22.2 mi / 8.7 mph / 1465 ft. climbing
Home: Veterans Memorial Park hiker/biker campsite
Another camper joined us in the dark late last night. “hiker” + “local” + “arrived in the dark” are elements sorting him on the “other” side of the line, but “young” + “ate breakfast at the table” + “talked with us” put him on the “similar to us” side. See, it’s frustratingly difficult to sort everyone into a neatly defined box.
Anyway, today we’d be taking the bikes down the hill with us, to ride 17 Mile Drive. But first we hit the Cyber Sudz Laundromat, the finest laundromat we’ve been to. The main feature was an attentive attendant (I’d never seen even an inattentive attendant at any other laundromat), who would start the machines, provide detergent, and generally made sure everyone got what they needed. We were able to walk up and down the main drag of Pacific Grove during the wash cycle, while some sort of drying-is-free Tuesday special meant that we were out the door for $4.75. Amazing!
The laundromat location also put us in a perfect spot to stop by the Monarch butterfly wintering area before hitting the shore. Just a block-long section of trees tucked between some motels in a residential area, it was pretty incredible to see a sudden density of butterflies, most stuck to the branches, but with enough flitting about to make it obvious you were in a special, very-localized place that the butterflies have made their home for a long time.
Then it was down to 17 Mile Drive, a private road through the large gated community of Pebble Beach. In another bike-touring deal, it costs cars $10.75 to drive it, but bikes are free. Back when I would visit my grandpa as a kid, he’d always have golf on the TV, so I heard a lot about Pebble Beach, knew it was some sort of fantastic, picturesque golf course, but until the last couple days, could not have told you where it was located. Well, now I know. It’s on the Monterey Peninsula in California. $575 to play a round seems a bit steep.
The drive was filled with “wows”, from the deep blue water that formed a sharp line on the horizon, to the iconic Monterey pines on the shore and the golf courses, to the $40M mansions spotted from the road.
At the south end of the counterclockwise loop, we exited to visit Carmel-By-the-Sea, mainly to go to another Alvarado Street Brewery location (this one carrying their excellent “Yeast of Eden” mixed fermentation beers that we’d hoped for yesterday). But as we pushed the bikes up the steep hill of the main tourist strip, we discovered that the whole town is awash in our beloved Storybook/fairy-tale/Renaissance Faire architecture. I’ve done a good bit of research over the years into finding Storybook houses for us to visit, so it was simultaneously embarrassing and exciting to stumble across a whole town of them without even realizing it. At lunch I was able to do some of that research, and mapped out at short walking tour through a residential area.
We grabbed groceries and dinner sandwiches at the super-expensive local market, got back onto 17 Mile Drive, and then had a crazy hill with some confusing/dangerous intersections to climb in the near dark back to the campground, that understandably psyched Rett out. Until she responded to her fear with anger, which generally isn’t my preferred move, but there are times like this when it is definitely the best reaction! And I think even she might say in retrospect that spending that extra time in Carmel was worth the trade.