A couple of weeks ago I took my Mom to central California to see her older sister Shirley, who lives in the Stockton area, and several relatives who live in and around that area. My cousin Marilyn, who lives in Oklahoma City with her family, set up the trip and made arrangements for us all to get together and visit in the Monterey area, and the timing was perfect as it was Aunt Shirley`s birthday as well. My Dad didn`t feel like going, so he stayed and kept Missy for me, since they are buddies too. Mom and I got up very early on Thursday morning, Sept 18th, and drove up to Lambert Airport in St Louis. We got through security fine and boarded our Southwest Airlines flight soon after for our five hour flight to Oakland.
My allergies were out of whack again that morning, so the zirtec I took shortly before boarding, enabled me to take a nice four hour nap on the flight…the only things I missed out on were the choice of peanuts or pretzels, and something to drink. I didn`t fall asleep til we were out over Colorado though, and looking out the window, I could see some beautiful fall color aspens way below in the valleys of the mountain ranges we were passing over at six hundred mph…sure was pretty down there…I thought of my buddy Ian as we flew over, too. We landed briefly at LAX in Los Angeles, long enough to let a few folks off and take a few more on…I wish I had my camera in my hands when we took off, cause the pilot took off out over the water and then turned the plane sharply right and presented us a neat view of the coastline and beaches, with bright blue waves below, before heading up the valley to Oakland. We landed there less than an hour later and after picking up our luggage, made our way to Enterprise to get our rental suv…all of the rental car companies are in a different building a few miles away and they provide shuttle busses to take you there from the airport…what they don`t tell you is that when the busses pull into the loading zone, they have to let several folks off that have returned their vehicles to the rental agency and are then on their way to the airport with their luggage to catch their flight…then you can get on the bus, but at least they do provide assistance with your luggage via the bus driver and a luggage handler as well. It`s just too bad that the rental car companies are not closer to the airport complex…once there though, Enterprise did whisk us through the process pretty quickly and our salesman helped us find a nice suv quickly as well. Even though they didn`t have a nice Chevy Colorado truck like mine, they did have a nice roomy Chevy Traverse Suv that was quite nice to drive as well.
We found out soon after leaving the rental complex, that it had good brakes and a loud horn….we found out that there are similar drivers out there, like here, that don`t pay attention to stoplights nor drivers in front of them. I`m a guy that likes to drive the posted speed limits, and I don`t like to sit any longer through a traffic light than I have to, especially after it turns green and the moron in front of me continues to sit there…that`s when we found out that the horn is quite loud and gets some attention. We found out about the brakes when we came up on the congestion on I-680 at the base of the foothills…about a quarter mile in front of us, another suv was prob following a pickup truck too closely and for whatever reason, did not notice the traffic slowdown…obviously not paying attention since all four lanes were slowing down at the same time and there were brake lights coming on all over the place up ahead. The suv driver struck the rear of the pick up in front of us and I hit the brakes hard and it never did lockup, nor slide, but there was a driver behind me and in the very inside lane who did come across three lanes behind me very close to my rear bumper and barely missed us…I had to watch him and keep an eye on the accident vehicles in front of me pretty much at the same time, but luckily we were able to avoid both and go on. The other thing we noticed was the extremely dry conditions…the fields, grasses, trees, were all very brown and droughty looking…one match or cigarette out the windows of a car would have been started a wildfire that would have raced up those foothills like a racecar…unstoppable without water.
Soon after, we arrived in Stockton and arrived at our hotel, Residence Inn, where we also stayed at when there in 2010 for a family reunion, and we no sooner checked in than we found Aunt Shirley and some family waiting there for us…they wanted to go on up and see the cemetery where Aunt Clara, their oldest sister was buried last year, as well as her husband Uncle Bob and Aunt Shirley`s husband, Uncle Neal, who all passed within the last year. I opted to stay at the hotel and take a nap, as we still had Aunt Shirley`s birthday party later that evening at a nearby restaurant. I was sound asleep within thirty seconds of my head touching the pillow, awake just long enough to thank God for a safe trip out there.
Mom returned about two hours later and we headed down to the restaurant a few blocks away for supper with our relatives that live out there, as well as Marilyn and her uncle Brian, her Dad`s brother. After a bit of visiting with everyone, we all sat down and ordered supper and then visited some more while waiting for the food to arrive. One of my cousins likes to go rock hunting and so we talked quite a bit…I hadn`t seen several of them for at least four years, so we had a good time catching up and good food as well. The next morning, Mom and I drove over to my cousin Karen`s house, just down the road from the hotel, where Marilyn and Brian were staying…Karen was cooking hot cakes, eggs, and bacon, smelled and looked really good, but Mom and I had a good breakfast at the hotel before checking out. After a ninety minute visit, Mom and I decided to head toward Monterey, mainly because we planned to drive down to Willow Creek Beach and do some beachcombing for jade there…as we were preparing to leave, Brian came running with his bag, wanting to go down there early with us…he was ready to get out of there. He was good company on the ride down there and we made pretty good time going across both the I-5 valley and San Benito Valley, where many of the vegetables and fruits are grown year round. I had observed alot of deer along the highways four years before, but we never saw one driving across there on this trip…we saw many migrant workers in the SB Valley picking crops…there were many fields of cabbage, lettuce, beans…those are just a few of what we noticed as we drove across there. We hit some congestion when we finally reached Highway 101, two lanes almost became a parking lot a few times across there. We finally reached the Monterey area and hit Highway 1, and started south toward Willow Creek Beach…hitting three lanes of congestion on the Carmel stretch and stopped off at a gas station to fuel up the Traverse before heading south…gas there was 3.85 a gallon…later in Monterey, we would find stations with gas forty cents a gallon cheaper. We started on down the coastline, finding some beautiful views here and there, and some fog that had rolled in from the water as well as pretty bridges and homes perched right above the rugged beaches….
