Showing posts with label California Road Trip. Show all posts
Showing posts with label California Road Trip. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Stained Glass Windows

The Husband and I wandered about the country roads yesterday afternoon for my birthday treat. Our first stop was at the small old church in Tres Pinos, California, population nearly 500. (These links will lead you to my posts about the church and town, if you're interested in know about them.)

We happened to be in luck. The church doors were open.  I'm not a churchgoer, but I find comfort sitting inside this church every so often. Maybe it's because I was baptized there.

As always, I enjoyed contemplating over the stained glass windows. They are eloquent in their simplicity. They are poetry.

It's the letter W at ABC Wednesday. Click here to join in, or to check out other participants. Thank you, ABCW team!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Season of Plenty

The other day, the Husband and I drove around Pajaro Valley in Santa Cruz County (next door to our county) just because we felt like it. The fertile Pajaro Valley has fields full of strawberries, cages full of raspberries and blackberries, and still a few orchards full of apples.

We stopped at Gizdich Ranch, which is well-known for its apple juice and homemade apple and berry pies. You can also pick your own apples and various types of berries, if you want.  Our mission. My mission (the Husband was a captive audience) was to purchase hollyhock seeds. Unfortunately none were to be had yet. But, we did come away with four cobs of corn for a dollar and a look at a bunch of fancy buggy-looking Bugatti's that one of the guys said were each worth $2 million+.

The Bugatti guys (5 or 6 of them) caused a traffic jam at the ranch. Not because they couldn't find parking spots, from what I saw, but because the drivers and passengers stood in the path of us, drivers, trying to find parking. I almost didn't want to stop. If the Bugatti people were this arrogantly ignorant about they being in the way, what would they be like in the gift shop and restaurant. Fortunately, the drivers hung around their cars, while their passengers disappeared into the antique store.

I'm glad I sucked in my temper, otherwise I wouldn't have seen the display of Gizdich's biggest and tiniest apples. We'll stop by Gizdich again for hollyhock seeds and maybe one of their pies.

Time to link up with Seasons, a weekly meme hosted by Jeanette at Artworks from Jeshstg. Click here to check other participants and possibly link up as well.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs

My Alphabe Thursday theme: Places I've Been

For many years, I've wanted to visit the Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs, a once-upon-a-time very popular resort in the foothills of the southern end of the Diablo Range. Now part of the Henry Coe State Park, this historic landmark is about 10 miles northeast of Gilroy, California, which is nearby my town of Hollister. Unless there are special events or planned guided tours by the all-volunteer, nonprofit group Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs (GYHS), the place is not open to the public.

Two weeks ago, GYHS held a special event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the hot springs being made a historic landmark. (It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places and also designated as a California Historical Landmark.) Yup, the Husband and I attended the event.

The grand hotel, club house, swimming pool,  soaking pools, and other magnificent structures of long ago no longer exist. Many of the guest cottages still stand. The GYHS has renovated several of the cottages already. One of the volunteers told us that because they are historic structures, they must be rebuilt in the same manner. That  means if something was built incorrectly, it can't be fixed, but built incorrectly again. The buildings were constructed between 1870s and 1920s, which, if you think of it,  incorrect construction isn't always all that bad.

The ladies' bathhouse

The Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs is a beautiful, peaceful place. I can see why people of long ago were willing to travel for hours on dusty trails to get there. San Franciscans, for example, traveled three hours by train to Gilroy, then another three hours in a horse and buggy after a night's stay in town. Staying a week or two in a luxurious resort in the wilderness had to be a lovely respite from the city.

The 24 cottages were named after the states.

The history of Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs goes back to 1855 when a shepherd stumbled upon it as he was looking for his sheep. Twenty years later, the hot springs became a big-time, fancy resort that attracted people from near and far, including the rich and famous, such as Mayor James Phelan of San Francisco and hot-shot industrialist Claus Spreckels.  

Prior to 1938, the place was known as the Gilroy Hot Springs and it was considered the best mineral springs in California. The springs are still there, but, they cannot be used. During our guided tour, we saw a small stream and hole. If I recall correctly, the water was about 110 degrees.  Interestingly, we learned that mineral springs are usually found near mercury deposits.

Watsonville lettuce grower Harry K. Sakata purchased the property in 1938, making it the only mineral spring resort in California owned by a Japanese American. This was a very big thing back then when Japanese were among the various minority groups being discriminated, whether they were immigrants or born in the United States. Under his ownership, Sakata added Yamato, which means Japanese, to the property's title.

This Shinto Shrine was originally part of the 1939 World's Fair Japanese Pavilion.

When the U.S. entered World War II, nearly all of the Japanese Americans, including Sakata, were placed in internment camps in remote areas of the United States. After the war, Sakata regained ownership of the hot springs and allowed interned Japanese Americans to reside there until they found places to live.

Laura Dominguez-Yon, one of the founding members of the GYHS, was born at the hot springs and lived there for several years with her family. She is an encyclopedia of information about the landmark. So, consider yourself fortunate if she is your tour guide or gives a presentation about the Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs.

