Sunday, November 27, 2011

Big Sur, Salinas & Carmel, California

Mon & Tue, Nov 21st & 22nd

Traveling south from Carmel thru the Big sur area.

The views are so awesome.

Looking down toward the Carmel city beach.

On the city beach looking toward Pebble Beach Golf Course.

We had lunch at Clint Eastwood's Hogs Breath Inn in Carmel. It had wild boars with tusks mounted on the walls and lots of fireplaces inside, and out on the patio. Kind of neat.

We went to the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, John Steinbeck's hometown. "Of Mice and Men", "East of Eden" and "Cannery Row" are rooted in this region. He was a war correspondent in WWII. His books have been published in 47 countries and made into quite a few movies. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. JFK selected him to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963, but did not live to present it.

After living in Europe for quite a few years, he and his wife returned to the U.S. in 1960. He decided to take a 10,000 mile trip around the country to get back in touch with Americans. He traveled with his dog in a pickup camper on the backroads thru small towns and farm country.

This is the camper he traveled in. He called his trip "Operation Windmills" and named his camper "Rocinante" after Don Quixote's horse. I read this book shortly before we retired and I remembered that he washed his clothes by putting them in a five gallon bucket with a lid and detergent and let them agitate while he drove down the road. I have actually done this a couple of times and it works pretty good.

There were a bunch of surfers out in the surf at sunset in Carmel.

Another great view, another great day!

Do I miss work? Not at all!

Visiting John's sis for the next few weeks. Probably no more blogs till end of December.

Happy Holidays to all & to all a good night!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Winchester House & Stanford

Sat, Nov. 19th & Sun, Nov. 20th

A few views along the coast from Monterey north to San Francisco on Saturday.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse just south of Half Moon Bay.

Ritz Carlton Resort Hotel and golf course at Half Moon Bay looking north.

Turning around looking south toward more of the golf course. I wonder how many golf balls go in the ocean.

We were sitting in the car at the beach near the Cliff House in San Francisco when this guy plopped down on the hood of our car. It gave us both a start. Then I just hoped he wouldn't poop.

Sunday we went on a tour of the Winchester House in San Jose. Sarah Winchester was married to the second president of the Winchester Repeating Rifle Company. They had only one child who died at six weeks old and her husband died about ten years later. She went into a depression and consulted a psychic who told her she needed to start a project that would never end. So she took the $20 million cash and 3,000 shares of Winchester stock she had inherited and bought a 160 acre farm with an unfinished house. She started adding onto the house and the work continued 24 hours a day for the next 38 years until her death. She believed that she needed to appease the spirits of all the Native Americans who were killed by Winchester rifles. There are 160 rooms. The tour took us thru 110 rooms in 65 minutes walking over a mile. There are 10,000 windows, many stained glass and leaded glass made by Tiffany. One of them cost $1,500 in 1910 (now priceless) and was supposed to create 13 rainbows when the light would shine thru it. Unfortuantely she placed it on a north wall where the sun would never hit it. Then she proceeded to make another addition with a wall right behind the window. Right next to it was a $2.00 window with an elevator shaft right behind it. She was obsessed with the number 13. 13 palm trees lined the entrance to the estate (nine remain). 13 windows in some rooms, 13 steps in some staircases, a chandelier with 12 candles had one added to it to make 13 and 13 bathrooms, but only one shower. She had 30 some bedrooms and slept in a different one every night to confuse the spirits. Every piece that she had custom made for the house, she ordered two or three, in case she ever needed to replace it. So there are store rooms full of stained glass windows, hand crafted wood work, siding, gutters, etc. Next to the sewing room was a room with huge drawers where she stored bolts of fabric. Whenever she saw something she liked, she bought it all up, so no one else would be able to have a dress made out the same fabric as her. She had a seance room that she was the only one ever to enter. She went there for advice on what to add to her house. It had one entrance and three exits, one of which dropped straight down 14 feet to the kitchen sink. There were doors to nowhere, stairways from floor to ceiling and 47 fireplaces, many of which were connected to a chimney that stopped at the ceiling on the third floor and was never completed. One stairway had 2 inch steps with switchbacks of seven flights to get 9 feet up to the next floor. In the 1906 earthquake a seven story tower fell over, the front 30 rooms were damaged and Mrs. Winchester was trapped in one of the bedrooms for several hours before the servants could find her. The $3,000 European Art front doors had just been installed before the earthquake. She and the two men who installed them were the only people to ever use them, as she blocked off the 30 damaged rooms and never used them again. A rumor says that when Pres.Teddy Roosevelt was in San Francisco he stopped by to visit her, as her husband had been in the Rough Riders with him. When he was asked to use the servants entrance, he left in a huff. This shows one of the doorways to nowhere on the second floor with an 8 foot drop to the ground. When she died her niece, who was her personal secretary, inherited the furniture. After taking what she wanted, the rest was sold at auction. It took 8 truck loads a day for 6 and a half weeks to empty the house. The whole thing is just totally bizarre!

