Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Autumn Has Not Left Hollister. Yet.

Red, yellow, and orange leaves float through the air and cover lawns, sidewalks, and streets. A completely chaotic, colorful, comforting mess. That's one of the things I like about the fall season. 

In Hollister, the best looks of autumn can be found on Monterey and West streets. This little peek is how it looked this afternoon on Monterey Street, between Fifth and Sixth.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Snow on Them There Hills

Yep! Snow in Hollister. Ok, be technical. Snow on the mountains that flank us to the east. A lot of snow. Lovely snow. And cold.

The husband and I were walking downtown this afternoon when it began to hail lightly. Hard on the lips, I'll tell you that.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The 2009 Lights on Celebration

Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus will be coasting through downtown Hollister this year in the annual Candy Cane Lane Parade.  Saturday, November 28, 2009, in fact.

Main street, aka San Benito Street, will be closed downtown for the celebration. Here's the schedule:

• 5 to 5:30 pm: pre-parade events

• 5:30 to 6:30 pm: Parade! Whoo-hooo!

• 6:30 to 8:30 pm:  Santa's Village, Merchant Open House, and live entertainment

For more info, click over to this Hollister Downtown Association link.

For photos of  last year's event, click here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Local Organic Tomatoes. Yum!

Yesterday, we drove out to the Mariquita Farm on Lover's Lane to pick us almost 30 pounds of sweet-tasting organically-grown tomatoes. When I say pick, I mean pick 'em straight off the vines. And, when I say sweet, well, think of the yummiest, melt-in-your-mouth, freshest candy you've ever eaten. That's how the sliced tomatoes I roasted in the toaster for about half-an-hour tasted. Triple orgasmic sweet! The raw tomatoes were delightfully wholesome-sweet too.

The Mariquita Farm is a small family organic farm. The folks are based in Watsonville, but also do farming here in San Benito County. They grow most, if not all, their crops for the Community Supported Agriculture Program (CSA). They open their tomato fields to the public for picking only on certain days. This Saturday, tomorrow, is the last day. It's between 9 am and 1 pm. 50 cents a pound. Definitely worth a road trip!

Links for more info:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

History in Play Around San Benito County

Yes, I know it's been awhile. It'll probably still be awhile before I can get back into some kind of routine blogging. But I thought I'd pop in to tell you about all the fun things that are happening this Saturday September 19, in and out of Hollister. Ok, and some on Sunday September 20, too.

Paicines Ranch Open House

Paicines Ranch, also known as Rancho Cienega de los Paicines, has been around since the mid-1800s. Today, the current owners breed cattles and horses. It sells free range grass-fed beef to the public. It also rents its historical buildings for events. On Saturday afternoon, you can tour the grounds, including the Grogan House where Judy Garland was married. The ranch is a straight shot on the 25, about 15 minutes south of Hollister. For more info, click here to get to the Paicines Ranch Web site.

Chicken Festival and Parade

Cock-a-doodle-doo! It's the the annual Chicken Festival in San Juan Bautista, several miles west of Hollister. There's a crowing contest, a Chicken dance contest, Chicken bingo, a Chicken parade, and more. Why chickens? There's a bunch of 'em roaming wild through the streets of the hamlet. Some locals love 'em. Some wouldn't mind making 'em into chicken soup. Join in on the fun, either or both Saturday or Sunday. For more info, click-a-doodle here to the San Juan Bautista Chamber of Commerce.

Civil War Event

The San Benito County Historical Society (SBCHS) will be hosting a Civil War event at the San Benito County Historical Park. For info and photos, click here to go to the SBCHS Web site. Also, click here to read an article in the Hollister Free Lance about the event.

Renaissance Faire

Hear ye. Hear ye. The Renaissance Faire is back at Casa de Fruta, a few miles north of Hollister. It's open every weekend through October 18. For more info, click ye on over to the Northern California Renaissance Faire Web site.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Original Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital

Show of hands, Hollister folks: Who was born in this here building?

You. You. You. Me. You over there on the other side of the world. And a whole lot more.

This building stands at 910 Monterey Street. The corner of Monterey and Hawkins streets, to be exact. It’s the original Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital, which was built and presented to the city of Hollister by Mr. Thomas S. Hawkins.

