Really Watsonville & Pacific Grove
17.04.2013 - 18.04.2013 70 °F
My plan for today was to visit Monterrey & Carmel, however what good would a travel plan be without a little flexibility?
So we headed west from the campground over Hwy 152, also known as "Hecker Pass" road, and soon found why they don't allow trucks over 45' long on this road! It was a fun & beautiful drive in a Kia Rio however. The road surface is good, but there are a lot of twists and turns and a fairly steep grade. The tightest turn has a 15 mph speed limit, a few had 20 or 25 mph speed limits. The pass is only about 1300 feet, but of course this is from sea level and over total distance of about 13 miles, so is a nice little jaunt in a small car.
At the summit is an old, closed "Mt. Madonna Inn". Lovely spot and view, but this is not the same place as the beautiful Madonna Inn, also in Watsonville. This one is closed.
I'm still having trouble learning to use my camera correctly (maybe because I haven't bothered to look up the directions, which don't come with the camera any more, you have to google them). Anyway, most of my shots from the pass aren't worth posting, so this is the best available.
As we continued on and approached downtown Watsonville, we passed a very cool looking old house. I couldn't tell from the sign whether it was a museum or a commercial building so decided to pull over and check it out.
This is the Tuttle Mansion. It isn't really a museum, but is a very historic home (for Watsonville at least) and the main office inside had an information sheet and encouraged me to look around a bit. It was built in 1899 by Morris B. Tuttle, who had grown rich ranching and farming in the area and wanted a home to show off his success. The cost was a staggering sum for that time, $20,000 including $5,000 for the carpentry alone, which included very expensive Hungarian ash, oak, cedar, birds eye maple and mahogany.
Ralph Oliver bought the home in 1974 and has restored it as commercial real estate, including offices for his property management company.
We continued on through downtown Watsonville towards Hwy 101, which would take us to Monterey. However I saw signs for Pajaro Dunes. That sounded interesting so I decided to check it out first. This took us through an old business section of town (mostly agricultural plants and warehouses). This one looked like a bunch of small markets until we looked closer! Most of the windows, doors, awnings and people are just painted onto a regular, bland old warehouse. Very Cool!
We continued driving west towards the dunes and again passed lots of fields. It seems even farming has gone mass production these days, these folks were planting (lettuce I think), then harvesting (strawberries again):
On the way out to the dunes, we also passed several of these very strange, large, concrete structures. We tried and tried to figure out what they were or why they were just plopped by the side of the road along the fields. See if you can guess (I'll put the answer at the end of the blog entry).
Eventually we did make it to Pajaro Dunes. It turns out most of the area is a vacation resort, "Pajaro Dunes", however there is also a small state park with lots of Eucalyptas trees and also some nice, but small sand dunes and a beach. The hike to the top of the dunes is a bit difficult (soft sand), but Mom decided to try it and did make it to the top. The beach is fairly steep and has a clearly visible undertow, so I just took pictures and we both enjoyed the lovely day and view, then headed back to Hwy 101.
So we drove on into Monterey and tried to decide how to spend our limited time. Here is where you get lucky (or not, depending on they type of reader you are - I suppose if you're following this blog at all, you probably aren't too turned off by travel blogs!) - Anyway, for the first time this trip I forgot to plug in my camera last night! The battery died just as we got to cannery row, so no more pictures! Not entirely, my cell phone also has a camera of course, but for some reason I was reluctant to use it until we got to Ocean View Drive - where it worked just fine. So in any event, will just have to describe what we did inbetween.
It had been a long time since I'd spent any considerable time in Monterey and I didn't have a detailed map of the area, so I decided to stop by the information center first. This is in a building that had been the French Consolete during the Mexican period and is also right by a lake, which was quite lovely. The ladies were very helpful and recommended we take the "Ocean View Drive" through Pacific Grove on our way to Carmel.
We decided to skip the Wharf and Aquarium this trip, having done both previously and having allocated limited time for this area. I drove through Cannery row slowly and we decided to eat lunch there. We stopped at a Mexican restaraunt over the water, where Mom really enjoyed watching the Comerants fishing and the waves breaking over the rocks and old concrete foundations next to us. We enjoyed the scenery, but didn't really stop a whole lot but instead made our way up to the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History. Boy what a find! Not only was it an interesting little museum, but it was free! (Donations accepted of course). They have displays of most of the species found in Monterey County including one of the largest collections of mounted birds in the county - if not the largest. They also have a nice garden area in the back with different 'region's (types of plants located in the different regions of the county). After enjoying the museum, we purchased a few small items in the gift shop and moved on.
So we headed back downt he hill to Ocean View Drive and turned left. It was a clear, sunny spring day and the views were fantastic, so good in fact that I finally overcame my reluctance to use the cell phone camera. There was plenty of (free) parking along the drive so I stopped several times to enjoy the view and take pictures. One had some very pretty pink flowers (a species of ice plant I think). I got out to take pic's and to my surprise, when I turned around Mom had also gotten out and headed down the path a bit! (I figured she was pretty tired from the museum and had encouraged her to just enjoy the rest of the trip from the comfort of the car.)
Anyway, we took the slow route around Ocean View Drive (e.g., many stops) and felt we'd had a good enough time we really didn't need to pay for the 17 mile drive to Carmel. It was getting a bit later and Mom was tired so we decided to head back to the RV campground. This time I didn't go so slow, just got back on Hwy 101 to Watsonville, and exited on 152 East back towards the pass. Just before we got to the uphill section however, I saw a sign for "Apricot Pies". How could I pass that up? So one minor detour to Gizdich Ranch, a couple of slices of pie, apple cider and a jar of the best apple butter I've ever had, and we zipped back and enjoyed a quiet evening in camp)
Mom was pretty tired out from the drive (it was about 50 miles from the campground to Pacific Grove), so I decided to take the next day (Thursday) off and not go anywhere. We did our laundry, dishes, etc. and started a jigsaw puzzle in the clubhouse. The weather was fantastic, warm but pleasant and I had as much fun relaxing as mom did! Friday we'll head up to San Jose.
Quiz Answer: The concrete objects are bases for water tanks! We finally saw one with a tank still on top. I guess technology has progressed so they have plenty of irrigation jto support the fields without the tanks, but the concrete bases are much too massive to bother to remove.