Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Drive Through Salinas Valley

It rained heavily through the morning yesterday. Our plans were to visit Monterey Peninsula. We finally started out about noon when the rain was letting up and the sun made its appearance. A lot of water had accumulated on the roadways and ditches were full. We saw a few great egrets by the side of the road. I had never seen them that close-up before, what beautiful birds! We drove into a town which we had visited last Saturday. We came here then to tour a historic mission, one of the original 21 missions started by Father Serra. I was trying to remember the name of the town when suddenly I heard roosters crowing. I laughed and said to John that off course, I should have remembered, this town (San Juan Bautista) has the chickens roaming the streets! How could I have forgotten? The roosters especially strut around everywhere in this town and crow.  No one seems to mind their presence. It is like the sacred cows of India.
From this town we drove into the countryside. Green rolling hills greeted us at very curve of the road. Water rolling down the hills in small streams crossed the highway. John sure does pick the most scenic roads!
 He was not even sure what road we were on, he thought perhaps it was old Highway 101. It was not the best of roads, very bumpy. And even from the hills, which appeared to be more grassy than rocky, we realized that rock slides could happen.  In one area near the road we saw a big boulder which had crashed through a pasture fence. Driving on further we started to see many small animals by the side of the road, one even narrowly missed the wheels of our car. John and I had a lengthy discussion  about these critters, were they prairie dogs or squirrels?  John said they were grounds squirrels because of their bushy tails. I argued that they were coming out of burrows in the hills and had to be prairie dogs. John was right, but in my defense the ground squirrel is related closely to the prairie dog. We soon drove out of the hills and into the agricultural fields of the Salinas Valley. In the town of Salinas we used our GPS to find the statue of Steinbeck which we had missed in our last trip to the city.
We did eventually make it to the Monterey Peninsula, Cannery Row being our first stop. It was a now-defunct sardine cannery and the colorful locale of some of Steinbeck's novels. The buildings have been renovated and currently house up-scale  shops and restaurants.

Our visit to the peninsula is another story which will have to be saved for my next posting.

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