Californians rock....

Salinas Travel Blog

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So, my first Saturday in Salinas, and seeing as I'm a bit of a party animal, I decide to do a bit of exploring.  I do my research, Google bars in Salinas and try to draw all the information I can.  Things are pretty spread out, but there are some places near to where I live, so I decide to walk.  That was during the day.  Then night falls.  I start thinking of all of the warnings about gang shootings and become paranoid.  I take my car and park in a garage downtown.  And walk anyways.  And walk.  And walk.  I end up doing a square around an urban area, and the hair stands up on the back of my neck everytime someone passes, but I force myself to smile and say hello to each person in an equal fashion.  I receive a surprising amount of friendliness from all.... grungy hobos to Mexicans in cowboy hats.  I am being stupid and I will get myself into trouble, I am thinking.  At length, I spy a lit sign displaying a British flag.  Relief washes over me.  A pub.  I hurry inside and take a seat at the bar.  I start talking to a couple of guys next to me.  Locals.  Eager to involve me in their conversations and insistent that I try the beer that they are drinking.  I decline.  I am a beer wuss.  I only drink light beer.  But I feel happy to be making friends so quickly.  After two beers I decide to explore some more.  I am almost out of cigarettes, so I pop in to a nearby gas station.  I ask the man at the counter for Camel Turkish Silvers.  He looks thoughtfully at his selection.  Slowly shakes his head.  I order some Camel Lights and ask if he knows of any nearby hangouts.  He tells me I should go to the LaLa Lounge.  I thank him and leave.  After I cross the street he yells out to me from the store.  Thinking I have forgotten something, I run back across the street.  "You're on foot?"  He asks incredulously.  "Yes," I reply.  "That's quite a hike."  "I'm up for it." "Look," he says seriously,"you be careful out there, you hear?  This is a bad part of town."  I nod and smile.  There is another young man at the counter now wearing headphones.  He looks at me and says, "Stay to the traffic lights."  "OK," I reply, feeling like I'm talking to my father.  I walk.  And walk.  And walk.  I diligently ignore drunken hoots and honks from passing vehicles and keep to the inside of the sidewalk.  I am in alert mode, but determined to finish this adventure out confidently.  You see so many things walking that you would miss in a car.  I'm looking at every light and sign.  There is a reptile shop.  A beauty salon.  A gallery.  A bowling alley.  In front of the bowling alley, I stop an old bearded man on a bike and ask if he knows where the LaLa Lounge is.   I'm starting to get blisters from my boots.  "Just a block down that way.... Spare any change?" he says.  I give him two dollars.  I finally arrive at my destination and plop down at the bar.  It's not really my scene, but by God, I will have a beer here after all that walking.  I meet an American Indian.  He very respectfully offers to cab back downtown with me.  I decline.  I realize there is a smoking room in the back so I take my beer and go there.  I am immediately asked to join a group of people who are carousing merrily.  I accept.  And order another beer.  This is going to be a great night.  In fact.  It already is.  Whoever said Californians are rude had no idea what they were talking about.

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photo by: dansgirl1978