California Dreams

Before we move on to a new spot, I wanted to share a few more photos of the gorgeous Monterey area. We’ve got a bit of WiFi now, with bandwidth to burn, so here’s a bit of California eye candy. It truly is a magnificent area. Also, if anyone’s interested, I found that the video of the elephant seals in the previous post was not the one I had intended to insert. The one there now is different, so go back and look, if you are so inclined…..20160312_10540920160312_11115420160312_12295220160312_12321020160312_13025420160312_13100020160312_13245520160312_133054Without really leaving the Monterey area, we moved on to a new campground north in the Laguna Seca Recreation Area. The campground there is located near the Mazda Laguna Seca Racetrack. We had a choice of being in a site nearer the track, or one nearer the shooting range. We decided that Jezzy would appreciate racin’ more than shootin’, and picked a site accordingly. Our front row seat was run for a couple of days. Loud, but fun.20160315_094709The first day was motorcycle racing. These guys are nuts! The fastest time we clocked was 1:37 around the 2.3 mile track. Day 2 was two guys running practice laps in Ferraris. Equally nuts. The high point for us? On the evening of Day 2, it was bicycle night on the track! A mere $10 got us and our bikes on the tracks for as many hot laps as we could stand. What a hoot! The track has a very steep climb, followed by an equally steep corkscrew downhill – first an inside turn, then an outside turn – into a long straightaway, and a couple of hairpin turns. Yowza – we had a blast.20160316_18013420160316_175748The LSRA is bordered by the Fort Ord National Monument, so there were miles and miles of gorgeous open trails for hiking and mountain biking. From our start point, the trails were beyond my mtb capabilities, in addition to being horribly washed out by the torrential rainfall of the previous week the start was STEEP! But, Jezzy and I enjoyed strolling along – even though we occasionally went ankle-deep in mud.20160315_091835Nearby Salinas is the home of the National Steinbeck Museum. I decided to pedal the 15 miles there,, and it was a rewarding ride. I passed acres of farms, which still hand ponds of standing water, even though the last rainfall was four days prior. One fieldhand was hand-shoveling soil into pools of water between strawberry rows. I could see many ripe strawberries buried in mud as I cycled past. What a mess.20160316_115201The Steinbeck Museum itself? Not so interesting. We really didn’t find much to catch our attention for more than an hour, although we did decided to hoof it over to the cemetery to see Steinbeck’s burial site. A plain marker. Ha – joke on us. It was a four mile round trip on foot. Loved the little sign pointing to the burial plot, though….20160316_133841Two days was enough time camping at a racetrack, especially since there was a big sportscar race coming up for the weekend. We headed north to Sunset Beach State Park, quiet and beautiful. The Fireball is right in the middle of this photo…20160317_14022120160317_19002220160317_19074120160317_191736_HDR20160318_11214620160318_11310620160318_113449We rode our bikes down, and pedaled along the sand for miles each way. For the most part, we had the entire beach to ourselves. Such a pity that Jezzy was not allowed on the beach to join us.

The pine trees there have an unusual cone formation – they grow in clumps, as well as individual cones. Perhaps, they were just rainsoaked, but some of the clumps were surprisingly heavy. I believe these are Monterey Pines, but am not certain of that.20160318_172900This  State Park is in Watsonville, which seems to be the strawberry capital of the world. Bordering the campground were acres of strawberries – again with some severe water problems. For the days that we were there, the farmer had pumps and generators running 24/7, trying to remove the excess water from the fields.20160318_11130220160318_111128We’re now camping in San Francisco – time to move our bikes and boots into the city. This segment of our adventures will require its own separate post, but let me just say that our rain gear isn’t getting any rest. Enough!!

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12 thoughts on “California Dreams

  1. If I could I would move to California, enjoy, Nancy and I have great memories of highway 1 riding our Tandem with pulling a small trailer from LA north

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  2. So sorry you didn’t enjoy the Steinbeck Museum. It had just opened the year I went there, and I thought it was interesting but hoped it would be better by now. The people of Salinas didn’t want to have any museum at all for him because his books portrayed them in negative but honest fashion. Maybe it’s been neglected because of that. However, your other pictures are wonderful. Hope you are enjoying the rest of your trip.

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    • Hi Alison! It’s not that we didn’t enjoy the Museum, but that we were pretty disappointed. John really liked the actual truck from Travels with Charley that was there, but it was impossible to get a decent photo of it. You’re right about the anti-Steinbeck attitude, although it was more widespread than just Salinas. After widespread criticism when he won the Nobel Prize, he never wrote fiction again. Sad, isn’t it?

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  3. I’m so jealous, I love the Laguna Seca race track! So many great drivers have driven there, like the late Ayrton Senna, whose birthday would have been the 21st, and Mario Andretti, a name you may recognize. I suppose that the corkscrew was fun on a bike, but I’d love to try it in a car or a motorcycle, just to drive the same place where so many great racing memories took place would be fun.

    I love your photos of the coastline, it certainly is beautiful country there, that I’d like to visit sometime. It’s too bad that you picked one of the wet years to go there, but at least you’re missing the snow that we may get the middle of this week.

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    • Laguna Seca is a beautiful track. I agree with you that it would be fabulous to take a run on a motorcycle, but to watch the racers come through a turn with their knees just centimeters off the pavement is chilling. It makes the little hairs on your arm stand up as they pass. We did check the record for the fastest lap time, and it’s 1:06 (unofficial) in a Formula One car. It’s hard to imagine seeing that kind of speed on that track.

      I’m glad we don’t have to shovel all this rain, but it really needs to go away for awhile. In San Francisco now, we have spent three days wandering around in weather ranging from drizzle to a raging downpour. Makes for some interesting sightseeing.

      Take care. Hope true spring finds Michigan soon.

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