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Pebble Beach Peeps

Confession: I am a peeping Tom. No, not the kind who trespasses and creeps up to your window at night. Rather, I love looking at estates and imagining their insides. And there’s no better place to do it than in Pebble Beach where you’ll find re-creations of nearly every architectural style known to mankind. Money is no object to their owners. Or maybe it is THE object!

In fact, I’ve visited many of these mansions during social soirees when I was a society columnist and to interview the rich and famous for other magazine and newspaper stories.

Oh, the opulence! One with a 20-car garage that houses $100,000 restorations of Packards, Duesenbergs, Bugattis, etc. Another all white – inside, outside, furniture, walls, floors, carpets – a tower of building blocks set up to display electrifying modern art. Another wow: a block-long pink stucco hacienda on sweeping green grounds. It also has a Japanese tea house and a fountain surrounded by Grecian statues: loosely garbed women carrying pottery on their hips.

Some of these mansions have underground bowling alleys, spas that would rival any along the Mediterranean and guest homes that make the White House look dingy.

But my favorite is the home that Clint and Maggie Eastwood built: matchsticks and glass tossed together like pick up sticks. The place is in plain sight of a turn-out on the 17-Mile-Drive, but it is so natural that tourists stare straight at it and think they’re just seeing cypress trees.

I know, because I’ve accosted them on occasion while biking and they’ve said, “Wha-a-a? Where? That’s just a bunch of bushes.”

“No, no. Squint a little harder, see? There’s a roof and . . .”

“Oh, yeah, NOW we see it. Wow-w-w! Clint lived there?”

“No lie. And Maggie still does.”
(Forgive me, Maggie, if you’re reading this, but I can’t help myself.)

“And I have been inside,” I add, “and it has a sunken living room, a meditation room, a full bar with pool table; all the floors are heated beneath gorgeous stone, and there are colossal Emile Norman mosaics. The carved redwood front door must be at least 15 feet tall.”

Ah, the look of envy and dumbfoundedness on their faces . . . Sometimes I can’t believe my own life.

However, I mustn’t let it go to my head. Here’s a little ditty to explain (with apologies to Robert Frost):

Whose homes these are
I think I know.
They’re way beyond
My budget, though.

I’d take the one
Big as a hotel.
Or the French mansard
Would do quite well.

But my modest dwelling
With an ocean view,
At least for now
Will have to do . . .

An Inconvenient Conversation

After a long lookie-lou bike ride in Pebble Beach I end up at the Lone Cypress Tree shrine. I dismount and gaze beyond Stillwater Cove (a place where Onassis-sized yachts dock) to the sandy white necklace encircling Carmel Bay. The frigid gunmetal waters below spit at the rocks and send blinding light into my face. I watched Al Gore’s triumphant movie last night and ponder the impact of GW.

Then I meet a Seattleite who ponders it with me.

“We had the largest rain on record last week,” she says.

“Well, we had the coldest day since before I was born,” I counter.

And so it goes . . .

She then drives off in her Bummer (er, Hummer) and I pedal the long path back to my bungalow.



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