Laura (far left) told us many stories about the hot springs. Up on the
hillside is one of the old-time cottages being renovated.

Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs is near the Hunting Hollow entrance to Henry Coe State Park, so you can take a longer hike before or after your visit. The hot springs is only accessible by GYHS guided tours, which are usually available on the 2nd Saturday and 4th Sunday of the month. Visit the GYHS website for more information.

Climbing to the mountain peak was a popular challenge of old-time resort visitors.

Another late day for me to take part in Alphabe Thursday, hosted by the lovely Jenny Matlock. It's the letter Y.  To read other posts or to participate, please click here.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The One-of-a-Kind Windmill in Salinas Valley

My Alphabe Thursday theme: Places I've Been

Back in March, the Husband and I stumbled upon an amazing landmark in Salinas, California, of which I think many people in our area are unaware. Standing on top of a historic mill on the Harden Estate in North Salinas was a Victorian mechanical wonder known as the Challenge Double Header Wind Engine. It's considered the only surviving windmill of its kind.


The Challenge Double Header Wind Engine was built in 1892 by Salinas Valley pioneer grain farmer and dairyman Duncan McKinnon. Back then, many called the machine's design  a "masterpiece in Victorian engineering". The wind engine has two 30-foot wind wheels that rotate in opposite directions. It also has two smaller wheels which rotate the wind engine so that it faces the wind.

McKinnon decided to build the wind engine after seeing an advertisement. The man had vision. He used the wind engine to power his mill, a water pump, blacksmith shop, and carpentry shop. One source says that the wind engine was used until 1906 when electricity became available in the area. Another source says that the mill operation stopped around World War I.

Nobody operated the windmill until 2006 when it was restored by the Harden Foundation, which is based on the Harden Estate (originally McKinnon's property).  The windmill is closed to the public, but people wishing to see it can make arrangements to tour it by contacting the Harden Foundation.  The Husband and I happened to be in luck that Spring afternoon. Joe Grainger, Executive Director of the Harden Foundation, generously gave us a tour of the inside of the mill.

The story of the restoration is amazing as well. In 2004, the wind engine was removed from the top of the mill and traveled across country to Bridgewater, Virginia where the restoration took place. To read about the restoration project, click here

I was astounded when I first looked up at the wind engine. I didn't think it was a windmill. Nope. Not at all. It reminded me of a Ferris Wheel, a clipper ship, and what I imagine Jule Verne's time machine ought to look like.  I wonder what John Steinbeck thought of it. What would you think it is if you didn't know it was a windmill?

A day late is better than not at all. To check out other posts of, or to participate in, Alphabe Thursday, hosted by the lovely Jenny Matlock, click here.

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Special Wandering

My Alphabe Thursday theme: Places I've Been

September 23 was the first day of Autumn. It was also the Husband's and my 19th wedding anniversary. And, yes, it doesn't seem like it was that long ago we turned right at the xerox machine to get married. (For that story, head over here, if you like.)

Our day began with breakfast at our favorite coffee shop in San Juan Bautista—Vertigo Coffee. That's one of the few places I'll allow myself to drink coffee. The Husband had himself a mocha latte, which is an occasion in itself. Until yesterday, he hadn't drunk coffee in over two years.

We also ate BLT with soft scrambled egg panini sandwiches. Yummm! Using coffee stirrers as chopsticks to pick up the eggs that kept falling out of our sandwiches made the meal even more fun and special.

We drove over to the coast and headed north on Highway One. Roadwork was going on, but that didn't bother us. We were after all in no big hurry to get anywhere. We saw a lot of pampas grass growing alongside the road and hills. Did you know that pampas grass is originally from South America? I always thought it was from the east coast.

North of Santa Cruz, Highway One is a two-lane highway. It's a gorgeous drive, with the ocean on one side and hill and mountains on the other. Lots of farm land.  This time of the year, you can see quite a few fields full of bright orange pumpkins. I didn't get any photos of that, but I did get a photo of some trees in modern dance pose.

We stopped at Half Moon Bay, a cute little coastal town, to stretch our legs. We walked up and down the main street, window shopping and even wandered into a couple of them.  I posted photos of the various signs we saw on Main Street yesterday.

While I was taking a photo of the Husband pretending to ride a bike rack shaped in a bicycle, a woman stopped and laughed. "You've made my day," she said. "Let me take a photo of the two of you."

Our destination was Devil's Slide, about 17 minutes north of Half Moon Bay. Devil's Slide is a portion of Highway One that often got closed after heavy rains because of mudslides. After tunnels were drilled through the mountain to bypass this treacherous section, the road was turned into a trail. It opened in 2013.

I think the last time I drove Devil's Slide was 20 years ago. As we walked the trail from one end to the other and back, I was astounded that people used to drive this stretch. I don't recall the driving lanes being narrow at all.

The trail isn't long, 1.3 mile one way. There are a couple of steep inclines. Going up them was fine. Going down, ouch. My left knee was a whining diva. She didn't cry though, so that was good.

