Thursday 17th March
We are based in Monterey which is the historic capital of California under the Spanish and Mexicans. There are many historical sites here but the one that is perhaps most important can be followed along the Path of History which is the old railway line used to export sardines and their reductions out of California. In the 1920s there were so many sardines in the bay that, with the help of divers, pipes were put into the sea and the catch sucked ashore. Many of the canneries and processing plants are preserved today in a much cleaner fashion than in the novels of John Steinbeck who was born in nearby Salinas.
Our explorations took us south past Carmel and to the Big Sur. This is described as a most memorable section of coastline anywhere, with 5000 foot high mountains rising from the Pacific Ocean. It is so rugged that development has been difficult and it remains a geologically interesting coastline as it has examples of volcanoes and their associated activities as well as the same type of materials that we saw in China. To the team this is China in California as a result of the break up of the ancient continent of Pangea.
Along the way we saw the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve which contains one of the few remaining groves of native Monterey cypress, bent by the Pacific winds. As we walked across the headlands we heard the barking of sea otters found here by Spanish explorers. Grey whales are seen offshore and we witnessed this whilst eating dinner at 6:00 p.m. back in Monterey.
Further south we continued to cling to the coastline on Highway 1 to the amazingly photogenic Bixby Creek Bridge which, when built in 1932, was one of the largest concrete bridges in the world and is used in countless adverts and posters. In fact it is on the front cover of our North American road atlas.
A little way along the road is Point Sur and Big Sur village. The former is a volcanic plug or fumarole and is connected to the mainland by a sand spit known as a tombolo. It has been 22C with clear blue skies but with sand and salt spray covering the coast. This has lead to some interesting examples of weathering by saltation of the granites, limestones and sandstones of the area.
Returning from dinner we stumbled across this Donald Trump chocolate bar in a Deli. When asked by the team how they were selling the shopkeeper said, “We may have to eat them all, ourselves!” So is that ‘the poll of polls?’ Maybe the news networks need to be here.