The Beach, A Slough, A Mission & A Farming Town!

April 25th, 2010

Three day adventure taken late April, 2010 to Los Gatos, Aptos, Seascape, Pajaro, Watsonville, Moss Landing, Monterey, formerly Ft. Ord, Salinas, San Juan Grade to San Juan Bautista, Hollister and back home to Sunnyvale.

Richie and I were room mates at the University of Santa Clara. We shared a sixth floor room at Ben Swig Hall, ate at the Cafeteria across the way and walked to our classes in the small campus with El Camino Real  running through it.  In the spring  on warm days we would head over the summit to Santa Cruz for a day at the beach. Actually, our beach of choice was Seascape with the iconic cement boat pier and the high bluffs above. We would always take our books with good intentions but more often than not the books were there to assuage our conscience. We would ride in the coolness of the morning and breakfast at one of the homey cafes along frontage roads off of Highway One, run along the beach and play football, talk about our futures and the girls, especially the ones that gave us the ‘brown helmet’. We would be all tan…it was cool to be tan way back then…and unaware as to the health risks. And.. ride back in the late afternoon listening to Mamas & Papas, Jefferson Airplane and Bob Dylan in time for dinner with the rest of the fellows. They were having the ‘Summer of Love’ up in The Haight but it all went by unnoticed as we were cocooned in the very conservative Jesuit campus. We had a tough time getting dates…or, if the truth be told, any girl to talk to us.

To this day, some forty plus years later, the idea of  traveling over the summit of the Santa Cruz mountains to the Santa Cruz and Monterey area brings on a warm glow, a smile to my face and puts my thoughts in a happy place. Once every week or two I pack up with my golf gear, turn up the music a bit and head over the hill for a day of golf and joy in the coastal sunshine with folks I’ve never met and probably never see again. But today it’s just me and my bike and a small bag on the rack and most of all good weather and an open road ahead…a road  never before traveled.

Los Gatos, Summit & Aptos

Los Gatos is the ‘bad boy’ of Silicon Valley. At the southern extremity of the valley with the Santa Cruz Mountains looming just above it is an eclectic blend of the upwardly mobile gentry and the rough and tumble mountain culture. There is a hint of ‘Harley and leathers’ with the long standing saloons of Carry Nations and The Black Watch on Santa Cruz Avenue. It’s streets are bejeweled with iconic Victorians and art deco structures, the parking is hidden one street behind where the once all important railroad used to run and the pedestrians command the sidewalks and central square at Santa Cruz Avenue and Main. It’s shops are distinctive and non-corporate and the restaurants have a character all their own.

I ride coffee-less this early, sunny morning on the bicycle path along Lawrence Expressway. It runs along Calabazas Creek meandering though city planted vegetation of Mexican sages, lavendar and other fine greenery to a stretch along the expressway and onto Quito Road, a road which has managed to retain a sense of wildness even though dotted with multi-million dollar homes.

I arrive at the Boulanger on the central square. At one corner of the square is a run of rails commemorating the train station once  just ahead through the redwood trees. The South Pacific Coast Railroad ran through here. That was the narrow gauge, steam powered line which first connected Santa Cruz, the cities of the south and east bay to Alameda and then by ferry boat to San Francisco.

Banditos once roamed the nearby mountains. I order a coffee and croissant and sit at a window table looking onto the square. “Painless Parker’, the sidewalk dentist magnate walked these streets. The pump entrepreneur who came to found FMC settled here. I sip on the hot Kona Blend and munch the pastry and watch the people stroll. Heralded for its fine weather th city became a center for the infirmed. Down the street is the Toll House Hotel and

have always wondered. The name?? Well, one time a toll road to Santa Cruz began there. Ah, now it makes sense. There is the original toll house nearby….I’ve yet to find it. And…yes, even ‘sweet Melanie’ of Gone With The Wind was a permanent resident. How cool is that!

Just over the freeway I catch the Los Gatos Path, a dirt path leading to Lexington Reservoir and roads south. The ride up the face of the dam is seemingly tame but once I pedal the final ascent I’m gasping for air. I gaze at the calm surface as I regain my composure. The waters hide the onetime towns of Lexington and Alma. Just to my left is a large sign warning hikers and cyclists about mountain  lions and survival instructions in case of an encounter. Well!! That’s a sobering thought. But it was the roar of these wild beasts that motivated the original settlers to build here. If the lions liked it here, then there must be plenty of water…so they settled… and hence the name…Arroyo de Los Gatos. Just across the highway from here is the Cat’s Restaurant. To my mind it captures the spirit of Los Gatos.

