The COVID Getaways Part 3: Carmel

Precursors

During getaways to Half Moon Bay in May and to Pacifica in July, my girlfriend and I didn’t get any further away from COVID and were still dealing with limitations, but the change of scenery and the natural healing power of being near the ocean did our bodies good.

My uncle died in August and a memorial is planned for September in southern California. I think of a way to combine this sadness with some happy and make part of it our next getaway. After the memorial, we’ll drive to the coast and snake our way back home. But on the evening before our departure I receive news that a child from the daycare center at which I work contracted COVID. We have to close immediately for over a week, and I can’t go to the memorial.

We make a plan to spend time in Carmel. Of the three locations, this is the most touristy and pricey, but it is high on my girlfriend’s list.

Arrival

When we reach our destination we have problems with our lodging, as the room does not match up with what had been advertised. After a long delay and being moved to a room that was better but still grossly overpriced, we head to dinner which is just okay. In the middle of the night there is a domestic disturbance in the room next to ours. Patience has already run thin.

The Full Day

In the morning we have breakfast at the Tuck Box, and survey the shops. People are out and about and the shops open, a stark contrast to our experience six months earlier. Carmel is known for its cute stores and homes, and I find them to be quite charming. We then walk the long downhill to the beach. It is blustery and overcast and lonely, all of which makes for a serene experience.

We have a late lunch at an Italian restaurant next door to where we had breakfast. Little Napoli has appeared to modify their outdoor space, like many other restaurants in recent months. In 2020 a bottle of hand sanitizer greets diners along with the host, tables have to be a certain distance apart, and you may have to wait longer for your table to be prepared. I pass through the empty bar to go to the restroom, and as I gaze at the empty bar top, blank TVs, and stacked chairs, I imagine a full scene where friends drink together, strangers comingle, and the sounds of clinking glasses and lively conversation fill up the night.

It’s time to head home. We stop at Marina State Beach, where we catch a perfect sunset, the sand and water tinted orange as the sun slips behind and in front of cloud masses until its final descent below the horizon.

A Lovely Trip

We could hardly have asked for a better set of getaways than what we experienced. In a normal year, we might have taken one such trip, but in a pandemic year all bets were off! Despite an array of limitations – like a brown bag of yogurt and a granola bar to supplant the traditional buffet breakfast at the hotels, many shops being closed or having reduced hours, the requirement to wear masks – we enjoyed our time together and the scenery, and were grateful for those in the service industry just happy to have any visitors at all.

Go to Part 1 (Half Moon Bay)

Go to Part 2 (Pacifica)

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