Can you say CABIN FEVER!!! We usually try to get south this time of year. Winter can be lovely up here, with the white fluffy snow, and all, but it can also feel like an eternity. With me still recovering from shoulder surgery, and both of us having our hips replaced soon, we are here for the duration.
My pasty white skin is getting pastier and my butt has grown by leaps and bounds from couch-potatoitis. If I watch another downhill skier, bob-sledder, or ice dancer, my therapeutic squeeze ball is going through our 65-inch Sony.
So, what does one do to overcome the winter blahs. There’s $5 Tuesday at the movies with free popcorn. That’s nice, if you can find a movie you really like. I’ve even agreed to see the new animated Peter Rabbit. Friday night fish-fries are a huge event in Wisconsin. Absolutely every corner bar, restaurant and VFW post touts the best cod, haddock or perch fry in the state.
So, those two events take care of about 4hrs. of boredom. Not enough. Oh yea, I get to go to therapy twice a week. Nothing like having sadistic, muscular, young women push an old codger to his limits. I just want to ride in a car with the window open, golf again, or wear shorts.
Cocktails are nice. Did you know that Wisconsinites consume more Brandy than all the other 49 states put together? It’s true. Look it up. I’m proud to be on the list. 5:30 around these parts; meaning my living room, is happy hour. You can find us toasting to Lester Holt and Alex Trebeck almost every evening. Make it a true daily double Alex.
We’re going out to dinner tonight with our good friends before they leave for 4 weeks in Florida on Friday. Just kick me in the stomach! I hope they have a wonderful time. Don’t forget to write from your poolside villa. Oh, and I’ve been reading the travel blog of other friends, who are in Australia and New Zealand. Ouch!
Hold on, something strange is happening, I am looking out my window, where a golf course is supposed to be. It wasn’t there a moment ago, but something bright has appeared. Is that the sun? Has old Sol finally come back for a visit. Hooray. I’m saved.
Forget what I said earlier. I’m going for a walk.
How about a funny in honor of cabin fever?
Bob had been in the software business for 30 years. Finally, sick of the stress, he retires from his job and buys 50 acres of land in the Yukon as far from humanity as possible. He sees the postman once a week and gets groceries once a month. Otherwise, it’s total peace and quiet.
After six months or so, of almost total isolation, someone knocks on his door. He opens it, and a huge bearded man is standing there.
“Name’s John, your neighbor from forty miles up the road. Having a Christmas party Friday night. Thought you might want to come. About 5:00.”
“Great, says Bob, “after six months out here, I’m ready to meet some local folks. Thank you.”
As John is leaving, he stops.
“Gotta warn ya… be some drinkin’.”
“Not a problem” says Bob. “After 30 years in the business, I can drink with the best of them.”
Again, the big man starts to leave and stops.
“More than likely gonna be some fightin’ too.”
“Well, I get along with people. I’ll be alright. I’ll be there. Thanks again.”
“More’n likely be some wild sex too.”
“Now, that’s really not a problem.” Says Bob, warming to the idea.
“I’ve been all alone for six months! I’ll definitely be there. By the way, what should I wear?”
“Don’t matter much…. Just gonna be the two of us.”
And now, the next chapter of my retirement trip:
Down the Coast
We awoke early and packed up. Tom and Karen were taking us out for breakfast at a local eatery called 1428 Haight Patio Cafés Crepery. It was a trendy, indoor-outdoor restaurant, with an endless menu.
I’m usually not to experimental with my breakfast, especially in lieu of the fact that we were getting on the road right after we ate. I ordered the skillet of roasted-red potatoes with a sunny-side up egg on top, a side of sausage links, fresh squeezed O.J. and coffee.
Dar, of course is way more adventurous than I. She had the crab cake benedict and French toast with crispy plantain strips on top. Why not, when in S.F. go for the food.
We went over our trip for the day with Tom. He was extremely knowledgeable of what to expect traffic-wise and knew the best places to stop along the Pacific Coast Highway. When we laid out our plan, he thought it was a bit ambitious.
