Tag Archives: Monterey

Fort Ord Dunes State Beach

16 Jun Images by RJM
Images by RJM

Entrance to the State Park

Carrieanna and I recently visited Fort Ord Dunes State Beach, where we enjoyed the accessible boardwalk and the view across the bay to Monterey.

Images by RJM

View of Monterey (and the steep streets leading to the Presidio) from Fort Ord Dunes State Park

This State Park was created in 2009, and encompasses 4 miles of coastline along the Monterey Bay, including the now-closed Fort Ord, a former U.S. Army post. Continue reading


Chips and Salsa – and More – for a Good Cause!

15 Jun

Let me start by saying that I LOVE Mexican food!

In fact, if I were on death row – Heaven forbid! – and had to choose my “last meal,” it would be nachos!

(My mother was born in Chuichupa, Chihuahua, Mexico; perhaps that’s why?!)

Anyhow, set a bowl of chips and salsa within my reach and it will soon become an empty bowl. So when Carrieanna told me of a fundraiser for MSQLP, to be held at Jose’s Mexican Bar and Grill in Monterey, I quickly said “Yes; I’ll be there!”

I am always happy to support the MS Quality of Life Project. MSQLP provides tangible services, like “sponsoring” — translation: “paying for” — swimming (a very helpful therapy for people with MS) at the Monterey Sports Center, as well as emotional and moral service, advocating for and educating individuals with Multiple Sclerosis,  with the goal that they enjoy a good quality of life.

Andrea Dowdall, MSW MEd and Board President, and her staff – most of whom are volunteers – work very hard to make life a little bit easier for the local MS population.* And they do it with grace, sincerity and big smiles!

On a more personal level, MSQLP has always been very supportive of Carrieanna, especially in recent years, in her schoolwork and the challenges she has met and conquered along the way.

And Carrieanna is a great support to MSQLP. She currently serves on the MSQLP Board of Directors and she is greatly appreciated!

Tammy Jennings, another MSQLP Board member, arranged for Jose’s  to donate 15% of all transactions from 3 until 11 p.m. on Monday, June 11th.

Jose’s is an easy walk and roll from Carrieanna’s house. For drivers, there’s a parking garage across the street, as well as plenty of metered parking.

We strolled in at 6:30 p.m., and the place was already packed with many MSQLP recipients and their families, as well as other diners.

After many friends greeted Carrieanna, we went out to the back patio to chat while waiting for a table to become available.

Overlooking the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, the patio was a lovely, quiet place to relax and enjoy the evening until the cooler weather, and a large empty table, nudged us inside.

As we were seated, the last of three musicians, Juan Sanchez, began playing his guitar and singing Spanish songs. His performance was great, and the crowd praised him frequently with their applause!

With margaritas and aqua fresca aloft, we toasted the success of this fundraiser.

Relaxing with chips, hot salsa and our beverages, we pondered the menu. There were so many tempting options; we finally decided on a vegetarian tostada (for me) and the taco and enchilada plate for Carrieanna.

The food was delicious, with ample portions. Of note: The refried beans are cooked with oil rather than lard. (Vegetarian-friendly AND tasty!)

The flan must have been delicious as well, because it was gone by the time we inquired at 8:00 p.m. Another time ….

We asked our waitress if Jose’s was always so busy on a Monday night, and she said “No.” The large crowd kept the staff very busy, but they were always pleasant and friendly.

During the evening many people asked if they could make a cash donation to MSQLP and, of course, that answer is a grateful “yes!”  In fact, you can donate online by going here and clicking on “Donate” button on the lower left-hand side of the page.

Thank you!

*MSQLP serves Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties.

(MSQLP also has an online newsletter. The May 2007 edition is all about travel; I’ll be referencing it in a future blog post.)

Birthday lunch at Nepenthe Restaurant, Big Sur, CA

9 Apr

Nepenthe Restaurant, in Big Sur, was opened by Lolly and Bill Fassett in 1949. The restaurant, with its magnificent view, was built using native materials – redwood and adobe — honoring the owners’ vision that it “become one with the landscape and the earth it stands on.”


Nepenthe has long been a favorite place for Hess family celebrations. So it was no surprise that Carrieanna Hess chose to celebrate her 30th birthday at Nepenthe’s, accompanied by her sweetheart, Greg, her good friend, Tammy, and me, her stepmom and friend.


(Because Carrieanna gets around via wheelchair – due to her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis – I have attempted to pay particular attention to accessibility. Tammy also has MS, and uses a cane to steady herself when walking.)

“Nepenthe” refers to a medicine that “chases away sorrow,” and the restaurant symbol is the phoenix (“reborn / rising from the ashes”). Both name and symbol are well-chosen.; as usual our experience was both delightful and refreshing!

The restaurant is located on Highway One in Big Sur, approximately an hour’s drive south from Monterey. We entered the parking area and veered to the right, following the “handicap parking” sign which directed us up a slight hill and behind the restaurant. Two handicap parking spots are located adjacent to the easily-navigated ramp that led to the courtyard.


It was a warm and clear day, and we chose to sit at the bar on the patio (under brightly-colored umbrellas) where we enjoyed the ocean view — and bird-watching!


The patio bar is easily accessible via wheelchair, by going around the phoenix statue …


… although Tammy took the shortcut, stepping down one step from courtyard to the patio deck.)

We started with an order of fries and a bottle of 2008 Adelaida Syrah.



We toasted Carrieanna, and after placing our order we snacked on fries – occasionally leaving a few on the edge of the bar to feed the birds.


A visit to the restroom – found by rolling around the curve and to the right of the inside bar – taught us that while there is a “handicap” stall, it’s not large enough to accommodate a wheelchair. Fortunately, that wasn’t an issue for us – although it would certainly be a problem for any handicapped woman unable to walk even a few steps.



Lunch was delicious, and portions were abundant. Carrieanna and Greg had The Famous Ambrosiaburger, Tammy enjoyed her French Dip sandwich (although her soup was tepid and she had to send it back to be heated); I had the yummy Vegetarian Burger.


Ha ha! This sample menu reflects long-ago prices!

The local birds (blue jay, scrub jay and black bird, to name a few) are brave and brazen, and will snatch food from an unwatched plate. Naturally, we were initially protective of our lunches. However, we eventually laid out bits of bread and pieces of French fries to entice the birds – and they entertained us in appreciation of our generosity.


Our waiter was aware that we were celebrating Carrieanna’s birthday, and at the end of our meal he presented her with a gift – a “Happy Birthday” mug with Nepenthe’s logo.


After lunch we strolled and rolled down the path to the edge of the deck, and enjoyed another wonderful vista. Patio dining, and the view therefrom, is four steps up from the deck (or one step down, if you’re coming from the inside bar area).


There is also a brunch café and small wedding venue (Café Kevah) as well as a gift shop (The Phoenix) next to the lower level of parking. Although Greg slipped away to do a little shopping at the Phoenix — and came back with a pretty-little-something for Carrieanna – we ladies chose not to venture down.

One deterrent to shopping: The entrance to The Phoenix Shop has four steps (and a handrail) but we did not see a ramp for wheelchair access. Carrieanna determined she did not have the energy to walk down the steps that day.

So we headed north, back to Monterey.



Happy Birthday, Carrieanna!

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