Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Carmel-by-the-Sea: Pebble Beach Golf Course

One afternoon, we walked 5km (and 5km back!) along the famous 17 Mile Drive, which led to the Pebble Beach Golf Course.



17 Mile Drive traverses a gated community, so vehicles have to pay to drive through it.  As pedestrians, we didn’t have to pay, but neither were we welcomed, as there were no footpaths.  Whenever a Mercedes, Bentley, open-topped sportscar etc came along, we either had to press ourselves into manicured hedges or hang by our fingernails from cliffs (slight exaggeration, but you get the idea.)


Copy of IMG_1221Oh dear, a traffic island with nothing on it!  What will we do?  How about a couple of giant potplants? 


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First glimpse of Pebble Beach golf course, (down the driveway of a golf course bordering house) recently rated the best public course in the U.S. by Golf Digest, and the site of the 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000 and 2010 U.S. Opens.


Copy of IMG_1226 Another view of the golf course. 


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There were a lot of fancy houses along the road beside the golf course.  As well as these houses being designed to have great views over the golf course and the sea, you had the feeling that they were also designed to provide great views of themselves to anyone on the road (or the golf course.)


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Oh look, a deer running around on the golf course.


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View over the golf course back towards Carmel-by-the-Sea.


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And again.


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And again.


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Another fancy house overlooking the golf course.


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This house was called “Bear Necessities”.  This picture was taken through the bars of the front gate.


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Laura and Arend on the way back.  This bit actually had a footpath.


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Shortcut down the hill through the bush.  It was good to walk on some unprocessed ground.

Carmel-by-the-Sea: Lifestyles of the Rich


I found Carmel to be similar to the Napa Valley in that every piece of owned land had some humanly-directed purpose.

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For example, this footpath must have been deemed not to be doing enough, so had little floral inserts along its length.  In fact, while there were wide – and decorated – footpaths around the shops, there were very few footpaths, sorry, sidewalks, anywhere else.  Most houses had gardens which went directly to the street.  Carmel apparently still has a law that you cannot wear high heels without a permit.  This was enacted to stop people from suing the council for tripping accidents.  

The only person we did see wearing high heels was a stout, richly-dressed elderly lady who was commissioning a sculpture from one of Carmel’s 90+ art galleries.  And she had to employ her toy-boy to transport her down the steps as her heels became entangled in the doormat.

Here are some typical Carmel-by-the-Sea gardens.  Notice how the gardens have absorbed the footpaths/sidewalks and come right to the edge of the street.

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This house was for sale for $4.9 million.  And it wasn’t even on the sea front.


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If you sat on this seat, you would be knocked out by these Angel’s Trumpets.


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Even the Episcopalian Church is obliged to have a garden.


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A street in Carmel-by-the-Sea.  See how footpaths/sidewalks have been completely absorbed by gardens, so that pedestrians (i.e. us) have to walk on the street.

San Francisco to Carmel-by-the-Sea

After her conference in Atlanta, Laura had a week’s holiday, and had arranged a little tour for us.  First stop was to be Carmel-by-the-Sea, about 300 km south of San Francisco.

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You’ve heard of Burger King?  Arend was very impressed by Porridge King which we passed on the way.


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We took the scenic route beside the sea.  It was a strange feeling to be driving south with the Pacific Ocean on our right.



On our left were fields of wildflowers leading up to the mountains.


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Wind surfers were enjoying the ever-present brisk breeze.  We passed a sign for a tsunami gathering point.  Not surprisingly, it pointed in the opposite direction from the sea.

We enjoyed a Thai lunch at Santa Cruz and continued on our way.


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In 1771 (one year after Captain Cook sailed to Australia), Franciscan friar Father Junipero Serra established Mission San Carlos de Borromeo de Carmelo at the mouth of what is now the Carmel Valley.  By 1831 Carmel, like the other missions, was secularised and its extensive land holdings divided among several large ranchos, pieces of which eventually formed Carmel-by-the-Sea.

The earthquake of 1906 brought refugees from San Francisco, many of them artists and writers, drawn by the beauty and affordable prices.


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A walk on the beach revealed a great deal of chunky seaweed and thousands of little flies which flew up in a cloud in front of you at each footstep.