…we finally made it down to Willow Creek Beach…we had considered going to Sand Dollar Beach as well, but there was a pretty big crowd in the parking lot when we passed by it, and the trail down to Jade Cove beach is just way too strenuous to get down to and then back up. I had been talking to a regular jade hunter named Irish, who frequents the beaches in search of jade by surface collections each day, and he had told me that the divers were having a bad year and the beachcombers were doing well this year, especially at Willow Creek and Sand Dollar beaches….the advantage of Willow Creek beach is that you can drive down and park very close to the beach itself. As we drove down the road to the beach, I looked for Irish`s truck, but didn`t see it. While there isn`t much sand at Willow Creek Beach, there are a lot of rocks, many of them green and black, and jade there is found in several different colors, including red, blue, green, black, brown, and pumpkin orange…
…it was a little cool down there for the middle of the afternoon, but nice and sunny as well, and we had about two hours to look around before we had to head back…I was impressed with the beautiful water and scenery there. About every other rock was green or black, and knowing both colors were potentially jade, it made our search a little more difficult, but we were mainly looking for a smooth or translucent green jade color and I was sure we would not find many if any at all. I was using my zoom lens looking to the north along the beach, as a couple of guys had walked past us and up along the beach in that direction and I noticed that some of the larger rocks up there also had green in them as well…
…it turned out they were looking for jade as well… as they walked up there, I spotted a beautiful young lady in a black bikini walking around the beach looking for jade up there as well….
Brian and Mom and I spread out and began earnestly looking for something that resembled jade in the sea of boulders all over the beach…Brian started looking near the creek where it came under the bridge and down by the parking lot, before going underground under the sand and coming out in the boulder field before running into the ocean…. these photos should give you an idea of what we were looking at….this is a close up of some pebbles, one is brown mottled…
…and there was kelp laying all over the rocks, piled up in places….
Irish had said that the best place to look would be down by the waves coming in…we had arrived about 3 pm and that was low tide but you have to watch for the rogue waves coming in, no matter what time you are there….
…and here he is with my Mom a few minutes later along the beach…
…and then a few minutes later, Brian found a pretty good sized small boulder of what appeared to be jade or serpentine….
We drove back toward Monterey to find and check into our hotel, the Seabreeze Inn and Suites on Lighthouse Blvd in Pacific Grove…and stopped on the north side of the Bixby Bridge on the way back cause when I looked in the mirror, there was the bridge in a bright spot surrounded by the fog rolling back in and it looked like a postcard….
…we arrived at the Seaside just ahead of our relatives and checked into our suite as well……our suite is on the right, there in front of our silver Traverse….
.After lunch on Saturday at the Wharf, where we met up with my cousins Caroline and John, we all returned to the hotel so they could check in for the night. Soon after, John, Caroline, Curtis, and I headed down to Willow Creek Beach to see if we could find some jade. On the way down there, we passed under this huge short tunnel, that was beautifully designed and built, to prevent rockslides from damaging the highway and possibly injuring or killing anyone in the process….
the stonework was phenomenal and beautiful as well as the architectural design work of it…I wish I had stopped inside to shoot it as well, but it`s a rare thing on that highway that you don`t have someone behind you at all times. Soon after, we arrived at the beach and I photographed Caroline, John and Curtis looking for jade….
…and while they were busy looking for jade in the boulders, I got to meet Annie, who is Irish`s girlfriend, who was hunting on the beach to the north of us the day before…..
…Hank was there again and introduced me to her, she told me that Irish was visiting with his Dad for his birthday and would return the next day, but as I told Annie, I might not make it back then. We talked a bit and then I went up and purchased a couple of wire wrapped pendants from Hank with jade, that he had found and wrapped himself. I purchased one for my cousin Marilyn and the other for myself. I then walked back down to where they were at and let them know if they struck out in their search, that Hank had some beautiful stuff in his van that he had found, for sale, and also some nice wire wrapped pendants. They walked up to check out his jade stones and there were a couple of guys there shopping as well…Caroline couldn`t decide on any pendants so she bought a few small stones from him instead. Sunday was a sightseeing day only, we didn`t return to the beaches for jade and Monday we headed home. I left my small boulders with John and Caroline, who are planning to come out here next month and go rock hunting with me locally, and will bring them to me then.
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