Although only five persons attended the Goldsmith Seed Company field trip, the event was one of those occasional “sleepers,” where everything works out magically. This was the case with this last weekend’s outing.
The group met at Caffe Romeo and drove down 101 a few hours before the Gilroy Garlic Festival traffic jam began.
The seed company was everything it promised to be on the Web site and the display of flowers was just short of spectacular. Goldsmith has its test plots in fields adjoining its greenhouses and company headquarters building. In July, August and September there are usually spectacular displays of flowers, providing a great background for portraits or just an odd and colorful photo opportunity. After a few hours we got tired of abundant flowers and continued on to the Fortino Winery tasted a few wines and then decided to go to Moss Landing for a little cool ocean breeze.
Moss Landing is located halfway between Santa Cruz and Monterey, right in the middle of Monterey Bay. Beneath the water the largest submarine canyon on the American west coast goes straight out to the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The Moss Landing Marine Laboratories are located here precisely for that reason. Marine researchers can probe waters in excess of 1,000 meters in depth just an hour’s cruise from the port of Moss Landing. The canyon is probably the reason why the fishing is so good in this location. (If you want to know more about the canyon you can Google: Monterey Submarine Canyon and get the details.)
Moss Landing is named, not for the green glop that sticks to some of its intertidal rocks, but for Captain Charles Moss a sea captain who came to the Elkhorn Slough to set up a fishing town. Evidently he met some success because he returned to Texas in 1875 with about a quarter of a million greenbacks. The cap left but the town kept his name.
We had lunch at Phil’s Fish Market, a longtime favorite of locals and tourists, and took a leisurely walk through some of the back alleys of the harbor. Moss Landing, population 500, is home to one of the largest commercial fishing fleets in California and a real working harbor (unlike Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco which is pretty much for show). On a weekday you would see the harbor swing into action when most of the boats go out early in the morning and return in the late afternoon with their catches. This Sunday the harbor was quiet and most boats were docked.
The town is also known for its antique shops and restaurants and on the last Sunday in July it hosts an annual antique street fair/flea market.
Moss landing is paradise for bird watchers and naturalists because it is located at the mouth of Elkhorn Slough, one of the largest relatively unmolested salt-water marshes on the Pacific coast. If you rent a kayak or have a small craft you can take a short jaunt up the slough and see sea lions, sea otters, California Brown Pelicans and many other coastal and migratory birds. Occasionally you might catch a glimpse of a shark or manta ray in the water beneath your hull. At the mouth of the slough is Moss Landing State Beach a good place to go for a long walk along the surf or go surfing.
All of us forgot our boards and wet suits, however, and after a short jaunt to a one of the nearby produce stands we officially ended the day and half of us returned via the road that links Uvas and Calero reservoirs, a very pretty way to get to and from Gilroy. If you want to take an early morning drive in February take this road, you won’t be disappointed.
© 2004 S.R. Hinrichs