We may live in Alaska, but our hearts are in central California, specifically, Monterey Bay area and the Monterey Peninsula, and points South. From the moment you drive south over the Santa Cruz mountains on Route 17 (in itself a scenic drive) and along the beach towns of Santa Cruz County, you finally come to the point on the bay where you can see the Monterey Peninsula and Point Pinos sparkling in the distance.
Through the rich agricultural towns of Watsonville and Castroville (and possibly indulging in a French-fried artichoke heart or two), past the old deactivated Ft. Ord (from whence so many soldiers departed for Vietnam) and the rolling dunes of Seaside and Sand City, the beautiful historic city that served as capital of California and the Presidio for the Mexican colony of California Norte appears, with its ancient eucalyptus trees shading the Naval Postgraduate School, past colorful Fishermen’s Wharf, and on to the charming town of Pacific Grove, with its Lovers Point landmark and Victorian cottages.
Charlotte and John (then a sailor) lived in one of those cottages when we were first married, and remember long relaxed walks along the water, watching the sea otters play and hearing the seals bark. Occasionally a chilling fog would roll in, obscuring all but the closest tidepools, and we would head over to John’s parents house in Pebble Beach for a delicious dinner and good cheer.
Other venues, almost too numerous to mention, charmed us and still do, since we occasionally visit the family home in Pebble Beach. Wonderful shops and art galleries in Carmel, restaurants like the Mission Ranch with its fabulous Sunday brunch and Passionfish, the MontereyAquarium, the Carmel Mission, over two hundred years old. Point Lobos, with its giant stands of poison oak and rugged coast, surf pounding below sheer cliffs, and seals and sea otters constantly amusing themselves (and us) in the tidal waters.
Further south, Big Sur with its redwoods, hippies (many of them in their seventies and eighties), the Esalen Institute, the Post Inn, and above all, glorious Nepenthe with its outdoor seating and views fify miles down the coastline, and friendly interesting people hanging out, soaking in the sunlight.
The Del Monte Forest itself, a private residential preserve where Robert Louis Stevenson wrote and lived and played, giving way to the classic golf course developers who have created a golf nirvana with Pebble Beach, Cypress Point, Spyglass Hill, Monterey Peninsula CC, Poppy Hills, and even tiny little Peter Hay Par 3 across from the Del Monte Lodge. It was at the lodge where Charlotte’s parents and John’s parents first broke bread as they gave their blessing to our marriage, and at the lodge where John probably had his last restaurant lunch with his mother just weeks before she died in 2005.
Too many memories are bound up in this relatively short coastline (perhaps less than one hundred miles) to go through one by one, but this latitude of heaven, nature, pounding surf, interesting vegetation, artists, hippies, golfers, and above all, lovers, will remain our happiest Latitude.