I ride along the east shore of the reservoir and a third way up the opposite side to climb to Old Santa Cruz Highway. Serene coves, climbs through oak clusters, shafts of morning sunlight, thickets of redwoods, patches of flowering sweet peas, giant ferns and clover,vistas of the waters and the rising bluish outline of the summit to the south provide a fascinating kaleidoscope to imprint on the memory. I encounter no cars. There are many homes for sale…homes nestled in the thick vegetation. I pass Mt. Charlie Road…a road named after the early settler of Los Gatos Mountains who brought his family from gold mining areas to start a farm and orchard. The climb is steady and not bothersome.  I come to a clearing and a bend where there is a stained glass window shop. It’s strange. It’s open but no one is around. It’s the remnants of Holy City, founded by ‘Father Riker’, the cultish wackadoo. It’s all eerie.

I arrive at Summit Road about 1,800ft. in elevation, eat a banana and call Patricia who is perpetually worried when I go on these cycling adventures. So, I call often and give her progress reports.

An upscale market along Summit Road with deli, butcher shop  and all goodies along with coffees and nice deck for locals to gather. I had a coffee and listened to a group of ladies with the morning chatter. Local color and mountain culture, you know!

The beginning of San Jose-Soquel Road which provides a breezy descent to the coast. At one time this road and the route along Highway 17, Patchen Pass,  were routes for overland stagecoach travel to Santa Cruz. Competing companies used these roads and engaged in fare wars. $3 per person was the going rate but the  fares got down to as low as $1 before the railroad arrived to the area.

I followed a group of riders going about 20mph, effortlessly enjoying the descent and  scenery and arriving in Soquel refreshed.

The Coast, Farms & Slough

Once over the hill everything is different! The hectic pace, the rushed traffic, the gate of pedestrians, the glitch of the shops, the smells and sounds… and yes, the perception…all seems muted and blends into a peaceful, pleasant, harmonious canvas. I ride east along Soquel boulevard through the Cabrillo College campus and I’m amazed as to its large size; students in groups, laden withbooks, riding bikes and skate boards moving in all directions. Such a lovely setting to learn with the ocean smells and eucalyptus scents, gentle breezes and pastoral setting.

I head south towards the beach and find my way to Summer Road, a lovely wide road with rails on one sideand Aptos Seascape Golf Course on the other. I’ve played the course many times but all looks different from this perspective. Tidy neighborhoods with low lying homes in muted ocean colors of grays and blues and large picture windows face the scapes of rugged cypress and gnarled underbrush, patches of ocean and diminishing layers of fog. I travel peaceful roads, broad shouldered roads, roads withfine vistas and changing character. Summer Road to Seascape Road  to San Andreas Road and Elkhorn. There is a cyclist with bright colors just ahead and her bike is laden with goods. She looks fatigued as I pass her. I recognize that look. I give her a greeting but she does not respond so I return to my thoughts. My beautiful thoughts! I enter the farm areas about Watsonville. Large valleys with dark, rich soils and coastal micro-climate are ideal for vegetables. The air becomes redolent with the thick,  sweet scent of strawberries. Groups of field workers with their vehicles parked close by cluster in groups, bent over, pickingthe fruit and hoisting the boxes onto trucks. The sides of the road are littered with clouds from all the field activity as trucks rush off and on the fields to market. I gaze at the workers nearby all stooped over and wonder…could I ever do that if I had to. What a tough life it must be. I feel sadness and ride slowly looking down at the clods, and weave between the big ones.

I rise from the fields and ride along the foothills heading south on Elkhorn Road. It’s typical and beautiful California hill country. Oak trees with Spanish moss and thickets of bushes along the creeks; the road is narrow and winding. There is an occasional barn or such but it looks abandoned. I climb and wind and see a sign for Elkhorn but see no town. Beyond another ascent and curve I find it….Elkhorn Slough. It’s an expansive vista, all low lying with waters and islands disappearing into the west. Water fowl flies in formations and lands with a splash. There are kayak trips for bird watchers and nature lovers emanating from Moss Landing. Perhaps someday….with Patricia…what a good idea.