In the afternoon we drove to Palo Alto and walked around the Stanford campus. After walking thru the entrance, we walked for about six blocks down this palm-lined street before we even saw a building. There are park-like areas on either side that are used for event parking. The night before had been the big game with Cal, so the reminents of the tail gating were still very evident.

This is Hoover Tower built in honor of Herbert Hoover who was in the first class at Stanton and later became president of the university and the country. Another person who was in the first class, and a friend of Hoover's, was the wife of the man who built Scotty's Castle in Death Valley.

Stanford was built on donations from Leland Stanford and his wife. He was a railroad baron and one of four men who practically owned California back in the day and was also governor.
Last year when we were in Sacramento, we went thru the Governor's Mansion that he lived in.

It is a beautiful campus. I wish we'd had more time to walk around, but it got dark and we had to head home.

This is the back side of the football stadium. I thought it was interesting. The pine tree is engraved on the wall to the right and the two real pine trees on the left are reflected back on the wall behind them.

This is one of the libraries. Right behind me is another one just as big.

I should have another blog in a few days. We will be at John's sister's place by Wednesday for Thanksgiving and a very long, extended visit. Are you ready, Kathy? Here we come.

Happy Turkey Day, Everybody!


Friday, November 18, 2011

California or Bust!

Mon, Nov. 14th - Thur, Nov. 17th

We spent our last night in Oregon at Harris Beach State Park on the north side of Brookings, just a few miles north of the California border. This young man on the top of the rock formation was having a great time running up and down all the trails he could find. It was fun to watch his energy and how much fun he was having.

The sunset was clouded over, but still wonderful.

We spent Tuesday night at the campground on the Ridgewood Ranch, home and final resting place of Seabiscuit. They do tours out to the grave in the summer. It was a long, winding, paved road down into the valley to the campground, but very quiet and peaceful down there.

We saw beautiful vineyards all along the way, but they were almost constant by the time we got to Ukiah. We were only about 30 miles more or less from the Sonoma Valley and Napa Valley. As we drove thru Santa Rosa, there was a sign for the Charles Schultz Museum, creator of Peanuts comic strip. Going over the Richmond Bridge to Oakland, I saw a sign for the Rosie the Rivetor Museum. I spent 22 years working with a lot of great women who can relate to Rosie.

We arrived at Casa de Fruta Orchard Resort in the Pacheco Valley between Gilroy and Hollister where we will be staying for the next week. It's a very nice campground/resort over a 100 years old. They have orchards, winery, restaurants, etc.

Lots of garlic hanging from the rafters, as Gilroy is the "Garlic Capitol of the World". The amount of produce here is amazing, plus homemade candies, canned goods, wines, etc.

All of the boundaries of the parking lots, camping areas, parks and shopping areas are lined with the antique farming machinery used over the years in the orchards, vineyards and vegetable gardens.