Mr. Hawkins was one of the city’s founders. His granddaughter, the Hazel Hawkins, the sweetie of his heart, died from appendicitis in 1902. She was only nine years old. According to the story I’ve heard, Mr. Hawkins felt she may have lived if there had been the proper medical facility in town. So, he built one for the community as a tribute to his “Little Sunshine.”

Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital opened in November 1907 and served as the community hospital until the hospital district was formed in 1957. In 1962, the hospital moved into its modern digs on Sunset Drive. Today, Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital is part of the San Benito Health Care District which also includes skilled nursing facilities and a home health agency.

The old hospital building was used as a nursing home for many years. Then, somewhere along the line, it was turned it into an office building. And that's what it is today. The hair stylist who does my hair had her salon there for several years, which gave me a chance to prowl the corridors.

It’s a very beautiful building, as you can see. If you ever have a chance, pop in and take a glance of what’s inside. The left (or south) corridor especially. I'll just leave it at that.

By the way, does anyone know where the baby nursery used to be? The surgery? Just wondering.

Here are a couple of links to learn more the hospital and the Hawkins family:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The County Fair is Coming!

First things first. I gotta brag about my recent contest winning at Sew, Mama, Sew! I won a yard of free fabric in its recent Free Fabric Friday contest. So many wonderful choices. Thank you Sew, Mama, Sew!

If I had more time, I’d sew something with the fabric to enter in this year’s San Benito County Fair. Maybe next year. But I still plan on entering photographs. My quest is to be bestowed a ribbon. Blue, red, chartreuse.... I don’t care. I just want a ribbon.

The fair will be from Friday, October 2 to Sunday, October 4 at Bolado Park, which is several miles south of Hollister on Highway 25. You can't miss it.

The deadline for entries (crafts, baked goods, art, livestock, floriculture, and so forth) is Friday, August 28. You can download entry forms from the San Benito County Fair Web site. You can view the schedule of events at the Web site, too.

Want to read about last year’s county fair? Then clickity-click here.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ring a Ding Ding for the Ding A Ling Cafe

Haven't had the time or inclination to venture out and write about things in and about town. Maybe things will get better once my current project is finally complete. The other day, though, the husband and I went off to do errands. As a treat, we decided to have breakfast at the Ding A Ling Cafe. You heard right...just like the sound of a bell. Ding-a-ling. Ding-a-ling. Ding-a-ling. Hmmm. I wonder if that's why it's called the Ding A Ling Cafe.

When I was a kid many hundreds of years ago, the Ding A Ling was on Fourth Street in downtown Hollister. I don't remember when it moved out to the airport. The Hollister Municipal Airport, that is. That's all the directions you need. The airport is a few miles north of town on San Felipe Road. You turn into the airport and voila there's the Ding a Ling on the western edge of the lawn.

I've never thought about the Ding A Ling being an airport diner, but I suppose it is. I like the food there. Portions are big, but you have the option to order mini-portions, which I think are half-portions.

That day I had a yearning for pancakes and an Italian sausage patty. The two pancakes filled up the plate, but they were very light so I wasn't stuffed at all when I ate them alllll up. The sausage was delish. The taste reminded me of grilled venison. The patty was a wide rectangle shape with one edge hanging over the small round dish. My husband happily helped me polish it off.

The cheery cute-as-a-button waitress asked if we wanted salsa. I'm glad we got it. Another delish treat to put on my pancakes. Just the right combo of tomatoes and heat to create a mellow bang for me.

Ding-a-Ling serves breakfast and lunch. You can sit indoors or outside. If you want to eat there at the beginning of the week, call to find out if it's open. A few years ago, I've driven over on a Tuesday or Wednesday (can't remember) to be disappointed 'cause it was closed.

Some links to check out:
  • Yelp Reviews of the Ding A Ling.
  • FAA Info for the Hollister Municipal Airport.
  • For skydiver want-to-be's, the Adventure Center Skydiving, Inc. is kitty-corner from the Ding a Ling. I jumped out of a plane with them a couple years ago. Definitely a flying leap of fun!
  • And, for you folks who would like an adventure in a glider, the Hollister Gliding Club is right next door.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hollister's Own Abercrombie

The 2009 Miss San Benito Rodeo was crowned over the weekend. Drum roll please. . . . Hail Queen Alyssa Abercrombie!

