Today, we did Carmel and Monterey — specifically, the Carmel Mission and the 17 Mile Drive. But first, we had a Celebrity Encounter. And it was us. Let me explain. (See pictures of today’s adventures here.)
Like most ladies who came of age in the Fifties, Gerry and Jackie always dress up to travel. So, in casual California, that makes them some of the best-dressed people in any hotel. I had parked the car across the street from Doris Day’s Cypress Inn and went on ahead at check out time to get the car ready and set up the camera on a tripod to get a shot of them coming out of the Inn. A couple of porters watched as I readied the Range Rover which is the same midnight blue, tinted windows model favored by Rappers and celebrities who don’t want to call attention to themselves with a limo. At some point in the trip, it had started to be difficult for the gals to make the long climb up into the car. So we purchased a small footstool. This required that I leap out of the drivers seat, run around the side of the car and place a footstool at the door for each of them as if I were an Eighteenth Century coachman. The porters watched intently as I made all these preparations, then took several shots from a tripod of two well coiffed older ladies who stepped out on the porch and began giving the Queen’s wave. Their interest really piqued when they saw the whole footstool routine. After the ladies were loaded, I ran back into the Inn to return the room key. One of the porters grabbed my arm and said, “Who ARE they?” I just smiled as if I was not at liberty to say. But for the rest of the day, their movie star alter egos were Dolores Del Rio and Barbara Bel Geddes. It’s a shame I didn’t have the opportunity to book anything under those names. They are just recognizable enough that everyone knows they were movie stars, but they stayed out of the limelight long enough in later years that no one quite knows what they look like today. Gerry and Jackie could most certainly have passed.
Our beautiful weather held for a leisurely tour of the Seventeen Mile Drive, then a civilized lunch at the Pebble Beach Golf Club. With two artificial hips and two severely arthritic knees between them, we luckily had a handicapped sticker for the car. And we were working it. At Pebble Beach, where cars couldn’t get in close to the club, we found “differently abled” people could get a golf cart to deliver them to the door. But what’s the use of getting old, if you don’t get some perks? (Just in case you are concerned, I walked, as my role was footman and driver.)
Gerry and Jackie were playing their roles to the hilt, but I couldn’t help but feel sad at the devastation they left in their wake the other day in the Paso Robles wine country. Our ultimate destination was the Tablas Creek Winery, the renowned winery owned by the Perrin family of Beaucastel fame in the Chateauneuf du Pape area of the Rhone.
Poor Tablas Creek. They may be darlings of the connoisseurs, they may receive high Parker ratings, but they failed the Gerry and Jackie test. I hate to think of the scene that may have occurred immediately after we left.
The head of the tasting room walks back to where the winemaker is checking the barrels.
“Two very distinguished ladies were here today tasting. I’m not sure, but it might have been Dolores Del Rio and Barbara Bel Geddes.”
The winemaker brightens. He always loves to have important people enjoy his wine.
“I’m sure they enjoyed the experience.”
The tasting room manager looks uncomfortable.
“Well, they were muttering something about our breadsticks. They said they were stale. And they said the two year old winery down the road that no one has ever heard of gave them homemade tapas with every different wine.”
The winemaker sniffs. “Well, if you are unknown, you have to try everything to get noticed. But of course, they loved our beautiful tasting room.”
The tasting room manager looks even more discomfited. “Actually they weren’t pleased. They said it was cold and impersonal after Aurora’s friendly tasting room.”
The winemaker is really starting to look worried now.
“But it is, in the end, all about the wine. And our wine is superlative. At least, they enjoyed the wines themselves.”
Now the tasting room manager is stammering and wiping his sweating brow with a large handkerchief. “I don’t think they were. . .er. . .overly impressed.”
The winemaker turns pale. “Not impressed? But what did they say?”
“Actually one of them said our wine tasted like any old Napa Valley wine. Nothing even approached the wines of Thunderbolt Junction Winery up the road.”
Without another word, the winemaker drops the long “wine thief” he’s been using to taste the wine now resting in his barrels. His head droops and a tear trickles from each eye.
He sadly walks out of the wine cave, his head bowed, his shoulders stooped.
“It’s over. It’s all over. We have failed.”
At about this time, the Golden Girls are happily eating crab dip at Pebble Beach, unaware of the lives they have destroyed.
(See pictures of our day’s adventures here.)