Monday, September 29, 2008

An Art Museum? A Vista Point? It's Both and More!

We have million-dollar art to check out for free in Hollister. Head over to the Briggs Building, which is near the corner of San Benito Street & Fourth Street. That’s the parking garage.

That’s right, I wrote parking garage. You can't miss it. It’s a four-story structure, the tallest one in town. It was built in the 1990s for about $6 million with RDA funds. At full capacity, it can hold about 140 vehicles, so I’ve read. I know, that’s a lot of taxpayers' pennies.

Few people use the parking garage. Maybe the building is just too beautiful to park in. Seriously, the building itself is a piece of art. If I didn’t know it was a parking lot, I would say it was a school (Gavilan College does hold classes on the first floor). Maybe a government building or a fancy department store. Maybe even an art museum, which brings me back to the topic of seeing some fine art there.

Start your tour by the stairway next to the elevator on the southeast corner of the building. First, admire the aesthetics of the stairway design.

Now, start walking up the stairs. Sure, you can take the elevator but there’s more joy in suddenly coming upon each piece of art as you gaspingly reach the top of a floor.

Pause at the top of each floor for your breath. Also, take note of the beauty of the art piece telling you what floor you’re on.

On the rooftop, I noticed a few more of these art pieces telling me I’m on the fourth floor. So I assume that’s the case on the other floors.

To tell you the truth, I no longer was interested in seeing and viewing man-made art when I came out on the rooftop. I was immediately astounded by the view of Hollister and the mountain ranges that surround it. The almost 360-degree view of Hollister is worth an occasional trip to the top of the roof of Hollister’s multi-million dollar parking garage.

There you go. A parking garage that's both a free fine arts museum and a vista point. Plus, you can park there.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Happy Birthday to Time!

I could be in my car, on my bicycle, or shuffling along on my own two feet. If I’m anywhere near Fourth and San Benito Street, I look up to see what time it is. I don’t really care to know what time it is. I just like gazing at our town’s mini dome that houses time.

That's right. Hollister has its own clock tower. Not as big as the one in the Back to the Future movies, but impressive to me nonetheless. The clock tower is part of the Masonic Temple Building. And, today that building (and clock) is 100 years old. Happy birthday, edifice-dude!

The thing that makes the clock run is 20 years older. Amazing, I say. A few years ago, someone repaired the mechanism so that the clock would tell time accurately. It was about 15 minutes off.

Some locals see the timepiece as a symbol. The clock tower is part of the city government's logo after all. With some of the financial problems that Hollister currently has, the time must still be off. I can't say for sure. I don’t carry a watch.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Steeple to Steeple 5-Mile Family Fun Run/Walk

On Saturday, October 4th, expect to see families and individuals, children and adults, tots and the elderly, make their way west through the streets of Hollister for the “Steeple to Steeple” event. This is a fundraiser for the Sacred Heart/St. Benedict’s parish.

The steeples, of course, refer to those of the two churches.

You start at the newer church, St Benedict’s, on Fairview Road, between Sunnyslope Road & John Smith Road. (Rather nice-looking setting, doncha think? One of these days, I'll check out a mass.)

You then run or walk 5 miles northwesterly to Sacred Heart Church (at Fifth Street & College). That's the original (at least I think it is) parish church, which is a few blocks west of the center of town.

Sacred Heart is a lovely example of a traditional Roman Catholic church with stained-glass windows and an altar full of statues of saints. I remember Latin masses there when I was a kid. I also recall my dad telling us, as he was driving us home, to stop fighting cause we just came out of church.

You can pre-register or sign in at 8 a.m. on the day of the event. And no, you don't have to be of the denomination to join in on the fun. At least, no one has told me differently.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pinnacles National Monument

My mom loves to visit the Pinnacles. It reminds her of the Philippines. I don’t know if it’s the starkness of the mountains, the smell of the air, the feel of the breeze, or the way the sun warms your body as you trample along the trails. She’s never said. I just know that besides her gardens, the Pinnacles National Monument provides her with a sense of calm.

The Pinnacles is about 30 miles south of Hollister. It generally takes us (hubby Dick and I) about 45 minutes, but that’s because we are old farts who like to rubberneck the scenery. Not to worry. The traffic is sparse, but you do need to pay attention to curves the nearer you get to the park. You head south out of town on Highway 25. Depending on the time of day, we may stop at Flapjack's Country Café in Tres Pinos for breakfast. That’ll be a story for another day.

According to the scientists, the Pinnacles is actually part of the Neenach Volcano that erupted waaaaay down south near Lancaster, California. The volcano was split by, yes, the San Andreas Fault. Over 23 million years, more or less, the Pinnacles was slowwwwwwwwly carried northwesterly to where it stands today. At the same time that it was inching up, wind and water carved out the spires and crags that someone in modern-day history decided to call the Pinnacles. Then President Theodore Roosevelt came along and established it as a national monument.

This year, the U.S. National Park Service celebrated the monument’s 100th anniversary. Since 1908, it has grown from 5,000 acres to approximately 26,000 acres. (Thank you ranchers and rancher descendents.) The park service is currently developing a general management plan for the next 15 to 20 years. Public input is appreciated. If you’re interested in being heard, you have until October 31, 2008.

You can do a lot of things at the Pinnacles. Depending on the time of year, you can scramble through talus caves, which are home to Townsend’s big-eared bats. But you can't go through 'em if the bats are there. You can bring your ropes and things and climb on the spires themselves. And of course you can hike easy paths and not-so-easy ones, which may make your hands sweat at certain HIGH points. If you’re lucky, you can see a California Condor or two circling above you. You can also hang out at a picnic table and enjoy the day, while the rest of your party are getting sweaty and tired.