Lunch, lunch…it’s time for lunch. I know that Phil’s Restaurant in Moss Landing is my lunch place but as I look west from the foothills, the slough has disappeared and see no double stacks of the power plant. The Moss Landing Power Plant with its towering stacks can be seen from Monterey and Santa Cruz…but I could not see it. And…I was hungry. And…I rode some more…and more…then Dolan Road which headed west. A stiff breeze was my adversary but I was hungry. I could see the slough again to my right and there was a hawk, a large hawk on a fence post still as a sentinel….but I was hungry. The twin stacks were now visible…I was close.

 After 65 miles in the morning I was delighted to see Moss Landing and Phil’s Restaurant for a hearty bowl of red clam chowder and garlic bread. Fantastic!! I chatted with the friendly bartender, sipped on fine Cabernet and toasted the racy history of Moss Landing When it was an entry point for contraband booze during the prohibition era.

The Beach Bike Path

I traverse the estuary onto the narrow strip of town melding into the wide shouldered Highway 1 towards Castroville, ‘the artichoke capital of the world’. Those familiar with the geography will instantly agree of the appropriateness of the moniker. On our trips to Monterey,  Patricia would always require a stop into downtown Castroville for a plump bag of deep fried artichoke hearts at the Giant Artichoke, a vegetable stand and restaurant with a large artichoke icon in front reminiscent of the fast food places on Route 66 in the melodious ’60’s. The fields are jam packed with the thistly artichoke plants and trucks race down Molera Road towards market. The afternoon wind is brisk and the ride is not without effort even on flat terrain. But as I lift my head from thoughts and affix my gaze to the surroundings it’s an entry into another world. Expansive fields, thistly and muted green, gray of the chokes, a refreshing wind and mild scent of ocean nearby.

Just to the south of Castroville I join the Monterey Beach Bike Path which runs along the beach and adjacent to the railroad and Highway 1. It’s a magnificent experience. completely sheltered from all traffic withavantage view of the beach and ocean. Ice plants cover much of the nearby sand and provides plashes of magenta and green over and beyond each mound. Heavy ocean breezes play with the sand and sudden gusts move me to the edges. On occasion the path is lost to the sand with my front wheel skidding and my weight lurching out of control…almost…a mild fall as I recline in the soft and warm sand tangled with handlebars and pedals. Marina and Sand City and Seaside and the former Fort Ord, now a residential community. I recollect my initial experiences at Fort Ord…yes…my ROTC days and ‘the survival, escape and evasion course’ somewhere beyond the dunes inland. Many years ago in the late sixties. Beyond Sand City the magical MontereyPeninsula comes into view jutting out to a point into the sunset. It’s always been our favorite and romantic getaway. Patricia and I…during our courtship….a courtship which lasted many years…would come to this peninsula and stay weekends in  Pacific Grove at the Sunset Motel cabin #6  just down the street from the Pacific Grove Gate of 17 Mile Drive. Sometimes I would play Spyglass Golf Course and she would ride along. Or, we would walk along the beach or explore the restaurants and many art galleries along the quaint back streets of Carmel, the aquarium or the nature paths just southofthe bay. She liked to watch the sea otters swimming on their back cracking abalone on their stomach with rocks. It’s pretty much of a magical geography which is entwined with our life and history. To this day it commands the aura of romance and adventure.

My phone rings. It’s Gina.

“Hi dad. Got your messages and just got back form my trip……

Gina always travels a lot with her husband. School related trips. They are both professors at the University of South Carolina. When she calls I never know where she’s at. Sometimes San Diego, sometimes Amsterdam, Pennsylvania, Michigan and on. But…today she’s home and ready to rest and tackle the house cleaning.

‘Hi Gina, I’m on the ride to Monterey that I had been planning…..’,  and we go into a conversation as I gaze onto the magnificent views with bike laid on the sand along the path. I lay out the road ahead and promise to call at interesting points along the way. These cell phones…marvellous….the world is with you at will wherever you go.

I descend the elevated path onto Monterey proper along Del Monte Drive leadingto old town center.  I note a gaily merchandised bicycle shop on the busy street and make a mental note in the event of problems.  I note my back tire a bit flat…I’ll check it out when I get to my hotel. The drive is busy with afternoon traffic and my path is equally congested with runners, and pedestrians and other bike riders. At the central park by the wharf I turn left on Washington St. to Munras and check into my preselected Howard Johnson’s.  It’s quaint. I have a clean room situated to the rear and very quiet. Just perfect to rest and ready for dinner.

