A June 2005 trip
to Pebble Beach by btwood2
Quote: Pebble Beach, on Monterey Bay, is a mythical place with achingly beautiful landscapes, ocean mists, and atmospherically priced real estate, and it's the locale of my daughter’s wedding.
During my high school years, I went on double dates to Cannery Row, Carmel, and the 1966 Monterey Jazz Festival. While attending college, I lived for 4 years on the northern shores of Monterey Bay in the enchanted city of Santa Cruz. Towards the end of my working years, I enjoyed a conference at historic, beautiful Asilomar. The region has a hold on me, so I was delighted when Saskia and Neal chose Pebble Beach to marry.
Toll road 17-Mile Drive charges at four entrance gates, Pacific Grove, Country Club, Highway 68, and Highway 1. Entrance fee is waived to homeowners and event guests. One can start the drive at any gate and take as long as desired to stop at many scenic viewpoints and historic landmarks, shop at resort stores, picnic, or enjoy a meal at a resort restaurant.
Lone Cypress and Ghost Tree: As a child, I remember my parents and I gaping in amazement at the houses half-hidden from view in the forest or completely hidden by massive locked gates. But these dim in comparison with ocean views, breakers crashing against rocky shorelines, and tortured cypress trees. Most famous are Lone Cypress, symbol of Pebble Beach Company, and Ghost Tree, the bleached contorted remains of another cypress.
Just right describes the even coastal climate of Monterey Bay. Mornings and evenings can be foggy, mid-day is sunny. Mild daytime temperatures rarely fall below 50 degrees F and rarely rise above 75 degrees F. Bring a light jacket or sweater for cool mists and breezes. Rain is infrequent between April and October.
Nearby, Monterey Bay Aquarium on Cannery Row, constructed in 1984 on the site of an old cannery, displays about 550 species in its 200,000 square foot aquarium and outdoor exhibits. Allow at least half a day, but a full day can easily be spent here.
As California’s first capital, historic Monterey is overflowing with history. Monterey State Historic Park includes an old Customs House, a theatre, and two museums. There are numerous walking tours.
Artsy Carmel By-the-Sea is pricey, but window-shopping is free. Quirky Carmel is known for threatening to secede from California when the state decreed that all houses must be numbered and made high heels illegal without a liability waiver (1963). And Mayor Eastwood, of course.
If you prefer to land at San Jose or San Francisco International Airport, Monterey Salinas Airbus will provide a cheap ride ( round-trip SJC, round-trip SFO). The Monterey pick-up/drop-off point is the Monterey Transit Plaza (Pearl at Alvarado). Vans run from 4am to 10pm about 11 times daily.
Amtrak’s Coast Starlight stops at Salinas, 19 miles east of Monterey. This Amtrak Superliner between Seattle and LA has sleeper and dining cars and a sightseeing lounge. From Salinas, the Amtrak bus will drive you to Monterey (takes about 30 minutes) and drop you off at major hotels or the Transit Plaza.
By car from the north, take either Highway 1 (scenic but slow) or cut west from Highway 101 on Highway 156 (near Prunedale). From the south, take either Highway 1 (very scenic and winding—we're talking about Big Sur coastline here), or cut west from Highway 101on Highway 68 at Salinas.
Getting around while there is very easy in a car. Routes are well marked and peninsula city layouts more or less make sense. Parking can be a bit difficult to find near popular attractions and in Carmel-By-the-Sea. Monterey Salinas Transit has more than 30 routes traveling to and through most Monterey County cities.
Ride the WAVE. These free trolleys and buses (Waterfront Area Visitors Express) are the best way to get around downtown Monterey and Cannery Row during peak season, Memorial Day to Labor Day. The WAVE is free and runs from 10am to 7pm daily.
Though street traffic by motorized vehicle can be heavy and sluggish, the coastal route is a walker’s, jogger’s, and bicyclist’s dream. Monterey Bay Coast Trail runs from Marina to Pebble Beach via Seaside, Sand City, Monterey, and Pacific Grove and is 29 miles long and growing. The peninsula’s mild climate and clean air make outdoor activities positively invigorating.
