Tag Archives: Carmel

Road Trip: Hitchhiking to the Mission

24 Nov

 

By the time my poor bus rolled into Carmel, the day was fading and the shops had closed their adorable doors.  Music from a live concert rose up out of the heart of the main shopping plaza, and the moon made his appearance even though the sun hadn’t quite set yet.  I was a little disappointed not to be able to stop into the cheese shop that the wine guide back at the winery had recommended, but I was intent on getting a little culture out of the trip.  Man cannot live on cheese alone.  I set off to visit the Carmel mission.

I was a little annoyed that I’d paid all this money for a tour that basically amounted to the driver talking over the intercom as he drove the bus and then sleeping while we wandered off on our own into the unknown.  That was the point when I actually needed a tour guide.  I didn’t need someone to tell me to look out the window because by golly there’s a strawberry field.  I needed someone to physically walk me to locations because I’m for someone who loves to travel I’m notoriously bad with directions, and I hate wasting time getting lost when there are things I want to see!  I asked the driver to point me in the direction of the Carmel mission, and he told me the twosome up ahead of me were also headed there and honked the bus horn at them so they’d wait for me.

I awkwardly approached, not knowing if I was encroaching on some romantic rendezvous.  As it turned out, they were ex-brother and sister-in-law.  The woman had married and divorced the guy’s brother.  They couple had been divorced for many, many years now, but the woman and the brother had remained good friends and travel companions.  Hm… was there maybe something more there?  No.  He’s gay and in a committed relationship, and she is currently in a serious relationship.  They just like to travel together.

Alrighty then!  Onward ho!  (Actually, I found the relationship backstory out on the return trip.)

The woman once been given a beautiful painting of the San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo and always wanted to visit it.  We set off down the road, the driver having told us it was only about a ten-minute walk.  That was a lie.  As we were trying to figure out which way to head, a woman in an SUV pulled up and asked us if we wanted a ride.  Now, if you’ve read my “Nightmare of a Trip” post, you know that I’m well versed in the dangers of hitchhiking, but I figured I was with two other people.  Plus you had to have seen the woman in the SUV.  She was skinny with bleached blonde hair and wore these ginormous heels and what may have been a dalmatian-fur coat.  I couldn’t tell if she was actually old or if her skin was damaged from too much suntanning.  We were grateful to her, though, as she took time out to give us strangers a ride.

The San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, like all the shops, had already closed, so we could only peer in over the fence.  It was a beauty!  Established in 1771, the Community of the Carmel Mission is a working church.   The Basilica Church is a registered National Historic Landmark and there are five museums on the grounds.

Of course, the bus also made a stop at the Carmel mission when we left the area, but we didn’t have time to get off the bus at that point, so I’m glad I ventured off to enjoy its peaceful presence.

 

 

I’m not sure which mission he’s referring to, but in Big Sur Jack Kerouac writes of Cody, the character based on Neal Cassady, saying:

“Now dont walk too fast, it’s time to stroll along like we used to do remember sometimes on our daysoff on the railroad, or walkin across that Third and Townsend tar like you said and the time we watched the sun go down so perfect holy purple over that Mission cross–Yessir, slow and easy, lookin at this gone valley…”

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Road Trip: 17 Mile Drive

22 Oct

On my road trip down the California Coast, we took the 17 Mile Drive.  I’d never heard of it before, but everyone talked about it as if it were the highlight of the trip even though we spend a lot less time there.  What I discovered was that California’s 17 Mile Drive is a stretch of road associated with luxury.  Millionaires build mansions that overlook the Pacific Ocean.  Golf is the sport of choice.  The art scene is thriving among the cultured citizens.

Here’s a bit about the 17 Mile Drive from Wikipedia:

At the north end, a portion of the early route through Pacific Grove begins at the intersection of Del Monte Blvd and Esplanade Street. The famous portion of 17-Mile Drive then begins a few miles south of this point. The crossing of Highway 68 (Holman Highway/Sunset Drive) and 17-Mile Drive marks the entrance to Pebble Beach.

From the Sunset Drive/Pacific Grove gate, the drive runs inland past Spanish Bay, then adjacent to beaches and up into the coastal hills, providing scenic viewpoints. Travel along the road takes as long as the traveler likes, a minimum of 20 minutes south to Carmel without stops. Numerous turnouts along the road allow stopping to take pictures, or getting out to stroll along the ocean or among the trees. Visitors receive a map that points out some of the more scenic spots. In addition, a red-dashed line is marked in the center of the main road to guide visitors, and help prevent them from venturing into the adjacent neighborhood streets.[2]

The road provides vistas of golf courses including Spyglass HillCypress Point and Pebble Beach. After reaching Carmel Way, and the exit to Carmel, the 17-Mile Drive then heads northeast to the Highway 68/Highway 1 interchange, where one can exit, or continue to loop along the higher vistas of 17-Mile Drive, some of which offer views from more than 600 feet above sea-level. The full loop will take you back to the Pacific Grove Gate at Sunset Drive — a distance of 17 miles.

 

The driver slowed down and pointed out various homes.  I was not impressed.  I grew up with parents who trapped us kids in the back seat while they drove around looking at the mansions in Alpine, New Jersey.  I’ve seen beautiful, large homes before, and it just doesn’t impress me.  Interior decorating and architecture are passions of mine, so it’s not that I don’t appreciate nice homes.  And I’m by no means against luxury.  I rather enjoy a certain lifestyle.  I’m just not impressed by it.

Do you enjoy driving around looking at mansions?

 

In case you missed last week’s road trip posts:

everything on my trip went wrong

cocktail recipe for what Jack Kerouac drank in Big Sur

writing tips from Big Sur writers

save the sea otters and sea lions