You don’t really know Carmel until you’ve walked it with Gael Gallagher

You don’t really know Carmel until you’ve walked it with Gael Gallagher

6 RE    The Carmel Pine Cone        August 30, 2013

You don’t really know Carmel until you’ve walked it with Gael Gallagher

ONE THING Gael Gallagher doesn’t need is a Dale Carnegie course to bring her out of her shell. This outgoing, enthusiastic, passionate tour guide has been conducting tours, both predetermined and customized, for more than 30 years. Gallagher is a historian/naturalist who saturates her clients with lively patter guaranteed to keep them interested while they’re tagging along with her.


“I’m a visitor who decided to stay,” she says. “I came here from Boston in 1970 to visit my brother at Fort Ord and knew this is where I wanted to live.” Since that time Gallagher has been a guide at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and served as a docent at Point Lobos and the National Steinbeck Center. Gallagher is a true Steinbeck aficionado. She often quotes verbatim passages of the author’s writings during her tours.

“Architecturally and aesthetically, this town pops!” is one of the phrases Gallagher uses to rev up people before begin- ning one of her Carmel walking tours. Then she spends two hours dazzling them with her depth of knowledge about Carmel.

Recently I joined Gallagher and about 20 of her clients for one of her Carmel walking tours. We started in the court- yard of the Pine Inn where Gallagher told us that in 1906 the north wing of the Carmelo Hotel at the corner of Ocean and

Broadway, now Junipero, was dismantled and the main build- ing was rolled on pine logs down the rugged dirt road of Ocean Avenue. With the creative vision of M.J. Murphy it was reborn as the Pine Inn.

Gallagher calls this her “Nooks and Crannies” tour because she keeps us off Ocean Avenue.

“Ocean Avenue is there,” she says to us. “You’re going to discover its shops and restaurants even if it is your first time in Carmel. You don’t need a guide for that.”

Then off we went into nooks and crannies I didn’t know existed. We strolled through the gardens of the Christian Science Church ending up on the deck overlooking Monte Verde Street. There Gallagher urged everyone to tour Robinson Jeffers’ Tor House. She removed her tour guide hat and replaced it with her “acting” hat as she read the famous poet’s “The House Dog’s Grave,” a sad but moving paean written from the dog’s point of view: You were never masters, but friends. I was your friend, I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures to the end and far past the end.

We traipsed through the Richard MacDonald Gallery on Lincoln and Sixth, where we got up close and personal with the famous sculptor’s works, spinning them on their lazy- Susan pedestals. (I didn’t know you could do that)

We explored the Tally Ho Inn, learning that the building was purchased in 1945 by cartoonist Jimmy Hatlo, creator of Little Iodine. The Inn has a wonderful English countryside ambiance with exquisite views of the bay.

At city hall, we rested on benches while Gallagher recounted some of Carmel’s political history, including the Eastwood years. Here she told the story of evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson and her mysterious “kidnapping.”

McPherson turned up in Carmel where she had put into prac- tice the Biblical injunction to love one’s neighbor. It was the scandal of the year in 1926. Once again, Gallagher enter- tained us, this time with the recitation of Pete Seeger’s “The Ballad of Aimee McPherson.” Now I’ll tell you my story in the usual way/About this lady preacher’s holiday/If you don’t get the moral then you’re the gal for me/ Cause they got a lot of cottages down at Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Somehow we managed to get from Monte Verde up to Lincoln, Dolores, San Carlos, and Mission while hardly set- ting foot on Ocean. We entered shops, restaurants, and gal- leries where Gallagher knew everyone and we were treated as honored guests. We visited with artist, Robert Knight, out- side his studio on Dolores, and spent several moments at the Steven Whyte Gallery, where visitors can view the creative process in action. At Lulu’s Silk Art Gallery (another first for me), we learned about the history of Chinese Silk Embroidery, an art that dates back to 800 B.C.

There is much more to tell, but you really should discov- er “Carmel Walks” in person. Actually, you should discover Gael Gallagher in person.

“This is my office,” she says with a broad smile, spread- ing her arms as if embracing the entire village. “Everything about it is superlative.”

Her ongoing coursework in local history, ecology, archi- tecture, marine biology, and other natural sciences keeps her presentations lively, timely, and accurate. Gallagher cus- tomizes extraordinary tours that bring to life the beauty and culture of Carmel and the entire Peninsula. You can contact her at (831) 642-2700 or at

Jerry Gervase can be reached at