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Let's eat.

From Big Sur's killer cliff-clinging eateries to Salinas' unparalleled produce, this blog aims to sniff out all things Monterey County can stomach, via picture and prose, curiosity and appetite, hand and mouth.

Friday, September 17, 2010

On Fire: Notes on Making the Most Bonfire Fun Out of Last Breaths of Indian Summer

The guy does bonfires like other folks do lunch. So when I felt like it would be a nice student-issue element to have a guide to do's and don'ts and top local spots, I knew where to turn: friend and Monterey International Hostel Manager Aaron Ely.

Dude came through. Here's some great reminders on how to most happily manage the sandy settings and some rather hot tips on the top five spots to legally burn. (Photos by Kelly Rose Anderson.)

Beaches that allow fires are becoming few and far between because our predecessors screwed it up and abused the privilege. Protect what we still have by respecting the beach and the authorities who caretake them. After all, much like the person you made out with in the sand, the morning light shows the ugly reality. Trash, broken glass, cigarette butts and sandy underwear tell the tale of a fun night, but are en eyesore to the non-vampires coming to enjoy our “pristine” coast. Remember that it’s a privilege, and one that can easily be revoked unless we do our part.

So first, rules of the beach:

1. Never cover a fire with sand. Let it burn out. Sand insulates, and coals can stay hot for hours, waiting for unsuspecting feet or paws to discover it. This isn’t the forest, leaving an unattended fire on the beach is fine. In fact it may allow the next person to reuse yours.

2. No glass. Cans are lighter, won’t break and pack down easier for hauling away.

3. Have a D.D. Rest assured that you and your vehicles have been noted by the local constabulatory and stand a very high chance of being stopped soon after departure. Nothing screams “DUI” like a carload of youth departing late from the beach.

4. Park wisely. Carmel and Asilomar have midnight cutoffs, unless you park further away.

5. Pack your trash; don’t burn it or leave it.

6. Don’t forget a flashlight (foraging for wood, finding your lost cell phone…), lighter, a beach blanket or towel.

7. Bring wood. It’s always worth it to scavenge leftover wood from others’ fires, but don’t count on it as your only source, or you could be huddling around a sad little pile of soggy coals instead of dancing around your own bonfire.

Now the spots (long live Indian summer):

Asilomar If the wind and weather are cooperating, this one’s tough to beat. Hide up in the dunes for a private party, or down on the flats if you’re with the crew. Dogs welcome off-leash south of the creek.

Carmel Beach Still legal, but for how long? With the 10 p.m. curfew being strictly enforced, expect a friendly visit from Carmel’s finest earlier than you expect.

Casa Verde, Monterey Enjoy the night-lights of Monterey as seen from Seaside. Spiffy boardwalks, tables, fire rings, port-a-potties and adjacent parking make this a best bet for families or big groups. Park on the inland side of the street to avoid post-sunset tickets.

17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach Several locations from Moss Beach to Spyglass drive offer a motley roadside assortment of tables, trash cans, and fire rings just a few meters from 17-Mile Drive (and all the passing rental cars and tour buses). Avoiding the entrance fee can be a fun test of your verbal creativity.

Monastery Beach At the northern boundary of Point Lobos you can roast your marshmallows just a few meters from one of the steepest offshore drops in North America. Heed the warning signs about the dangerous shorebreak, which has already claimed lives this year.