Sunday, July 29, 2012

Salinas California

I love to read, and have been known to stay up all night long if a book is really good!  I've done it many times, even during the week when I have to work the next morning.  So when we realized Salinas California was just a measly 17 miles from Monterey, we decided to make it a day trip and visit the National Steinbeck Center

Known as the salad bowl of the US, Salinas is not only the childhood home of John Streinbeck, it also serves as the setting for many of his most popular works.  The museum building is beautiful and bright and houses several different exhibits.  The main hall is devoted to Steinbeck's life with a section devoted to each of his major books.  Each section had artifacts and interactive exhibits as well as movie screens showing clips from each movie made from his books.  I loved the Of Mice and Men exhibit, with pegs on the wall showing quotes from each character and the hat or outfit they may have worn.  The object was to guess which character went with which quote.  Lennie's jacket pocket even had a fake mouse in it and a can of beans next to it that when you lifted it up revealed a bottle of ketchup!

Some of the other memoribilia included personal letters and journals that inspired the book East of Eden, canisters from Doc's lab in Cannery Row and war memoribilia from Steinbecks time as a war reporter during WWII and used in the book Bomb's Away.  Then, as you near the end of the exhibit you come upon a map of the US that shows the route Steinbeck took when he traveled across the country with just his dog in 1960.  He traveled to and visited many of the same places we are visiting, but what made this part of the exhibit so cool was his camper, the actual one he travelled in!  He named teh camper Rocinante, presumably after Don Quixote's horse in novel by Cervantes.

It is a wonderfully done museum, with additional exhibits on the history of the Salinas Valley and the agriculture of the region and another exhibit on banned and recovered books throughout history.  I really loved it!

As fabulous as the museum was, our day in Salinas was not over yet!  With a bit of time to kill we headed to the outskirts of town, near the Spreckles Sugar Factory, to The Farm, an actual working organic farm with a farm stand and a very active CSA program.  The boys had great fun petting the rabbits and seeing some of the old tractors. We bought a big box of strawberries, grown right across the road, that were some of the best I've ever had, and a really yummy homemade strawberry rhubarb pie!

Our final stop in Salinas was an evening at the California Rodeo Salinas. One thing we really wanted to do while we were out west this summer was go to a rodeo. I had googled and looked for rodeos in Texas and Oklahoma, but had not been able to find one running while we were here visiting. That is, until we got to Monterey. Outside the aquarium, entertaining the crowds, was a brightly painted car and three rodeo clowns advertising for the rodeo, which was running for 4 nights starting the day we were there. We wrote down the website on the advertised on the side of the car and looked it up when we got back to our camp sight. Turns out this rodeo is a pretty big deal in this area, and we were lucky enough to get tickets for the following night!

The Rodeo (Ro-day-oh, as they say in California) was fascinating! There was definitely a carnival type atmosphere inside the gate, with food and vendors selling shirts, cowboy hats and other western wear items. There was even a kids area set up with games and bounce houses and music! We found our seats just as the parade was starting. This rodeo starts with a parade and the Pageant of the Flags, where each flag that has flown over the State of California is carried into the arena on horseback by a rider dressed in full costume while a narrator tells the story of how each group came to California . It was very interesting, and the horses and costumes were beautiful.

After the National Anthem it was time for the events to begin. The rodeo started with bull riding in the main arena. Other events included calf roping, bronco riding and steer wrestling. While these events were going on in the main arena they had other events happening in the outer parade area. We watched some womens horse racing and barrel racing, several trick riders, and the “Mutton Muster,” a kids event similar to bull riding, but for kids under 60 pounds and riding sheep.

The whole event was very much like a hockey game at home. There were announcers and cameras filming for television broadcast, music and interactive things broadcast on a big screen TV. There was even a tractor pulling a grader that came out several times during the rodeo to smooth the dirt, much like a Zamboni does on the ice. The whole evening was a lot of fun and ended with fireworks and a bullfighting competition between the rodeo clowns.

We really had a great time, enjoyed watching the people and learned a lot! The little dude is now in training to become a rodeo clown and the other two want to go back next year...we'll see.

1 comment:

  1. Cool stenbeck stuff can't wait to see it in person .