The Post of Many Firsts

As I go through my days I am often building the blog in my head, and as things happen the title of each blog post often changes.  This post started as “First Christmas in Monterey”, but that didn’t seem quite right because I doubt we will have another one here.  Never say never though!  We had experienced quite a bit of rain in our 10 days in Monterey and it was serious all day rain, so we were happy when Christmas Eve dawned clear.  We didn’t have much planned, just hanging out with Kay, but Lee was very excited to find out the local movie theater was playing “It’s A Wonderful Life” on one of their big screens.  It’s his favorite Christmas movie and Kay said she had never seen it (not sure how that happened) so I sent the two of them to the theater.  I stayed behind and pre-cooked my cheese potatoes and broccoli cheese casserole for tomorrow’s dinner.  One of the problems with the RV oven is it really only holds two things at once and that is pushing it.  My dinner called for three things being heated in the oven so I precooked what I could to make that work.  I also stuffed Kay’s stockings (had some fun at the Dollar General) and hid them in the bedroom of the camper.  Another downside of the camper is it’s tough to keep a secret in such a small place, it doesn’t have many hiding spaces.  We all went to bed early and then on one of my early morning wake-ups I snuck out and hung her stockings.  I filled up three stockings with all the dollar store stuff and she really liked the hat and toe socks in particular.


She liked the bear


Caught her sleeping


Lee cooking breakfast


Kay likes sour candy


The toe socks were a big hit

Because Kay had an early flight back to Keene the day after Christmas, I made Christmas dinner at around two,  and by heating the ham first, then removing and covering it with foil and finishing the potatoes and broccoli cheese casserole (recipes below) we had a dinner similar to the ones I used to make for the kids in our sticks and bricks.  Plus the weather cooperated and it was a lovely day.  Kay had brought us some presents from Korea and I was very happy that she got us magnetic coasters…they do two things!!  Sadly, we had to say goodbye, but since she is going to be stationed in Maryland when she’s finished with her school, we know we will get to see her sooner than if she was going to Korea.  Plus she’s living her life now and doing a darn fine job of it so I didn’t feel too sad saying goodbye.

Christmas Dinner

Christmas Dinner, not bad for in an RV

We weren’t scheduled to leave until the 27th, so we spent the 26th as a catch-all day to try and squeeze in a few things that we missed due to rain.  We spent 10 days in Monterey, but the area is packed with things to do and we definitely could have stayed longer.  So the day after Christmas we drove around and did some things we had missed out on.  First we were off to Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world, to try to find something for my Dad.  Many years ago Dad was in this area and didn’t buy a garlic keeper here.  Since it was close and my Dad never asks me for anything, we went to Gilroy to try to find one.  I would have titled this post “First Time In Gilroy”, but  the town was pretty run-down and I don’t really recommend it.  We saw most of it though on our garlic keeper hunt.  After going into 2 garlic specialty stores and a couple of antique stores we found this fun garlic keeper.  They are hand-made locally, by a retired high school teacher, and I hope this is what Dad was thinking of.  I think it’s cute though! And since Dad doesn’t read the blog I can post this picture of it.  Hope it survives the shipping!

Local, handmade garlic keeper

Local, handmade garlic keeper

After stopping for some Burger King (fuel meal) we went to Moss Landing which is this tiny town along the ocean that I do recommend stopping in.  It’s claim to fame is being the artichoke capital of the world and their were tons of artichoke and brussels sprouts farm.  Since they were harvesting brussel sprouts and that is one of Lee’s favorite vegetables, we stopped at a large farm stand called The Whole Enchilada Marketplace.  The place was much bigger than it looked and even had a cool sea themed bar in the middle of it.  Amazing selection and decent prices, and I picked up avocado flavored honey (yummy), radishes, brussels sprouts, oranges, and broccoli.  The place was packed and a little chaotic, but a lot of fun if you like a farmer’s market. 

The whole enchilada marketplace

The whole enchilada marketplace


Bar, deli, and wine shoppe with a forty niners theme


There were four rows as long as this


I didn’t buy these but the broccoli flowers were cool


Couldn’t pass up the broccoli at these prices


They had these at the front counter…never seen that before!!

Next was Carmel-by-the-sea. This was in my top two things I wanted to do in the area and it did not disappoint.    First of all, what small town has a Tiffany’s, Coach, and Lush Cosmetics store?  And their beach was absolutely beautiful.  My favorite part though was the drive along the sea and seeing the small houses looking out over the ocean.  Unlike the huge houses on 17-mile drive, these are cottage size and I could totally picture myself living in one (if I ever win the lottery).  Many of them looked like little hobbit houses and we really enjoyed the drive along the water.  So I was thinking “First Time in Carmel” and since I enjoyed it so much, that title was definitely in the running.


Good thing there were no parking spots 🙂


Great beach and tons of people enjoying it


The roofs on many of these little houses were so cool


Great place to draw


This is a state beach but the parking is limited. I would definitely go during the week


Coastline near Carmel


How would you like that view??

One of the many old Spanish Missons along 101, unfortunately we didn't have time for more than a quick pic

One of the many old Spanish Missons along 101, unfortunately we didn’t have time for more than a quick pic.  These acted as hostelries for travelers back when the Spanish owned California

Since we had time, Lee extended the drive and we drove down the PCH a bit to see the sunset. Many other people had the same idea and the roads were crowded, but there are tons of places to stop and see the sunset, so the view itself was not congested.  I decided I didn’t want to go down to the beach, so we sat up on the hill and I was so glad we did when I spotted my very first ever whale.  These new prescription sunglasses are turning me into a great wildlife spotter, and although the pics aren’t that great (too far out into the ocean) we saw several spouts and a couple crestings.  Quick tip, look for a tiny “tornado” of water and birds flying around it.  That’s the whale.


