Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Monterey, Big Sur, and Ed Ricketts

We are back on Ladybug after a brief camping expedition to Big Sur. Friend and former school-mate, Peter Rigby drove down from Davis for a visit on Friday night. We set off in his car on Sunday after spending Saturday visiting museums, strolling through Monterey, and sailing Ladybug in the bay. The Big Sur coastline is a truly spectacular drive with hair-raising drop-offs, plenty of pull-overs and view points, and a number of state parks with ocean access and hiking trails. We visited Point Lobos, hiking in to save the car entry fee, although we made the mistake of bringing no water or food. Peter's high metabolism makes him even more cranky when hungry than I am. Fortunately, Peter is a vegetarian or I might not be here to write this.

Peter on the rocks

Peter conjuring waves

Big Sur Lighthouse

Peter and Rani at a pull over near Big Sur

Romantic moment (sorry Peter!)

Rocks along Big Sur coast

We camped at a beautiful riverside campground amongst towering redwoods and cooked our supper over and in the coals of a fire built from roadside-gathered wood. I can't believe how tasty slightly charred fire-baked potatoes are! Today we drove back to Monterey, stopping for a lovely hike in another state park that took us past trees alive with Monarch butterflies. Apparently, the monarchs over-winter here (although I thought they usually went all the way to Mexico?).

Peter and Chris holding a shark's fin (this giant was washed up in Monterey Bay)

Ladybug's commodious sleeping accommodations

Peter and Chris

Monarchs in Big Sur

Prior to Peter's arrival, Rani and I had sailed from Santa Cruz across Monterey Bay with a lovely beam wind almost the whole way. We saw California Sea Otters, mistaking the first one we saw for an abandoned child's teddy bear! I had seen them up north on the west coast of Vancouver Island, but none were in evidence much south of Kyuquot until we reached Santa Cruz. They were virtually wiped out by hunters due to their remarkable pelts, which can have up to a million hairs per square inch (necessary for insulation in the frigid pacific waters they frequent). From 50 otters in the rugged and remote Big Sur coast at the turn of the 20th century, the California population is up to over 2500. They now range north almost as far as San Francisco.

We next spent a day in Monterey, doing laundry, and visiting historic areas of the city including Cannery Row and the Presidio. We learned about the canneries and the sardine industry, which made Monterey the 'Sardine capitol of the world'. At the height of the industry, floating hoppers were loaded from ships and the fish sucked through pipes into the canneries, which stood on stilts along the waterfront. Escalators moved the fish to upper stories for inspection, and they were then dropped back down to be cut up and packed in 1 lb cans. After pressure cooking, conveyer belts moved the cans across the street to wharehouses and then onto rail cars - a wonderfully efficient operation which virtually wiped out the species shortly after world war II. The canneries are all gone now and most of the buildings converted to posh hotels, boutiques, and restaurants – sigh. Monterey has a good number of historic brick and adobe buildings, some of which are open to the public. We loved the walled gardens we found in some of these.

Fishermans Wharf Monterey

Ed Ricketts' memorial

Tomorrow we are having Frank over for tea. This gentleman, whom we met while visiting Cannery Row knew marine biologist Ed Ricketts (a friend of Steinbeck's and the basis for the character 'Doc' in “Cannery Row”). Frank is 90 and as lively and interesting aperson as you could find anywhere – an ambassador for the Cannery Row area of Monterey. Frank gave us a tour of Ed Rickett's home and laboratory, which is currently a private club. We are really looking forward to listening to a recording of John Steinbeck reading one of his stories, which Frank is bringing over for us to listen to. We have been reading some of Steinbeck's stories on Ladybug, including the Log from the Sea of Cortez, which describes a specimen collecting expedition Steinbeck and Ricketts took during the 40's to Baja, California.

Frank and Chris


seanf said...

That guy does not look 90.

Corie :) said...

Wow, its great to see all of the WONDERFUL pictures, I take it the Water Proof SLR Camera is working good...Nice to read your blog and check the updates, looks like you are having a blast!