A Letter to The Coastside: Thanks for a Spooktacular October! We Needed That

We met in the Midwest, where October means crisp leaves, warm apple cider and that first cold snap. It was classic. For 20 years in suburban L.A., fall meant hot winds, choking dust and fires. It was miserable. Now here we are Coastside enjoying a whole new fall tradition. And it’s amazing!


You can’t move to The Coastside without getting the lowdown on the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival from your Realtor. So when we moved to Montara three summers ago, we immediately marked our calendar. Attendance must be mandatory, right? Little did we know that Pumpkin Fest is only one of cornucopia of autumn delights on The Coastside. We sampled a bit our first October, but when it was over we wanted more.

Our second fall in Montara – that’s “Mon-terror” on Halloween – we were determined to do it big! But  then life interrupted. We lost two fathers and gained a grandson in a matter of 10 days. Talk about an emotional roller coaster. We had way too much going on in our lives to party on Main Street and decorate for Halloween. It happens.

Fortunately, one of the best things about October is that it comes around every 12 months. So, we had another shot at a more immersive experience this year. The Coastside even provided a welcome distraction for family and friends from Sonoma County who visited for a few nights to get a break from the fires up north. We thought the month came together pretty well. We hope you had fun, too. Here’s how we rolled:

Pumpkin Fest Therapy

This year we shopped hard but limited the buying to donuts and pie. People-watching was free. We call that success. Our only regrets were that we were out of town for the giant pumpkin weigh-in and missed the parade. Next year.

Plenty of Sunshine

M-Man had plenty of sunny opportunities to pedal his bicycle from Montara to Wavecrest Open Space, and together we enjoyed some back-deck blogging and a sunset or two without needing to drape ourselves in flannel.

Sprouts on the Hoof

We both enjoy watching the Brussels sprout harvest – part man, part machine – in the fields south of Moss Beach each fall. The Geek likes to cook’em. M-Man will eat ’em if bacon is involved.

Pumpkin shopping

Different needs require different farm stands. We shopped the discounters for the 15 medium-sized pumpkins we needed for our yard display, but we went to Farmer John’s to select decorative gourds for the house and pie pumpkins.

Gruesome Yard Art

We created a field of 15 tortured jack-o-lanterns impaled on spikes. Scary? Maybe. But they didn’t deter the wily trick-or-treaters who grabbed our entire candy stash from the porch while we went for a roam. Next Halloween? Thirty pumpkin heads on spikes!

Monster surf

The big surf is back! We particularly enjoy watching the waves slam ashore at Montara State Beach. The Geek likes to photograph the fearless surfers. M-Man could watch sets roll in all day long.

The Hay Bale Challenge

It took four of us – yes, all adults – nearly an hour to solve the maze. And we might still be there if we hadn’t overhead a hint from a monitor atop the hay. Well played, Arata’s Pumpkin Farm. Well played.

“Mon-terror” Trick or Treat

The “Witches House,” spooky pictures with “Santa Claws,” a creepy garage band, a ghostly ship cruising the streets, games for the kids, a rooftop “Jason” wielding a chainsaw, free drinks for the adults, a headless horseman, a Day of the Dead altar, many spooky window projections and miles of orange lights. The best part? Streets full of costumed revelers of all ages just having a good time.

The Best Treat of All

Yup. We did it big. Bigger, anyway, ‘cause we’re certain we still missed a lot, too. But we also were reminded that the best part about a frenetic October when you live on The Coastside just might be that it ends. The tourists go home. The clouds and fog return. The rains begin. And for a few precious months we have the place pretty much to ourselves. Nice.

Thanks, Neighbors, for making this a great October! Let’s do it again next year.

With love,

MontaraManDan & The Geek (aka Dan and Dawn)


Leave a Reply