East of Paris Bookstore

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

East of Eden

On the way home from a long weekend at Pebble Beach, we drove though the land John Steinbeck painted in his book East of Eden.  The farming east of Carmel in the areas of Salinas, Gonzales and King City is beautiful.  Driving by acres of romaine, asparagus, tomatoes and other vegetables while watching irrigation sprinklers water the crops gives me a new appreciation of the produce in my grocery store and of Steinbeck's novels.  Wanting to see more of the rich central valley of California, we veered inland.

As we drove further south and east, we saw more dust and dryness.  The once proud signs declaring that "food grows where water flows" were faded and droopy.  While there were still orchards and crop-filled fields, much of the land was parched, dirty yellow, dusty. The high unemployment was evident in the towns where we stopped for coffee or gasoline. No water, no life.  And, government bureaucrats have chosen to exacerbate a water shortage with bad policy -- choosing theoretically to spare Delta smelt fish over people, farming, food and employment.
South of Cholame, we finally emerged onto Highway 46.  We turned west to have lunch at an old cafe that we'd driven passed for years.  This time, we wanted to experience an authentic local place and stopped at Jack's Ranch Cafe.  They make a great BLT and are very helpful with warnings against rattle snakes!
We also saw a memorial sculpture to James Dean, the Hollywood heart-throb who died in a car crash near this cafe 55 years ago this month.  Mr. Wonderful still talks about seeing Dean's stunning performance in the film East of Eden.
James Dean Memorial
And now we feel we know more about California agriculture and the current day tensions East of Eden than we did yesterday.

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