...... previous day next day ......
Pescadero Creek Monterey

4th August 2010

A Day Fixing the Brakes Followed by The 17 Mile Drive Around World Famous Golf Courses

    After eating breakfast humbly under the towering redwoods, I headed south towards Monterey to find a garage. Monterey was my next planned stopping off point, and I just wanted to get to the bottom of the brake problem I was experiencing. It was a long, tedious journey, the latter stages passing through an agricultural plain full of Mexicans hand harvesting strawberries.
    There were two garages on the way into the town, one I didn't like the look of, so I chose the other. I explained to the owner that I thought that the pads and/or linings needed replacing, and that this could also be causing the ABS warning lamp to come on and stay on. "We'll jack it up and take the wheels and drums off for a free inspection", he said.
    As expected, the front pads were worn almost through. The rear linings had plenty of wear left in them but were cracked. Then came the quote, $485! My jaw dented the garage floor. I managed to re-engage it and ask why the high cost. The chap rattled off the prices for pads, linings, machining and labour. "What machining?", I asked. "To machine down the disks and drums", was the response. I went and ran my fingers over the disks and drums, and as far as I was concerned, they were fine, and I told him so. The cost now dropped to $245 which I quickly pointed out was extortionate. "You're welcome to buy the parts and do them yourself", he quickly retorted. Being 8,000 miles from my tools didn't help, and since I didn't want to traipse around town getting cheaper quotes, I gave the go ahead to proceed.
    The job took longer than anticipated since the bloke who delivered the parts had screwed up on the linings and had to make a repeat delivery.
    While all this was going on, I discussed with the owner that I was intending the sell the vehicle at the end of the month, and asked for his opinion on the asking price. He didn't know enough about them to comment, but did say that vans were sought after in California, not just by families, but by trades people because of the sliding side door. He gave me a trade magazine which contained, for sale, a few second hand vans of the same make, hoping that that might give me some ball park figures.
    When the job was completed, the mechanic took the van for a test drive, and returned to say that there appeared to be a wobble perhaps due to a distorted wheel (I knew about the wobble but had learned to live with it), and the brake pressure would drop over time. Considering some of the horrific unpaved roads I had had to drive over, I was surprised only one wheel was distorted. I said I only wanted 2,000 more miles and just over three weeks out of it, so I would live with the remaining faults.
    I paid up and left, and drove up to a campsite at the Veterans Memorial Park on a hill overlooking the town. It was pleasing to see that the ABS lamp stayed out now. Once I had a pitch sorted out for the night, it was late afternoon, but I still had time to do some exploring.
    120 miles south of San Francisco, the Monterey Peninsula was the gateway to the US's most beautiful coastline, the Big Sur. The peninsula had a spectacular coastline, best explored via a toll road, the 17 Mile Drive. This was a marked out route around Pebble Beach, an area on the Monterey Peninsula, not just a beach. The road offered superb views of crashing surf, coastal flora and the Del Monte Forest.
    Pebble Beach was internationally renowned as the No. 1 golf resort in the world. Built amid the 5,000 acre Del Monte Forest on the peninsula, Pebble Beach was home to eight golf courses, four of which were ranked among the top 100 in America. These courses had hosted hundreds of top amateur championships; more than 70 PGA, LPGA, and Champions Tour professional tournaments; 15 USGA events; and an interesting array of exhibitions.
Huckleberry Bushes
Huckleberry Flowers
    Needless to say, the 17 Mile Drive wound its way past some of the golf courses. As I toured around, my first pull in point was the Shepherd's Knoll overlook, peering out over Monterey Bay and the Santa Cruz mountains, today enveloped in fog. I had much better luck further on at Huckleberry Hill, so named because of its abundance of native huckleberry bushes on the highest point in the forest. According to some polite, helpful teenage lads nearby, the small berries only appeared at springtime. From there I wound my way down to the sea.

