my last run in Monterey for a while, not only was Palo Corona on the menu, but so was the ascent to the top. Just a few beautiful miles with my friends on the team. It was the first time many of them had seen each other since the pandemic started, and it was just like old times. Sure we had to wear masks, that was law in Monterey, but it was worth it to see such great friends and experience these incredible trails once again. It couldn’t have gotten much better, but it did.

Following our run, we met up at Dust Bowl Brewing Company for post-run beers and lunch. Practicing mask wearing (a city ordinance mandates this) and with our own bubble of 10, we enjoyed sun, beers, and a taco food truck for a couple wonderful warm hours. I wish I could remember (or have written down what beers I had) or taken pics of the tacos. Mostly, I just enjoyed friends’ camaraderie and beers on a sunny September Sunday in Monterey. The biggest comment amongst us all being, “This almost seem normal again!” I was so happy to see these people again. COVID conditions have limited my ability to interact with people in Tennessee. I mostly keep to myself—which as an extrovert—really stinks!!! But these were my people in Monterey! Finally though, we said our good byes, gave fist bumps with masks, and a couple of hugs. In essence I made peace with leaving. I just needed one more thing: some good wine.

On the recommendations of friends from the triathlon club, I shopped some good wines before leaving. First, I stopped at Comanche Cellars tasting room on Alvarado Street to pick up two bottles of their 2017 Dog and Pony Il Rinnegato. This wine, which translates into “the renegade” was a bold powerful red blend of Sangiovese (80%), Cabernet Sauvignon (15%), and Cabernet Franc (5%). It was nothing less than incredible as it brought a delicious blend of fruits and earth across my palate.

Having purchased my two bottles (and trying maybe another 3 wines) at Comanche Cellars, it was to visit my favorite winery, Pierce Ranch tasting room over near Cannery Row. I went in to purchase two bottles, but what could only be described as some incredible fortune ended up getting a complete tasting and talking to the woman working and her boyfriend for over an hour (and several tastings). I purchased three bottles of wine (and probably could have bought many more). Here’s a brief rundown:

2017 Tempranillo: a full bodied & delicious red with enough sophistication to either be your go to table wine or saved and shared for those special occasions.

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon: a bold powerful wine with hints of fruit; fully of flavor and aroma. It did not disappoint.

2019 Albariño: a go to white wine, crisp and clean on the palate. Perfect for warm summer nights or those early fall nights when the first vestiges of a chill sit in the air. It hints of fruit, but also the smell of the sea rolling into the deep valleys of the central coast.

And now five bottles later, I finally went to my hotel with the intent of watching the sunset over the Pacific one more time.

The fog had other plans.

Once again Monterey, you’ve enveloped me in your cool damp gray blanket for a final embrace.

As I drove to my hotel in Pacific Grove, I saw my hopes of a majestic Sunday sunset dashed: the fog rolled in once again as if on cue, and the sky darkened. It was ok: the day was perfect. I couldn’t have asked for more. I closed the day out by picking up pizza, opening a celebratory bottle of Chandon sparkling wine, and relaxing in my hotel room before my next adventure. In the morning, I would embark on my 2,040 mile adventure home, but first I had one more thing to do before my good byes were complete, which of course, is another story.

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