Is she related to the A in A&F, the corporation that has a fit about Hollister businesspeople sporting their hometown name's on their merchandise? Don't know. Still, who doesn't like the irony of it all. Now, if only one of the other contestants had been a Fitch.

A Hearty Congrats to our new Miss San Benito Rodeo!! She will be reigning over the 76th Annual San Benito County Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo on June 26 and 27 at Bolado Park.

She'll also be in the annual parade, which takes place on Thursday, June 25 through downtown Hollister. To see photos of last year's parade, please click here.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pedaling Along Southside Road

I don't care what the calendar says. We are now in wonderful, wondrous summer! The hills around Hollister are now golden brown. The thistles are outstanding in the field, as are the bales of hay. What better thing to do on a summer day than to pedal around the backroads. Yep.

Yesterday, the husband and I wandered along Southside Road. Only a bit because we're bordering on out of shapeness. Again. The road parallels CA 25 between Hollister and Tres Pinos. By the end of summer we ought to be pedaling the full length of the zigs and zags, and ups and downs of Southside Road to Tres Pinos.

The photos are just a few of the sights we saw yesterday. Just click on the photos to get a full-size gander. And, yes, the sky was truly that blue.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lots to Do In and About Hollister, California

It's gonna be a hopping town this week!

May 13: The Farmer’s Market
The farmers, food vendors, craftspersons, and others will be coming to town every Wednesday, from 3 pm to 7 pm, starting this week. Whoo-hooo! The Farmer's Market a whole new set up this year. The farmers will set up their booths on Fifth Street (between San Benito and Monterey streets), while the food vendors and nonprofit groups will be found in the parking lot behind the Vault as well as on the lawn beside it. Live entertainment is also being scheduled. To see a list of products that will be sold, check this link at the LocalHarvest Web site.

May 14: The Expo & Job Fair
The San Benito County Expo and Job Fair (also known as the San Benito County Trade Show) will be held this Thursday, from 2 pm to 7 pm at the Veterans Memorial Building in Hollister. This year’s theme is ECO-nomics, which highlights the growing green industry in the county. Click here for a story, published by the Hollister Free Lance, about last year’s event. For more info about the fair, contact the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce.

May 13-15: Wings of Freedom Tour
This week, living aviation history will be flying into the Hollister Municipal Airport. It will be one of the stops for the Wings of Freedom Tour, which is sponsored by the Collings Foundation. Featured on the tour are the B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-24 Liberator, and the P-51 Mustang—all restored WWII aircraft. Walking tours cost $12 for adults and $6 for 12 and under.

Other Events this Week

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Can a Business Own a Town's Name?

Hollister, California.

Yes, I wrote the name. I'll write it again.

Hollister, California! That's where the heck I live.

Will Abercrombie & Fitch sue me because it says "Hollister California" is its trademark for its fictional surfside town. Will it sue me and every resident who writes Hollister, California to the question "Where do you live?" Or, will it sue all of us residents because we write Hollister, California as part of our return address on our correspondence?

Why am I being so rhetorical...so cynical? According to a report on a Bay Area news station last night, Abercrombie & Fitch has sent letters to Hollister merchants notifying them that the use of "Hollister" in their names or merchandise is an infringement on the big corporate's brand. Really? People can't tell the difference between its clothing line and say the Mexican products sold at the Hollister Super Market? Sheesh!

To view the story covered by KTVU, a news station out of Oakland, California, click here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dining Out, Helping Out!

The Community Food Bank of San Benito County (formerly known as the Community Pantry) will be holding its first annual Dining Out Helping Out event this Thursday, April 30. Sponsoring restaurants of the event will donate a portion of their receipts on Thursday to the food bank. Those restaurants are:

According to its Web site, the Community Food Bank serves about 1,700 bags of food to over 5,000 people weekly. And, it puts 92 cents of every dollar they receive into feeding those in need.

So, if on Thursday, you're seeking to enjoy a cup of coffee, a sandwich, a dessert, a take-out meal, or a sit-down one, be sure to swing over to one of the above local restaurants. You'll be feeding your tummy happy yummies as well as those of others.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Santa Barbara Ice Cream

2/27/12 Update: The Santa Barbara Ice Cream Parlor is no more. Bummer!

Today was hot. No, it was HOT! In the 90s at one point. So, Dick and I headed out to the new ice cream shop in town for tonight's dessert— the Santa Barbara Ice Cream Parlor. My mom and I would’ve been perfectly happy to eat ice cream for dinner. But, a wise man said otherwise.

