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Barry Pollack's "Going Places"

The Martine Inn, Pacific Grove

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 the world.
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."