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Friday, April 22, 2016


We've been covering our home state of California with a summer long series of reports up and down the Golden State. That summer long tour concludes today with the finale of our trip to the Monterey Peninsula and the cities of Carmel, Pacific Grove, and Monterey. Hope you had fun on this trip, be sure to let us know via the comment link at the end of the report.

In Part One of our Monterey Peninsula trip, we dodged poison oak to get breathtaking ocean views, had breakfast in a patio across the street from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and walked the streets of Carmel. Now on to part two...

The next morning we have an even better breakfast at Toasties, a comfortable and cozy diner parked in an old house in downtown Pacific Grove on Lighthouse Avenue.

Omelets filled with chorizo and avocado accompanied with silver dollar pancakes, along with French toast for Letty, make a great start to the day.

Monterey Peninsula Video

Watch the Video!

Passionfish…our favorite area dinner house…is across the street. Tim, having heard us rave about it for years, says he wouldn’t mind giving it a try.

This is a surprise as Tim would not usually volunteer to eat at a mainly seafood restaurant.

Our plan today was to go to the fair and load up on the fair food as our lunch and dinner. This throws a happy kink into our plans as I was lamenting not being able to eat there this trip.

“If I can get a reservation, we’ll go for dinner,” I tell Tim and Letty.

Walking across the street, I see there’s no one inside. There’s not a phone number printed on the sign or the menu posted on the door. Should we just try our luck later…on a Saturday night…to see if they have a table available?  Sounds very iffy to me.

Letty goes to a stand of newspaper machines nearby and pulls out one of the local freebie flyers. We’re in luck…Passionfish has an ad in it with their phone number.

Driving off to the fair, I call the number and leave a reservation request on their voice mail.

We get to the fairgrounds about a half hour before opening at noon. Even now, there is no parking available at all. Probably due to the fact that this facility has no parking lot…it’s all adjacent street parking.

Remote parking is available…with a wheelchair accessible shuttle too…but we could not find any confirmation at the time that the shuttle was available. We end up parking about a quarter mile away on a side street and walk in.

The fairgrounds here are small, a long narrow strip about two blocks long. There are exhibit buildings and a kids carnival at one end, a lot of food and drink booths clustered around the entrance in the middle, and the animal exhibits, the main carnival, and an arena at the other end.

The arena, quiet while we’re there, is also home of the historic Monterey Jazz Festival which has featured some great performances over the years including Jimi Hendrix’s historic performance back in the 60’s.

After watching a local dance troupe perform, we wander around a few exhibit buildings ending up at the Agriculture building where, in  addition to seeing blue ribbon winning produce, there’s a farmers market stand where you can actually buy the produce…pretty cheaply too!

I get a quartered navel orange in a plastic bag for a quarter. Nearby is a table giving away samples of berries.  Strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries…all very delicious and, even better, free.

Back in the mid section, the local high school wrestling team sells fried calamari. It’s sort of a famous tradition here at this fair. I’m not a seafood lover but I buy some for Tim and Letty, who seem to really like it. I try a piece, just to shut them up. It’s good…really good.  I want more. It’s some of the best fair food I’ve ever had.

We get to the other end of the fair to check out the animals. Cows lick our hands, goats climb up the side of their pens hoping for a neck scratch, and lambs want to see what we smell like.

It’s all a lot of fun…just wish they had better parking.

After a fun-filled day at the fair, we head over to Passionfish for dinner. We’d gotten a call while at the fair saying the only time they could seat us was 5:30 so off we went.

Dinner was excellent and it’s nice to see how this place has taken off over the years. I see we’re not the only ones who think it’s the best the area has to offer.

With plates of scallops, braised lamb, and duck confit preceded by an appetizer of prosciutto wrapped dates, we were overwhelmed with the deep flavors and fun atmosphere of Passionfish.

One more night, but in the morning it’s time to pack and make that long drive back to L.A.

Copyright 2011 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved


  1. Monterey is a beautiful area! It's been a while since I have been there but lately I have been inspired to see more of California as well. A couple of weeks ago, I started a series called Explore Sacramento! where I am featuring local places and activities for Sacramento and nearby communities.

  2. Thanks, Jeremy. We like Sacramento a lot, too. In fact, we picked it as our #1 wheelchair accessible destination for 2010, .

    I'm checking out your site now, I like it.

  3. I always associate Monterey with Steinbeck (my all times favorite writer) and Cannary Row etc. One day, I must visit.

  4. Love Monterey - your photos just reminded of how long it's been since my last trip! thanks for sharing.

  5. Darryl,

    would you possibly be interested in having your travel story reprinted on TravelinWheels? We're a disability travel site looking for contributors.

    Please let me know!


  6. This area has long been on our list. However, the french toast in one of the top pictures just lit a fire under my rear end!

  7. That breakfast was delicious, especially the French Toast and the chorizo/avocado omelet.

  8. @Inka...a drive up the nearby 101 in the Salinas Valley, stopping along the little farmtowns along the way, is very evocative of Steinbeck.