It promised to be another scorcher in Stockton today with the expected temperatures well over 100. Don said we were going to the Monterey Peninsula and we should expect fog and chilly, so we packed jackets and headed out.
We took I-5 south in moderate traffic, Don at the wheel of the trusty Toyota. As we neared Santa Nella, where we would turn west towards the coast, it became obvious there was a fire nearby. I can see how these grass fires can burn since the entire countryside is dry, yellow grass and the wind blows constantly. The smoke started to obscure our vision, as you can see in the photo, and Don worried about possible road closures.
We stopped at Mickey D's in Santa Nella for a quick breakfast and a 'washroom' break. Don makes fun of some of our Canadianisms. Then it was west past the San Luis Reservoir and up into Pacheco Pass, where there were actually trees and rocks. There were also no exits or other roads, so this is a fairly remote area. The smoke dissipated as we went up hill.
When the expressway ended, we drove south on SR 156 towards Hollister. On the way, we passed the Corbin factory where high quality after-market motorcycle seats and other accessories are produced. Hollister was the town where a motorcycle gathering in 1947 gave rise to a sensational Life Magazine spread and was subsequently the model for the movie, The Wild One. It was, essentially, the birthplace of the modern motorcycle gang mythos. Bikers have been coming to Hollister on Independence Day Weekend for years. Citing municipal costs, the city fathers cancelled the rally for 2006 but the bikers came anyway.
Leaving Hollister, we crossed the Calaveras Fault, part of the San Andreas fault system. There was nothing to mark the spot. Not far west, we came to the small town of San Juan Bautista. The mission here dates from 1797 and was the 15th mission built in the California mission chain. Some scenes in the Hitchcock film Vertigo were set at the mission. Driving around the quiet little town, I could feel a sense of the history and the people who had lived here.
While Don and I were talking, I discovered that he had actually met Grace Hopper, one of the legendary computer pioneers. She was an officer in the US Navy and is credited with developing the COBOL programming language and was probably the source of the term 'bug' as it relates to computers. Don has one of her 'nanoseconds', a piece of wire just under a foot long showing how far light travels in a nanosecond. She used these to illustrate why satellite communication had delays.
We continued west, passing a sign for Salinas and the line from the song Me and Bobby McGee, written by Kris Kristofferson and made famous by Janis Joplin, popped into my head. 'Somewhere near Salinas, Lord, I let her slip away.....'. This is one of my favourite songs, as anyone who has heard me attempt to sing it around campfires can attest.
We arrived at the coast, passing Fort Ord, and entered the Monterey Peninsula. We passed the gate into the private community of Pebble Beach, saying we were going to visit Don's friends, the Chinn's. Gaynor and Momi own a home in the DelMonte Forest portion of Pebble Beach that they recently renovated. Don was surprised to find a new home going up behind their property.
Gaynor wasn't home, but Momi welcomed us with open arms. She is the kind of person you can meet and feel like you have known her forever. The home is gorgeous. Here, Momi and Don are on the terrace at the back of the house, with some of the unusual trees in the background. The homes here are all in the several million dollar range, with the values going up as you get closer to the water.
Momi took us on a tour of Pebble Beach. This is a mecca for upscale golfers and some of the most famous courses in the world reside in this relatively small space. Spanish Bay, Spyglass, Poppy Hills, the famous Pebble Beach and the infamous Cypress Point.