Hotel | "Park Crest Best Western"
The only thing I’m not satisfied with is the lack of parking in front of our room (and entire row of lower level rooms in our wing). Stopping to load and unload is allowed, though, so I help my mom to the door and bring luggage inside before proceeding to the back parking lot. It’s only a minor inconvenience.
The bedspreads on the two queen-size beds, curtains, and paintings on the wall have a floral motif. Everything is clean and functional. Especially handy is the long double sink, mirror above, making it easy for us to get ready at the same time without being in each other’s way. It is located in the area between the bedroom and bathroom, as are small refrigerator and coffeemaker.
Cable satellite with free HBO, as well as high-speed Internet, is available. A clothes iron and ironing board are inside the closet. We make no use of the small pool and spa but most definitely take advantage of complimentary breakfasts.
It was nothing fancy, but just the right amount to avoid having to go out for breakfast. In a clean and cheerful breakfast room behind the office, one may partake of rolls, muffins, bagels, and toast. Cereals, pots with coffee and hot water for tea on the counter, and milk and orange juice in the fridge round out the meal. I grab a bite, go for a jog across the way, and return in time to get some snacks for my mother, who is not known for being an early riser.
Our biggest dilemma comes on check-out day. Post-wedding duties, hosting an outdoor brunch at gusty Lover’s Point, make chances of my returning for my mother by check-out time almost nil. I ask at the office if staff would help her out of her room so that she and her luggage can wait in the office for me. They say sure. As it turns out, when I return after 1pm, my mother and her luggage are comfortably waiting for me still in our room. Someone had come by and told her not to worry; they’d clean the room later.
Website: http://www.parkcrestmotel.com/ To reserve online: http://book.bestwestern.com/bestwestern/productInfo.do?propertyCode=05067#null
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 15, 2006
Best Western Park Crest Motel
1100 Munras Avenue
Monterey, California 93940
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 15, 2006
1518 Cypress Dr.
Pebble Beach, California 93953
I can’t believe our luck, finding a parking place right in front of Nico’s front door. Parking is usually more of a challenge on Carmel-By-the-Sea’s busy streets. Nico’s attractive exterior fronts on a side street of bustling Ocean Avenue. Wine-colored awnings extend out above windows, and planter boxes and pots full of blooming flowers and vining plants adorn the front and side patio with outdoor dining.
Coastal chill of impending evening draws diners indoors as we arrive. Our long table, bedecked with a white tablecloth in the center of the dining room, is partitioned from the front by floor-to-ceiling wine racks. Towards the back, a warming wood fire blazes in the brick fireplace. When I was a child, I owned one of those giant Crayola boxes. One of my favorite things was the color of Nico’s walls: burnt sienna.
Nico Restaurant sets the tone for the festive weekend and incredible meals that are to follow. Menu choices are tantalizing and the dishes that soon appear are appetizingly prepared and artfully lovely, yet reasonably priced. We share an appetizer of baked brie of Normandy with raspberries and blueberries, accompanied by sliced lusciously ripe home-grown tomatoes and crusty baked bread. My mother and I share a refreshing salad of baby spinach with sliced pears, topped with Gorgonzola balsamic vinaigrette, sweet and tart.
I’ll only describe a few of the entrees; between the eight of us, I think we order seven different ones. Though the menu contains a variety of meats, poultry, seafood, vegetarian dishes, and pizzas, most of us are in the mood for seafood. My big plate of penne pasta with shrimp, clams, black mussels, and scallops is bathed in Marsala wine sauce—subtle and delicious. My son lets me have a bite of his crab ravioli in champagne crème sauce with sun-dried tomatoes and scallops. Equally wonderful.
Groom Neal thoroughly enjoys his plate of whole-wheat linguine with fresh clams, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh garlic. My mother praises her herb-grilled salmon on its bed of saffron risotto with lightly cooked carrots and green beans.
