17-Mile Detour

Stephen Farghali

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Located between the cities of Monterey and Carmel, CA is the Pebble Beach Company, known for its golf course and trademarked Lone Cypress Tree. Each year, travelers will pay a $10 fee to pass through the gated community via 17-Mile Drive. It is a route famous for its winding path along rugged coastline and multi-million dollar homes. According to a number of online reviews, visitors might even catch sight of adorable sea lions.

It really is a pleasant drivea��unless, of course, you’re struck with the realization that those adorable sea lions are practically everywhere you’d stop along this section of coastline, and that the truly unique offering of this road through gated community is the opportunity to spend more money.

But the 17-mile detour isn’t just an overrated side note to the truly inspiring Highway One. It’s emblematic of a lazy tendency to live vicariously through others’fawning over vast wealth and eager to accept the convenient pre-packaged, safely sealed experiences that are for sale around every corner.

After all, even the most casual of tourist has to appreciate the irony of visiting a trademarked tree while out to appreciate nature’s beauty.

Many visitors simply want a nice drive with scenic views and the chance to see a cute creature or two. And it’s for that reasona��or perhaps principle alone, if you’re the idealistic typea�� that the Pebble Beach loop should be avoided.

Should you find yourself in the area, consider putting that $10 in the gas tank and traveling down the road a few miles further. You’ll still find plenty of nice houses’such as the stone house and Tor tower, which was once the residence of the poet Robinson Jeffers (who helped in building his famous home). You’ll also find Point Lobos, which features a variety of experiences’from sea lions at China Cove to scuba lessons. Or continue driving along the billboard and corporate-free road, across the inspirational Bixby Bridge and through Big Sur country.

And for those with no intention of visiting, yet who find disgusting the audacity to trademark a piece of nature as something unalterable, there’s always Photoshop.

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