Road Trip: Sanctuary in Monterey Bay

Throughout all our travels individually and together, Andy and I have treated the term “resort” with the kind of aversion reserved for sports bars and Justin Bieber concerts: Not. Our. Thing.

But we took a chance with Sanctuary Beach Resort in Monterey Bay during our road trip north last week. After a night in Paso Robles (and that great meal at Artisan in the previous post), we checked in for two nights into one of the cottage-like suites scattered throughout the property. For better or worse—and let’s hope it’s the former—the Wyndahm-owned lodgings is one of the few in the federally protected  Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, a swath of coastline stretching 276 miles.

Admittedly this wasn’t the kind of “green” development I’d prefer to see in such a place. But at least there seemed to be some attempts at getting on a more progressively minded train, from the recycling bins in the suites to the golf carts assigned to guests to deter driving cars beyond the front building.

The suites were also set back from the protected beach. Still, it seemed like everyone had a slice of ice-blue water within view. What a wonderful way to wake up in the morning.

Because my life is always a balance of work and play, I also took my writing to the sand, bundled up against the Central Coast winds and February temps. From wide straw hat to the extra-large shawl wrapped around my legs cocoon-style, I must have been a ridiculous sight. But even funnier in my mind was sitting there in that get-up, a giant log of drift wood supporting my back, while writing about the flawless refined beauty of Dita Von Teese for her book and occasionally catching the actions of a trio of surfers yards away.

During those writing sessions, Andy and Nina sneaked off to kid-friendly fun such as the Vision Quest Ranch, a nonprofit elephant sanctuary that also cares for 100-plus exotic animals, many rescues. Andy and Nina fed an elephant and got up close to several wild cats and monkeys. The place also provides its “humanely trained” charges to Hollywood. Like our lodgings, I couldn’t help sense there was a fuzziness about the overtures toward being in touch with nature versus actually controlling it…  Such are the conundrums of modern life.

To that end, I booked myself into a sunset massage at the Sanctuary Spa. We skipped the onsite restaurant that last night, a Hawaiian-themed steak house called Kula Ranch Island, that boggled the sensibilities. Instead, we spent that last evening with take-out, a bottle of wine…and watching a DVD of “Cars” with Nina. We had to laugh thinking Steve McQueen had to be rolling in his grave if he’d lived to know about the animated Lightening McQueen.

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