Normally the Tiki Goddess and I are all about planning. We had our wedding location booked (the Cal-Neva in North Tahoe) before I even officially proposed! But this Valentine's Day we were stressed because of the economy and were not really feeling it this year. Basically our "plan" was to just walk around our island home of Alameda, nice enough - but no fancy restaurant reservations or any of that jazz. I felt kind of let down since V-Day is always special for us. BM (Before Monica) V-day would come and go in a hazy, depressing blur. Now I always have a date. And I still did. But what to do on an unprecedented cheapjack budget?
It Happened In Monterey
Monica and Erica
Fish Hopper - why does that sound gross?
You can't always plan scenes like this...
This view was free
Often stuff happens that altars the foreseen course of events - sometimes for the better, even if the initial catalyst is unfortunate. Monica's grandfather, "Papa" Jaime, passed away a couple of weeks ago. We'd met him when we visited her family in Guadalajara back in '04. They lived in the suburb of Tlaquepaque. His father, Alfredo Placencia, was a well known poet priest (samples of his work are here) . Papa Jaime gave me a paper mache ram's head he'd made which I carried back on the plane in my lap, now proudly displayed in my home tiki lounge. Anyway, Monica's parents went down to Mexico and left her 17 year old sister Erica home alone. Monica wanted to take her out for Valentine's Day so we drove down and picked her up and took her to beautiful Monterey. The recent storm systems took a break so it was a beautiful Winter day. Typically we have a plan for Valentine's Day but this year, the unexpected death in the family and the fact Erica was all by herself inspired us to just wing it - very unfamiliar territory. But the gorgeous scenery and briskly romantic weather turned out to be just the ticket. We ate at a joint on the Bay called the Fish Hopper that was pretty good, with a great view, decent seafood and servicable Polynesian cocktails, but what really made this a V-day to remember was the fact we discovered a tiki bar I didn't know existed - Hula's Island Grill & Tiki Room! The decor and drinks were top notch, and we're connoisseurs. They also have a location in Santa Cruz that apparently is more "Palm Springs" mid-century modern in style (the Monterey location is a more traditional tiki lounge, done just right). I "plan" to spend my 46th birthday at the Santa Cruz location in April, so I'll report back. Anyway, meantime, if you're down in Monterey, check it out - or plan a trip, it's worth it. (Sometimes it's nice to make a plan, too). Aloha!