Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Back To The Coast

The best night of sleep I got on the trip was in the clean, functional room of the Holiday Inn in Fresno. Thanks in no small part to the blackout curtains, which efficiently kept out all rays of sunlight. We got up and stumbled around a little later than usual, getting ready to leave in time for our next stop.

Down in the lobby I competed with an entire wedding party for attention. Their arrangement for an early check-in had gone wrong and the young women of the party were not pleased. I couldn't blame them, and didn't want to get in their way. At my first chance I checked with the lady behind the desk to make sure they didn't need anything else from me, and fled the scene.

Downstairs in the parking lot, more of the wedding party stood together looking anxious and impatient.

Tech Support and I backtracked up the 99, headed for the Forestiere Underground Gardens. It was conveniently located across the street from a McDonalds and we had just enough time to get breakfast, shove it down our throats, and be the last people they let into the gates.

The underground gardens were pretty interesting.

A citrus farmer from Sicily had come to the US in the early 1900s and bought terrible land unsuitable for any kind of farming. Instead of farming, the man became obsessed with digging an underground resort, and it seemed like eventually he was just obsessed with digging. He was at it until his death, about 40 years total.

We skipped on Hearst Castle, which we had done before but I wanted to do a different tour, in favor of doing this and in the end I was glad. Wandering around the cool, hobbit den of this farmer in Fresno was a very unique experience. Tech Support was fascinated and delighted, even though he had to duck most of the time since the man who'd dug the place was 5' 8" and hadn't imagined that anyone taller would come into his tunnels.

Since he was a citrus farmer originally he did have some trees planted down in his underground lair, with plenty of open sunlights above them. Not only that, but he was majorly into grafting. There were lots of decades old trees there with some of the original grafts remaining. It made me think of Uncle Bob and his experiments with rose grafts on apple trees.

After the roughly hour-long tour, it was time to get outta Fresno.

In my family, you always have to wave at the train.

We continued along on the 41, which took us from the farmland covered 99 highway to the farmland covered 5 highway. The view provided mainly farmland. Eventually we hit an aquaduct, with egrets poised along the edges of the water, and that was pretty exciting.

There had to be some kind of old-car-festival-thing going on, because we passed at least 20 restored vehicles that were at least 50 years old. They didn't come all at once, but in clumps that we saw throughout the day. Unfortunately, moving vehicles are difficult to take pictures of from other moving vehicles.

We damaged ourselves at a fast food restaurant for lunch, then continued into Paso Robles area, heading north on the 101 until we got to Mission San Miguel.

I'd never been there before, at least not that I recall. It's a sweet little mission that is being used by a Novitiate of Franciscan Monks (I have no idea if I've said that right at all) and is heavily under restoration.

Outside was a bell that had a large, laminated sheet of paper on it saying "Do Not Ring This Bell". So of course while we were there a man came out, grabbed the warning sign, and rang the bell. I wanted a hoard of angry monks to descend on him, but it didn't happen.

Tech Support spent a lot of the day ducking.

After that we were back on the road again, going down the 101 to Templeton to visit Tech Support's Step-Grandma Sylvia. Sylvia's parents had started a winery there quite a long time ago, and though the winery has been sold in the last 10 years, Sylvia got to keep her house. From her living room you can look out on hills full of vines and baby olive trees and horses, with very few buildings to mar the view. Sylvia says her friends keep asking when she's moving into town, but she isn't planning on anytime soon, despite the troubles she's been having with raccoons lately.

After a too-brief but pleasant visit, we headed out of vine-country.

Our stop for the day was Cambria, where I'd booked a suite at the Fogcatcher Inn, a place I've stayed several times in the past. We had over an hour to kill before our reservations at a nearby restaurant, so we went outside to look at the ocean.

But it was so windy, I couldn't really see much. I need to remember to bring hair ties on these trips. Still, after spending several days away from the salty sea air, it was nice to be back.

Once again we re-discovered the aggressive Cambrian ground squirrel.

These guys are fat. And some of them charge at you when they see you, hoping you have a peanut or something else wonderful to feed them. Don't let their small furry bodies fool you, we were a bit intimidated.

Tech Support is getting good at the one-handed photo.

For dinner that night we went to Robin's Restaurant, where Meggish had her wedding reception a little over a year ago. I was very excited because I knew the food would be good. Even better, our reservation got us a cute little table tucked into a quiet nook off the main area. We could look out and see the others, but it was like we had our own private area. Very romantic.

And the food was good too.

1 comment:

Meggish said...

Kirby in that last photo has the look of a man who really just wants to eat his dinner. Women and their picturemaking, pfft!