Above…Old Monterey! A historic home, preserved and beautifully maintained along Munras Avenue in old town. After a long day’s ride of 90 miles I settled in my hotel up the street and enjoyed a relaxed dinner along the pedestrian center of Monterey.

A tad of a nap, a shower and fresh clothes make for a bright attitude and awakened sense of adventure to seek an interesting dinner area.  I glide down Munras’s panorama of low buildings with ornate cornices and stucco work and wrought iron gates and grills and second story porticos. There is residual warmth radiating from pavement and buildings from the sun which is now long shadows and bright shafts of lights from alleys and westerly streets. White stucco withmaster-craftsmanship proudly displaying spiraled columns, window pediments and regal  doorways and garden fountains…black wrought iron and rust red terracotta tiles and white stucco  everywhere.  The sleepy homeyness of Santa Cruz remains but  with an added tinge of understated elegance. Perhaps it’s the proximity of Pebble Beach, The Lodge, mansions of 17 Mile Drive and luxury spas of Carmel Valley or the exclusivity of Carmel Village. Many times did the boys and I come to see the heralded ‘Crosby’. There would be a group of us staying at the Pacific Grove Motels in fine camaraderie, watching the practice rounds and being amazed at the superior skills of our favorite golf pros at the driving range temporarily positioned on the polo fields. They were days of unbridled fiesta-ing of ‘The Sun Also Rises’ Pamplona….yes, The Crosby Pro-Am was a pageant for the common golf aficionado to rub shoulders with Nicklaus or Watson or  laugh withthebad shots of Jack Lemon or sit next to Telly Savalas breakfasting at the Lodge overlooking the 18th green. We would see the same groups of guys each year and we would buy each other drinks. One year two of the fellows came dressed as Batman and Robin with capes flowingout from their red Corvette convertible. And of course, the indispensable drink around the outdoor fireplace of Carmel Mayor Clint Eastwood’s,  Hog’s Breath.  Ah! But they were halcyon days of bubbling joy spent in the sunshine of our youth. Billy…God bless, Billy! …would later sing..’those were days, my friends….we thought they’d never end, Those were the days,  Oh yes, those were the days.’

I find the spot which talks to me. It’s Alvarado Street just a block or so from the wharf of MonerteryBay. Red neon mark inviting entrances. There is an English pub but instantly dismiss it. Next door is a homey coffee shop with tables along the window looking onto the pedestrians along Alvarado. I like it. A hearty burger with salad and a sideof mayo along with their best glass of Cabernet from the Santa Maria Valley is my order which I give to the waitress quickly and settle back on my chair to absorb the passers-by and shops across the way and reflect on the many vistas of the day.

Over the Grade to the Mission

It’s a spectacular morning in the land of Steinbeck. I’m ready for a grand day across Montereyand San Benito Counties. But….first the flat tire. Change the tube and inflate anew. The pump breaks. So, I remember the bike shop on Del Monte and walk gingerly on my arthritic knee. There’s the wharf, the Naval Post Graduate School, a lake, the old theater….but, guess what? No bicycle shop. Under Highway 1 to Seaside and my knee is killing me. I stop for a Starbuck’s coffee and sit to regain my bearings and ask if there might be a bike shop. To my surprise….just a block up the street I find Seaside Cycles and I’m once again elated and the pain in my knee vanishes.

I’m back on the beach path happy and carefree. It’s still and spectacular. At Reservation Road I turn east through what had been Fort  Ordtoward Salinas over flat brambly countryside. There are new housing developments and the airport. I chuckle as I remember my  stoogey exploits during the ROTC days training in this area. The firing range along the beaches and the survival, escape and evasion somewhere nearby where I was instantly caught and subjected to prisoner camp humiliations. In short order I’m in Salinas where I refresh my bearings by asking a bus driver in city center the whereabouts to the road towards San Juan Bautista. He did not know. Asked a few more folks but soon gave up and trekked north on First Street according to my best recollections. Salinas is a farming town with many vintage buildings but a bit rough about the edges. I travel some miles and stop several times for a drink and directions. No one seems to know that magical road that goes over the mountains to San Juan Bautista. Amazing. So, finally I surrender to the idea of buying a map at the nearby Safeway. Before I buy…I sneak a peek…San Juan Grade…yep, there it is. Just a block up the street. And a big street it is, plainly market, too! I’m amazed. People never seem to know the names in their own neighborhoods.

