I took these photos out in Monterey last summer during the conference of the International Society for the Study of Time--one of the coolest names for any scholarly organization and one of the few places where literature professors can talk shop with physicists.
I took the first two photos on a free day in the middle of the conference, when I biked a couple of miles along the coast to Monterey. As you can see from the later photos the conference met at the Asilomar Conference Grounds, originally a YWCA camp from 1913. The original buildings by Julia Morgan (Hearst's architect) are still in use and the grounds still look like the kind of lodge where my parents, or their parents, would have vacationed, right down to the social hall with board games and table tennis.
It hadn't occurred to me that this reprieve from time's passage would also extend to the grounds' bicycle rental options. They were all giant metal death-machines, also suitable for my parents in their youth, one of which I had to haul up the coast while being passed by irritated Californians on bikes so streamlined, frames so light, tires so narrow and frictionless I believe they actually hovered a few millimeters above the road on cushions of pure machismo. And there I was on this Cold War juggernaut with huge fenders and a big metal basket in front. And a lovely little bell.
Still, Asilomar was a perfect setting for a conference about time. My favorite building wasn't any of the Morgan originals but a midcentury addition, a glassed-in "living room" in a rambler that tried to blend with the Arts and Crafts structures but came across as Tiki Modern. Of course its name was "Surf and Sand." A relic of the short American Century when the South Pacific was the last suburb between Palos Verdes and Mars. Even though I know what it was built on and where it led I can't help but feel a curious unearned nostalgia for the culture that fantasized its own endless expansion in California--a culture at a zenith I never got to witness firsthand.