California's 17-Mile Drive and Carmel: The Idyllic Reserve of the Rich

    Written by: Farheen Abdullah and Dr Dushka H Saiyid
    Posted on: October 16, 2015 | Post your comment here Comments | 中文

    A house near the 17-Mile Drive - California 17-Mile Drive and Carmel

    A house near the 17-Mile Drive

    When one thinks of California, the images of people bathing in the sun, hanging out at bars and enjoying roller-coaster rides immediately flood one’s mind. Tourist attractions like Universal Studios, the Golden Gate Bridge and Disney Land (a hot favorite with the kids) often top the list when one plans a Californian vacation.

    However, two highlights on Route 1, the coastal highway that hugs the Pacific Ocean and runs north to south along the state of California, are the 17-mile Drive and the town of Carmel. The 17-Mile drive is a scenic diversion in the Monterey Peninsula, whose exclusivity is ensured by having to pay a toll just for the privilege of driving through it. It gives the traveler an opportunity to pass through Pebble Beach, a private resort and residential area, made famous by the Pebble Beach AT&T Pro Am, where the golf pros team up with celebrities from the entertainment, business and political worlds and raise funds for charities. Clinton and Kevin Costner can be seen rubbing shoulders with Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. Interestingly, the media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, held his annual News Corporation convention here at Pebble Beach in 2006, with Blair as the keynote speaker, a misalliance between western media and politicians that contributed to the successful devastation of Iraq.

    California's 17-Mile Drive and Carmel

    This 17-Mile drive consists of 21 points of interest: spots for tourists to get out of their vehicles and admire the beauty around them, while clicking pictures to try and preserve the breathtaking views. Starting from the Shepherd’s Knoll, which gives a full view of Monterey Bay and the Santa Cruz mountains, the drive goes on to Huckleberry Hill – one of the highest points in the forest, full of native huckleberry bushes. A couple of miles ahead, one finds the Inn and Links at Spanish Bay, which were built in 1987 by the Pebble Beach Company. Providing an open view of the beach, the Inn has a restaurant that serves Hawaiian cuisine, as well as a gift shop that enables tourists to purchase souvenirs and other collectibles.

    At the next stop, tourists witness a unique offshore turbulence generated by the waves, as the rocks of the Restless Sea and Point Joe submerge into one another. The tenth resort along the beach is the Bird Rock, which gives a unique view of grand sea rocks covered with countless harbor seals and sea lions, while the ground is covered by pure white sand. On rare occasions, sea otters can also be spotted along the rocks, which were believed to have been extinct from California back in the 1800s. The Lone Cypress and the Ghost Tree (with a trunk that has turned white due to the wind), continue to be among California’s most ancient landmarks, known to have prevailed for more than 250 years.  

    The Ghost Tree

    The Ghost Tree

    In addition to the majestic vistas, various other attractions await the tourists of Pebble Beach – the most engaging one being The Lodge, which resides at the heart of the beach. Constructed in 1919, the Lodge serves as a pathway to the Pebble Beach Golf Links that have hosted five U.S. Open Championships, and have been ranked as the best American Public Golf Course by Golf Digest. Food and drinks also welcome the visitors of the Lodge at the Stillwater Bar & Grill and the Gallery Café. For those who simply wish to relax and unwind, the Terrace Lounge presents a peaceful environment with stunning views from the windows, along with a spa, which attends to the personal needs of individuals.

    The drive ends near Carmel-by-the-Sea, a quaint and beautiful town with strict by-laws to ensure its serenity and aesthetics with no billboards, neon signs or high rises. Clint Eastwood, a resident of Carmel, was its mayor for a term of two years in the 80s, and further improved its artistic and bohemian character. Carmel features in one of his lesser-known films, Play Misty for Me, which has Roberta Flack’s classic “ The first time ever I saw your face”.

    'The first time ever I saw your face' by Roberta Flack

    If you can tear yourself away from the flood of art galleries, boutique shops and little restaurants tucked away into side streets with cascading flowers, then the Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo is not to be missed since it's so close to Carmel.

    California became the northernmost colony of the Spanish in the Americas.  The government of Spain in cooperation with the Catholic Church established a string of 20 odd missions between 1769 and 1833, with the specific purpose of spreading Christianity amongst the Native Americans and facilitating colonization. The negative consequences of these waves of immigrant Europeans on the culture and civilization of the Native Americans is well documented elsewhere, but this mission, which is still active as a parish, provides a glimpse into the eighteenth century world of Spanish colonialism with its well-preserved building, artifacts and pictures. 

    The Sun State, as it has been traditionally referred to, has a great deal to offer. This was just a small slice of the Monterey Bay area.

    You may also like: