Readers' Poll

editors' picks BEST TRAIL THAT NEVER CLOSED IN 14 WEEKS OF RAIN Andrew Molera State Park - East Molera Trail 45500 Highway 1, Big Sur (831) 667-1112, At the onset of 2023, there was a low-pressure system parked off the West Coast that dumped buckets of rain for 14 weeks. Creeks turned into rivers, lagoons at river mouths turned to churning eddies of brackish water, inland valleys flooded and rocks slid every which way. Federal, county, regional and city parks closed trails without being able to repair them before the next onslaught of winter weather. Outdoor enthusiasts had a true-blue friend during the first quarter of the year in the East Molera Trail, though. Boasting a steep and rocky terrain with a series of switchbacks, the rain was no match and drained quickly to the Big Sur River below. This trail remained open the whole year and was an exceptional way to view the super bloom of wildflowers— nature’s gift after enduring the rain. BEST PLACE TO PARK YOUR DOG Rip Van Winkle Open Space 1072 Congress Ave., Pacific Grove (831) 648-3100, In Pacific Grove, there lives a 2-yearold, brown-and-tan Chiweenie mix named Mo who’s as cute as he sounds. And Mo is never as cute as when he’s frolicking around this lovely, forested park right by the Congress Avenue entrance to 17-Mile Drive—a haven for local dog owners with friendly, well-behaved good boys and girls who are comfortable off-leash. The space is large enough for those owners to get in a healthy morning or evening walk while Mo and all his friends roam free, having the time of their lives. John Steinbeck and his own beloved boys, Toby and Charley, would have approved. BEST EXAMPLE OF POLITICALLY MOTIVATED MAP-MAKING Soledad City Council transition to districts (831) 223-5000, city-council Of Mice and Men concerned itself with power struggles in Soledad. Lennie and George would’ve probably been mad, but unsurprised, to watch Soledad City Council of today deliberate about how to carve up the city into districts. The idea of transitioning from at-large City Council elections to district elections is to empower under-represented voters to select candidates of their choosing. Instead, it became a political bloodbath with political allies voting in predictable blocs. By a vote of 3-2, council approved a map that takes the city to five districts with a rotating mayor, rather than four districts with an at-large mayor. That means the current mayor, Anna Velazquez, cannot seek re-election in 2024. Oh, and the map that was selected was drawn by the former mayor, Fred Ledesma. BEST DOUBLE-DECKER DINING EXPERIENCE Osteria Al Mare 32 Cannery Row, Monterey (831) 920-2833, What makes Osteria Al Mare special starts in the kitchen and behind the bar, but don’t neglect the view from pretty much every seat in the house. There’s the restaurant upstairs, perched above the Coast Guard Pier, overlooking Monterey Bay and the harbor. During the pandemic, outdoor seating expanded downstairs, right up to the water’s edge. There are no reports of sea lions snatching fresh seafood from diners’ plates—housemade fettuccine with clams, mussels, calamari and spicy tomato sauce, anyone?—but yes, you do get that close. BEST PLACE TO READ A BOOK IN A SWING Henry Miller Memorial Library 48603 Highway 1, Big Sur (831) 667-2574, More than a decade ago, this little library-meets-bookstore in the woods adopted a motto: The Henry Miller Library, Where Nothing Happens. While not entirely true—the Library is frequently abuzz with musicians, filmmakers, concerts and more—the fact remains that the quiet redwood grove in the former home of Henry Miller’s longtime friend Emil White is most days a quiet oasis. Amid the redwood trees in the front yard is a wicker eggshaped chair suspended from a line attached to the trees above. Select a book—The Pearl, perhaps—from a robust, motley collection and find yourself tucked up in this spot with a cup of tea for a perfect afternoon of doing nothing. 128 BEST OF MONTEREY COUNTY® 2023 ’23 ‘‘ ‘‘ THANK YOU! BEST MASSAGE THERAPIST Cedric Johnson Certified Massage Practitioner TESTIMONIAL I’ve been going to Cedric for therapeutic massage for at least ten years or more. He is simply the best. Always professional, knowledgeable, skilled, intuitive and able to deal with whatever particular issues I have that day. I highly recommend him! -Rick Yramategui Peak Performance Massage 831-320-4845 or 831-241-2778