Nico opened in 1997, named after owner Nico Mavris, who was born and raised in Greece. Comfortable as an old family home, warm as a late afternoon sunset is how Nico describes his restaurant, and indeed it met those expectations with us. Warmed with food prepared with love, and heartened by the love floating in the air all around the about-to-be wedded couple, we leave Nico Restaurant very satisfied and anticipating the excitement of the days to come…
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 16, 2006
San Carlos & Ocean A
Pebble Beach, California 93923
Restaurant | "Roy’s"
Almost immediately one delicious hors d’oeuvre after another begins appearing on our tables, along with libations of champagne (for toasting the bride and groom to be) and wines. My favorite is the crispy shrimp and lobster dumplings in yuzu-miso butter. (Yuzu is a Japanese citrus, a small tart orange.) Exceptional as well, and one of Roy’s signature dishes, is the blackened rare ahi in spicy soy-mustard sauce. All of the appetizers but one are seafood, characteristic of Roy’s partiality to fish and shellfish. The serving plates are abundantly yet artistically heaped with black bean mango coconut-crusted shrimp, mandarin orange-chili Tiger prawn and beef spring rolls, and wood-grilled Szechwan barbecued baby back pork ribs.
Halfway through appetizers, plaintive strains of bagpipes can be faintly heard. As I am in grave danger of filling my entire stomach with these pre-dinner delights, this gives me a good excuse to tear myself away. The fresh sea air is exhilarating as I step outside. People seated outdoors around firepits and at tables have front-row seats of the solitary kilted figure outlined against cypress trees, belting out mournful tunes. Watching and listening to this compelling sunset tradition at Spanish Bay is another highlight of the evening for me.
Choosing one of the five entrees available to us at Roy’s is difficult. But my love of salmon and curiosity about the unfamiliar lead me to Hibachi-style salmon with kaiware (sprouted daikon radish seeds) and Ponzu sauce, a Japanese soy-citrus-vinegar sauce. Served on a bed of white rice with slivers of red cabbage, it’s delectable. My dainty 91-year-old mother may have attained her age partly due to a love of red meat in small portions. She raves about the oak-fired grilled filet mignon with Roy’s "power sauce." Beside mashed potatoes, and beneath diced tomatoes and asparagus spears, the tender filet mignon sits regally on the plate.
Desserts are so tantalizing, it’s almost painful. My Tahitian vanilla crème brulee with blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries is rich but not overly filling. Almost everybody else goes for the big guns: Roy’s famous indecently scrumptious, melting hot chocolate raspberry cake alongside a big scoop of raspberry-vanilla swirl ice cream. With perhaps not one ounce of room left inside of me, I taste someone else’s. Rich, dark warm chocolate contrasts with the cool fruity ice cream. I could’ve died happy at that moment.
Pebble Beach Company: Roy's
1700 17 Mile Drive
Pebble Beach, California 93953
Celtic and classical string music from Montage Trio greet us in the lobby. Guests write wedding wishes on paper leaves, then hang them on branches of the wedding wish tree. We proceed to the lounge for cocktail hour, where we’re warmed by fireplace and laughter and sustained by delicious appetizers and wine.
Sunlight streams through floor-to-ceiling glass walls of the dining room as guests search for their tables. Under warm-toned paper lanterns hung from the rafters, each round table seats eight. Views include emerald-green fairways, gulls flying and on rocks in Stillwater Cove, and several sailboats still on the water. Shortly after all are seated, bride and groom are announced and they dance to Waiting on an Angel. Sun shines luminescent through my daughter’s waist-length bridal veil flowing behind her as they twirl and whirl about. Their first dance as newlyweds ends with an impressive dip, eliciting "ahhh’s" from the crowd.
As mother of the bride, I admit that my attention isn’t primarily on food that night, but as Saskia and Neal sit down to dine, serving staff brings starters of Dungeness and Alaskan snow crab risotto with sweet Meyer lemon, corn, and caramelized shallots. Next comes butter lettuce salad graced with herb-crusted goat cheese medallions and oven-cured sweet tomatoes, topped with roasted shallot vinaigrette. The sun is setting as entrees are served. My choice, free-range chicken with morels, roasted fingerling potatoes, and artichoke and spring onion confit, is delectable and different.
Toasts are made after dinner. Neal has two best men, and each offers their own distinctive flavor to his toast; the first is impromptu, whimsical, and humorous in unexpected ways, the second a rendition of a lovely modern fairy tale told in the old style. Saskia’s matron of honor and best friend gives the third toast as all nibble from silver trays loaded with truffles and chocolate-dipped strawberries.
