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 Who Needs it?
Maybe I am getting cynical, but I have had it with some tourist spots. And I just don't understand why some can be so friendly with average prices while others gouge and take advantage of the tourist. I'd like to give two examples.

Last summer when we went to Mackinaw City, Michigan, to meet up with Judy and Cec, we wanted to show them Mackinaw Island which is one of the jewels of Michigan. We had been there many times and always rode our bicycles around the island, but never really did the touristy things. We wanted to do it right for the girls so we paid for a horse and buggy ride which advertised that it was a one and one half hour trip around the island. Yes, it was rather pricey but we figured it was okay for that long of a trip. It started out right on the main street and went up one or two short streets so they could drive past the famed Grand Hotel. Then the carriage went through the woods and ended up at a terminal in the woods. We were unloaded from our carriage and told to go into the gift shops and await the next big carriage (like a bus). Nothing romantic about that. And it was a good half hour before we could get on the big carriage. I am sure you have figured out the company's ulterior motive. They had souvenirs and food to sell. But out of principal we did none of that; we just waited and waited. Who needs it?

We just left Monterey, California, and I had the same feeling. Is it the ocean that makes the residents think that they have the best place on earth? We've seen the same or prettier along the coast on Hwy. 1 in California or in Oregon on U.S. 101. Is it their famed Aquarium? We have been to several others which are on the same level. Is it the history? They say it is the most historic city in California. That may be, but there's lots of history everywhere. Is it that the rich and famous live there? Maybe, but we have been where other rich and famous people live and not felt overcharged. 

As we often do, we stopped at the tourist information center and picked up a handful of brochures. I asked the lady there if they had one of those booklets which tell what is going on in town that week. She said "no," but quickly suggested we buy the big book like the size the state of Texas hands out free. Monterey's book was one dollar which was okay, but just after I purchased it I saw on the window sill the free booklet I was looking for. Maybe she didn't understand what I was looking for. 

This year on our visit to Monterey, we did three things we didn't do on our first visit seven years ago; we drove the 17 mile drive, we walked around Carmel by the Sea and we ate a sea food dinner on the wharf. 

One of our readers had suggested that the 17 mile drive was spectacular. I hesitated paying the $8.00 (on principle) to take the drive but thought we should. It was nice. The scenery was very nice. The houses were huge and lovely, but it was nothing new; we had seen lovely homes in Palm Beach, Florida,  Palm Springs, California, Scotsdale, Arizona, Charleston, South Carolina, and many other places and we didn't have to pay to drive on the road where they were located. Seeing Pebble Beach golf course was something we looked forward to, but all you could see of some of the courses was part of the fairway or a tee or green now and then. Myrtle Beach has famous golf courses and there are lots of other courses as pretty, but maybe not as famous. By the way the greens fees for the big course there are $350 plus cart and tips. We could have paid $20.00 to play the par three course; then I guess we could tell folks we played Pebble Beach if we were into name dropping. Who needs it?

Our big disappointment came when we went out for our sea food dinner. All of the restaurants listed in that book we bought showed that they ranged from $$ (entrees from $13.00 to $20.00) to $$$ (entrees of $21.00 or higher). We chose one of the $$ restaurants. It was on one of the wharfs and the view was pleasant, but it was small. Artificial flowers were in little vases on the table. There was no tablecloth but there were cloth napkins. We were the only diners in the place at 6 p.m., but there were a couple of guys at the bar. We ordered; I chose fish and chips at $14.95 and Ron ordered snapper at the same price. The salads were room temperature and small but okay and their choice of ordinary dressings was limited. The bread was cold and the butter was room temperature. It took a long time for our entrees to arrive. The waitress told us after quite a while that they would be out soon; her explanation was that the cook didn't see the order. The plates were on the small size but Ron said he liked his snapper. As soon as I stuck a fork into the pale looking fried fish, a river of grease ran down and into the french fries that the fish was sitting on. I tried a bite and all I tasted was grease. I motioned the waitress to tell her that I couldn't eat it and she said, "I thought it looked kind of pale," then added, "We have a new cook."  I remembered seeing a guy in a tee shirt come out of the kitchen. He looked like the typical short order cook that would work in a diner. She took it back and returned shortly with a new plate. This time the fish was darker in color indicating it was fried longer. But the ole fork test revealed just as much grease. Ron tasted it and said it wasn't good and he will eat just about anything. They adjusted our bill, but I still had a bad taste from the experience. Why such high prices for below average food and ambiance? The dinner even if eatable was only worth $7.95 nor the $14.95 they charged. Who needs it?

We will gladly pay for a good dining experience; remember our dinners at Bern's Steak House in Tampa, Florida, where we easily spent $150.00 for dinner for two? Actually our best meal in Monterey was at Marie Callendars. The fish was hot, fresh and delicious, my soup and salad was exceptional, and the prices were the same as the place at the wharf. 

We had a terrific time in the Palm Springs area and dining out was not expensive and we felt we received good value. The Templeton area was great also. We have been to thousands of wonderful places and will go to thousands more. We may even have a bad experience once in a while, but our good experiences will far out weigh the bad. 

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