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A Day on the 17-Mile Drive

The gate through which we entered the 17-Mile Drive was the nearest one to Monterey, and is called the Pacific Grove Gate. The twisty roadway winds through the spectacular Del Monte Forest and poses such scene as to draw out a litany of superlatives. Bounded by the wave-scrubbed Pacific, around each curve is a magnificent scene as land and sea meet in premiere exchange.

They say it is the most photographed tree in the world, and it is considered so precious that it is now guarded by a fence. No longer may casual visitors approach the Cypress tree which for centuries has stood in defiance of storm and raging sea. Understandable, but a bit of disappointment, for Don and Abby on their honeymoon had carved in their initials on the ancient Cypress, and it would have been fun to try to find those marks.

It is golf, though, that commands the area now.

The crown jewel of the golf world, Pebble Beach first shimmered with the completion of the Pebble Beach championship golf course in 1918. The Monterey Peninsula Country Club and Cypress Point Golf Club soon followed. More recently, Pebble Beach Resorts developed The Links at The Inn at Spanish Bay.

We prowled around the grounds, did a bit of window-shopping, then because we were thirsty, and had seen a deli down the way, we walked down to the market, where we drank cokes and ate snacks.

Others were hungry, as well. At one of our stops, from Abby’s well-stocked snack bag came chips for the squirrels. Soaring and swooping birds were prevalent, and numerous sea lions lay about.

At a hard lean toward the land, Cypress trees abound, their shapes testimony to fierce prevailing winds. Immense mansions line the highway, their windows and doors strategically perched for splendid view of the sea and its bounty.

It’s an ancient, somewhat mysterious land. The brochure handed to us at the gate gives a brief history.

Before the automobile had become a way of life, 17-Mile Drive was navigated by horse-drawn carriages from the famous Hotel Del Monte, now the site of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. It was 1881 and excursions through the Del Monte Forest and along its spectacular coastline usually ended up at a picnic spot at Pebble Beach. A couple of landmark dates in the rich history of Pebble Beach are:

1602–Spanish explorers discover and map Monterey Peninsula.

1880–Hotel Del Monte opens and buys the Del Monte Forest Land.

We finished up the drive, roamed around the streets of Carmel for awhile, then headed back to Monterey. We were hungry and would have dinner there.