“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community. Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”
Although we considered backtracking from New Brighton State Park to explore the famed “hippy town” of Santa Cruz, we wanted to keep our momentum after having so many weeks off the bicycles, and so we continued on toward Monterey. Almost immediately after passing through the town of Aptos we found ourselves cycling through miles and miles of gorgeous farmland along San Andreas Road.
Occasionally coming upon a large group of farm workers, bent in concentration in the fields, we would ring our bicycle bells, wave and smile, trying to show our appreciation for their labor. In response, we saw heads rise in unison, followed by an outbreak of broad smiles and quick waves.
The friendly exchanges brightened our day, but even so, both of us were feeling a bit rattled. As we rode through this agricultural mecca, we couldn’t help but brood over critical social justice and agriculture related issues, things like: lack of farmer and migrant worker rights, draconian immigration laws that breed racism and fear, tragic environmental effects of mono-cropping, and how we, ironically, and unethically, use our food to fuel cars while people are starving. Thankfully, we had wide roads before us, with little traffic, so we spent most of our time side by side, rattling off our frustrations. We knew we were preaching to the choir but it still felt good for us to name the issues out loud and to share in our belief that there are better ways of doing things, ways that treat people and the land we live upon with respect.
The United Farm Workers Union estimates that about 90 percent of the roughly 30,000 farm workers in California are foreign born, mostly from Mexico and about 70 percent of those are undocumented immigrants. They work on farms across the state for up to 10 hours a day and in all kinds of weather picking apples, strawberries, tomatoes, grapes and fruit stand staples.
Off Molerno Road, a few miles outside of Marina, CA, we followed the setting sun and the Monterrey Peninsula Recreational Path into town. Kai took the low road (the recreational path) and I took the high road (the road parallel to the path), but, alas, we both ended up at the same place in the end!
Photos from each of our perspectives:
We set up camp at the Marina Dunes RV Park, just across the street from the ocean and the Marina Dunes State Park and Preserve, and ended up spending a couple of days there, relishing access to laundry facilities, a clubhouse with free wi-fi access (and free coffee, tea and cookies), and hot showers (unlike the lukewarm or cold showers at the state parks). The Marina Dunes Preserve, which protects over 170 acres, was just a hop, skip and a jump away so we spent an afternoon walking through a section of the preserve to the beach, where we soaked up the sun and watched Surf Scoters bobbing on the waves, Brown Pelicans soaring along the tops of the dunes, a variety of gulls, and many other species of birds.
Next Stop:: Monterey to Big Sur