California Poppies Closeup

California Poppies Closeup

On this day three, we four (Dad, Chris, Anne and I) trooped down the coast to Big Sur and more particularly, Nepenthe. This restaurant was already a thing when my parents first lived in Monterey, in the fifties. Originally, a lodge for a local trail club, the property was once owned by Orson Wells, who bought it as a wedding present for his then bride Rita Hayward, while he was writing the screen play for Citizen Kane. The sixty miles between Big Sur and Randolph Hearst’s castle at San Simeon was as close as he felt safe approaching. Their marriage didn’t last long and the property was acquired by the family that has ever since owned it. The restaurant signature Ambrosia burger were again standard fare for Dad, Chris and me. Anne also repeated her section of their excellent cheese board. Chris recognized a server who turned out to be their go-to waiter at their mainstay restaurant Rio Grill. I introduced myself to him, pandering to the help, as I had learned from my mother. He didn’t know me from Adam, but he easily recognized both Dad and Chris. This personal touch led him to intercede throughout most of our meal, much to the chagrin of our regular waitress. The coastal highway, Route 1, is perennially troubled by landslides. A permeant sign in Carmel indicated that all points south were open, but there were plenty of construction delays, where the two-lane highway went done to one-lane. It has been unseasonably warm here since we’ve arrived, with yesterday’s high in the nineties. There is no mechanical air conditioning at the house, but there are work arounds. First the relative humidity here is only 20%. So, if it gets hot during the day, it quickly cools off at night. We are situated at 1100’ between the inland Carmel Valley and the northern slope down to the ocean. That geography, plus the topography of the house that cascades down the northern hillside, creating a well of coolness, offers ample opportunities for natural air conditioning. All you have to do is open a sliding glass door, but then you have to get up in the middle of night to close them, when it gets too cold.

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