The wedding cake is far from traditional: three strawberry-topped cheesecakes perch on butcher blocks at varying levels. The bouquet and garter toss follow the cake cutting, with Neal almost disappearing under Saskia’s billowing skirts in search of the garter. From then on, it’s dance, dance, dance the night away to favorite tunes played by the DJ. Though her back is bent, my 91-year old mother has a youthful gleam in her eye as her new grandson-in-law gently leads her around the dance floor. As the reception winds down by midnight, energy and exhilaration are still palpable in the air.
The Beach and Tennis Club is open to club members and resort guests for lunch, and private parties and weddings on extended hours. The menu includes a fine selection of creative gourmet starters, sandwiches, salads, and entrees. The chef’s menu additions change daily. Resort attire is requested.
Beach and Tennis Club
Pebble Beach, California 93953
Browsing breakfast catering got me really interested: fresh fruit and pastry platters, bagel crates, and three different kinds of quiches–classic Lorraine, spinach-pine nut, and leek-goat cheese. Most temptingly: smoked salmon with capers, red onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers with baguettes and crackers.
I called the Monterey store and was connected to Kim, in charge of deli and catering. From the outset and throughout planning, she was nothing but helpful, creative, and flexible. That first call, though, we fleshed out a rough plan based on known and unknown factors. For this last rather casual post-wedding festivity of the weekend, we knew we’d have anywhere from 25 to as many as 100 people.
I absolutely cannot stand any food being wasted. But we didn’t want to run out of food before everyone had eaten their fill either. Kim suggested cutting items into smaller-than-standard portions. The croissants, sticky buns, muffins, and breads were cut in half. The large bagels were sliced in quarters. The quiches would be sliced in 10 rather than 8 pieces. Kim also suggested smaller plates for smaller portions. Drinks accompanying the platters would be half-gallon juice jugs and boxed freshly brewed regular and decaf coffees. All cups, cream, sugar, stirrers, plates, napkins, and utensils were thrown in free. Total cost for brunch: $354.
I was delighted to find Whole Foods Market a 10-minute jog from our motel. I met with Kim 2 days before the wedding to finalize everything. Whole Foods Market is a natural-food person’s dream. At the entrance are bins of fresh organic produce overflowing with fruit and veggies, covered by overhanging roof and colorful parasols. But Whole Foods is not just about produce; it’s about all foods. Wandering through their Monterey store, I found the seafood section, a wide selection of abundance, looking like the fish just jumped out of the ocean 10 minutes ago. Freshness and avoidance of preservatives are priorities. Meats and poultry are guaranteed raised without hormones, antibiotics, or animal by-products. Traditional European-style hearth-baked breads and desserts grace the bakery section. And the cheese and wine sections made me want to have a happy hour right now.
After checking out Lovers Point the day before the wedding, my ex-husband, son, and I stopped at Whole Foods for a bite to eat. Their deli offers a wide selection of wraps, sandwiches, salads, and hot entrees. This store even has a fresh sushi bar. You can enjoy your food and drink seated at tables indoors or outside, as we did.
Whole Foods was born in Austin, Texas, in 1980, expanded into other states in the 1980s, went public (NASDAQ) in 1992, and became international in 2002.
Whole Foods Market
800 Del Monte Center
Monterey, California 93940
Historical digressions: A plaque on a large gray rock announces Don Dahvee Park as a gift to Monterey from the David Jacks estate. "Dahvee" is an approximation of the Spanish pronunciation of David, with the final d almost silent. A Scotish accountant from Crief, north of Edinburgh, Jacks immigrated to America in 1841, at age 19. Though he arrived in Monterey shortly following the Gold Rush in 1850, it was as a businessman and land buyer that he made his fortune.