Brandt's Cormorants on the Rocks
    Where the drive joined the coast at Spanish Bay, the sands were a light buff colour, and stretched around a graceful curve along the bay; an ideal place for a stroll. However, within 200m the coastline changed dramatically to rocky granite outcrops, with football field sized giant kelp beds carpeting the sea. This was the domain of Brandt's Cormorants, perched on rocks, and occasionally flying in twos and threes a few feet above the water.
Ice Plant
    Areas of the shore were blanketed by ice plant with its spear-shaped leaves and colourful flowers, also known as the hottentot fig. This plant wasn't native to the area, but was introduced in the 1600s, arriving from Africa as a ship "stowaway". Today, gardeners used it as ground cover and to control erosion.
    One of the golf courses actually had a teeing off point amongst the rocks on this northern edge of the peninsula, with the green similarly sitting right by the sea.

Teeing off Amongst the Rocks
The Far Green by the Shore
Monterey Peninsula Flora
More Monterey Peninsula Flora
And More Monterey Peninsula Flora
Bird Rock Teeming with Sea Birds, Sea Lions and Seals and Stinking of Guano Despite the Distance
    Just off the shore lay Carmel Canyon, an arm of the 10,000' deep Monterey Canyon. In spring and summer, deep, cold, fertile waters welled up, feeding the area's marine life. Monterey Bay's amazing variety of life depended on this upwelling. Because of the Monterey Canyon and its supported life, in 1992 these coastal waters became a sanctuary, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Its goal was to sustain the resources and beauty that made these waters and shores unique.
    Further down the peninsula lay Cypress Point, where I was surrounded by Monterey cypress trees, from which the point derived its name. When it was first discovered this species was near extinction. It occurred naturally in only two places, from here to nearby Prescadero Point, and at Point Lobos, south of Carmel. They can reach 70', and live about 300 years. Today, Monterey cypress have been planted worldwide, usually near coastlines.
Monterey Cypress
The Lone Cypress
    Not far from Cypress Point was The Lone Cypress. As one of California's most enduring landmarks, The Lone Cypress had prevailed on its rocky perch for over 250 years and was a testament to the hardiness of these trees. It had withstood Pacific storms and winds. This icon of fortitude had inspired many and was revered as the eternal symbol of Pebble Beach Company.
    Towards the end of the drive, I came to the Lodge at Pebble Beach. Built in 1919, The Lodge was the heart and soul of Pebble Beach Golf Links. It was a rather splendid place, with doormen dressed in old fashioned golf wear. The club was open to the public, and when I went up to the doors,
Ghost Tree - Dead Cypresses
the doormen duly opened them for me, and I was bowled over with the view. At the far end of the Lodge were enormous windows, through which from where I was standing, I could see right across Carmel Bay. I entered and went through, and then looked down on the 18th fairway and hole. I am not a golfer but I knew I was on hallowed ground.
The Lodge Doors
    I was talking to a chap who was a golfer, and he told me that average fees around the US for a round of golf were $50-80. Here you would be expected to pay in the region of $500 per round.
18th Fairway and Hole
    I ended the 17 mile loop and dropped down into Monterey, where I had short walk through the town. It was dusk, so I didn't exert myself. I sauntered down to the sea front and came out by the Custom
Custom House
    The Custom House was the oldest government building in California. From 1822 through 1846, Monterey was both the capital city and primary port of entry for Alta California. Cargos of "everything under the sun" were brought ashore and assess at the Custom House.
    On 7th July, 1846, during the Mexican-American War, US military forces raised the "Stars and Stripes" at the Custom House, marking the end of the Mexican era and the beginning of the American era in California.
    The building was used for customs operations by the American government until 1858. Today, the building looked much as it did when it was a Mexican government facility (1822-1846).
    Opposite the Custom House in front of Fisherman's Wharf was a large rock in the sea covered in seals. When I got to the sea wall and looked down below me, dozens of seals were congregating on the beach.
Seals Snoozing on the Beach
Cheeky Chappie
    The next logical hop was to Fisherman's Wharf, a smaller version of Pier 39 in San Francisco. I wandered up through it, and decided to let the boat out and treat myself to some fish, Alaskan Sockeye Salmon which I last had in Seattle a long time ago. It was lovely to be eating fish again, and a tasty meal it was too.
    After my meal, I could feel the cold fog biting into my bones; it was time to head back to camp.
...... previous day next day ......
Pescadero Creek Monterey

Uploaded from Crepe Cafe, Avarado Street, Monterey on 05/08/10 at 10:00

Last updated 16.4.2012