Carmel, Pebble Beach and Monterey Bay

Carmel, Pebble Beach and Monterey Bay

"The greatest meeting of land and sea in the world."

- Robert Louis Stevenson

Being in the movie business is certainly not all glamour. One of the things you must learn to do is schedule time for the things that are important. Sometimes months in advance, I schedule time for my wife and family. As silly as that seems, work can certainly get in the way of a healthy relationship. Communication can easily break down, if you don't plan, plan, plan.

So, every year, we try to take time off to just "be" together and have the luxury of time away from our work-a-day world with, with any luck, little to no plans. How incredibly luxurious it is to wake each morning, and ask,"So, what do you feel like doing today?" We are so lucky to experience it.

And as has been since we first discovered it, we go to California's central coast to experience a different world from where we live. Only five hours north driving, it's a land that may as well be on another plane of existence, another planet.

Signing my name with my toes in the sand along Carmel Beach.

The tiny village of Carmel-by-the-Sea (Yes, that's it's real name)is a little hub of peace and quiet between the major California Cities of San Francisco to its north and Los Angeles to the south. Ocean Avenue, the main drag in the village of Carmel. The town is filled with little cafes, art galleries, and out-of-the-way alleyways to explore. Usually, one of the days we spend there is devoted to simply following our noses around the village. One of our early stops for the week is to Friar Tuck's, a little "coffee shop" stuck on the edge of what might considered town central. The comfort food served there goes well with the cottage atmosphere and the witty repartee of the chef, usually in attendance slinging hash and jokes from behind the counter in the middle of the small cafe. To me, it is such a part of my experience in Carmel that I can't imagine the place without it.

I often spend the first morning here reading the Sheriff's report and local headlines in the local news publication (is it a newspaper?) called The Carmel Pine Cone". The articles there are often similar to what I read twenty years ago.

And what would a visit to Ocean Avenue be without a trip to The House of Sweets?

Inside this small shop, the walls are packed with hundreds of amazing confectionaries, some made ther and some imported from other countries (notably, a lot of the British candies I see in the local tea shoppes and importers in Santa Monica)
Also, a visit to The Secret Garden down a quiet alleyway just down from Friar Tuck's in another must-do visit for trips to Carmel for us. After wandering the rock pathways around the old geodesic dome which houses the shoppe in the middle of the garden, bubbling fountains and tinkling bells, we make our way into the town's "woo woo" book shop, Pilgrim's Way. Often times, I can find gifts for friends there that I just never see anywhere else in my travels. I'd probably have to go halfway around the world to find some of the tiny, beautiful items that line the shelves inside.

hundreds of candied delights meet the eye

We rent a house in one of the local neighborhoods, trying to blend in with the locals. We walk whenever we can (which is anywhere in town), spending a great deal of our time there outdoors. The foggy mid-coast weather in August sits at (what I consider perfect) a chilly sixty degrees with only brief afternoon visits of the sun shining above before the fog rolls back in at the end of the day. The only downside to this weather is the obscuring of the amazing sunsets that can be experienced (from previous trips, not this one) along the trails along the bluffs of and white, sandy beaches of Carmel). The slow mornings can often turn into lazy, long mornings where creeping out into reality around noon is the norm.

Me, still in PJs, answering email and posts on the Wirehead's Forum. Ah... Vacation.

Another favorite of mine... Kim calls it "the only other thing you love besides Jack and me" is golf. Yep, spend a lot of time hitting it and finding it, but it's a great pasttime where your demeanor must change in order to maintain control. <- A good life lesson for all of us.

The village of Carmel butts up against its more prestigious (And more expensive) neighbor, Pebble Beach, just to the north. It's the host to numerous events throughout the year, including my favorite golf tournamnet, The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am"

The Lodge at Pebble Beach.

I have played golf at every course on the peninsula with the exception of the four private golf courses at which you must be a member or member's guest in order to play -- The Monterey Peninsula Club, Cypress Point, Tehama Golf Club, and Pasadera Golf Club; Some of them are probably about as friendly as their websites (those that have them). So, likely, I'll never play these courses. But of the public available ones, you'll find some of the best in the world.

The first tee looking down the fairway at Spyglass Hill Golf Club. Four of the local courses are managed by the The Pebble Beach Company which is currently owned and managed by Arnold Palmer, Clint Eastwood, and Peter Ueberroth. This time I got to play the The Links at Spanish Bay and Poppy Hills, home of the USGA's Northern California Golf Association. I didn't have my "A" game (as I haven't for about a year -- too much work, ya know), but it was a really enjoyable outting at both courses. I highly reccomend both as affordable, but wonderful courses to play.
These days, Kim and I have our son, Jack, in tow everywhere we go, and as a result, trips to the Dennis the Menace Park in Monterey and to the incredible Monterey Bay Aquarium are always welcome. Try not to confuse this aquarium with any other aquarium you have ever seen. It lies on the shoreline of the largest underwater Federal reserve in North America, where siting whales, seals and sea otters are daily events. They have a sister organization called The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute that is helping us all understand life in the Monterey Bay and throughout the oceans of the world. Here's a few shots from the Aquarium:
A view outside at the artificial large tidepool overlooking Monterey Bay on the Pacific.
The tidepool itself.
A circular tank where the waterflow keeps these thousands of sardines swimming along inside.
Another smaller tank with tuna swimming by (Yes, I was appreciating the "arty" quality of my digital cam).
underlit versions of jellyfish which often get their own hall for exhibits on the amazing invertebrates.
And last but not least, the HUGE outer ocean exhibit in the new north wing
I'm trying to give you an appreciation of the SIZE of this aquarium tank inside the building (Yes, those are adults with their faces pressed to the 12 inch thick glass).
And yes, it's dark, but here is a side shot showing the breadth of the tank. Wow. We don't always do this, but a trip south along the Big Sur shoreline is like no other. So, this year, we drove along highway one which travels along the lip of the Pacific Ocean. We were literally hanging over the sea on some of this cliffside highway. On the way south, we stopped at one of our favorite watering holes for lunch, Nepenthe (nuh-PEN-thee). Apparently, it's been there for a long time about 700 feet above the ocean, but with coastline views like no other place. Prices are decent and the Phoenix Bookstore next door is often worth the trip. Here's a few shots:
Inside the restaurant Outside looking way down at the ocean below. Outside the building. I believe the architect was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright's. Finally, after a week of time off, and no clocks to watch, it was back home. Where on days like today with sunsets like this, it feels like a pretty good place to be.
Taken off my back porch. Visit the central coast sometime in this lifetime. You'll want to move there, like I do. Now, I have to get cleaned up and get to a party. These 3 hour posts have got to stop! Ha ha, enjoy everybody.