Thursday, December 21, 2006
After passing through a coded electric gate with a discreet gold sign reading Asoleado, then driving up and down, curving around on arguably the smoothest paved road within 300 miles while being distracted by vistas reminiscent of old California, you arrive at the Whitcomb home just past a canopy of white oaks. Clifford and Leslie Whitcomb and four of their five children (one’s in college) are steeped in appreciation for their location: on the planet, in this area and in this house itself.
Since the last place they lived was Louisiana, one might take it for granted that this family is so taken with our seductive hills. Maybe so, but there’s more to this story.
The Whitcombs lived near New Orleans in a house so state-of-every-art that Leslie Whitcomb never warmed up to it. “It was so over-the-top, every trendy convenience imaginable,” she says. “We knew we didn’t love it, of course, but it did serve our big family.” The Whitcombs began talking about selling that place just before Clifford was offered a professorship at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. He owns an engineering consulting firm (with a deeply humanitarian aspect) which was growing fast. They needed to decide.
“He accepted the job on a one-year basis,” Leslie says, “and a buyer came easily enough—but the process was so contentious we were ready to drop the deal altogether.” She admits to being an intuitive, and she felt they should move, sale or no sale. “Then the deal went through, and we were on our way to the Peninsula,” she says.
“One evening, six weeks after we got here, we were watching TV when the first pictures of Katrina were broadcast. Our old neighborhood had taken on six feet of water. Just terrifying.”
Owning high ground brings a good deal of comfort to the Whitcombs. Asoleado is a planned community in which each property is 10 acres; each seems like a sprawling ranch where no buildings would be seen for days on horseback. In this theater of divine art, the views are compelling—even in a county where vistas are like a birthright. “When it’s misty, we have two or three rainbows a week,” Leslie says.
The house is 26 years old—the Whitcombs are only the second owners—and the place has as much potential as it has history, a history of an ancient civilization. An outcropping of rock by the house is state-certified as an artifact of historical significance due to the petroglyph it bears. “I am so drawn to this site,” Leslie says.
The house can be expanded or upgraded but is in move-in condition. There are four bedrooms (or a den and three bedrooms) plus three baths. The master and the den are on the first floor, the other rooms upstairs.
In the living room, a fireplace with a green marble surround and a hearth is framed and mantled with honey-maple wood. The dining room is quite a showpiece with its old wooden French doors with a direct sight-line to the best views past the wraparound terrace. The kitchen is original and appealing. The bedrooms upstairs feel like artists’ garrets, due to the huge attic above.
Outside, Leslie indicates the direction of the rest of their land and the hill across the street. “Build there and you’ll see all the mountains and valleys and even the ocean,” she says. “360.”
Price: $845,000 52 Asoleado, Carmel Valley. Contact Michelle Cohen, Flat-Rate Realty, 566-1235.