Over the last several years, with my son, Joshua,
attending the University of California in Santa
Cruz, I often found myself in transit along Highway
1, passing by or through the Monterrey Peninsula.
And though my usual destination was Santa Cruz,
the beauty of Monterrey Bay often made me slow
my travel and stay there in places like Carmel-by-the-Sea
and the Carmel Valley.
When you travel near Monterrey, you'll see signs
on the highway or in the towns advertising "The
Seventeen Mile Drive." This route traverses
Monterrey and its Cannery Row, passes the world
class golf courses of Pebble Beach, Spanish Bay,
and Spyglass Hill, cruises the coast road by Carmel
and inland past the Carmel Mission, and finally
navigates to the vistas at Point Lobos State Park.
Because it was so scenic, it was created as a
toll road in 1881, one of the first paved roadways
in California, with horse drawn wagons and carriages
shuttling tourists through the wooded coastal
roads and along the rocky shores of the peninsula.
The "Seventeen Mile Drive" is still
one of the most scenic stretches of roadway in
During my last visit to the peninsula, I stayed
in Pacific Grove in The Martine Inn (800-852-5588,
double room $170). The pink stucco façade of the
inn is not particularly picturesque but it sits
before the most picturesque portion of the "Seventeen
Mile Drive" before the arch of a bay with
views that extend to Santa Cruz. The Inn is on
Ocean View Boulevard. Step out across the street
and trek along a sandy walking path or ride the
beachfront bikepath along a picture postcard shoreline
with cypress trees sculpted by ocean winds and
craggy coves whose rocks dip into the sea in surreal
reptilian contours. A short walk to the west is
Lover's Point. On the weekend in June that we
stayed at the Martine, newlyweds were lined up
for their pictorials under the great bent cypress
tree on the seaside cliff. Walk a few blocks to
the east and you'll find Cannery Row with Monterrey's
famous aquarium and a collection of restaurants
and interesting shops. The pleasure of the walk
in the mornings and evenings makes a room in the
Martine worth the price. But it offers more.
The quaint bed and breakfast has 27 rooms, each
with a private bath, a different theme, and unique
and authentic antique furnishings. There's a brass
room, an art deco room, and rooms styled with
1840's "Empire," 1860's "Chippendale,"
1870's "Eastlake," and more types of
antique furnishings. Built in the 1890's, it was
once the residence of the Parke family, founders
of the pharmaceutical company. It has been a bed
and breakfast for 20 years filled with antique
décor by its owner and avid collector, Don Martine.
Martine's taste in antiques does not end in furnishings.
Behind the garden patio, you'll find his collection
of vintage MG sports cars. You can play pool on
an antique table or pull the handle on an old-fashioned
slot machine (and maybe win) in the game room.
You can sit in the library, browse through a collection
of old Life magazines, or listen to tunes on a
1923 baby grand player piano. There's plenty of
room for either privacy or cameraderie. Wine and
hors d'oevres are served in the parlor in the
evening. Breakfast is actually served, not buffet,
on tables set with lace, linen, and crystal, on
old Sheffield silver and Victorian china before
a view of the bay. Besides magnificent scenery
and the elegance of wonderful antiques, the Martine
Inn provided gracious hospitality.
I have had the joy this year of watching my son
graduate from U.C. Santa Cruz. The misfortune
is that now I'll have to find another excuse to
visit the Monterrey Peninsula and take that 250
mile "Seventeen Mile Drive."