Rearview Mirror - Summary of the past week
Pups Across America! - Sheila, MoJo, and Cody Bear
Favorite Photograph - Humpy and Blue
Camper’s Corner - Monterey Fairgrounds, Monterey, CA
Headlights - Our schedule as to where we will be heading: San Francisco and beyond

Start: Monterey Fairgrounds, Monterey, CA
Stop: San Francisco RV Park, Pacifica, CA

Cannery Row
We loaded up the Pups mid-morning and drove the Element a few short miles down to Cannery Row in Monterey. It had been over 20 years since we had been to this location made famous by a Steinbeck novel and it was fun to re-visit (somewhat) familiar ground. This time of day there were only a few folks out, so we strolled around at our own pace, looking out to sea, peering into shops, and checking out restaurants for future visits. This is a must if you are in the area. Easily worth a couple hours or a full day. Although we didn’t visit it this time, the aquarium is world-class. www.canneryrow.com

Cannery Row Flowers Austin's Woody

17 Mile Drive
After our walking tour we brought the Pups back to the coach, freshened up and drove the car to 17 Mile Drive. Just as we started this famous driving tour, the fog started coming in off the water. The first two scenic vistas on the motor trail were nothing but walls of gray, and I feared that our entire trip might be more of the same. However, as quickly as the fog had come in it moved out, and the remainder of our trip was clear although windy and a little chilly.

The 4th on 17 Mile Gump Shoes

Because it was still morning, the traffic was light so we were able to stop and go from vista to vista at our own pace with no hassles with traffic. This drive was as pretty as I remembered, with white sand, blue sea, breaking waters, birds flapping in the air, and seals barking and grunting on the rocks. This is what I think of when I think of California.

Pebble Beach Lunch
It was late morning as we finished up the drive, so we pulled into Pebble Beach for lunch. Jan grabbed the last space in the parking lot and we walked into the lodge scouting out our meal-taking options. We selected the Stilwater Grill because we were able to get a table by the window overlooking the 18th green of Pebble Beach.

Lunch View Lunch at Pebble Beach

Here we watched foursomes of golfers make their last few shots of a probably memorable round. As the golfers reading this blog know well, Pebble Beach is hallowed ground to those who love the sport. It is probably in the top 10 “love to play” (bucket list) courses in the world for those devoted to golf. So picture this scenario: You and your three best golfing buddies have talked about playing Pebble Beach for years. After some serious procrastination you decide to do it, and lo and behold you get tee times for Sunday morning, July 4th! Besides the substantial green fees and the vitally necessary accessories purchased for the occasion, there is airfare for eight (you have to take the wives because you can’t leave them home on a holiday), rental cars, lodging at the exclusive Pebble Beach Lodge, dining charges from exquisite restaurants, and fees for deluxe spa packages (you can’t be out playing golf and expect the wives to sit around doing nothing, can you?). With that as background, visualize coming up the 18th fairway. You are playing the round of your life—you are tied with your buddies after 17 holes. A bogey will earn you 12 bucks in bets for the day but give you bragging rights for the next 50 years. Ninety-five yards out and feeling loose and confident with your trusty wedge in hand, you are halfway through your back swing when two young hooligans come running and hollering out from nowhere on to the green! The distraction ruins your concentration, and your wayward swing shanks your ball into the sand trap. Still shaken up and pumped full of adrenaline, you power your next shot not only out of the trap but over the green. Your shoulders sag as the truth sinks in…defeat!

Well, the above didn’t happen, but I thought it would make a good story :’>>>.

However, all golf aficionados would have been mortified if they viewed the crowds of people we saw totally ignoring approaching golfers as they continued taking group pictures right on the edge of the green (flashes popping) while a couple youngsters from their group played in the sand trap! Quite the show...

We both had the Grill’s special buffet and feasted on a variety of foods from sushi to ceviche to raw oysters to chilled jumbo shrimp to grilled sausages, baked halibut, oven roasted beef with special BBQ sauce, barbequed rack of lamb and on and on. This was the best buffet I remember having. Combining the cuisine with the view, the outstanding service, and the special holiday day, this was a meal to remember. I don’t know if it can be duplicated, but I’d sure try. The whole morning experience is highly recommended. www.pebblebeach.com.

Pebble Janny

Whales on My Mind
I had been thinking a lot about how much fun our whale watching had been last week in Morro Bay and decided to do a little research about whales in Monterey Bay. After about an hour on the Internet, I made up my mind that we needed to try it again, as Humpbacks seemed to love this area and there were Blue whale sightings all over the place. Plus there were about a dozen places offering whale tours—a good sign of a viable business meaning that there had to be lots of whales to keep getting people to sign up. By 7:00 AM I had us signed up for the three-hour, 10:00 tour at Randy’s Fishing Trips.

Marketing Call
Multi-tasking was called for, as I had several things to accomplish in a short period of time. While Jan drove us to the wharf, I participated in our Monday morning marketing call where we talked about upcoming workshops, training, and webinars, along with the technology improvements to both of my blogs. All is under the capable control of Suzanne and David, so no worries on my part.

Fisherman’s Wharf
Once we found a nearby parking lot and I fed enough dollar bills into the machine to keep us legal till 2:12 PM (I don’t think there is a free parking place in the county), we strolled our way down along the water toward the wharf. We heard the loud barking long before we spotted the seals lounging on the sand and the rocks—must have been at least 50 either sleeping, sunning, swimming, or strutting.

Fisherman's Wharf On the Rocks Rocky Seal

After enjoying the seal action for awhile, we walked down the wharf where the storefronts were busily preparing for the tourists, selling coffee, pastries, and a variety of sandwiches—the smell of fish competed evenly with the smell of Starbucks. I bet we passed at least six restaurants all touting their awards as the best clam chowder on the wharf. We signed in at Randy’s, stopped by the public restroom (always a good idea before a boat ride :’>>>), then boarded our seafaring vessel.

Whale Watching
About 50 of us passengers rode out of the harbor past more seals, motoring along at about 12 knots the four miles out to the first sighting. It was chilly (glad I had put on my long underwear and two jackets with hoods), the skies were overcast, and the seas were smooth, with only the gentle roll of four-foot waves. Three other whale-watching boats were out this morning, and like the good businessmen they are, they shared information as to where the whales were located.

Tail Slap Whale Tale

Within 15 minutes of leaving the dock, we had our first sighting: two Minke whales. These are small, shy whales that we only saw in passing, but we saw them nonetheless. Right then I knew it was going to be a good sail.

Because of the relative rarity in these waters, our captain zeroed in on the Blue whales first and we quickly had two in view. They were really close to another whale watching boat and I got several pics of the whales and the boat in the same frame. We spent about 45 minutes following the spouts of the six or so giants, and we even saw one do a tail slap, which is very rare to see. Next, we targeted the Humpbacks whose spouts we saw all over the place. The Humpbacks were fishing in groups of two to four, so there was lots of action including multiple tail slapping. Over the course of the morning we probably saw 20 to 30 Humpbacks. Great fun. Also, I was able to capture an image of a Humpback and a Blue Whale in the same shot!

During all the whale action, Jan and I saw a very large bird fly past at deck level. The captain confirmed that it was a Black-Footed albatross. Way cool. On our way back we were also fortunate to see a pod of Risso dolphins. Check out the interesting markings in the photo.

Risso Dolphin

Unlike many places that have to go out for hours to spot whales, in Monterey Bay (Morro Bay, as well) when the whales are in the area they are close—three to four miles out. Hence, it takes less time, is less stressful, and is very reasonably priced. Randy’s Fishing Trips was fine, www.randysfishingtrips.com, but I think you couldn’t go wrong taking any of the whale tours. I highly recommended whale watching in Monterey Bay.

Sailor Jerry

Wharf Lunch
We ended our trip to Fisherman’s Wharf with cups of wonderful clam chowder (probably award winning :’>>>) along with fish and chips (fresh cod prepared just right). As we walked the wharf, I also had the chance to capture a half dozen action pup pics and a few more images of seals. Great trip.