I leave the trappings of the Salinas behind and settle in a rhythmic contemplative mood progressing at good speed on the winding and country road. There are creeks and oak clusters and switchbacks with good views of the bay. I climb and climb toward the summit where begins San Benito County. I stop for water and call Patricia to share the beauty of the spot. I go on and on with my descriptions and feel great as to how effortless the climb is…then, there is a flat. I change tubes and use my new pump with meter. It works great.

At the summit is the county line and the difference is perceptible as the road becomes a quilt-work of raised patches. The valley floor is dotted with new housing developments. I’m careful with the speed as the road is a bit rough. It’s warm but the stiff afternoon breeze  is refreshing. I marvel at the hawks as they catch thermals and seem to hang almost motionless along the ridges as I descend. What marvellous creatures they are. Then there was the hotelier who cautioned me about the banditos along this road.’ They hold up cyclists’, she said. As I went through densely wooded turns I would be looking with wide eyes for ‘the banditos’. Never saw a one…that was some years ago…and she is probably still laughing.

I see Vertigo to my left as I enter town. It’s a restaurant or commercial center in construction. How appropriate, I muse. I remember the movie well. With Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart climbing up the shaky stairs of the mission’s bell-tower. An Alfred Hitchcock classic!  Main street is sleepy and sun baked. There are homes, businesses and tourist shops along the way. It’s touristy but not glitchy or pretentious. At the entrance of the mission complex a brightly colored chicken walks along the sidewalk unbothered. Then there is another. I walk along the porticos and view the vintage Spanish buildings across the square…the hotel and stables and former residence…all framed in the ovals of the arches. The square is vast and to the north adjacent the cemetery and tower is a view of the original El Camino Real and valley to the north. All is a bit worn and the edges are not so neat but it feels real and solid. It’s for tourists but, but not commercialized. I feel comfortable. I can see the band of early Californians trekking under the hot sun, dry vegetation and dusty roads with horses and wagons….Juan Gaspar de Portola, Father Junipero, the Spanish soldiers. All for the glory of God…ah, ehr…perhaps for the gold and glory of Spain, too! A cat walks by. Then another chicken. There is the walled gardens, and small museum, the roses, the cemetery under the olive trees and a refreshing breeze and Gregorian chant, the coolness of the thick adobe walls and brick floors. And…the floors…some paw prints…and cat opening through doors. I am in deep contemplation and back in a time long gone by.

Back on main street  there is a lively sounding bar. A brewski, perhaps?. It’s a lazy afternoon and only a few locals are sitting about. There are signs posted which make me laugh. The very local personality outs. “Harley parking, all the rest will be crushed! and “For a small town there sure are a lot of assholes!” I sip the cold beer and chuckle as I listen to the locals banter with the usual and familiar bar jargon. Outside under the sign, Mom & Pop’s Saloon, I call Gina to give her a report on the mission. Her voice sounds clear and close and I marvel at the technology as I sit and view main street San Juan while giving a color account of the day’s adventures.

The Locals, the Flats & the Rescue

Hollister, it seems, is the tale of two cities…the new developments to the southby San Juan Oaks and Ridgemark Golf Courses and the old culture in town. I had intended to ride towards Ridgemark, dine and spend the evening in the golf surroundings. But…on the road there was a flat tire…again. So, I made a quick decision towards practicality and headed in-town where there might be bike shops and more services if the situation warranted. Normally I change tires every fifteen hundred miles and that simply and easily avoids flats. But this time I hadn’t paid attention.  Had I been thinking clearly I would have stopped at the in-town bike shop and re-tired….but I stopped midtown for another brewski and hotel information. While reveling with the Friday afternoon locals one of the fellows commented on my bold U. S. Marine jersey. He loved it…till he found out that I had served in the U. S. Army. Then he wanted to know why I would do such a thing. He was laughing but serious at the same time. Finally I told him that it was a gift from my wife and that I suspected that she had a Marine boyfriend. He laughed…and as I walked out the door we had a good chat about my riding adventures.

