So I'm spoiled. We're staying in a gorgeous hotel in Carmel, California with a King Size bed, a tub that could moonlight as a swimming pool, and windows that open into a European courtyard with pale green shutters and window boxes overflowing with red flowers. There are no screens in the windows because there are no bugs. Just a fountain and chairs perfect for sitting and sipping a cup of coffee or glass of wine.
I woke up this morning and ate a delicious breakfast with what may well have been the best coffee I've ever had (and this from a girl who learned to like it in the cafes of Rome and would choose her Keurig coffeemaker as one of the three items she would rescue from a burning building) before seeing Mike off for his round of golf in our rented obnoxiously blue Mustang.
I shuffled through the paper before lacing up my sneakers and sticking $20, a credit card, and my room key in my pocket. Then I took off, first for Mission Ranch, the property owned by Clint Eastwood that bills itslelf as one of the most beautiful places on the Monterey penninsula. I couldn't help but feel like I was tresspassing, about to be billed as a crazed fan of Mrs. Eastwood and Company. It was pretty though, complete with tennis courts and little white cottages, and a restaurant with a sing along piano bar Monday through Saturday.
From I ventured up the road to Carmel Mission, and then back toward town and down to the beach.
The beach is so different from the Jersey Shore I grew up with. Cliffs and tree covered hills surround one end with a hundred lush shades of green on the Pebble Beach golf corse on the other. I ran along the water line my neon Nike sneakers such a stark contrast to all of the natural beauty around me. My feet played tag with the waves, as I weaved in and out of barking dogs sprinting down the beach after tennis balls real or imagined. Children chased after them, their free-spirited laughter so genuine that it sounds like music. There are a couple of "serious" runners sprinkled in, mouths clenched in a straight line as if to threaten the sand, to say, "I will finish you, you will not defeat me." Today, I am not one of those runners. I'm the one who can't stop smiling, who greets every dog and seagull and has to stop every five seconds to take yet another picture.
And now I'm sitting here, typing this on my Blackberry, sitting in the sand and watching two labs chase each other in and out of the water, bounding after a ball as it bobs over the waves. I got to wave hello to Mike on the golf course and snap a few photos of him along the way. The breeze is strong enough to make me welcome the sun that covers my shoulders like a warm blanket. The air smells like salt and seaweed. It's my own little heaven, if only I could transport everyone I love here with me.