Santa Barbara Ice Cream Parlor is a franchise established by McConnell’s Creamery of Santa Barbara. I’ve never had any of McConnell’s ice cream but I figure if the ice cream is made in Santa Barbara, it just may be worth my while.

I was right.

The shop has been open for a few months, and the friendly young man behind the counter said they’ve been doing well, but should do better once they begin advertising. It’s in an ideal location, on McCray Street, right next to the Premiere Cinemas.

All the ice creams and sherberts looked so fresh and delicious. We went with a pint of Mint Chocolate Chip (Dick’s standard) and a pint of Coconutty Professor, as I’d been craving coconut for a while.

My mom, Dick, and I were not disappointed when we finally ate our dish of ice cream after dinner. With our first taste, Dick and I exclaimed in unison, “This ice cream is yummy!” Really, we did say that at the same time.

The Mint Chocolate Chip was laced full of tiny chiplets and the Coconutty Professor had a surprising amount of toasted coconut and walnuts. Both ice creams tasted rich yet light. They reminded me of gelato, while Dick thought it was like eating homemade ice cream.

Santa Barbara Ice Cream sells cones, shakes, floats, smoothies, and coffee blasts. It also takes orders for customized ice cream cakes. I also noticed iced cold drinks on sale and a rack of other snacks.

Starting Tuesday May 19, the shop is starting its promotion Baler Bailout Tuesday’s. Between 6 and 9 p.m., it will sell single scoops of ice cream for one dollar a scoop. You can't beat that that these days.

Tomorrow will be another HOT day. I can hardly wait for us to eat the rest of the ice creams. Yum!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Historical Fifth & San Benito

Isn't this sign hysterical?

It’s one of my favorites around Hollister. Not to worry. Head on down. There’s lots of parking, on the street and in the parking garage. You just can’t park where that particular sign stands.

I suppose a sign of having lived a long life is when the downtown you've always known is now called "historic." What I wonder is if there's a Historic Downtown Hollister, where's the modern one?

According to a brochure by the Hollister Downtown Association, Historic Downtown Hollister is from Third Street (north end) to South Street (south end, naturally) and between Monterey Street (west end) and East Street (east end). That’s five cute blocks from north to south and two blocks, just as cute, from west to east. Easy to mosey or stride. And, yes, you will find most of the downtown shops and restaurants within those boundaries.

Here's a peek at what's on the historical corner of Fifth & San Benito Streets.

Yes, that's part of the Diablo range in the background.

This was the old Bank of America building.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Deli-issh Eats!

Dick and I may have found our go-to place when we want a deli-ishhh sandwich. For us, it means taking the Highway 25 bypass to get across town and then turning north on San Felipe Road to head towards the Hollister International Airport. It’s well worth driving the extra minute or two to to get to Victoria’s.

This Italian deli is in one of those nondescript industrial-park store fronts. Inside, it definitely is far from bland. It’s cute and clean with a sense of fun. That day, balloons and signs wishing "Happy Birthday Nana" were sprinkled about the shop. The deli is mostly a take-out place, but there are a few tables for sit-down eating.

Victoria’s serves breakfast and lunch fare. The lunch menu includes salads, soups, sandwiches, and pastas. There are also desserts. A breakfast menu is also available. Click here to download a copy of the menu.

We each went with a box lunch, which included a deli sandwich, choice of pasta salad or chips, a cookie, and soda. Dick ordered a turkey sandwich, while I asked for a forest ham. My mom's a light eater, so I figured I could share my sandwich with her. But, I also ordered her a cup of clam chowder, in case the sandwiches were petite.

When we opened the boxes at home, we were very surprised with the hefty portions. How big? Dick and I are not dainty eaters, but I was full after eating half of half of my sandwich, while Dick was content after eating half of his. Leftovers for dinner or for lunch the next day. I, being the cook, am always grateful for one less meal to think about creating.

The sandwiches, the pasta salad that came with my meal, and Mama’s clam chowder were all delish! Fresh, tasty, and tummy-satisfying. A cute, roll-sized baguette came with the soup. Both the soup and roll were hits with my mom, and, she's a very picky eater. Next time we go to Victoria's, I plan on trying the pasta pesto, lasagna, or cheese ravioli. . .or, maybe the Meatball Italiano sandwich…or the turkey avocado or. . . .

