Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Now that i've acclimatised to the californian speed of life and slowed down from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco, its time to head out and explore the area some.
Monterey is a good hour away on the southern side of the bay from Santa Cruz. I got to use the Loveapple truck for a day so took full advantage of my wheels. The area produces a huge percentage of the fresh produce consumed in the US. Flat fields and a great climate allow extensive agriculture to flourish. Massive fields of strawberries are being cropped at the moment, the fragrance fills the truck as i drive through the landscape, a waft of celery hits me before i even see the plants and there they are, stretching out into the distance. Irrigation keeps the farmland green, the rest of the landscape burned brown by the constant sunshine and warm winds blowing towards the sea from the baked interior. Death valley, the hottest place in the world is not that far away. It hasn't rained here since March 25th. They even remember the date!!
The highway winds round the bay through places called Seaside and Marina and Moss Landing, i watch the view from the truck and mentally note to call in on the way back. I never did, it was far too late by the time i passed back through and completely dark. Warnings for blowing sand and a big sweeper trundled along, removing the beach from the road as it blew in from the coast, keeping the road clear.
Monterey is a showcase seaside resort for the wealthy, the old sardine canning buildings down by the wharf converted to deluxe shopping malls and attractions, exclusive restaurants offering seafood and fine wines, sea view houses hidden behind security fences out of sight from prying eyes A private road, 17 Mile Drive, charges motorists for the privilege of taking a peek at the best stretch of coastline. I'm not surprised, the whole place would be overrun if there was unlimited access. Lush golfing greens roll down to the sea, the glint of sun reflected from the windows of mansions hint of their presence in the wooded hills, white sand bays with seals and numerous seabirds defy the neatness with their droppings and organic odors.
People have spent many, many hours carefully balancing pillars of stones along a large stretch of beach, just because they can. A little further along the drive, a famous tree, now with image copyright , the Monterey Pine balances on a rocky outcrop overlooking the pacific ocean.
Even the farmers market is scheduled for party people. It doesn't open until 3pm and continues into the evening, allowing late risers and people with full time jobs a decent opportunity to stock up on local produce. Most of the stalls tempt with free tastings, and timed right, a hungry boy can go for a whole lot longer by slowly strolling through the streets selecting tasty morsels of freshly baked bread, delicious cheeses, dips and relishes and of course more fresh fruit and berries than should really be allowed. I stocked up too to treat Cynthia and Manuel, my hosts, to a good feed on my return to the farm.