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News

West Nile fogging commences today

West Nile fogging commences today


Courtesy of the Santa Clara County Vector Control District
Fogging commences Wednesday within the highlighted area.

The detection of West Nile Virus-infected mosquitos means that Santa Clara County officials will begin mosquito fogging operations...

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Schools

LASD trustees reopen negotiations with Los Altos Teachers Association

The Los Altos School District Board of Trustees last week directed staff to reopen negotiations with the Los Altos Teachers Association, a move intended to shore up the district’s financial picture.

According to the district’s current co...

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Community

LA teenager crowned Miss Golden State, advances to national pageant in Florida

LA teenager crowned Miss Golden State, advances to national pageant in Florida


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Alexandra McCarthy, crowned Miss Golden State Teen in July, earned “Ms. Personality” honors from her peers.

Alexandra McCarthy has a ways to go before reaching her coveted role as a U.S. Supreme Court justice. Bu...

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Sports

After rough year, Eagles aim to soar once more

After rough year, Eagles aim to soar once more


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High senior running back Patrick Vargas snares a pass in practice last week.

Don’t dismiss the Eagles. Coach Trevor Pruitt is adamant that his Los Altos High football team will be better than expected.

&#...

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Comment

Car spotting 2015: A Piece of My Mind

When I was a kid, September was exciting, almost like Christmas, because that was when the Big Three automakers would reveal the new models for the upcoming year.

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Special Sections

Loving on the Edge

Loving on the Edge


Courtesy of Ford
The Ford Edge has been redesigned for 2015. Ford lengthened the wheel base and added cargo space, among other things. The Titanium model sells for approximately $42,000.

Once in a while, a vehicle we test-drive is just right for our...

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Business

Wine bar aims for October opening

Wine bar aims for October opening


Rendering courtesy of Honcho
Honcho, the wine and beer lounge on First Street, expects an October launch. A rendering of the space reveals the interior layout, which includes bar and lounge-style seating.

A downtown libations lounge that anticip...

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People

LOIS CAROLINE WALLES

LOIS CAROLINE WALLES

November, 1928

Lois lost a long and courageous battle with a prolonged illness on July 14th, 2015. She passed away knowing how well she was loved. She was always the life of the party and loved bringing everyone to her home for dinner or an event,...

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Travel

Carmel Valley Ranch unveils upgrades

Carmel Valley Ranch unveils upgrades


Courtesy of Carmel Valley Ranch
Carmel Valley Ranch recently upgraded its Vineyard Oak suites, which feature sweeping views, rocking chairs and private outdoor tubs for soaking under the stars.

Things are heating up at Carmel Valley Ranch, with 30 n...

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Stepping Out

'Dead Man' comes alive at Bus Barn

'Dead Man' comes alive at Bus Barn


Richard Mayer/Special to the Town Crier
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” includes, from left, Marjorie Hazeltine (as Hermia), Kristin Walter (Jean) and Adrienne Walters (Carlotta).

Los Altos Stage Company opens its ...

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Spiritual Life

Inside Mountain View

MV actress/playwright Garvin wins NY festival award for

MV actress/playwright Garvin wins NY festival award for "Corners Grove"


Courtesy of Undiscovered Countries
Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin received a New York arts festival award for a featured role in “Corners Grove,” a play she wrote.

New York recognized that one of Mountain View’s own can “make it there” when the Planet C...

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Wonderful Watsonville: Day trip highlights agricultural roots


Eren Göknar/ Special to the Town Crier
A mural painted on the side of a Watsonville building pays homage to the area’s agricultural legacy and promotes its bounty of crops.

It may not have the cachet of some other Northern California hot spots, but a day trip to Watsonville brings you closer to nature and to Steinbeck country.

When you live in the suburbs, it’s easy to take California’s bountiful agricultural regions and rural communities for granted. It’s only when traveling to, say, Michigan in December that you’ll miss a good head of lettuce like the kind we get year round.

Taking the winding Hecker Pass Road/State Route 152 through the redwoods, we witnessed dramatic views of the fields below. Sugar beets and grains used to be the major regional crops, but by the 1920s, strawberries and lettuce took over.

In the 1930s, field workers arrived from Oklahoma, and John Steinbeck chronicled their mistreatment in his books, including “The Grapes of Wrath,” “Cannery Row” and the lesser-known “In Dubious Battle,” set in his native Salinas and on the Monterey Peninsula.

Agricultural legacy

Despite sunny skies, the weather was brisk when we arrived at our first stop in Watsonville, the Codiga Center and Museum at 2601 E. Lake Ave. (aghistoryproject.org), run by the Agricultural History Project.

Set in a quaint two-story barn, volunteers staff the museum from noon to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Exhibits document the history of the region, including the once-flourishing apple industry and the legacy of the vaqueros.