Another Wharf Pup OMG Wharf Labs

Wharf Girl Sweat Pea Puppy Love

Singapore/Thailand Call
In preparation for next week’s business trip, I had another Asia call, this week with managers in Singapore and Thailand. Different cultures view service and services differently, and customer expectations in parts of Asia are much different from those of North America or Europe. Hence, different approaches are required to meet customer needs, stay competitive, and yet profitably grow the business.

My early morning walk with the Pups was crisp, cloudy, and drizzly as we wandered around the nearly deserted fairgrounds. Mitzy and Jerry ran loose finding new sniffs and scaring up sea gulls.

Cannery Row Ocean Walk
Leaving the Kids in the coach, Jan and I drove down to Cannery Row, parked and did a one-hour walk first along the streets then along the Pacific. Harbor Seals and breaking waves on one side of us with quaint to gorgeous to magnificent homes on the other. Lots of pups and their parents were out taking their initial walk of the day.

Back to Work
I spent the bulk of the rest of the day doing consulting and training-related work.

Another Asia Call
I had my final client call of managers from Japan, Korea, China, and Taiwan. However, we had a bad echo in the WebEx technology that made clearly hearing next to impossible. We had to quit after 15 minutes of trying. When technology is good, it is very, very good, but when it is bad...

Frisbee Pups
Our camping neighbor, Marty, signed up for a pup shoot scheduled for 8:00 AM. His three pups love to play frisbee and show off their talents. Check it out in the Pups Across America section.

Computer Time
I spent the remainder of the day preparing for my next consulting engagements. Jan worked around the coach, ran some errands, than went off exploring with the Kids.

Pacific Grove
Late afternoon Jan drove me down to see the highlights of her earlier scouting trip. We first took the Pups for a nice walk along the big water in Pacific Grove, seeing a few boats and a few harbor seals in the water, with joggers, bicyclists, and pup parents walking their dogs on the path. We stopped for a glass of wine and some appetizers at a restaurant overlooking the Pacific (no parking fee), then Jan drove us on a stretch as pretty as 17 Mile Drive, going past the lighthouse and along a state beach. We admired the architecture that varied from Spanish, to Craftsman, to Cottage.

Once again my main focus was on my consulting business, with conference calls and program development my main emphasis.

Back to the Wharf
Late afternoon it was time for a break so we took the Kids down to Fisherman’s Wharf. The afternoon was overcast and chilly, and it appeared to have an impact, as there was a very light population of tourists walking about. After seeing all the sights on the wharf, we took a path in a park that adjoins the wharf and walked a couple of miles stopping to watch a couple of males seals vie for a female’s attention, pausing to admiring a passing handsome pup, and halting to admire a pet rabbit on a leash.

I Saw Her First

I walked the Pups in a light drizzle and formulated a plan. I had completed a project earlier in the morning, so work pressure was off. Although I’m sure that there are many, many more cool places to see close by, we felt as though we had seen enough in the immediate Monterey area. Furthermore, the expected inland temperatures looked good, in the mid-80s. Hence, we decided to take the drive to Pinnacles National Monument, about an hour and a half away. We completed all our morning chores by 8:30 AM and were in the car heading out.

Pinnacles National Monument
We followed Google’s suggestions and drove the 69 miles to Pinnacle National Monument north on Highway 1 to Castroville, then east on CA-156 through San Juan Bautista, then east and south through Ridgemark. We stopped at Flap Jack’s in Tres Pinos to buy sandwiches for later on, and met up with a Lab-Pit Bull mix named Remy. Quite a handsome nine-year old don’t you think?