I holed up at the Cinderella Motel. My room was ‘the prince charming’. All the rooms had such names. The interior was a color fantasy of Disneyland. I was amused and readied for dinner at the best place in town, Payne’s. The proprietress said this was the closest to Italian they had. It was Friday night so, I figured that this place would give me the best picture of the social scene in this farming town.

I wanted them to stow my bike in a back room. But…the hostess got the owner and they pondered…back rooms were full, they said.

 “What about window?”, I asked.  They showed me windows in the dining room but were too high to view the street. Then…the bar area. One window was good.

“That’ll do”, I said.

The place was spacious, well worn, and seemed to have a lot of room around the back. The owner just did not care to accommodate me. So, I was seated, looking out the window at my bike leaning against the sign post to insure it would not be stolen. What a big deal….I was aggravated. But…I ordered a glass of house Cabernet…it was good, so I settled back looking forward to a good dinner.

It was dark and comfortable in the bar; the bartender was chatting with the locals and servicing the waitresses from the dining room; I ordered a steak sandwich with fries and salad. There was a middle aged guy at the bar with trim jeans and tea shirt drinking beer with his money on the bar. He sat by himself. When someone new came in the bar he would go to them, greet them and do the handshake thing. You know…two hands, knuckles and hug. Then he would come back and sit. And up again. And…again. Then a heavy set guy walked in slowly. He seemed to have gravitas…both by his demeanor and how the crowd halted, nodded and gazed. You could feel it in the room. My guy, Tony…up, again…the hug and handshake and the lingering conversation. It became obvious…the heavy wanted to be rid of this guy. The conversation lingered and you could see the tedium on his face.

I ate my steak and drank the cab. It was good except for the bread which was awful. Not being toasted it absorbed all the juices from the steak and had become a gooey mess. I gazed at the bike out the window, removed the soaked soft white roll and was aggravated again. Then I began to laugh and feel great…what a grand day it all had been. The bar began to fill, dinner folks drifted in and out and others settled for a cocktail after work.  There was a comfortable feel and rhythm with the bartender, waitresses, the motion of the people and Tony..up and down and the handshake.

Towards nine-ish the staff began to set up the stage. “Music, tonight?”, I asked the waitress as she placed the check on the table.

“No, kareoki tonight!”, she replied as she rushed off.

Well, I thought, it’s a good time to go. Before the singing starts. I’ll quit while ahead.

“You gotta know when to hold’em,  You gotta know when to fold’em….”   As I sit sipping a cold beer at The Garlic Shoppe’s picnic table at the intersection of Highway 101 and route 25 that’s what I’m humming.  Gina’s on the phone and Patricia will soon pick me up. Yep, the trip is over. There was a severe case of the flats and before I went completely nuts it was time to fold’em and go home.

The day began pleasantly enough…coffee and croissant at the McDonald’s across the street; a visit to the bike shop for three new inner tubes and a pleasant ride along route 25 towards Gilroy. The road was being resurfaced so, I had the pleasure of riding on the lane which was sequestered and closed to traffic. I was humming at twenty plus miles per hour with a fine view of the fields and orchards on either side. The mountains of Uvas Meadows and Colero were clearly visible to the west. Then there was a flat. Changed into a new inner tube and rode another mile. A flat again. Another new inner tube. Pumped it up. And….without riding it went flat even though I had inspected the tire for foreign objects. Patched one of the many punctured inner tubes, installed it, pumped it up and rode. Slowly and perceptably I could feel the back rim hitting the road surface. And…with a wry and sardonic grin on my face I rode bumpily along. No intention of attempting another change. The phone rang…”Patricia, come pick me up. My tires are goners and I’m getting flats.” I asked…and nicely so. For I was not in a strong position.

You gotta know when to fold em…I kept on humming…looking at the traffic on 101 and the footlhills beyond Morgan Hill and Gilroy. That ride will have to wait for another day. And…the next trip will have new tires from the get go.  ‘Beep, Beep’, there was Patricia. She exited her red VW Beetle with white pooch in tow…my rescue had arrived.

Monterey Bike Trip 061

From the bike path at Sand City just north of Monterey

Monterey Bike Trip 130

A rustic scene from the garden of Mission San Juan Bautista. I strolled the gardens, under the porticos, chickens and cats wandering at their ease and a soothing Gregorian Chant over the sound system.

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