There are actually two entrances to the Pinnacles National Monument. The west gate is off Highway 101, near Soledad. You can’t drive west to east through the park. But you can easily hike through it. Camping is on the Hollister side only.

Hmm, I think it's time to take out the hiking shoes.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Mexican Independence Day Parade

In Mexico, as well as in the United States States and worldwide, Mexicans and their descendants celebrate September 16th as Mexico’s Independence Day. On September 16, 1810. the Indios and mestizos in the small village of Dolores, Mexico, under the helm of a Catholic priest, took up the battle cry of independence. That was the start of the 11-year long Mexican insurgency against 300 years of Spanish colonial rule.

Today, the Mexican-American community in San Benito County held its annual Mexican Independence Day Parade and Festival. The parade was a breathtaking sight of caballeros and señoritas dressed in full splendor as they perched proudly upon their ponies, mares, and stallions of all types. Also in the parade were dancers, Festival queen contestants, and local public officials.

We didn’t make it down to the party, but according to the story in a local newspaper, it sounded like we had missed out on a good one.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Time Marches On

This mural, by Carol Ann Huboi and David van Hassell, depicts the agricultural heritage of San Benito County. It's one of several murals that grace the sides of buildings in historical downtown Hollister. Beautiful mural, isn't it? I believe the artists painted the peaceful scene from a photograph of a once-upon-a-time orchard in the area.

As a kid in Hollister, all I knew were orchards and vegetable fields. The town was surrounded by orchards. Apricot, peach, walnut, plum, cherry, prune and so on and so forth. Our county was particularly known for its Blenheim apricots, which beats the taste of any other apricots any day.

Since the 1980s, one by one the orchards have been sold to developers. I’m living in what was once a walnut orchard, for example.

The last of the orchards on Sunnyslope were pulled out last year to make way for the Highway 25 bypass. It’s a good thing, someone is thinking about painting murals to remind us how the world used to look for us.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Happy Cafe

We have five Chinese restaurants in Hollister. Our favorites are on the other side of town. When we’re in a hurry, we like to go to The Wok and get something from their buffet counter. When we’re not, we call up Happy Cafe (191-R San Felipe Road, next to McDonald’s) and then go pick up our grub.

Tonight, we ordered four dishes. General Tso’s Chicken, our favorite, was delish as usual. Deep fried, golden-chicken breast strips with a tinge of sweet heat. Better than KFC anytime, and we like KFC.

The vegetable chow fun was a hit, too. But then it’s hard to wreck chow fun for me. Wide strips of rice noodles coated in sauce and grease. Yum! All scrambled up with other ingredients. Tonight the mix was bean sprouts, snow peas, zucchini slices, and other veggies.

The snow peas, mushroom, water chestnut dish was so-so. Maybe if the cook had thrown in a few straw and shitake mushrooms, I would’ve been happy. Just your regular white button mushrooms, and too many of them. I'll be adding garlic and chives to the leftovers tomorrow for more pop.

The fog had started to roll in late this afternoon, so we decided to go for hot and sour soup. Happy Cafe usually makes it the way we like it. Tonight, it was missing something. Both the hot and sour were too subtle. We added a bit of the delicious hot sauce that the waitress gave us. Ah-ha! That did it.

Like any restaurant, Happy Cafe doesn’t score a triple heavenly yum all the time. This was one of those nights. We were still yummily happy. We shall return.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

What's Happening?

We no longer have a daily local newspaper. So, Hollister residents no longer have the convenience of knowing what fun things are about to take place in our county. Just by chance, a couple weeks ago at a grocery store, hubby Dick and I saw a poster announcing that a Banjo-ologist was coming to town. $5 for advance tickets. What a deal. That’s even less than senior citizen rates at the local theater.

Mr. Banjo-ologist, Gordy Ohliger, has come and gone. He was here last Friday night at the San Benito High School auditorium (which, by the way, still has red velvet curtains for the stage and windows). It was a delightful show. Mr. Ohliger performed several types of banjos, including one built out of a gourd and goat guts. He sang, banjo-ed, and charmed the audience through American history, from the banjo’s African-Yankee roots to the 1930s jazz era.

Dick and I will definitely look at the grocery store’s bulletin boards from now on!

In addition to grocery stores, we can learn about coming events in and around Hollister at any of these on-line sources:

Friday, September 5, 2008

What a Cute Town!

Welcome to Take 25 to Hollister, California!

This blog will be all about my hometown and all the other nooks and crannies in San Benito County, of which Hollister is the county seat. Whatever suits my fancy, I shall write about it.

What better way to introduce you to Hollister, then a bird's eye look of the city of about 35,000 people. The photo below (© by Richard A. McDavid) was taken in the Spring a couple years ago, but it could've been this year. The building moratorium is about to be over. Hopefully, the view won't become too drastic of a change for the birds.

Hubby Dick's cousins came to town last week. Practically their first words upon tumbling out of their car was "What a cute town!" And, it is.

Here's a look of San Benito Street, our main street. (A spring photograph taken by me.) For at least another couple of months, it is also Highway 25, which is the north-south passage through San Benito County.

San Benito Street, usually between 5th and South streets, gets closed for several hours for special events, such as the Christmas parade, the summer festival, and the annual Horse Show and Parade. Once the highway bypass is complete, merchants hope this will bring more pedestrian hustle and bustle downtown on an everyday basis. Hope so. It's too cute of a town to not hang out in.



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