Then we drove the few remaining miles past Paicines and parked by the ranger’s office at the Park. Inside I renewed our annual National Park Pass (the best $80 one can spend), picked up the brochure on the park, and got the skinny on what was going on in the area. The park is very quiet this time of year as temperatures often go into the 100s. Their biggest influx is in April-May when the weather is much cooler and the wildflowers are supposed to be magnificent. We drove the short distance to the Old Pinnacles Trailhead, and then headed over to Bear Gulch. I talked with another ranger as to which trail led to the highest probability of seeing one or a few of the park’s 26 California condors, and she recommended the Condor Gulch Trail that started directly across the road from where we parked. Since we had the Pups, Jan volunteered to stay with them, and I trekked the 1.7 miles up the trail that ended in an overlook of the canyon. Turning around, I saw four really big birds flying a really long way away over and among some really big rocks. I watched the condor’s soar for 10 minutes or so, admiring their grace and imagining the fun this almost extinct species was having. On my way down I spotted a pair of Peregrine falcons, taking advantage of the breeze, soaring over the canyon. I had never seen California condors or Peregrine falcons, so this was a pretty good bird-watching day for me.

While I was gone, there was excitement back at the base station. Jan and the Pups were taking a walk and saw something slithering a few feet away—rattler! Now being pros at dealing with this situation, all three of them calmly watched as the reptile continued on her mission. Nothing can bother this reptile-experienced trio :>>. This is a very interesting park and one that I recommend. www.nps.gov/pinn/

Deciding to take a different route home we turned south on 25 then angled southwest on G-13 to Kings City where we picked up 101 North then 68 West at Salinas taking us back home. Just another great day.

Jan’s Big Night Out
As occurred last week just after we had settled into our campsite, a flea market popped up within 100 feet of our site. I was tired after a long, fun day, and fighting off a scratchy throat. Jan had gone out and bought me some hot-hot Chinese soup, and I was quite comfortable hanging out and relaxing. Jan is not a big fan of Chinese food, so she went to the flea market food stands to score some tacos and other Mexican delights. She came back with a plate of tacos, a huge stuffed potato, and bag of roasted nuts, and a pair of new tights. After eating she decided that the $14 tights were such a good deal that she went out to buy another pair. An hour later, she came back with not only another pair of tights, but a signed poster from the band Recuencia Musical Dedurango! As the only blond in the crowd, she was quite a hit dancing and chatting with the musicians. That’s my girl! Got to YouTube and check them out:

Up the Coast
Late morning, Jan pointed the coach north, and we drove the 109 miles on Highway One to our RV Park in Pacifica, just south of San Francisco. Gorgeous drive that rivals our trip from Morro Bay to Monterey. Ho hum...another RV park with a view of the ocean...we shall survive.


Just a wonderful week.

Lots of good pups this week, but we had an especially fun time shooting our camping neighbor Marty’s three Frisbee-loving pups. Check out the photos of Sheila, MoJo, and Cody Bear.

Sheila MoJo Cody Bear

Schedule Your Pup Shoots
Please e-mail me at alex@PupsAcrossAmerica or call me at 239-671-0740 to set up a shoot when we are in your area.

Pass the Word
Know other Pup Parents that might enjoy this blog? Please spread the word.

Wow, this was a tough one for me this week. Because of the rarity of seeing both a Humpback and a Blue whale together, “Humpy and Blue” is my favorite is.

Humpy _ Blue

CAMPER’S CORNER: Monterey Fairgrounds, Monterey, CA
There are two distinct camping areas at the fairgrounds, and as I write this the lower level with room for 30 rigs is empty except for us. Man, we have the space! The good news is that it is full hook ups, lots of room to spread out, and plenty of space to walk the Pups. Furthermore, it is inexpensive by California standards, and you can pick up a few TV stations over the airwaves. Importantly, it is very close and convenient to most all the major sites. They lock the gates late at night, but during the day and evening anybody can come and go. All things considered, though, I’d recommend it as a good base to explore the Monterey area

Mr_ Mole

July 10 thru July 21
San Francisco RV Resort, Pacifica, CA

July 22 thru 24
Napa Valley?

July 25 to September 17

September 18 thru September 25
Kalamazoo, MI

September 26 to 27
Cincinnati, OH

September 28 thru October 2
Lexington, KY

October 4 thru 6
Asheville, NC?

October 7 & 8
Charleston, SC?

October 10 & 11
Savannah, GA

October 12 thru 14
Apopka, FL?

October 15
Return to Pine Island?

Going to be near? Look us up. Have some suggestions concerning places to see? We are open.