Day 63: Chautauqua and Motorcycles

If Dad’s in trouble, it’s a good bet that either Chuck or Russ is involved.

Russ works with Mom and Dad, and he’s one of those scientists with contagious love and enthusiasm for his work.


He studies and teaches a variety of different subjects, and his grin shows an understanding that they’re all connected. And if your truck breaks down in the middle of the desert, I hear he’s a wizard with baling wire and duct tape.

In 2004 while on a research trip, Russ, Mom and Dad discovered a woolly mammoth skull buried in a cliff in Baja. It’s an exciting and sad story involving shovels, guns and broken ladders. The photos from Dad’s camera are amazing. I’ll see if he’s posted them anywhere.

This week, Dad and Russ and Sara are teaching a class at a research station in Moss Landing, near Monterey. Their class consists of 15 math and science teachers from across the country. This is a multi-day chautauqua (a series of interesting discussions in interesting places).

I drive down to hang out with them in Monterey, stopping to eat at a great little roadside diner. Cindy runs the place, and I don’t leave hungry.

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I catch up with Dad at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I still can’t get enough of that Jellies exhibit.


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…but the real treat today is the chance to visit Ed Ricketts‘ laboratory. If you’ve read Cannery Row, you’re at least a little familiar with him.


Ricketts was a marine biologist, and his work was one of the most influential factors in the disciplines of environmental preservation. He was also the real-life influence for many of Steinbeck’s characters, including “Doc” in Cannery Row. His lab is located in Monterey, and is usually closed to the public, but educators can request special access.

A lot of important work happened in this little place.

Once we’re inside, Russ reads a passage from Cannery Row which describes the place we’re sitting.

Afterward, we wander around and explore the small house and lab.

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The roads are closed all around Cannery Row today, for the arrival of hundreds of motorcycles in a very cool event called MotoGP.
I can’t stay for the festivities, but here are some good pictures.

Random assertion: The location of a laboratory is usually at least as important as its contents.

Steganographic data: 1846/4.2

Day 8,9,10: A hiding place near The Red House

A critical part of disappearing is finding an out-of-sight location where you enjoy spending time. This goes double when there’s a brunette hiding with you.

With that in mind, we throw stuff into the car…

  • a few good books
  • swimsuits
  • a nice dinner dress and a tuxedo (not kidding)

…and head South to one of the few truly perfect places on Earth.

First, we cut through Los Gatos, to make a stop at Fleur de Cocoa. Pascal and Nicola (the owners) are friends of ours. Just before starting their business, Pascal made our wedding cake. It was so good that we visit them every year to pick up a mini version of the same cake, for special occasions like this.

Pascal is a magician

Cake acquired, we drive out to the coast and follow it down to that perfect place. Here’s how to get there:

  • Keep going, past Santa Cruz, past Monterey.
  • When you see cars turning right toward the beautiful Carmel beaches, ignore them and keep going.
  • Another half mile or so, turn left, away from the ocean.

After eight or ten miles of winding roads through the long valley, when you think you’ve gone too far and there’s a mile or more between buildings, stop and look around. You’re there.

No way to be followed, no way to be found. Artichokes grow eight feet high, and you can have them grilled up for lunch.

This is Ingrid’s vinyard, which produces some of the most fantastic wine in the region.

If you want to unwind over a very elegant dinner, Marinus is what you’re looking for. There’s a roaring fire, the food is brilliant, and the staff is in a league of their own. You guessed it; this is where the dress and tux come out. (It’s not required, but it’s fun.)

If you want to stay out of sight, and you love science and nature, you can’t beat the Outer Bay exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium on Memorial Day weekend.

Note: Don’t wait in the hour-long holiday line, head straight for the member’s entrance. Membership doesn’t cost much more than admission, and you can walk right in.

The Outer Bay exhibit is a perfect place to hide out. It’s dark, crowded, beautiful, and nobody can see where your hands are.

That last part got me into some trouble.

Then on to the Red House in Pacific Grove for the best grilled cheese sandwich on Earth (this from an expert). Artichokes, peppers, and melty perfection. This sandwich played no small part in our decision to hide out here.

Sue gets a massage while I sit with a cup of tea and read an excellent math book and an excellent zombies-take-over-the-world book.

The next day was gorgeous, and we stop on the drive back to see our niece and nephew. It’s his 11th birthday, so we brought him his very first soldering iron, and a project to build.

After being pummeled by monkeys, it’s back home for some pizza and beer, at a place where she can see the score of the basketball game.

Random assertion: It is vital that we take care of our environment, if we want to survive. That’s not the same as “saving the planet” though. The planet is going to be fine; in 30 or 40 million years, you won’t even be able to tell we were here.

Steganographic data: 1904/2.2