IMG_1180You were also advised not to swim, climb on rocks or even paddle because of “life-threatening waves and currents”.  Obviously the large number of surfers we saw felt themselves able to handle any odd life-threatening wave which should come along.


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The early “bohemians” of Carmel would often gather on the beach for “abalone feasts, fine conversations and libations.”  This group of friends  that we saw seemed determined to continue the tradition, well rugged up against the stiff breeze.  However, I did notice they were prudently as far away from the water’s edge as possible, in case of any life-threatening waves.



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Land prices in Carmel are no longer affordable.  Houses along the beach front are now worth around four million.


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Carmel is full of beautiful gardens, with more flowers per square metre than any place I’ve ever seen.  Most houses here must have full time gardeners, and even the shops and “ïnns” in particular are densely floralised.


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Our “ïnn” was called “San Antonio House”.  Pat and I had the Patio Suite (downstairs beside the umbrella) while Laura and Arend had the Treetops Suite (upstairs at the back).



Ivied entrance to San Antonio House.



Pat on the patio, Patio Suite, San Antonio House.



Our “suite” had a certain cosiness and old-worldly charm, which reminded me of English seaside B&Bs.  I later read:  “Residents treasure their village.  They have resisted change and work to protect the legacy left by earlier citizens.”

However, there is nothing old-worldly about the shops.  Think Montville or Noosa plus a few stars.  Laura and I had a bit of a browse, but not being in the market for a Cartier watch or similar, came home empty handed, to Pat’s relief.



Arend had worked through the previous night until 5am, so was reluctant to go out with Laura to pick up dinner.

San Francisco Orchestra

For my birthday, Laura bought tickets for the four of us to go and see the San Francisco Orchestra.  This was arranged several months ago.  Laura gave me a choice of programs, and I selected a program of fairly light music, including some well-known Mozart pieces, which I thought would be the most suitable for the four of us.  One possibility on the list Laura gave me was Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, and I remember suggesting that this might be rather heavy going for our group.

Several days before we were due to go, Laura decided to change the date for our orchestral concert, to fit in better with some other plans she had made for us.  The only date we were able to go was guess what, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis.  Consequently, I was a bit apprehensive about how the others would enjoy the program.

The drive in was a bit of a circus to avoid running into streets which had been closed for the Dykes on Bikes parade.  However, we just made it in time for the free lecture about the program, which was very helpful as it gave us all some clues about what to look out for during the performance.


Copy of IMG_1129Pat, Arend and Laura enjoying pre-concert drinks.

Dress at the concert  was fairly similar to the way it would be in Brisbane.  However, San Francisco seems to be much more casual in dress than Brisbane, especially in the business area, and Arend did spot one lady at the concert in Crocs and track suit pants.



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San Francisco Orchestra pipe organ.  While it wasn’t used for Missa Solemnis, it certainly looked spectacular.


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Although you couldn’t take pictures during the performance, I did sneak in a few before it started. Here is the orchestra getting ready.  From our seats, we had a great view of the whole stage.



Two rows of the choir are on now.


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Most of the orchestra and most of the choir is on now.

As it happened, Missa Solemnis, proved to be quite interesting for everyone.  We could all watch out for when fugues came in, plus there were four vocal soloists and a whopping choir of 112 to watch – the biggest adult choir I have ever seen.

For me, there were some moments that were truly exquisite.  Towards the end of the Sanctus, the first violinist played solo with the vocal soloists.  The last chord of that section – the solo violin and the choir – was so beautiful that some people clapped.  That was a very high point for me.



Jan, Pat and Laura coming down the stairs.



Large Four Piece Reclining Figure - 1973
by Henry Moore

Laura was very impressed that this Henry Moore sculpture was in front of the San Francisco Orchestra building, as she had done an assignment on this exact piece for Year 12 art.


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San Francisco City Hall is almost opposite the SFO building.



After the concert, we went and had dinner at Chevy’s, a Tex Mex restaurant.  Arend was very keen that I should take a picture of this aeroplane on the ceiling of the restaurant.


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Our guacamole was prepared at our table.  We could say how much of everything we would like to be included in it. 


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Laura and my midori melon margarita.



Laura testing my midori melon margarita.



Here’s dinner.  One appetiser and one main meal was enough for the four of us.  Thank you Laura for a wonderful birthday present!