Saturday, 29 December 2007

'Lettuce' see where Mark is today...

A short post today as it's my birthday and to paraphrase 'Withnail and I': "I've had a few ales.." (hic)

Mark is continuing to make good progress down the Californian coast and has carried on down Big Sur and according to the tracker is approaching San Luis Obispo.
He has also passed near Salinas which will be familiar to those who have read the work of John Steinbeck, as it is his hometown.
The area is known as "America's Salad Bowl", particularly the SALINAS VALLEY.

Agriculture dominates the economy of the valley. In particular, a large majority of the salad greens consumed in the U.S. are grown within this region. Strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes, and artichokes are the dominant crops in the valley. Other crops include broccoli, cauliflower, wine grapes, celery, and spinach. Due to the intensity of local agriculture the area has earned itself the nickname, "America's Salad Bowl."

It has a particularly clement climate owing to its physical geography:

Salinas enjoys cool and moderate temperatures due to the "natural air conditioner" that conveys ocean air and fog in from the Monterey Bay to Salinas while towns to the north and south of Salinas experience hotter summers as mountains block the ocean air. Thus Salinas weather is closer to that of the Central Coast of California rather than that of inland valleys and thus enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate with typical daily highs ranging from the low 50s (°F) in the winter to the low 70s (°F) in the summer. The difference between ocean and air temperature also tends to create heavy morning fog during the summer months (known as the marine layer) driven by an onshore wind created by the local high pressure sunny portions of the Salinas Valley which extend north and south from Salinas and the Bay.

I liked this photo and description from FLICKR user base10 who cycled through the area, and made photos available under Creative Commons license:

Riding through the lower Salinas Valley is quite striking. The fresh smells of everything from strawberries to artichokes to celery being grown. Throughout the day and on other days of the ride, we'd see workers in the fields, bent over picking or slicing and racing it to the edges of the field. There was frequently music playing, generally mariachi, from a boom box on a truck bed, putting the sound into the fields. Every now and again, farm workers would rise and raise their hands and wave to us as we rode by. They work incredibly hard in frequently difficult conditions and that they would take time to wave to us, riding our bikes silently, was greatly appreciated. But just as often, they stayed as they were, moving up and down the rows, efficiently.

I am a great fan of John Steinbeck's writing: "The Grapes of Wrath" is a classic with a clear link to themes of drought and soil erosion, the dustbowls and migration of the Okies to California with their dreams of a better life.

One of my favourites, which I must re-read, is "The Winter of our Discontent". Just checking the details I was reminded that the theme is strongly related to that of illegal immigration.

To check out the scenery that Mark has been cycling through, search Flickr for "Pacific Coast Highway"...

On the Artemis World Cycle site there are also a few new images of Mark in Australia, and some new audio from New Zealand.
This is my last blog post, as Mrs. V will return tomorrow. Thanks for reading !
Best wishes to Mark for the remaining part of his journey... Keep those wheels turning...

1 comment:

SLORider said...

Reminds me of a hobo ride I once did on a freight train through Salinas. The train broke down in a lettuce field and we were left overnight. We slept in the cab of the locomotive, toasting a head of lettuce we pulled out of the ground each. Wish we could have left a tip for the farmer.