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A Walk and Dinner Along Monterey's Cannery Row

by Thomas Schueneman

The harbor and pier near fisherman's wharf - MonteryWe arrived in Monterey around 3:30 in the afternoon…

The windshield wipers were on the whole way in, though at continually variable settings, from a hard rain to a soft mist, usually something in between.

But it didn’t matter, really. What I find charming and captivating and relaxing about Monterey is not lost in the rain. It just takes on a different hue.

A strong, steady rain took hold just as we were checking in. After moving the bags from the truck to the room, we started off on the first of the many customary walks, typically either along the harbor or down cannery row and on into Pacific Grove.

This time, we walked along Cannery Row on a blustery and wet Saturday afternoon. Our intent was to walk from one end of Cannery Row, our hotel room, to the other end, the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Arriving late enough in the afternoon provides the savvy tourist the option of returning the next day on the same ticket. One can enjoy the Aquarium just as the crowds are thinning out, and then come back the next day and do it again.

It’s the way to do it -

The sun over Monterey BayThe lateness and the storminess of the day notwithstanding, the theory of fewer crowds near the end of the day wasn’t quite so effective this time. Moving through the darkened deep water exhibit one must scan the field at all levels lest one run over a three-year-old running a mad diagonal against traffic at full throttle. And God bless the energy and enthusiasm of a curious three-year-old! However, it seemed a little crowded for me. I’m easily annoyed by crowds, to my own detriment I suppose. Much of life is inevitably spent in a crowd, and it’s better to feel comfortable in them than not. I do fine; I work in crowds all the time. But if I had my druthers, it’d be just fine with a little more solitude… The sea attracts the lonely sailor and Monterey is a town of the sea. From the sea are her roots, and from the sea she celebrates her heritage. To look out on the sea is to find a moment – a point – of solitude… One doesn’t seek out points of solitude at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, however, and we left, having seen our favorites and a couple of new things. The Aquarium runs the fine line between observing an eco-system and disturbing an eco-system. My uneducated, gut reaction is that they run that line very well. It is good, after all, to have all those energetic three-year-olds darting about in awed excitement at all the strange and wonderful creatures.

The role of education is not to be taken lightly. And that goes for old-timers like me as well as three-year-olds…

They do a fine job bringing the life of the sea up close for observation.

And awe -


With a strong emphasis and a slight pause on the “Ex” was a word that was starting to make me downright cranky as our dinner along the surf of Cannery Row wound to a gratifying close…

The only complaint was our waiter. He provided adequate service. He was just annoying and we didn’t like him. He responded to everything with “EXX ..celent”

“I’ll have the angel-hair pasta…”

“EXX ..celent” “Can I have a glass of water?”

“EXX ..celent”

“I’d like a glass of chardonnay…”

“EXX ..celent”

“We’d like the check, please…”

“EXX ..celent”

“If you say “excellent” one more time, I’m going to jump through this picture window and run into the ocean…”

“EXX ..celent”

There was no stopping him. It was unsavory.

Back to the room at the end of Cannery Row, overlooking the half mile or so of San Carlos Beach, the harbor, and Fisherman’s Wharf beyond. To a moment of solitude…

Despite its overuse this evening, it is this view that is truly excellent.

Tom lives in San Francisco and works as a sound engineer, freelance writer, and entrepreneur. He enjoys traveling, nature, reading, photography, and music.


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