Tuesday, January 10, 2012

California Coastal Living: Luxury Edition

January 8, 2012
After our big breakfast at the Sandpiper, we decide to wander down to the waterfront, since we got in too late last night to see it.  The aptly named Scenic Road traces the shoreline, and is quite a lively spot this morning, with dog walkers, joggers, cyclists, photographers, and other early morning strollers like us enjoying views of a seemingly endless white sand beach and dramatically designed ocean-front homes.  

Continuing our odyssey as spectators on the lives of the fabulously rich, we drive from Carmel to Monterey via the famous Pebble Beach 17-Mile Drive.  Pebble Beach is a gated community and resort, but for $10 anyone can get through the gate and drive around at will (although they hand you a map of the 17-Mile Drive at the gate, and have painted a red line down the center of the road along the drive to help keep visitors from “getting lost” in the exclusive neighborhood.)  

 The map has about 20 marked sights of interest along the route, and we stop for them all.  Here are our favorites.

It costs $495 for a round of golf at The Pebble Beach Golf Links (plus a cart fee if you are not a guest at the resort), and the cheapest hotel at the Lodge at Pebble Beach goes for $715 a night, but we walked around inside the Lodge, used the fancy rest rooms, and got this great view of the 18th green for free.

The Lone Cypress is the most photographed tree in the world, and one of the few trees that is trademarked.  So, this picture is for our personal use only.

Seal Rock is covered with what we estimate to be nearly a thousand sea lions, and an abundance of birds floats and flies about all around the rock and the beach picnic area there.  We add two new birds to our life list at this stop (black oystercatcher and surf scoter). 

The beach at China Rock is full of Inukshuks.  While Dick photographs them, I make one.

We have lunch with a view at the Links at Spanish Bay.  The food is almost as good as the view.

Our first stop in Monterey is the Monarch Grove Butterfly Sanctuary, where 9,500 butterflies are now wintering over.  It is not so big a crowd as we saw back in Pismo Beach, but it is a warm and sunny day, and there are more butterflies fluttering about and spreading their wings, so the atmosphere here is a bit more colorful, light and festive.

We visit Point Pinos Light, the oldest continuing operating light on the West Coast (including Canada and Mexico), with 156 years of non-stop service.  An enthusiastic volunteer tells us many stories and shares a lot of information about the light.  Our favorite keeper is Emily Fish, a widow who served as keeper for 21 years, starting in 1893 at age 50.  She was popularly known as the socialite keeper, because she loved to entertain, but she also went through 30 assistants in her 21 years, because she set rigorous perforrnance standards that few could uphold. 

Despite all this activity, we manage to get to the historic Seven Gables Inn with time to spare before the afternoon wine and cheese reception begins.

Continuing our theme for the day, we are treating ourselves to luxury living—our waterfront room has a wall of windows looking out over Monterey Bay.

We see the full moon rising just after dusk., while enjoying our wine and cheese (four Monterey wines served, with a baked brie with apricots and a blue cheese ball, plus three cheese wedges, some vegetables and dip, and the inn’s signature fudge drops). 

Goodnight moon. 

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