Unscrupulous land shark or generous benefactor?A controversial figure, he ended up owning 60,000-plus acres of Monterey area land, half of which was the old Pueblo itself, auctioned off for next to nothing—$1002. He was so hated locally that he couldn't go anywhere without bodyguards, and local ranchers, who lost their lands to him, placed a curse on him that "the seeds of his greed would not spread beyond his children." Despite the fact that he and his wife, Maria Soledad, had seven of nine children survive until adulthood, not one of them had children. When his last surviving child, Margaret Jacks, died in 1962, two houses and Don Dahvee Park were gifted to the city of Monterey. Monterey jack cheese is widely credited to have been invented by David Jacks. His 14 dairies in Monterey County distributed and marketed this mild, light-colored cheese. Other cheese historians say that Domingo Pedrazzi of Carmel Valley manufactured it using pressure from a house jack, hence the name. Still others claim that Dona Juana Cota de Boronda manufactured and sold this country-style cheese door-to-door in the area, prior to either Jacks or Pedrazzi. On my walks and jogs through Don Dahvee Park, I encountered the occasional bicyclist and dog walker, as well as other joggers. Taggers have spray-painted gangster-art on the concrete support columns underneath Don Dahvee Lane, where it spans a ravine. In open areas, already yellowing grasses contrast with dark evergreens. Gnarled tree trunks and branches grow leaning in one direction, windblown even in this relatively sheltered inland park. In some areas of the park, the growth is positively lush, with ground cover, flowering bushes, and vines entwining themselves up tree trunks and branches.
The big outdoor shopping mall, Del Monte Center, borders the southeast edge of Don Dahvee Greenbelt, and is easily accessed.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 16, 2006
Don Dahvee Park
Hotel | "Lovers Point"
We selected Lovers Point not only for the obvious reason of its name, but also to honor the memory of my father and Saskia’s grandfather, an amateur photographer and artist in oil painting who loved the Monterey Bay peninsula. Lovers Point Inn was where we’d celebrated his still being alive after he suffered two heart attacks in 1963. He died in 1983, when Saskia was 2 and a half years old.
Whole Foods Market deli and bakery was my choice for brunch items, due to their wide selection, tempting choices, great service, and not unreasonable prices.
I called Pacific Grove Parks and Recreation to find out if we needed a permit or reservation to use Lovers Point—we didn’t. But it can get pretty busy on weekends, so we decided to have Saskia’s Dad and brother get out there early Sunday morning to claim some picnic tables (by spreading them with red covers), while I picked up the brunch from Whole Foods Market.
The wind was brisk that Sunday morning as I drove up to Lovers Point, and I was glad to be wearing a woolen sweater. But hardy peninsula citizens are out in force on the beach and even in the chilling ocean water, brrrrr.
That pesky wind kept trying to blow our table covers off, but at least soon the buffet table was loaded down with a varied assortment of breakfast foods. Sumptuous quiches, smoked salmon, cream cheeses, bagels, crackers, a fruit platter, and many sweet, healthy, and grainy bakery delights provided sufficient choices for the guests, who were just beginning to arrive.
Besides picnic tables on the grassy bluff overlooking the two beaches of Lovers Point, it’s 4.4 acres contained sand volleyball court, children’s swimming pool, concrete pier, restrooms, snack bar, and a restaurant. It was also a good place for diving, surfing, and kayaking. The 29 mile long Monterey Bay Coast Trail runs by Lovers Point, from its point of origin in Marina all the way to Pebble Beach, where it ends at Seal Rock. They have plans to eventually extend the trail to Carmel, across Carmel River, to Point Lobos State Reserve.
West of Lovers Point at Point Pinos, you’ll find the oldest continuously active lighthouse on the West Coast. Point Pinos Lighthouse began operating in 1855 with whale oil lamps. Point Pinos Tidepools are home to many rock-loving sea creatures. Pacific Grove’s tidelands and offshore submerged lands are California’s only fish refuge, Pacific Grove Marine Gardens.
Lovers Point Park
Ocean View Blvd and 17th Street
Pacific Grove, California
Where?The most important decision to be made was the venue, since popular wedding locations are often booked far in advance. Though the couple were to move to Washington in June 2004, the majority of their family and friends reside in California, they’d both been born and raised here, and had graduated from UC Santa Cruz. So they decided to get married somewhere in the Golden State. They began their search in the spring, first online, later by visiting six other popular wedding locales from the SoCal coast to San Francisco. The view at Pebble Beach stole their hearts. It also didn’t hurt that Neal is an avid golfer. Beyond that, childhood memories, nearness to Santa Cruz, and the wonderful customer service provided by resort staff, sold them on the Pebble.
