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Breathtaking Carmel Meadows

The view from the boulders at the trailhead here is stupefying. From a vantage point about 50 feet above, the sun makes Carmel Bay a blinding sheet of corrugated metal and the sky is a palette for wispy brush-stroked clouds. On your left is Point Lobos, sticking its wolf-shaped peninsula into the water. And, on the right, Carmel River has etched another landscape through the beach.

I descend the narrow trail feeling exhilarated. Lupine is a breath away and molten gold poppies are just beginning to unfurl in the verdant hillsides. I stoop to stroke the pollen-dusted satiny petals, making note not to stick my fingers up my nose afterward.
Compact cottontails leap into the thicket; and a snake, lazing in the sun on the powdery path, slithers away as I approach.

Ocean waves, opulent in every shade of sapphire and emerald, strike like tambourines. Have I died and gone to heaven?

And then I notice a woman jogging, her unleashed Chihuahua running alongside.

ďIím taking my power walk, at the moment,Ē she says loudly into her cell phone.

How can people wear earplugs and talk on cell phones, blocking out the sounds of crashing waves and the echoes of seagullís calls?

I simply cannot abide this behavior.

As I make my way along the trail, lined with mounds of yellow mustard plant, I look up to the old wooden cross erected, Iím told, so that early navigators could find the Monterey Peninsula. When I reach the cross I always stand on the metal bench mark inscribed with the year of my birth: 1949.

People leave offerings here: flowers, beads, bits of polished glass or shells. I have come here to remember my mother because, on her deathbed, one of the songs she most favored was ďThe Old Rugged Cross.Ē

In the river below, gleaming mallards and their brown sparrow drakes float placidly in the murky water. On weekends, parents lounge on Carmel River State Beach and watch their kids take running leaps down the sides of the sand banks and plunge, giggling, into the shallows.

After feasting on the views and inhaling enough sea air, I head back to the trailhead but take stairs up the side of the hill where mansions sit like eagles on their nests.

Nature lover that I am, I also appreciate architecture. And several of these homes speak to my soul; in particular, a concrete and aqua-tinted glass fortress that soars over the cliff. Its roof is at street level and is covered with neat tufts of grass - ultra modern and environmentally correct.

As always, I leave when a setting sun spills its egg yolk over the pink ocean, and I feel as if Iíve had a vacation in a distant land . . .
If you decide to visit, take Highway One and shortly after you cross Carmel River you will see a small sign on the right: Ribera Canyon Road. Take it to the very end where the park trail starts, be considerate of all beings that live there, and enjoy!



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