I was reading this book and thinking about the winter of 2013, the bone chill brought on by the year’s loss of family members, the holiday blues. There were the frantic celebrations with family and friends that put one year out of its misery and summoned the strength to begin another. W2s arrive in winter and the tax man cometh soon. All of these things independently jumped, unseasoned, into a pot and began swirling around together, so I began to, well… stew.
I’m not normally a person that stews about things or stirs up the pot. I like to put a spoonful of sugar and a dash of sunshine to my recipes. But, clearly there was need for more than a shopping spree at a crowded mall. I needed sanctuary. So, Steinbeck and I were off to the ocean.
It’s a 1 ½ hour drive north on the I-5 through the grapevine to the 46 West towards Paso Robles. Once on the 46, I stopped at a market to get a drink and some gas. James Dean made his last stop here before dying in a car crash on this road. Well, that wasn’t making me feel any better. I drove carefully for another 1 ½ hours past wineries, oil wells, groves and fields of produce. At Paso Robles you go north on the 101 for about one hour, past Carmel and Monterey, until you reach the Marina turn off. Then it’s a good 30 minutes across agricultural lands until you reach…The Sanctuary.
“The Sanctuary Beach Resort” is situated on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary on the Monterey Peninsula. It is not the view of craggy cliffs and windswept trees normally associated with this region, but a view of endless soft, silky, soothing sand dunes. The view of the beach goes on for miles without a person or building in sight. It is the only time I have felt so alone with the ocean. At night the hotel lights a bonfire in the pit, where guests gather to spin their stories. My ocean view room was built on the sand surrounded by native plants. People from all of Monterey County come to the nearby park to watch the intense sunsets. Here windsurfers take flight, gliding with the seagulls over the ocean.
The Sanctuary, with its kid’s playground and pool, is great for families. Traveling with someone who requires a wheelchair, however, is difficult, due to all the sand.
Upon check-in you are assigned a golf cart and asked to park your car in the lots near the lobby. This is a nice touch for peace and quiet within the resort. This property leases certain rooms to “Windmark” for its “time share travelers.” But, there are no pitches or prizes given here. The Spa is simply a space to do massages, so don’t expect the full spa experience of saunas, indoor Jacuzzis, and steam rooms. The hotel rooms are either Deluxe or Junior Suite, and the Suites have additional square footage for a seating area. But all the amenities, including a refrigerator, coffee, robes, toiletries and fireplace, are the same.
Three days and nights I sat reading Steinbeck upon a sand dune, staring, as the waves rolled in and out. Heading back to the 101, I first stopped in Salinas. Steinbeck was born here, and at his home (now a National Landmark) I ordered lunch by the fireplace where he once put pen to paper. I finished my lunch and closed the chapter on this trip.
Once home in Santa Clarita, I opened a bottle of ale and Shakespeare’s Richard the III. What the ale! What Shakespeare actually says is, “Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by his son of York, all the clouds that low’rd upon our house in the deep bosom of the ocean buried.” SO, this is NOT the winter of our discontent. No need to simmer and stew over things. All our troubles have been buried in the ocean! The time for unhappiness is past!
By Marilyn Hackett