On the Pacific

California Connections

Big Creek Bridge California
Big Creek Bridge - Photo by Yvonne Carpenter-Ross

I first learned about Carmel from my mother.  She told me she spent a lot of time on the west coast of California during the WWII years, waiting for my father to return from the Pacific Theater and a stint in the U.S. Navy as a SeaBee.

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During World War II, Circa 1943

Dad with dog Tonto in Navy uniform WWII
Frank Ross (US Navy) and his dog, Tonto

Mom traveled from St. Charles, IL to San Diego, to visit with a sister and friends.  Mom told me a story about driving north along the coast highway from San Diego, and all the way to San Francisco, where she would meet my father, returning by ship from Guadalcanal.

Following California’s Route 1 –all 656 miles of it – was an arduous journey.  Certainly in 1943! Due to concerns about the possibility of air raids on the California coast during this time of WW II, mandatory blackouts were in effect.

For anyone who has driven even part of this route, you are well aware of the beautifully scenic but winding and narrow road that follows the mountainous coastline. Portions of the trip can be a real challenge any time, but especially at night. As an example, imagine crossing the 589-foot span of Big Creek Bridge – at night. And then imagine crossing it – or driving any portion of Route 1 – without the aid of headlights! In San Francisco, Mom met with two other close friends, one of whom was the doctor who would eventually deliver me at birth.

My First Look

Mom, Patti & I in California
With Patti & Mom, circa 1997 in California

In any case, part of her description of that journey was of Carmel, which she dearly loved and described as “the most beautiful place she had ever seen.”  The rest, as they say, is history.  I just had to see Carmel.  I did, first in 1971 with both my parents.

We were living in Arcadia, CA (just east of Pasadena) at the time. I was home from college for the summer, and my dad decided that he wanted to drive north to visit my sister, who had moved to Menlo Park (just south of San Francisco). On that trip, we stopped in Carmel for a brief visit. I went back to Carmel again in 1977. This trip was with my mom and sister, shortly after my father passed.  I fell in love with Carmel, too.

After Grad School

wedding at rocky point
2004 Wedding in Carmel-by-the-Sea

I moved to California after grad school and worked at a restaurant called The Abbey in Marina Del Rey (on the ocean, west of Los Angeles). There I met Ralph Pancetta – we both worked together in the kitchen – and we became lifelong friends. In future articles, I’ll share more of how our friendship and love of cooking led to numerous journeys along the California coast…

With an urging from Ralph, my wife and I started this website in 2004 after getting married on a beautiful bluff just south of Carmel by the Sea, on the patio of a small restaurant called Rocky Point. Since that time, we have returned to the West Coast as often as time and funds have allowed, always seeking new restaurants, wineries, beaches, unforgettable memories… There are an abundance of them in the Carmel area, as well as along the entirety of the California coast.

Journeys to Carmel-by-the-Sea

Our hope is that you will join us, not only on our journeys to Carmel-by-the-Sea, but other coastal destinations as well. Whether you hail from the East Coast, the Midwest or are a long-time resident of the state of California, we also hope you will enjoy our forays into Carmel and the surrounding area, and perhaps even suggest a few places / destinations of which we have not yet thought. The sights, sounds, smells, tastes and more… are unforgettable!

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We launched this website in 2004 after getting married on a beautiful bluff just south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, on the patio of a small restaurant called Rocky Point. Since that time, we have returned to the West Coast as often as time and funds would allow, always seeking new restaurants, wineries, beaches, unforgettable memories…“


Yvonne & Richard