A couple of the antique tractors. There are six historic Spanish Missions in this area along Hwy. 101, the original "King's Highway", or El Camino Real route that was developed to connect the missions.


Grandma going for a train ride....

while Grandpa spent some time in the stocks for being a naughty boy.

There is a double-decker Venetian carousel and a small train that runs around the property. Also, there are lots of peacocks in the park areas, little brooks and waterwheels and a swimming pool. A very pretty setting.

This white fallow deer is a descendant of a pair donated by William Randolph Hearst in 1932, from his private zoo at Hearst Castle on the coast.

Thursday morning we headed to the coast to take a whale watching cruise at Monterey Bay Harbor. We went several miles out to where the depth drops off from a couple hundred feet to a couple thousand feet. The fog was so thick, we couldn't see boats a hundred yards from us. We had been there for quite a while and everyone was sure we would never be able to see whales in this fog. "Thar she blows!" John spotted them first. All of a sudden, two humpback whales came up very close to our boat and dove down and flipped up their tails at us. We were all stunned and so excited. Our guide let a couple other boats know where we were, so they could come and see the whales with us.

If you look really close, you can see one of the boats that joined us, thru the fog. In this picture, the whale almost looks bigger than the boat, but I think that is a bit deceptive, because they were a little ways away.

Here the other boat got a little closer to us. Our boat was 70 feet long and held 70 passengers, about the same as this one, but we only had about 25 on board. John thought the two whales we saw were about 30 feet long, but I thought they looked a lot closer to the length of the boat. They were very big indeed. They were actually so close to us, that we could smell their bad breath!

"Yo, Ho! Yo, Ho! The pirate's life for me." Well, at least until the dramamine wears off, that is.

Well the whales got tired of hanging around our boat and left us, so we headed back to the harbor.

Our captain kicked it in gear and wasted no time getting us back. Our trip was almost five hours.

"Land Ho!" The fog finally lifted on our way back in and we were able to get a better look at the sea lions and harbor seals and birds.

The Custom House, the oldest building in California, is here at the harbor. It was the port of entry to Alta, California, Mexico from 1822 to 1846. U.S. military forces raised the "Stars and Stripes" here in 1846 marking the end of the Mexican era and the beginning of the American era in California.

A mother sea otter with her pup riding on her chest.

After leaving the harbor, we stopped to see the Monarch butterflies at a park in nearby Pacific Grove. They are kind of hard to see in the trees, but once you spot them, they are hanging in bunches of hundreds or more. They look like clumps of dead, brown leaves, hanging in clusters like bananas or grapes. If it gets below 50 degrees, they can't fly well, so they have to wait for the day to warm up before they can fly.

This is a view along Ocean View Drive around Monterey Bay. There is a walking trail along the beach here all around the bay.

There were lots of people jogging, walking their dogs, or just out to enjoy the views and the sunset. The point of land you can see is the end of the bay, where the famous 17 mile "Carmel-by-the-Sea" drive starts.

What can I say? A picture really is worth a thousand words!

Friday we drove to Gilroy to check out the "Garlic Capitol of the World". I stopped in here to get some tourist info and they gave me a couple bulbs of garlic along with the tourist pamphlets. They celebrate the "stinking rose" with the Garlic Festival in July. About a million pounds of raw garlic is processed every day in the summer. That should be enough to keep the vampires away! Goldsmith Seeds is also here, where you can walk thru a six-acre "Field of Dreams" among thousands of experimental flowers, many one-of-a-kind not to be found anywhere else in the world.

There are lots of wineries here, but we just stopped at one before lunch. This is Sarah's Vineyard just on the edge of town.

I did a little wine tasting, but my driver abstained.
There was a sculpture of a musical note on their patio with the quote, "Wine is the music of the vineyard."

One more close up. The vines are so beautiful this time of year. They have just finished crushing the last of the grapes and they are all fermenting now.

Enjoy a nice glass (or two) of wine every day.

Cheers to you all!