We wanted to hit Santa Cruz, do the 17-mile ride in Monterey, Carmel-by-the-sea, the Hearst Castle in San Simean, and spend the night in Cambria. That was about 270 miles, and would take a good 5 and 1/2 hours, with no stops. It was also Sunday, so the locals would be cruising the coast, in addition to tourists.
Tom suggested, saving the Hearst castle tour for Monday. If we spent about an hour on the Santa Cruz boardwalk, did the Monterey Bay drive, with a stop at Pebble Beach, and had lunch in Carmel, we could make it to Cambria before dark. That sounded great to us, so we adjusted our plan.
I picked up the check and our hosts drove us back to our car. After some goodbye hugs, we were, once again on the road headed south. It was about 9:30 when we started out.
Dar took the first leg as usual. Tom was spot on with the traffic. It was slow going for the stretch to Santa Cruz, but the views of the Pacific Ocean were fabulous. I had always wanted to drive the PCH. I, of course, had pictured myself in a red Ferrari convertible wearing Armani shades, soft leather driving gloves, doing well over the speed limit, and waving at the peasants along the way. However, chugging along at 45 mph in a Jeep Liberty would have to do.
It took us almost 2 hrs. to get to Santa Cruz. Parking was not easy, as the perfect weather had brought out the entire population. Luckily Dar had her handicap sticker, from when she was recovering from knee surgery, so we found a spot across from the amusement park entrance. She still had some difficulty walking, so guilt was not an issue.
The long wharf, with eateries and shops, stretched into Monterey Bay. The boardwalk had been there forever. Some of the vintage rides included the 1911 Looff Carousel and the Giant Dipper roller coaster. We weren’t into roller coasters anymore. The last one I rode was the historic Cyclone, at Coney Island N.Y. several years ago. Luckily it was a mild ride, because It took two attendants to push the shoulder harness closed, and I could barely breath.
We love people watching, so, were quite happy to stroll along at a relaxing pace as we took in the sites. We found an umbrellaed table next to a small ice cream stand. We had a couple waffle cones of vanilla, and, realized how lucky we were to live in Wisconsin with access to real custard.
As we started to head back to the parking lot, I spotted the bumper cars. Now, that seemed doable.
“Wanna try the bumpers?” I asked Dar.
“Oh, what the hell, why not.” she said.
As we stood in line we noticed twin little boys just in front of us. They looked to be about 6 or 7 years old. Dar found them adorable and thought it would be fun to tease them a bit.
“Do you boys have driver’s licenses? The man behind me is a mean policeman and will arrest you if you don’t.” she said pointing at me.
The boys were way to savvy, as one of them asked me to show them my badge.
“I don’t need no stinking badge, I am the federally.” I said in my best Eli Wallach accent.
“Who are Fred and alley?” said the other boy.
It was hard to keep a straight face, so Dar chimed in.
I’ll tell you what. If you can tell me who the President of the United States is, I’ll ask him to let you ride without a driver’s license.”
They both smiled and yelled, “Barack Obama, everyone knows that.”
“Okay, you can ride,” I said, “but don’t bump me, I’m old.”
The line began to move, and we got into our cars.
I could barely fit, as my knees were jammed against the steering wheel. Dar seemed okay, as we started out slowly around the perimeter of the course. We were happy just putt-putting along.
As I looked left, I saw two cars barreling for me. BAM! Yep, the twins. They were out to get me. Dar was to my right and had witnessed the unprovoked attack. Game on.
She spun her car around in a 180 and plowed into one of the boys, as I laughed and went after the other. BAM! He came out of nowhere and clobbered me from behind. BAM, twin number two was pushing me from the side, and pinned me against the wall.
I looked to my left and heard, “Geronimo”, as Dar came at them full speed, but they were able to dodge her as she screamed and almost ran me out of the venue.
We both started laughing uncontrollably, like fiends, as we turned our cars around and headed straight for the cute little imps. We had them cornered, and were just about to smash them, when the power went out of our cars. The ride was over. Rats!
