A Buoy, Garlic, Lighthouse, And Part Of The Donner Party.

After walking around Monterey, California (see last week’s post) we drove a few miles to Point Pinos Lighthouse.  It was built and lit in 1855.

Point Pinos Lighthouse, Pacific Grove, CA 03/23

The light is on top of the house not a separate tower. The tour closed in about 15 minutes when we got there. The volunteers outside said we could pay to look inside or just walk around the grounds. We decided to just walk around the grounds.

Fascinating Information! Pacific Grove, CA 03/23

We saw a large red buoy on the grounds. The sign said it weighs 4 tons but it floats. It is similar to one you can see in the ocean at the entrance of Monterey Bay. It is anchored to a chain to a concrete slab that weights over 3 tons and is 200 ft deep to the bottom of the ocean. The buoy pictured above is 17 ft high and 22 ft around its widest point. About 7 ft of a buoy would show above the water. Who knew all this great information! That is one of the things we love about our travels.

Looking Across Monterey Bay, Pacific Grove, CA 03/23

We drove around the point on Ocean View Blvd, stopping often for me to jump out and take some photos. 🙂 The beaches are very rocky and make beautiful scenes as the water splashes on them. Part of the drive back to HOWE (our name for our Home On WhEels) was out and around and through Salinas. Salinas is “salad bowl” as most things grown there can go in a salad. I thought that was a fun nickname. We hope to come back here and learn all we can. We still want to know what is growing all along the way. It was a great day. (We weren’t able to go back there due to rains and floods. Another time.)

Steak Bites Made With Local Products, Hollister, CA 03/23

Another rainy morning in Central California, I know – shocking! It changed our plans just a little so we didn’t do a history walking self-guided tour of Gilroy, CA. That was fine, plenty of other things to do.  We headed the 25 minutes north to Gilroy at 9:30am. We got to Garlic World when they opened. It was a tiny bit disappointing in the fact that from their website, we thought there would be a lot more history and information but there was zero. Glad we had read about it online before we went. This area, years ago, was all orchards with a small patch of garlic. Garlic did so well they tore out the orchards and planted garlic. Gilroy is self-proclaimed garlic capital of the world. This store was just a store, no history or museum. I bought Big Paw’s Garlic Olive Oil, made in Hollister, CA. Also a jar of minced garlic grown at Christopher Ranch in Gilroy. It is fun to buy things that are so very local. 🙂

The next stop didn’t open until noon so we drove around the city. Kevin said we had an important stop to make…Starbucks. HAHA He is still using the gift card he got from his work for Christmas. Our next stop turned out to be fantastically full of information: California Welcome Center. It is located at the outlet mall. The ladies were so friendly and offered great answers to our questions. Besides little souvenirs to buy they had racks and racks of free maps, guides, things to see/do, etc. They even gave us a garlic shaped sticky pad. HAHA They had a darling Christmas ornament – a few cloves of garlic. Kevin asked if I wanted it but since we didn’t see or do anything really having to do with growing garlic I said pass. The best pamphlet we got was one about the fruits and veggies grown in a large area around here. She said they (welcome center) work directly with the Farm Bureau and the paper is as accurate as can be. Finally! A way to see what is planted and harvest times. When I asked when the Garlic Festival is this year she had a sad face and said not sure. She continued that now there are three small, local get-togethers for it. I was confused. Gilroy town website says it grows over 50% of America’s garlic and 90% of the country’s garlic is processed here. I asked if Covid had shut it down and she said yes “and other things”. I was mystified but we didn’t ask more, as she seemed to not want to say more about it. (As I am typing this up, I googled for the percentage info to get it right. I saw an article about Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting! 2019 a gunman killed 3 and injured 17 on the last day of the festival. THAT is why they haven’t had one since. So sad!!!!) We did our usual, which was to ask her where her favorite restaurant is. She marked some places down for us on a paper but when we got in the truck, we decided we weren’t hungry yet. So we headed southwest for about 15 minutes, to San Juan Bautista. 

Plaza Hotel, Established 1856, San Juan Bautista, CA 03/23

As we drove to the San Juan Bautista State Historic Park we saw a lot of cars around it. The Catholic Mission church is right across the road, and it is Sunday. We parked about 5 blocks down. The ranger was extremely nice and enjoyable to chat with. He lives in Hollister and knew all about our evacuation. The museum gave us so much more information than we expected.

Part Of The Donner Party, The Breen Family, San Juan Bautista, CA 03/23

We were surprised to find that Donner Party Patrick & Margaret Breen Family with their 7 children, who all survived the 4 months in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, had settled in this exact place! This exact building in San Juan Bautista! The Breen family was from Ireland, Canada, and then Iowa. In February 1848, almost a year after they were rescued from the Sierra Nevadas, the Breens arrived in San Juan Bautista. They were welcomed by the priest. When they were introduced to Prefect Jose Antonio Castro, he gave them the use of his two-story abode, refusing to take any rent. He suggested they work the neglected pear orchard to make their living. Later the Breens opened their doors to travelers heading to the gold fields. The adobe became knows as “The United States Inn.” Even General Sherman stayed here. One of the sons, John, went to the gold country in 1848. One day in the spring of 1849 he returned with gold dust worth more than $250,000 today. He bought the Castro adobe for his parents and land near the mission. He married Leah Margaret Smith and they had 10 children. He became a well-known rancher. Patrick Breen wrote in his diary of the time they were stranded, “Hungry times in camp, plenty hides but the folks will not eat them. We eat them with a tolerable good appetite. Feb 26, 1847.” This family didn’t partake in cannibalism.

“Double-Decker…What?” HAHA San Juan Bautista, CA 03/23

We toured through the Plaza Hotel that was established in 1856. Guys on horses would ride them right into the saloon reach down and get their drinks and even gamble, all from on the horse. Out the back was the most unique outhouse! It has doors to two pits. Above it, with a bridge from the 2nd story of the hotel, is a pit on top of the bottom two. The top runs between the bottom two. What a great idea and fancy! The people didn’t have to walk through the hotel and down the stairs to go to the bathroom.

The Pear Orchard The Breens Took Care Of, San Juan Bautista, CA 03/23

The pear orchard now has several different kinds of things growing. One is a prickly pear – it was taller than Kevin! It was neat to walk through the adobe and just ponder on if the walls could talk, what stories they would tell!

Horse Feeding System, San Juan Bautista, CA 03/23

Next we went across the street to the blacksmith shop. They had a lot of carriages in there from different years from plain to fancy. Kevin noticed in the middle of the barn there are horse stalls and they have two openings per stall in the wall. This is where hay was dropped from above. How ingenues!

“Free Take One” Doesn’t Mean The Rack! HAHA San Juan Bautista, CA 03/23

Kevin made me laugh out loud! He “wondered” if that sign meant he could take the rack where maps and brochures are suppose to be. (Just kidding!) We walked back to the truck just in time before it started raining again. That was close. HA It was a really enjoyable day.


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