After the first day though, I seem to have recovered, and by lunch time with the roof up, lathered in sunblock, I ask Paul for it to be lowered.
All these years I was living in America, and on on uncountable visits to California, I never took the drive down the US West Coast to Carmel and Big Sur – ‘El gran sur’ (‘The Big South’). Now, on my way to the wedding of cousin Julie’s daughter Sophie in a vineyard in Paso Robles, I get to do it. And with Padre Paulo, who is to be one of the officiants, with Rabbi Janice at Sophie’s wedding to Elliot.
The Lodge at Pebble Beach on the 17-Mile Drive on Monterey Bay has been on my bucket list for years. Beautiful greens stretch down to the beach with the occasional wind-swept cypress and white sand holes making it a picture perfect scene. On the advice of a friend in San Francisco, we take the 17-Mile Drive on the afternoon we arrive down there, and how great that is. Sunset makes for wonderful pictures.
After popovers, hot from the oven with home-made blackberry jelly (and scrambled eggs) at Doris Day’s Cypress Inn, we head for Big Sur. Again under advice from Bill in San Francisco, we take the time to enter the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and hike to the points at either end. Crisp clean air with scent of cypress almost overpowers the senses. We take in the ocean and shoreline views; rocky inlets with waves foaming white at the base of the cliffs. Seals on the rocks below bark like dogs in a kennel while breaching whales splash off shore; turkey vultures glide gracefully overhead.
Walking on the other side of the Reserve, we climb down to Gibson’s Beach where I get my feet wet while Paul dives in. Then, stopping at scenic spots all the way down to our lunch stop at Nepenthe Restaurant, sitting in ‘front-row’ seats looking down over the Big Sur – Cypress and Redwood reaching down to the sea with fog softening some of the higher parts further down the coast.
It’s years since I pulled artichoke leaves from the steamed and chilled artichoke and dipped them in lemon garlic mango mayo, scraping the soft flesh from the bottoms with my teeth – wonderful with a chilled Rosé – liquid white gold edged with pink – from Paso Robles, where we are heading for the wedding.
Then back to Carmel with time for only half an hour on the bed before meeting up with Dianne, a friend from a cruise to South America a few years ago, who lives almost next door here in Carmel. Our plans for watching the sunset on the beach were short-changed by low-hanging fog that refused to life from the horizon.
But we kept walking, and walking along Monterey Bay as the light faded, taking in all the wonderful waterfront mansions and palazzos and a low-line Frank Lloyd Wright house in stone, timber, glass and copper situated right on a point looking across the bay to Pebble Beach.
After the long walk, the anticipated Prime Rib at Clint Eastwood’s Mission Inn didn’t eventuate (not Dianne’s night!) as we weren’t about to wait ninety minutes for a table.
So, a bottle of Prosecco with antipasti at a local Italian Restaurant in town soon drowned our disappointment.