Sunday, May 03, 2015

Zooming Through The Salinas Valley


Roger and I spent a week in southern California visiting with my mom, who is feeling much better (YAY!) So, we hit the road Saturday morning at 9:00 am and drove 330 miles north to the beach house. It was a quick trip, even though we stopped twice at roadside rest areas to sip our homemade English Breakfast tea and eat croissant sandwiches. We were back in Capitola by 2:15 pm. Yes, we drove very fast.
There's a long stretch of Highway 101 with a posted speed limit of 70 mph. We tend to drive with the flow of traffic, which is usually ten miles over the speed limit. So you can see why we made it back to the beach house in such a short time.
There's not much to do while we drive but look out the window and admire the scenery. Fortunately, the view is pretty awesome out there.
On and on mile after mile the beautiful Salinas Valley spreads out between the Gabilan Range (to the east) and the Santa Lucia range (to the west). We remember for many years that there weren't very many wine grapes being grown, but that all changed about a decade ago. Now those vines are everywhere. Still, the valley is known for much of the "salad greens consumed in the U.S. are grown within this region. Strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes, and spinach are the dominant crops in the valley. Other crops include broccoli, cauliflower, wine grapes, and celery. Due to the intensity of local agriculture, the area has earned itself the nickname "'America's Salad Bowl.'"

I took most of the photos looking east toward the Gabilan Range. I didn't roll the window down, so there's a bit of alteration in the light, but I think you can see the wide range of colors in those tan rolling hills. They are so beautifully wavy.
I did get one shot looking west toward the Santa Lucia Range. Yes, those are more wine grapes as far as the eye can see. To give you some perspective, on the other side of these mountains is the roaring Pacific, and a bit further north is Big Sur.

Every time we take this drive, we always remember why we love California.

24 comments:

  1. Beautiful. Such a variety of landscapes down there.

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  2. a sumptuous variety, glad all is feeling good....

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  3. Glad to hear good news about your Mom. Nice shots of beautiful California. Sounds like you are enjoying the Prius with all the road trips lately.

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  4. Your photos capture the essence of the valley. I always think of John Steinbeck when I drive through the valley and particularly the book East of Eden.

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  5. isabelita-- I see why people fall in love with California. It is really so beautiful. Forty million of us call it home.

    Steve- Thank you, yes all are feeling well.

    jsk-- The Prius is a wonderful travel car. It is quite comfy and gets GREAT gas mileage. We do like it. We've been traveling quite a bit to spend time with my mom. She is doing well now, and we are so grateful for that.

    Tara-- Thank you! I sometimes think we should stop to get a really well-composed shot, but I also like the subtle sense of movement in these photos. I think of Steinbeck too. I sure wish he were still around to write about this drought and the coming dust bowl of California.

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  6. What a wonderful time of the year to drive in California. So glad your Mom is better. Drop by sometime, it would be great to see you again. :-)

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  7. What a gorgeous place. Your photographs are wonderful. Glad to hear your mom is doing better.

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  8. Very pretty - good pics. I remember thinking that some of the mts. in CA looked to be draped in green velvet - just like Hawaii.

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  9. I just made a comment that did not show up???

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  10. Wonderful news that your Mom is feeling much better. You do live in a beautiful state. You got really great drive by shots.

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  11. MandT-- It's interesting to see how much California has changed since we drove south in January and again in March. It is so alarmingly dry for early May. Still, it is so beautiful. We have a terrible habit of just driving non-stop between destinations. We're trying to break that habit so we can see you again. We loved it so much the first time, we really should do it again.

    NCmountainwoman-- My mom recovered fully from her terrible intestinal infection. Even the diagnosis of follicular lymphoma hasn't stopped her from feeling well. We really are grateful. So glad you like these photos. It's hard not to keep clicking out the window when we're driving through here. Beauty out every window.

    kenju-- I've never been to Hawaii, but I know what you mean about that rich velvety green. In early spring it is quite dazzling.

    Sky-- I've had that happen so many times that I've gotten used to copying my comment before I hit post, just in case. I have no idea why it does that. I sure would have liked to read your comment. Sigh.

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  12. Arkansas Patti-- We are so happy about my mom, and we thank you for your kind words. California has so many different climates and terrain, it is quite a delight for the senses.

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  13. I'm glad to hear your mom is doing better. I envy the road trip; I want one!

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  14. John-- I highly recommend taking a road trip. Much of California is too hot in summer, but fall is particularly beautiful.

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  15. I still love California from a distance and am so glad it is loved close up, as you do so beautifully.

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  16. Good to know your mother is feeling much better! Like Anonymous above, I still love California from a distance, especially those rolling hills that play such a large in my earliest memories of being alive. I was looking around on Google images for another place in the world with rolling hills like that and could not find anything comparable.

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  17. I'm sneaking a comment from work, whence I actually can comment: That is the best news about your mom! It looked so bleak for awhile there, that I cannot imagine the happiness in your family.
    But about those vineyards...is that drought country? The hills behind look dry, but maybe that's normal for that part of the state? We all love our alcohol, but maybe that's not the best use of a precious resource.

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  18. am-- Do you ever make it back to California to walk around your favorite beaches and rolling hills? It would be a great trip!

    CCorax-- We are all so relieved about my mom. She was diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma, but we would not have even known about that if not for the intestinal infection. Fortunately, it is slow growing. We're very hopeful.

    Yes, most of California is drought country at this time. It is crazy to be growing water intensive crops, but almonds and grapes are big business. We read this blog quite often: http://onthepublicrecord.org/
    The writer does a great job explaining California's water predicament.
    I think this is a pretty good op ed too:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/03/opinion/sunday/the-end-of-california.html?src=recg

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  19. It is good to hear that your mother is doing well.

    I wonder how long California will be able to maintain the intensive agriculture it has had for so long. Of course, droughts come and go, but if climate change makes lower precipitation the norm, something's gotta give. Cutting water use in the cities won't solve that problem.

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  20. Mark-- We are very relieved by my mom's recovery. California is facing some big problems if the water situation is not dealt with effectively. Surprising to most people is the fact that agriculture uses 80% of the state's water, but only contributes 2% to the economy. The water intensive crops will have to go. Hah, like that would ever happen.

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  21. Robin Andrea, Thanks for your comments on frombluebirdstoturtles. It takes waiting for the weekend to get out the FZ70. This past weekend was a great one for the adult birds. When the sun is right, the bluebirds are just dazzling. I checked the nests at work on Sunday after checking the ones at home on Saturday. As of now there are 11 nests in the 16 boxes I erected. There have been 57 eggs laid (looks like 13 of them were not viable or were abandoned), and 34 babies have hatched so far. There are 10 more eggs in two nests that have yet to hatch. The bluebirds often nest a second and third time in a summer, so I have hopes for more. Do you guys do Facebook? I've been getting brave and posting a few pictures there, too (but I usually include them in the blog posts). Glad Mom is feeling better. Regards to Roger. aubrey

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  22. Jealous of that scenery and drive. Glad your mom is doing well.

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  23. Aubrey-- Thank you for the info and the facebook friendship!

    Dave-- We hardly ever truly admire the Salinas Valley, but it is really pretty awesome.

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