Hello Friends and Family,

Monterey Fisherman's Wharf

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When I first moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, one of my favorite places to visit was the Monterey Fisherman's Wharf. It was built by the Pacific Coast Steamship Company in 1870 and used to load and unload passengers, freight and fish. In 1913, the City of Monterey took ownership. Unfortunately, 10 years later bad weather caused the S.S. San Antonio to hit the wharf causing a partial collapse. During reconstruction, the City extended the wharf by an additional 750 feet. In 1926, a new commercial fishing wharf was built and the original wharf was repurposed as a tourist destination.

This photo shows the entrance to the wharf with shops and restaurants lining the full length.

Of course, a wharf has to have souvenir shops — this one is prominently displaying sweatshirts — smart merchandising since many tourists come unprepared for the cooler temperatures that one experiences on the wharf. If you look carefully, you can also see items like sunglasses, hats, refrigerator magnets, toys, and other souvenirs.

Many families come with their kids in tow and what better attraction than a model train, dollhouse and the word "Candy". Merchants know the parents will have trouble saying "no" and will give in to at least one treat for each child so that they (the parents) can browse things of interest to adults without the kids whining "I'm bored, I'm tired, I'm hungry".

Of course, there is more than one candy shop. This one has some of the traditional candies found at oceanfront attractions such as salt water taffy. You can even see the taffy pulling machine doing its job in the left window. Customers can also can find old favorites — fudge, peanut brittle, rock candy, caramel corn, candied nuts, candied apples, ice cream, etc., etc.

Note the flag flying here and outside other shops welcoming golfers. I happened to be visiting a week or two prior to the US Open being held at Pebble Beach. Spoiler alert, it was won by Gary Woodland who collected $2,250,000 — which would buy a lot of salt water taffy.

Outside some of the restaurants and fish markets are displays of seafood and beer. Some offer samples of their clam chowder or other tasty treats.

This scene does remind me of an early visit to the wharf, playing tour guide for my parents' first visit to California. These crabs, as many of you know, are Dungeness Crabs. My parents were quite familiar with the Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs which are much smaller but have a very similar anatomy and taste. My mom could not believe what I was telling her about the size of the crabs beforehand and was anxious to try them for herself — which was one of the reasons we came here. We found a good restaurant and she ordered the Dungeness Crab but wondered if she should order two since she was quite hungry. I laughed and told her to order one — and if she was still hungry after finishing it, she could order another. Of course, she could not even finish the one. Doggy bag please.

On my very first visit to Fisherman's Wharf, I came with friends from Minnesota who liked to collect inexpensive artwork from places they visited. We stopped at Mr. Purdy's Art Gallery which is no longer in business but originally occupied a spot just past Abalonetti's. After my friends found a small print that they liked, we asked Mr. Purdy where he would suggest eating dinner. He said something like the following, "You may not believe this but the best place to eat at the Wharf is a tiny restaurant called Abalonetti's located behind the Liberty Fish Market". It was hidden but we found it and he was right — it was small, only about seven tables and the food was excellent. It turns out that the owners later were able to obtain a larger facility, which you can see in this photo (expanded further from the first iteration) — and still my favorite restaurant here.

Their specialty, which I love, is called "Squid Abalonetti" — squid prepared like one prepares abalone, or from their menu, "The Original – Tender fried calamari filets". In the many times that I have dined at Abalonetti's, I have always ordered their signature dish and have never been disappointed. Dining companions have tried other dishes which they all rated quite good, but they could not convince me to abandon my favorite.

At the end of the wharf is the Big Fish Grill, above which is a View Deck which is open to the public. I love to climb up the stairs and look at what is going on in the area of the wharf — commercial fishing boats, tour boats, sea lions, kayakers, etc.

This old salt stands outside the Big Fish Grill holding a lantern to light the evenings. Cute.

Here is another statue which is a bit more serious — a tribute to all those hardworking fishermen who helped catch the sardines, anchovies, tuna and other seafood that was so important to this area. It looks like back-breaking work.

Looking out into the harbor area, I spotted a young woman paddling a kayak. Looks like fun but a bit cold (both water and air).

In addition to the commercial boats, there is a huge number of personal pleasure craft moored here. A friend of mine used to say that there should be a law that if such a boat was not in use by its owner that qualified sailors should be able to check one out and go sailing in Monterey Bay. Great idea!

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com