I headed down to Monterey recently with Nicole (well, on President's Day weekend, so fairly recently). We drove around the 17 mile drive and headed down to Fisherman's Wharf for dinner - the standard touristy stuff.
On the 17 mile drive, we stopped at a few of the highlights, but one particularly worthy of mention is the Lone Cypress. We took some pictures, and I also took a picture of the plaque, detailing that the tree is trademarked, and as such photographs or art renderings of the tree cannot be taken or created for commercial or promotional purposes without permission of the Pebble Beach Company. That's right, a cypress tree which is somewhere between 250 and 300 years old, at some point during its life has become off-limits to unauthorized commercial photographers because it has been chosen by a company as their trademark. This just seems wrong.
As we were passing through Gilroy on the way back from Monterey to San Jose, and I just had to see the pinnacle of American civilization that is a Wal-mart Supercenter (there is none in the bay area itself as Wal-mart have a very hard time in some areas getting unions to build new stores, or finding non-unionized workers who will agree to do it for them). For the most part, it was just a Wal-mart with more of the same items on the shelves; for example, as always, the first thing as you walk into the store is Hanna Montana merchandising, followed by more clothes; and over in the sporting department, they only had the same models of treadmills as my local store had in stock, just they had more of each; they didn't have any of the extra models available from the Wal-mart website. There did seem to be a few more people in this Wal-mart on the electric carts (mostly much larger than this lady who happened to be in one of my shots, however I didn't feel right taking a photo with a decent view of any of the highly obese customers in it as they may take offense).
This Wal-mart also had an H&R Block in-store, where you could do your taxes in-store, receive a loan check against your tax refund, and then cash the check on your way out to pay for your shopping.
At the checkout on the way out, I noticed supersized liquor, I haven't noticed liquor at other Wal-marts, but I haven't exactly searched for it, so I can't be sure if it is unique to Wal-mart Supercenters or not.
More recently, I found myself at Johnny Rockets in downtown San Jose. The atmosphere and the food make this my new favorite burger joint. Johnny Rockets was founded in 1986 in Los Angeles as a retro burger joint, and their burgers, fries and malts (thick shakes in American) were fantastic; the music (tabletop selection from classic hits in the jukebox, for a nickel), the staff, the decor and the food all came together perfectly.