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