We congratulated the boys on a fun ride but cautioned them to never cross our paths again or I would throw them in the pokey. They laughed but gave me a strange look. I hope they knew I was kidding. Oh well, I’m sure they will remember the two old goats at the amusement park.
We left Santa Cruz, headed for Monterey Bay. It looked to be about a 40-minute drive. This leg was extremely exciting to me. We were going to stop at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Yes, the one in my dream sequence from the last chapter.
We arrived in Monterey around 12:30. We were headed for the famous 17-mile drive along the coast but made one stop at Pacific Grove. There was a small restaurant there, and next to it was the famous, over-photographed, lone cypress tree over-looking the ocean. Of course, we took some snaps.
We felt a bit hungry but didn’t want to spoil our anticipated lunch in Carmel, so, we split an order of fried shrimp and onion rings to tide us over. They wrapped it up in a to-go container, and we ate it while gazing at the lovely scenery.
As we approached the 17-mile drive, we encountered a toll gate. This is a privately-owned area, so they charge $10.25 for the opportunity to drive it. I finally got my first view of Pebble Beach. It did not disappoint.
We pulled in and parked in the pro shop parking lot. Dar waited in the car at first, while I bought a golf cap and tee shirt. When I arrived back at the car we decided to check out the grounds. We strolled past some small shops and stopped briefly at the putting green for a picture.
Across from the putting area was “The Lodge”. This is the building that houses the locker room. It’s not just any locker room. The name plate on each locker reads like a list of fame. Hogan, Watson, Palmer, Nicklaus, etc. All the greats have donned there cleats here. I could only imagine the banter that went on between those great competitors. I snapped some shots of my favorites.
I entered the lobby area which had a perfect view of the 18th green. It was stunning. A gentleman approached and asked me if he could help me. I told him I was visiting from Wisconsin and how much I admired this golf course. He was the club house manager and said that it was okay to go out near the green and take some pictures, but not to go out onto the fairway. Jackpot.
Dar and I walked out toward the iconic Cypress tree that hovers just off the green. It was a perfect afternoon. The sun was playing tricks with the waves off the bay, as seagulls and wind surfers shared the updrafts just off the coast. I got closer to the green, when I felt a tap on my shoulder.
“Excuse me sir”.
I thought it was the manager asking me to step back into the clubhouse.
“Are you the gentleman from Wisconsin”?
I turned and answered, “Why yes I am.”
It was Steve Stricker. “Strick” was a PGA professional from Madison Wisconsin, and one of my favorite golfers. I’ve always told my son, that the perfect golf day for me would be a round at Pebble Beach with me, my son, Tom Watson, and Strick. This was close enough.
He was a true gentleman. Strick was visiting some friends in the area and having lunch at the lodge. He had overheard me talking with the manager in the lobby and decided to make a hometown boy’s day.
“Beautiful isn’t it? I’m also from Wisconsin, my name is Steve” he said.
“No no, you’re Steve Stricker”. I could feel my face turn red as I stuttered his name.
“I’m Woody, very pleased to meet you Mr. Stricker.”
“Please, it’s Strick”, He said.
He was wearing a Wisconsin Badgers’ golf shirt and had said that he just wanted to say hello to a homeboy. Dar snapped several pictures of us back-dropped by the ocean, 18th green, and the Cypress. Strick graciously signed my cap and tee shirt.
“It was very nice to meet you Dar and Woody. I’m afraid I need to run; my family is waiting in the car”. Said Steve.
“Thank you so much, and best of luck out on the tour”, I said.
I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I thought I was back in my reoccurring dream, but it was real. I just met my favorite golfer at the 18th green at Pebble Beach!
We hopped back in our jeep to continue the drive. Dar drove. I was way too distracted to be trusted behind the wheel. If I win the lottery, this is the place I’m coming to first. We passed gorgeous view after gorgeous view, and several other iconic golf courses.
During the Pro-Am tournament that is played here every winter, three golf courses are used. Spyglass Hill, Monterey Bay C.C and of course Pebble Beach. We drove passed all of them and viewed some unbelievable estates. Well worth $10.25.