“Most members of the Agricultural History Project come from farming families,” said volunteer Gloria Van Dierendonck.

In addition to running the museum, the Agricultural History Project collects and restores tools and equipment.

The museum’s Porter Implement Shed includes hand tools like a wood rasp and Cooper’s axe, augers and something called a “fro.” Rickety plows and a one-row potato planter round out the display.

An outdoor garage for restored tractors would probably interest young and old. A model 1937 John Deere tractor and a 1933 Ford truck give an idea of how far machines have evolved.

As part of its educational mission, the group sponsors events the second Saturday of each month. In honor of Valentine’s Day, the Feb. 8 event will combine chocolate and roses. Member John Borena will offer pruning tips, and a local chocolatier promises to hand out delicious morsels.

For tour reservations, call (831) 724-5898 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Immediately adjacent to the museum sits the Rodgers House (santacruzeventcenter.org), once owned by Steinbeck’s sister, Esther Rodgers. She donated it to Santa Cruz County, and it’s been restored to its original 1870s Victorian state. Historical archives include stories of the Pajaro Valley.

El Mercado Popular (elmercadopopular.com), the local farmers’ market, is scheduled year round 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays at Pajaro Valley High School, 500 Harkins Slough Road, and Sundays at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, 2601 E. Lake Ave.

Birding on the sloughs

Hidden from the road, the Watsonville Wetlands (watsonvillewetlandswatch.org) remain one of the last freshwater marshlands in the state. The sloughs make an ideal spot for birdwatching.

Following directions on the Wetlands Watch website, we found Ramsey Park, 30 Harkins Slough Road, and the Nature Center, which serves as a jumping-off point for several trails. Free guided nature walks are offered on Sundays.

According to city officials, the marshlands provide crucial downtime for birds migrating on the “globally important Pacific Flyway.” More than 200 species of shorebirds, raptors and songbirds gravitate to the wetlands.

Children might enjoy looking at the Nature Center’s interactive exhibits, which explain the importance of the wetlands. An estimated 26 endangered species make their home in the wetlands, currently undergoing restoration.

We had no trouble spotting egrets, mallards and swallows as soon as we started our walk. The trails meander through private and public lands on 800 acres, so it’s easy to get lost. Download the trail map at cityofwatsonville.org.

The city boasts 6 miles of paved walking and cycling trails, with 29 accessible trail entrances. Another trailhead, for the Watsonville Slough Trail, sits hidden behind the Body Zone fitness center, 1810 Main St., in a strip mall. Check the map.

Farm-fresh fruits

Crystal Bay Farm at 40 Zils Road (crystalbayfarm.com) sponsors an unmanned, roadside farm stand operated via the honor system.

The farm grows organically certified berries, pumpkins, herbs and other crops. Crystal Bay offers customers the chance to pick their own strawberries ($3 a pound) and raspberries ($8 a pound) from mid-April through October.

Gizdich Ranch at 55 Peckham Road (gizdich-ranch.com) invites visitors to pick all the pay-by-the-pound strawberries they can eat.

Downtown highlights

Once you work up an appetite, head downtown. Visitors will notice the historical apple-crate murals on the sides of buildings. Exact copies of crate labels from the 1900s, they are exclusive to Watsonville and the Pajaro Valley. Download a walking tour brochure from the city’s website.

Watsonville houses plenty of historical homes with interesting architecture built circa the late 1800s and early 1900s. William Weeks, a celebrated architect of the Victorian era, designed most. He also produced the plans for the Gothic Revival-style St. Patrick’s Church at 721 Main St., with an ornate slate-roof steeple that dramatically enhances the building.

Other must-sees include the Resetar Residential Hotel at 15 W. Lake Ave., which Weeks designed in 1927 in the Spanish Colonial Revival style.

The Pajaro Valley Historical Association, headquartered in the Bockius-Orr house at 332 E. Beach St. (pajarovalleyhistory.org), is quite active in town. Godfrey M. Bockius, a Pennsylvania merchant, settled here and commissioned Alex Chalmers to design a Victorian addition in 1870. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

End of the day

Jalisco Restaurant at 618 Main St. (jaliscorestaurant.com), in an enormous space with full bar, serves great steak and chicken fajitas with rice and beans for $14.95. A full Mariachi band plays on Friday nights.

For dessert, try the Tamale Factory at 611 Main St. for sweet tamales.

Surrounded by strawberry fields, sand dunes and pine trees, Sunset State Beach at 201 Sunset Beach Road may be hard to spot, but it’s worth finding for its dramatic coastal views. Watching a spectacular sunset on the Pacific Ocean is a great way to end the day.

For more information, visit cityofwatsonville.org.

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