Saturday morning the four friends met at Werner and François's flat to go to Carmel.
Werner: I checked on the map. From Palo Alto, there are two ways to go there: highway 101 or highway 1.
Margaret: That's right. The first is the faster, the second is the more scenic.
Angela: I suggest we take 101. We want to spend as much time as we can visiting the mission and the city of Carmel, don't we?
A.: We can always take route 1 another time.
François: OK, we're gonna take 101. Route 1 will be for when we go to Santa Cruz, for instance.
They are on the highway speeding south. Angela is a bit nervous because of François's driving.
A.: Can we pass this truck and then go back on the right lane?
F.: Angela, you are not a back-seat driver, are you?
M.: François! Don't be cross. Angela just worries that we arrive safely. I do too. You drive very well, but please I'd prefer if we slowed down a bit.
After an hour on 101, they leave the highway before Salinas and take 156. They go through Castroville, Marina, Monterey, and finally make it to Carmel around 11 a.m.
They decide to first go visit the mission, and to have lunch afterwards.
The mission, whose official name is "San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo", is located south of town, in a wide district of one-floor or low-rise houses hidden in the vegetation.
The church with its early baroque facade, Moorish bell tower, and long nave like a barn, exudes a feeling of simplicity, peace and self-assurance at the same time. It evokes the spirituality of the first missionaries.
F.: I can't but think of Father Serra arriving in this beautiful lonely place in 1770, finding and converting natives, organizing the mission (clearing fields for agriculture and cattle raising, building lodgings, kitchens, food storage etc.) and erecting this church.
F.: Did you know that he made Carmel the headquarters of all the missions in Alta-California?
A.: You are not paid by the National Geographic, François, are you? says Angela smiling.
W.: Touché, François!
Everybody laughs and they forget the tension of the morning.
After eating tacos in a Mexican restaurant, they go to the beach to rest, digest, and enjoy the view, while chatting.
W.: I learned that Clint Eastwood was mayor of Carmel from 1986 to 1988.
F.: It's funny. I rather think of him like a desperado shooting fast, than the mayor of a sedate touristic town on the Pacific coast.
A woman scantily clad lying on a towel next to them intervened: Forgive me, I heard your conversation.
Woman: For many years, we had had a mayoress who managed the city rather well, but who was prudish and imposed a strict code of conduct. I could never have stayed on the beach in this attire.
F.: She was a descendant of Father Serra?
Woman: I don't know. But the population got fed up. So Clint Eastwood, who was a resident, ran for town hall, and was elected. He relaxed the rules to adapt them to the end of the XXth century.
The four friends shot the breeze for another while, and at sunset went back home.