Shopping for a wedding gown was another priority. Since the bride’s gown would determine to a large extent the bridesmaids’ gowns, and the attire for the mothers of the bride and groom. Saskia and I drove to the Bay Area on her first hunt for the perfect wedding dress. Though they all looked great on her, and there were a couple she liked, she wouldn’t find her gown until several shopping trips later with friends, at a trunk sale. Pearl-white, full-length and strapless, subtle beading at the waist, with bustled train. Though Saskia and Neal planned the wedding color scheme to be red and charcoal gray, the color scheme changed to orange-red, orange, and black, due to a lack of charcoal gray present in fashion at the time, and some amazingly inventive floral decorations and bouquets that incorporated red, orange and yellow flowers.
When? Once Pebble Beach was chosen as the venue, Neal and Saskia submitted their preferred wedding dates (six weekend dates, two apiece, in June, July and August 2005). High demand required the request of several desired dates, more than a year ahead in advance. My mother and I were rooting for June 4th, my father’s birthday. Saskia had been the apple of my dad’s eye during the last two years of his life. Sure enough, as if destined to be, June 4th became available for them.
Details: In the Fall, they set up a two-day appointment for sampling and choosing their menu for the reception/dinner and meeting with event coordinator, florist, and baker, and choosing the hair and beauty salon. They also met their wedding photographer for engagement photos. A major plus point of Pebble Beach was the wedding coordinator who came with the package, making hiring a wedding planner unnecessary.
Neal and Saskia selected the readings for their wedding. The first is from The Velveteen Rabbit. John reads the conversation between Rabbit and Skin Horse, describing how being loved is what makes you real. Next, he reads an anonymous poem about love that Saskia found folded up in a book she was looking through in the library, for one of her college classes, only a week after Neal had proposed.
Neal and Saskia prepared words of love for one another, specially for this ceremony. Neither knows what the other has written. John reads what Saskia has written for Neal, then what Neal has written for Saskia. Both express, in different words, their anticipation and excitement about their marriage, their future, and their deep commitment to one another.
As Neal and Saskia take each others’ hands and begin to exchange vows, the sun penetrates through the clouds, gleaming on the bride’s white gown, and glowing red bridesmaids’ dresses, further warming everyone. Following their somewhat, but not altogether traditional vows, which include that they’ll take walks together and play games together, John reads a love sonnet by Pablo Neruda.
It’s now time for the exchange of rings, which Neal has designed himself. The symbolic joining of two lives together is complete, and the bride and groom kiss. Hands down this is the best day I can remember, (from recessional, Hands Down, Dashboard Confessional).
Saskia gets help bustling the train of her gown, as everyone starts off to the reception. She tells me later that a strange thing happened as she and Neal were walking; a gull flying overhead let one fly and suddenly she felt something wet on her shoulder. Apparently this is considered good luck in some cultures. Saskia just felt lucky that it hadn’t landed in her hair or on her dress.
For anyone planning a wedding at Pebble: Saskia and Neal were more than delighted with the excellent service, attention to detail, anticipation of all needs, and high degree of professionalism of staff. Examples: a cheesecake wedding cake was a special creative touch the baker was more than willing to carry out. Though they’re not unheard of, this is a fairly unusual request.
Like a Cinderella tale, transportation magically appeared out of nowhere, at just the right moment. Following group photographs, a golf cart whisked away the elderly folk for whom it would have been difficult to walk from the ceremony to the reception. Groomsmen’s clothes and items were transported from the changing room at the Inn, to the Beach and Tennis Club. Wedding gifts were packed up and brought to the gift room, then packed away again after being opened. A car, or shuttle, was waiting for the newlyweds every time they needed to get from point A to point B.
At the reception at Beach and Tennis Club, signature drinks were provided as an extra treat. When Neal left his dinner to mingle, their server brought him a whole new fresh hot dinner, just as he sat down again. After the cake cutting, bride and groom were immediately handed warm moist washcloths to clean up.
Saskia told me, "I have never had that kind of service in my life and have never seen most of those things at other weddings." Though a Pebble Beach wedding does cost a pretty penny, the packages are very flexible and include a professional wedding coordinator, a tasting, and floral planning. Selection of the wedding date is required a year or more in advance due to the popularity of the Pebble. For Saskia and Neal, and their family and friends who attended this dream-come-true wedding, it was an experience that shall never be forgotten.
Rodeo, New Mexico