This is the funnel… see the bird


Best shot I got can see a bit of the whale.  It was very far out, so I think it was a big one

Ok, now I was definitely going with “First Time Seeing A Whale”.  Even though the pics weren’t that great I was incredibly excited.  After the whales passed we sat and watched the sun set.  I will say the sunsets here aren’t as nice as they were in Tampa, but the ocean is wild and fun to watch in and of itself.

Walk down to our watching spot, we went right when the crowd went left

Walk down to our watching spot, we went right when the crowd went left

Lee walking through the vegetation

Lee walking through the vegetation

Beautiful rocks and surf

Beautiful rocks and surf

Had fun playing with the light and taking pictures

Had fun playing with the light and taking pictures




The light was coming through the waves


Lee shot a little bit of video and then decided to test out the time lapse feature on his phone….

After the sunset we headed back to the camper to start packing up for the next days departure.  We did hit quite a bit of traffic going back (it took close to an hour) but for the whale sighting it was worth it.  Oh and I finally got a picture of this pig crossing sign, which I have never seen anywhere but here.


We got home and I finished all of my pre-moving-day chores.  We have started buttoning up as much stuff as possible the night before which makes the morning go so much smoother.  I was sitting on the couch watching some TV when I started to feel a pain in my right upper chest.  I glanced down and saw a mole and started scratching it, but it just hurt even more and then I started to think all the things a near 50 year old thinks when they have a mole that hurts.  Lee walked in and I went into the bathroom for a better look and saw it was a tick!!!  I haven’t had a tick since I was a little kid and that sucker was burrowed in deep. Thankfully it wasn’t swollen yet, and Lee sprang into action and pulled it out with tweezers.  Wow it hurt.  Thankfully this is a non-fatty area of the body, which is why I felt it at all, but it did hurt more coming out.  And of course unlike when we were kids, now we know about Lyme disease, so I was googling ticks pretty quick.  I think it was a male specific to the Pacific region (did you know they are parasitical arachnids…gross), and I doused the spot with alcohol.  Of course afterwards  every little itch I felt was freaking me out, so I finally jumped in the shower.  Lyme disease isn’t usually transferred until the tick has been on you 36 hours, FYI, but I have the symptoms and am keeping an eye on it.  We are going to fulfill a lifetime dream of mine at the Rose Bowl parade next and no little tick is going to stand in my way.  Oh and the title, “First Adult Tick” didn’t seem like a good choice, so I finally decided on the title above.  We’ve got a very full schedule again next week, so I will be keeping up with the blog the best I can.  This writing starting at 3:30 am and is ending at 5:30am, because I start to forget things if I get too far behind.  Next up…all about the Rose Bowl HOP!!

RV Recipes

Connie’s Broccoli and Cheese Casserole

  • 32 oz frozen chopped broccoli
  • 1 lb Velveeta Cheese
  • 2 tubes of Ritz Crackers
  • 2 sticks real butter
  1. Cook broccoli, drain, and pat dry.  The drier the better
  2. Put broccoli and cheese in a sauce pan and slowly melt the cheese.  Stirring together
  3. Place mixture in bottom of 9×13 casserole pan
  4. Melt butter in separate saucepan
  5. Crush Ritz Crackers in their sleeves then mix in with melted butter
  6. Spread cracker mixture on top of cheese and broccoli
  7. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.  Do not over cook








Tracy’s Twice-Baked Cheese Potatoes

  • Potatoes
  • 1 stick Butter
  • 1 slice American Cheese per potato
  • Milk
  • Paprika
  1. Bake Potatoes until done in 400 degree oven
  2. Let cool enough that they are still warm but can be handled
  3. Using a sharp knife but in half longways
  4. Gently scoop out potato into a large mixing bowl
  5. Add one slice of cheese per potato, butter, and a little milk
  6. Blend until smooth, add more milk if needed
  7. Refill empty skins with mashed potato mix
  8. Sprinkle with Paprika
  9. Heat in 325 degree oven for 20 minutes until warm


RV Park Reviews

Laguna Secaral Chappera Campground    Highway 68 Salinas, CA 1 out of 5 pinecones


We came off-season and the second road was closed forcing us to climb a sixteen % grade to get to the campsite.  The campsites were on a hill, very small, and very difficult to get into.  Although we were told the track would be quiet, we were on curve 5 and almost everyday there was a driving school happening with lots of screeching tires.  If you are a race fan, you might love it.  We did not.  There is also a gun range next door and the sound of guns happened most weekend mornings.   Hookups are electric and water only and the dump station is very difficult to get into. The sites themselves were not clean with numerous beer caps littered throughout.    The bathrooms were  clean and the staff was very helpful, but we would never stay here again.  We would like to thank the work kamper who let us exit via the closed road to avoid a sixteen percent grade on the way down, it was the only bright spot in our visit.


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5 thoughts on “The Post of Many Firsts

  1. You are right about trying to keep Christmas gifts a secret in such a small place, it is even harder when you order them on line and share the same computer! Great to see you were able to spend it with your daughter.

  2. Pingback: First Christmas Gate Guarding – Camper Chronicles

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