Lots to see today

Trip Start Dec 29, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Fairgrounds RV

Flag of United States  , California
Friday, January 20, 2012

We were expecting rain overnight and for the next few days and we got it. Woke up at 5:45 to the sound of a very noisy, large jet plane flying overhead and raindrops on the roof. Didn't look like it would be much of an outdoors kind of day so we had a leisurely bacon and eggs breakfast, coffee and time to catch up on emails.

By ten thirty the rain had slowed to almost nothing so we decided we'd venture out and do some "inside" exploring. We headed off to Carmel-by-the-Sea to visit the Carmel Mission. By the time we got there, the rain had pretty much slowed to a mist with the odd drizzle mixed in.

The mission was beautiful. It is a monument to Padre Junipero Serra of the Order of Franciscan Friars. He became president of the California missions and established this mission in Monterey in 1769. It was moved to Carmel near the river the next year. In 1771 he moved into the newly finished mission, which was made of wood. The early years were hard and they relied on the Indians for supplies until their crops became more sufficient. As they became more successful, the wooden buildings were replaced by adobe structures and eventually the buildings were replaced with sandstone. 

Father Serra never got to see the finished church - he died before its completion in 1797. He is buried in a tomb in front of the altar. The mission underwent a huge and painstaking restoration beginning in 1937 after lying in ruins for more than eight years. Reconstructed basically from the foundation and a few feet of wall, they've done an amazing job.

In addition to the chapel, the complex also has three small and interesting museums depicting the lives of various people associated with the mission. It was quite a fascinating couple of hours. Of the course there was the inevitable gift shop at the end where they sold every possible religious icon and doodad that you could imagine. We bought a couple of round coin-like medallions but opted for the ones that said golf, rather than the saints or prayers. I wonder if it is sacrilegious to use them as ball markers?

We decided to do the scenic tour of Carmel. But first a few tidbits on this tiny burg…first off, it is VERY expensive. It's a tiny little spot where shopping is pretty much limited to designer stores including Tiffany’s and Coach – nope not the outlets, the real thing.

Carmel has a reputation as a high end resort area but it didn’t start that way. It wasn’t until the 1906 fire and earthquake in San Francisco that a number of artists and writers came here to get away from the city, forming a bohemian colony that became famous for its wild and free lifestyle. By the 1920s this group had disbanded but wealthy San Franciscans had begun to holiday here. The main industry in Carmel now is tourism - for the rich I think – I know I couldn't afford to stay here!

Carmel Beach was beautiful…turquoise waves rolling in over a beautiful white sand beach – miles of it – surrounded by wind-bent cypress trees and gorgeous homes. Further down the seashore we came to Carmel State Beach, and a huge lagoon and bird sanctuary all of which unfortunately, due to California’s lack of funds, are closed.

Just for fun on our drive we stopped and checked out the feature sheet on a house across from the beach. It didn’t look like much, despite the fact that is was 7000 square feet. The price tag was a mere 7 million and it looked like it could use some work!

Our drive took us back through downtown Carmel and past the designer shops, galleries and restaurants. Roy wouldn’t stop and buy me a bauble from Tiffany’s so we continued on to Monterey where we stopped at the mall to check out movie times, grab a quick bite and ponder how we'd spend the rest of the afternoon. The weather was still gray and drizzly so not a good time for much outdoor activity. We opted to do 17 Mile Drive.

There aren't many places where they charge you to drive through a residential area but here they do - to the tune of $8.50 - not a lot but considering the number of cars driving along the seventeen miles, they must do all right! Your money gets you a guide to the place and as much time there as you like. There are about 20 or so marked sites for stopping plus loads of pullouts to enjoy the views. It really was an incredible drive and definitely worth the price of admission. 

The scenery was spectacular and we stopped in to check out the pro shops at all the big name golf courses. We opted not to play as it was still pretty wet and drizzly - ha - we couldn't afford most of them anyway! Pebble is only $495 plus a cart...Links at Spanish Bay - a mere $260 plus cart and Spyglass just $360 plus a cart! There were a couple of private courses as well.

On the seaside part of the drive we saw some incredible sights. There was a little island that was covered in seal and sea lions. There were loads of birds. I was fascinated watching a pair of pelicans that I assume were fishing. They flew about six inches off the waves, following the waves until they curled and broke and then soaring up into the sky before coming down near a new wave. I also noticed three or four dolphins not far off shore leaping and diving in the waves! And on the way home, although it was getting hard to see, I'm pretty sure I saw a whale offshore - saw what looked like a couple of big blows and then what looked like the flip of a tail.

As we got nearer to Pebble Beach, there was a noticeable difference in the houses. These places were just obscene they were so big. The guest houses and servants quarters were twice the size of my house! They were really incredible and the views from those on the water side must have been stunning.

Pebble Beach, when we finally got there, was amazing. The course is so green and lush. The place is like a little city - it has its own bank, a market, several restaurants, two golf shops - one ladies/one mens,  and a pro-shop (complete with leather armchairs and a fireplace) which carried ONLY men's stuff, displayed like Harry Rosen's. 

On the way home we took the exit gate that went out to Pacific Grove, where we drove yesterday. We retraced our steps, enjoying the scenery again, headed back through Monterey and towards home. We looked for a grocery store and decided that people in Monterey just don't buy groceries! We finally found one after driving around for a half hour. Turns out it is not far from where we live - figures!

We're about to have a bowl of soup for dinner since both of us is still semi-full from lunch. It's raining again and the weather looks about the same for tomorrow so not sure what will be in our plans.

Hope I'm able to upload pictures - the wifi is unpredictable!
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