Carmel Dreaming on such an Autumn Day

So way back in May I wrote about my trip to Carmel Valley—which was amazing for so many reasons. Good food. Good scenery. Much needed relaxation….but the day before that trip to Carmel Valley I was in Carmel-by-the-Sea –which immediately makes me feel like I was in some sort of fairy tale because  BY THE SEA.

The first blank book I ever bought was at a stationary and paper shop here.  I hadn’t been back to the area since my mom moved away from Salinas back in 2002–so a good long time. Now that it’s windy here in the mountains and leaves are dropping and I’m thinking uh-oh do I have enough wood for winter? I’m thinking back to the last cool fun trip I had before I had the crazy idea to build a library.  Because LIBRARY BUILDING TAKES A LOT OF TIME. Here you can read the article that came out yesterday in Yes! Magazine about it.

I used to want to live in Carmel-by-the-Sea when I was a teen. Even though I’m neither rich nor famous nor the owner of a Saab. So when I got to go on a trip there in May I was so happy and promptly realized that I barely knew it anymore! It had been so long. Too long.

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I stayed at Hofsas House  which was  comfy and cozy and with the nicest staff ever.  It felt like being in a little (but really big) gingerbread house. Must be the pink. My friends and I got to enjoy a great wine and cheese pairing with local wines and cheese supplied  by The Cheese Shop. Without every leaving the hotel we were in complete heaven–because honestly if someone sets out wine and cheese in front of you in a comfortable suite of a room with plenty of girlfriends to dish with–do you even want to leave your room?


I was so blissed out I thought I could shut the door and write the great American novel in there. Only first I needed like five naps.

But eventually it was time to go on a wine tasting. Because more wine. Carmel has this Wine Walk by-the-sea  which is a self-guided tour to local tasting rooms all in a few blocks of each other where you can sample local wines by purchasing a ‘passport.’ There’s 14 wineries in total that participate and fortunately you can stretch the passport out over several days and stagger–I mean walk–back and forth to your hotel at your leisure. I had no idea that many wineries existed in Carmel! Pleasant surprise for the wine drinker.


I took off after drinking a gallon of water off to the beach for awhile. As a mountain person who was born on the coast, I can’t be that close to the water and not stick my feet in the sand. Monterrey County has such a beautiful coast line. You can really see conservation and preservation efforts at work. No one really swims here though except tourists unaware of the dangerous undertow. When my mother lived out here it seemed that they lost a tourist every year. Still it’s good to get your feet wet.

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After that we headed back to Hofsas House and rested up for dinner. I got to walk —have I even mentioned yet how wonderful it is to just park your car once and walk all over the place?!  Anyhow–I got to go to The Grill and little did I know it is my best pal’s favorite restaurants. I wished she was there with me but even though she wasn’t my companion and I had a lovely dinner. I totally need to comeback and take the husband.


I’m already planning a return trip. This time WITH the husband. Although Carmel totally can be a family trip (my mind is scheming to leave kids with cousin in Monterrey. Hmmm…). I think the only thing that I was luke warm on was the art work. Art is of course, subjective. I’m just never one for things that match the couch or are just cute. I want art that changes the universe. I’m a hard woman to please, I suppose. But you know I’m with Orson Welles on that one.

So you know …we woke up to snow. Have to build fires now. Eat soup. Prepare for winter in the mountains. All this to say…Carmel by the sea dreaming on such an almost winter’s day.


A Trip to Carmel Valley, Part 1

Ever not realize until perhaps almost too late that you need to get away?  That’s kind of where I was earlier this month. I needed to go somewhere and not think about long term projects looming over my head. So I headed to Carmel Valley for the first time in at least 16 years. My mother and step father were stationed in Ft. Ord in the late 1980s. And then my mother lived in Salinas for 17 years. So I’m quite familiar (or was) and have quite a few memories of the area.

So…it was a beautiful few days….and while there were a few places long gone that I missed (the paper store in Carmel-by-the-Sea was the first place I ever bought blank books back when I was 16), I embraced the new and the newly rediscovered.

My companions and I had a lovely time exploring Holman Ranch. How could we not? Beautiful weather, beautiful walking.

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And wine tasting. Oh my goodness. Is there anything better than drinking wine in the middle of a week day afternoon? The height of decadence really. Here’s Nick at Holman Ranch offering up some of their finest.


Here we are in the Holman Ranch wine cave. We did eventually leave the cave but I was happy there. Taking notes on which ones we liked so we could hit the tasting room on Carmel Valley Road on the way out.




Apparently the state’s oldest swimming pool. Six feet in the shallow end. I liked to think about how Charlie Chaplin used to hang here frequently.


And then I fell in love with the Hacienda on the premises and just wanted to stay forever and re-read A Hundred Years of Solitude in a corner with wine. Perhaps some coffee and chocolate. No wait. Mole. On everything. I’m a sucker for inner courtyards.

IMG_20160516_173033floorozHow could you not want to go beyond the door?

and yes, I know I’m not Catholic anymore. (Catholic free? Well one is never really Catholic free) but the hacienda at Holman’s Ranch was exquisitely beautiful and peaceful.


…and more wine. It’s estate wine  you know—grapes used are strictly just what grows on the property itself.


At long last we settled into our rooms. And yes. I have a thing for tile. Can I live in the shower, please?


Holman Ranch just had an amazing relaxing effect on me. I savored and enjoyed every minute of it.  I loved knowing that silent film stars used to roam about the grounds. As anyone who knows me knows—I’m all about the silent film era–well vintage everything really. Part of me just wants fashion to end at about 1964. Glad I also was able to break out the new bathing suit, retro in itself , to hang out at the Holman Ranch.


It goes without saying that I want to come back. Holman Ranch guest cabins and rooms are available through either joining their wine club or by hosting and attending a private or corporate event. So please. Someone have something there again soon and invite me. Just deliciously relaxing.

Do I have to come home?