A few days ago my mom asked me if I'd like to join her on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Pacific Grove. I couldn't believe it! This kind of thing rarely happens to me, as I'm usually the one asking other people to go on adventures. Yes! I told her. Yes, yes, yes!
So on Saturday we hopped in the car and headed up the 101 toward Monterey. The main purpose of our trip was my mom's annual trek to visit her parents at the San Carlos Cemetery. She makes up little bundles of silk flowers and, when she gets there, replaces the old with the new and brushes off any dust that has collected on their plaques. That was our first stop. After our visit (saying goodbye is always a little hard), we went off to explore.
Since we made no plans whatsoever (don't you just love that?) we drove around until we spotted a lighthouse. A lighthouse! We immediately pulled over and into the parking lot. Visiting a lighthouse had been on my adventure list for years, so I was extra excited.
The Point Pinos Lighthouse (the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the west coast) was wonderful. We walked all around the beautiful grounds, narrowly missed crashing a wedding, and took the lighthouse tour. Though it was technically a self-guided tour, the Miss Bossy Pants docent on the first floor had to have her say (and force me to look through a telescope several times even though I couldn't with my bad neck) before releasing us. Once free, we really enjoyed all of the different historically decorated rooms and even climbed all the way up into the highest part of the lighthouse just underneath the giant light. Then we had to come back down! Afraid of Heights, party of one. And yes, once we got back down we snuck out the back door to avoid Pushy McPusherson. And giggled as we did it. Because we're adults.
We drove around a little more and stopped at an ice cream shop creatively named Ice Cream Shoppe that had a super sketchy ice cream counter but tons of awesome Beatles memorabilia. We also stopped at one of our favorite places, Bookworks (www.bookworkspg.com). I really miss non-chain bookstores, so when I find one I'm a very happy camper. We could have browsed all day. It was quiet, it smelled like fresh books, and they had a ton of cute merch. I ended up with a couple of Beatles pencils and a magnet (since I didn't buy anything at the previous location), a literary board game, and a copy of John Steinbeck's Sweet Thursday. What's better than buying a book from the place it was written in and about?! Oh, and I bought a paper lantern.
In all of our driving, I had noticed something. Lanterns, lanterns everywhere. They were hanging from porches. They were strung across patios. They were even dangling by the dozens from the trees in the center of town. Man, Pacific Grove really loves lanterns, I thought. Why? And where can I get one? When I bought my dark pink lantern with green designs, I just wanted to be a part of whatever it was they were into.
Fast forward to yesterday, sitting at home on my computer researching "Pacific Grove Lanterns". Turns out they were part of the annual Feast of Lanterns! Days of festivities culminate in a royal pageant every year and it's coming up in just a few weeks. The Feast has its roots in New York's Chautauqua Illumination Night and celebrates the tale of the Blue Willow in which two young lovers escape their seemingly inevitable separation by turning into monarch butterflies and flying away. The lanterns guide them back each July to the place they first fell in love. You can read the full story at www.feast-of-lanterns.org
Yay for spontaneous day trips!
"Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we will be able to treat life as art."