Monday, October 15, 2007

Scents of A Journey

On the road again… PCH to Highway 46 to the 101 to 280 back to the 101… We left on Sunday, so there was considerable tourist traffic along the way, making Big Dog a little crazier. It wasn't until we were on 101, going through the Salinas Valley that the Natural Born Driver returned.

The Salinas Valley is Lettuce City right now. Romaine, red oak leaf, green curl, butter, iceberg…interspersed with broccoli and cauliflower. There is not much smell from lettuce, unlike the strawberries of Santa Maria that can bitch-slap you with their fragrance, but when you pass a broccoli field post-harvest. Pee eew! Rotting broccoli leaves smell just like the rotting cabbage leaves of the neighborhood farms around my house in Tokyo when I was growing up. Over the decades, all those cabbage fields have turned into housing developments and there are only a handful of them left, but boy, when I was a teenager…

Watsonville is Onionville this time of year and as you approached the area, the smell gets stronger and stronger. Gilroy is, of course, Garlic Capital of the World, but Sunday was a cool day so the garlic aroma was barely perceptible. On hot summer days, it's like driving through an Italian kitchen and during the Garlic Festival, you can get a mighty whiff even from planes flying high above.

When we're on the road, Big Dog calls out bad drivers, river, trains. I call out curiosities, animals, roadkill. We both bemoan how the Bay Area's spread, how San Jose has become LA North.

The Golden Gate Bridge is still breathtakingly beautiful, and after you slog through Marin County, you are in Wine Country. There are still grapes, unharvested, in the vineyards of Healdsberg and we see that the little winery just past our first hippie town of Hopland has changed the name of their wine from Recall Red to Disaster Relief Red.

More tie dye towns, more farmland, a few roadside attractions and we are behind the Redwood Curtain. It smells like Christmas, so you have to open your windows all the way and breathe deep. What a trip for an olfactory freak like me!

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