By M.L. Hilton
(MONTEREY, CA) -- I am falling in love with Monterey. My crush has evolved into a full-fledged affair. Over the past year, Monterey has gone from a favored place to visit into the I-could-live-here category.
The first spell was cast by the spectacular scenery: majestic ocean views, pulsing dunes, fog-covered pines knarled by wind and sea spray, cold mists and fireplaces, sunny valleys, and dusty farming towns. The area, in a quiet ever-present manner, reminds you of man’s diminutive stance against nature. And the residents have worked, and fought, hard to keep it that way.
Of course, maybe my affinity has something to do with the fact that every time I visit it is for some fabulous party of one type or another. The most recent event was the annual Great Wine Escape.
But my kinship has another reason. Every time I visit, someone I meet invites me to come back and stay with them. No, not the lecherous (or otherwise) single men, it has been young families, wine aficionado marrieds, sweet widows; in Monterey, either the people are incredibly nice or I have been incredibly lucky.
This last trip, my table mates at the Pairings at the Plaza, part of the Great Escape Weekend, kept me laughing so hard that by the end of the day I wanted to throw my carefully crafted schedule to the wind and finish the day with them drinking martinis at some fabulous Carmel bar.
M and M (names fully withheld to protect the exuberant) are an over-the-top (of their glass) couple who were married a decade earlier by an Indian Elvis in Las Vegas. They met in London and began a party that has been continuing ever since. They consume substantial quantities of wine and know what they like, and don’t like. Viognier was dismissed as the "Trophy Wife" of white wines. “Why?” Because, M quipped, it is low in sugar and low in calories.
As a journalist, I am typically embraced by the business world – “stay here,” “taste that.” But it is the people that I meet on every trip that give me the flavor of an area or an experience. Those that provide their email addresses, exhort me to stay, “drink this,” “laugh with me,” “come enjoy . . . .”
I have been seduced by Monterey, its people and its timelessness. If you haven’t already, open yourself and be pulled into Monterey’s spell.