Friday, October 2, 2009

Back to Monterey

Leaving Hearst Castle, and stopping to admire the zebras on the way out, we made for Monterey again, driving the Big Sur coast road.  This time, going north, we were in the lane next to the mountain side, not hanging over the edge of the cliffs.  It was still a maze of twisty passages, all alike.  There was some fog and we could see the damage from wildfires in previous years.
We looked at it a bit differently since it was the second time we drove it.  We didn't stop as frequently but the view was as stunning as ever.  I don't know that I would choose to live on this stretch of coast but I do love a good coast.  This one is really quite isolated - it would take you an hour just to drive somewhere to get groceries.  If you were rich and had staff and could send them out for groceries, then it might be different.  But life would be totally different if you had staff anyway.  I am of course, presaging Pebble Beach.
When we got to the Monterey peninsula, we decided to drive the scenic 17 Mile Drive.  17 miles doesn't sound very long and it isn't but it IS very scenic and there are numbered suggested stops along the way, so you can spend a few hours at it.  There are various entrances to the toll road and it cost $9.25 to get on the road.  There are several golf courses along the road too, not just Pebble Beach.
And there are the houses.  A few were obviously older houses that had been built before it became so expensive.  They fitted in with the landscape and were bungalows with board and batten siding.  They might have been quite large and maybe they had luxurious interiors but they blended.  Unfortunately, like at Hearst, some people with more money than taste have been building monstrous Italianate villas that stick out like sore thumbs.  It's too bad, really.
And then there is the famous "lone cypress".  When you are there, it somehow doesn't look as wonderfully evocative as it does in portraits.  But there are friendly little ground squirrels who make up for it.
Some people think it is worth making the trek for wedding photos.
We thought the entire drive was worth the price of admission, even if it was cloudy and cool.  We left at the gate near the tiny town of Carmel.  It's worth a visit for the carefully controlled look of the town and the street signs that are painted vertically on posts.  On one street, we were trying to get our bearings while walking and I started to read a street sign, having some difficulty spelling it out because it was vertical.  I got to "NOPARK..." when I realized it was a No Parking sign.
Then we walked by the Hog's Breath Inn and Peter remembered that was Clint Eastwood's place, so we had to stop.  Apparently, he still owns the building but someone else owns the restaurant and bar.  We walked down the alley and into a courtyard and then down some steps and into the bar and had a beer.

We had talked about spending another night at the Beachcomber motel we had discovered on the way down but Peter had picked up some local pamphlets on other motels and we browsed through them along the way, finding another motel (the Rosedale Inn) almost within spitting distance from the Beachcomber.  It was about the same price but the room seemed cosier - it had a gas fireplace - and the wifi was free and available in the room.  We decided to eat at the same fish place as we had on the way down and walked over there to see if we could reserve a spot. They had one for us at 7, so we decided to walk along the beach as we had done less than a week before.  It was still cold and windy so we bundled up as much as we could, given that we hadn't taken many warm layers with us as we expected August in California to be unbearably hot.

We didn't see the deer again and the light faded so we were glad to get back to the Fishwife.  They initially seated us at the oddest  table in the corner by a drafty although permanently shut door, but we asked to be seated elsewhere and were glad we had.  I don't think I could have stood the draft for an entire dinner.  The food was good and the local wine was good and we had a satisfying evening, our last night before getting to San Francisco.

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