Remember that the Husband drank a mocha latte several hours earlier for breakfast. As we rested on a bench after walking down the steepest incline, the Husband mentioned how quiet he had been. "You've been talking the whole time we've been walking," I said.

"I have," he said.


The Husband is so darn cute.

We kept coming across people who exclaimed, "There's a whale!" A whale just went under!" or "Did you see the whale?" They pointed to somewhere in the ocean, describing where to look. "See the white water. The whale is near there." The Husband and I didn't see a thing.

After driving through the tunnel twice, we headed back to Half Moon Bay for dinner. We also checked out Ocean Books, the used bookstore on Main Street that unfortunately is going out of business after 19 years. There's nothing like wandering around a small, charming independent bookstore with an eclectic selection. It was one of the things that both the Husband and I hoped we would get to do on our special day of wandering.

Dinner was at Café Capistrano, which specializes in Mayan food. A local told us about this hole-in-wall restaurant, two blocks west of Main Street. The Husband and I shared an appetizer and a dinner plate, a perfect amount as both were generous portions. The appetizer was a bean stuffed tortilla topped with Mayan coleslaw, pickled onions, and shredded roasted chicken. Yummm! Our entree was pork adobo (two pieces of thin, tender pork grilled in achiote and lime) with black beans, red rice, guacamole, Mayan coleslaw, and corn tortillas. Double yummmm! Mayan adobo is very different from Filipino adobo.

It would've been nice to have stayed overnight in Half Moon Bay. But, the Mama and I had doctor appointments the following day, so back home the Husband and I went, jiggity jig, with the sun setting into the ocean.

It's the letter S at Alphabe Thursday. (Yes, I know it's Friday.) This weekly meme is hosted by the amazing Jenny Matlock.  To check out other S posts, please click here.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Signs of Half Moon Bay

Okay, I have 3 minutes to post something for today. Two minutes now. One minute.

Okay. I cheated. I published this post, and have now come back to write more. Simply had to make sure I didn't miss my daily post.

Oh, these are signs that I saw in Half Moon Bay, about 25 miles south of San Francisco, which I'll write a bit more about in tomorrow's post.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Quiet, Quaint, and Quirky Place

San Juan Bautista, with an estimated population of 1,800, looks like your ordinary, move-along-nothing-to-see very small city. At least, from the highway that runs along it. Wrong! Lots to see and lots to do if you're into California history, California missions, antiques, thrift-shopping, art galleries, walking, eating, coffee, Hitchock's Vertigo, bicycling, architecture, organic farms, wine tasting, and simply zenning out at any of the patios of the various eating and drinking establishments. Oh, and earthquakes, as in the San Andreas Fault.

I find it hard to believe more people haven't discovered this quiet, quaint, and quirky friendly town. We live about 10 miles to the east in Hollister. I've know San Juan Bautista my whole life, but it's only in the last decade that I have come to appreciate the mission city, which some people call it because of Mission San Juan Bautista, one of the 21 California missions that the Franciscan missionaries established long ago.

I like wandering around San Juan. So does the Husband. "I need to take photos in San Juan," I say to the Husband now and then, and off we go. If it's first thing in the morning, we start at Vertigo Coffee for breakfast. The owners roast their own coffee beans. I tell you it's worth a stop for their coffee. Also, for their sandwiches and pizzas.

The owners named their business after Hitchock's movie Vertigo, of which some scenes were filmed in San Juan Bautista. Remember the bell tower scene in the movie? That was supposedly the mission tower, except by the time Hitchcock came to San Juan to shoot the scene, the bell tower was no more. So, Hitchcock built a fake tower. It's just as well because his fake tower was much taller than the real one.

This is already going long.  I need to think about making dinner soon. So, I'm going to share some photos that I took over the last few years of San Juan Bautista. Most of the photos are from my other blog, Take 25 to Hollister. If you're ever in the area, drop by.

Mission San Juan Bautista

Plaza Hotel in the San Juan Bautista State Historic Park

Rain Dance Ceremony in the San Juan Bautista Plaza.

You'll find this site across from the mission.
There are picnic tables near that old settler's cabin.

Yup. Those are horseshoe prints.

Window display of the San Juan Bakery. 

Third Street, the main drag.

The trap door in the Santana Gallery leads to tunnels
that go beneath various businesses and the mission.

An old gas station transformed into the city's museum. 

One of the oldest adobes in San Juan.

Beautiful roses.

A very, very old cactus.

Paul Newman?
Bear's Hideaway has a delightful patio to sit
as you sip a glass of wine or handcrafted beer.

One of the amazing pepper trees in San Juan.

Dancers at the 2014 Mission Fiesta

Check out this website for a directory of shops, antique places, and restaurants.

Pshew! Tired? Have a seat. I may have overdone it with the photos.
Haven't even scratched the surface though. 

It's the letter Q at Alphabe-Thursday, a meme hosted by the lovely Mrs. Jenny Matlock. Click here to see what other participants are saying and showing about the letter Q.