The downside to Victoria’s: It’s only open Monday through Friday. Victoria's is located at 1745 San Felipe Road, #3.

For more about Victoria’s, check out these two links:

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Church in Tres Pinos

A few years ago I jumped out of a plane and landed in the field across from the church where I had been baptized as an infant. The jump was planned (of course!) and I was attached to a trained professional skydiver of Skydive Hollister. But, that is a tale for another day.

Today, my focus is on the small, plain-looking church across from the field. I’ve always known it as the church in Tres Pinos, which is several miles south of Hollister. It’s actually called the Immaculate Conception Church, and it is right off of Highway 25.

The church was built in the late 1800s. It has been carefully kept and maintained through the years, both inside and out.


The Immaculate Conception is an active parish with masses held on Sunday and during the week. The doors, I believe, are open during the day throughout the week. I'm not a churchgoer, but now and then I like to step into that church, usually on a weekday. When I enter its sanctuary, I always feel a sense of comfort…of being…of hope.

(Note: The photo of me was taken by Joe Siudzinski. Thank you, Joe!)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Driving Up Lone Tree Road

When I was a kid, I thought the mountains that surrounded Hollister were just a bunch of hills. What does a kid know! Today, in my wise old age, I am continually taken aback at how awesome they are.

The Diablo Range runs down the eastern side of San Benito County. The tallest peak in this whole range is in the southern part of the county—San Benito Mountain, which stands 5,241 feet high. Sorry. These photos aren't of that peak. One day.

This part of the range is just outside of Hollister. I don’t know how high they are. They do get a now-and-then dusting of snow, and when they do, some folks like to drive up Lone Tree Road to check it out.

The mountains have been wearing Spring quite well. The other day some friends came by, so it was a great excuse to head up Lone Tree Road. As you can see from the photos, it was a perfect day! We even saw wild boars who looked as tame as the cattle.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Knife & Fork Cafe

For the last hour, I have been thinking about the lemon cake that the Knife & Fork Cafe has listed on its menu. I’ve been to this restaurant on San Benito Street twice, and I have yet to try it. On my first visit (September 2008), I decided to be wise and eat a fortified breakfast of biscuits and gravy. Yum!

The second time there—just last Friday—I was full after eating a grilled Portobello sandwich and a scoop of potato salad. My juicy sandwich was delicious, but the potato salad. Oh, yum, now that is something to drool about in memory. It was just right. For me, that means a bit of crunch with each bite and the potato concoction was not glistening in mayonnaise. I also like that the scoop was placed on a slight bed of salad greens. One of my companions had a grilled salmon salad, which I think I’ll try another day. A big portion of wild salmon was set prettily on a big plateful of greens. It looked well worth the price.

The Knife & Fork opened last summer. It's located on San Benito Street, across from the Veteran’s Memorial Building. You can’t miss it. It’s next to Browns Alley where the building next door exhibits a huge, beautiful mural, which was painted by some Gavilan art students under the direction of their instructor Arturo Rosette. The mural is another reason why I’ll head down to Knife & Fork again. I like looking at it, whether through the restaurant’s side windows or at its reflection in the mirrors on the restaurant’s southern wall.

Currently, the Knife & Fork is open for breakfast and lunch. It’s a friendly and comfortable place to hang out. When my party sat down to eat on Friday afternoon, we didn’t realize they were about to close. Our waiter said not to worry. We got there before the closing hour (4:30) and we could stay as long as we want. Music to our ears. So, we decided to eat an early dinner, which was great for the cooks in the party.

The proprietors say that they’ll soon be open for dinner. They are also getting permits to put out tables in the alley for outdoor service. Oh, boy! I can see sitting next to that mural on a warm summer evening as I finally eat a slice of lemon cake.

For other reviews of the Knife & Fork Cafe, check out these links

Friday, March 6, 2009

Four Places to Hike in San Benito County

(The photograph is courtesy of my hubby Dick. © Richard A. McDavid. All rights reserved.)

The mountains around Hollister are looking mighty green these days, and it won’t be long before all the poppies and other wildflowers are blooming wildly. Are you ready for a hike?

San Benito County has four parks that are worth checking out.
  • Pacheco State Park is on the way to the San Luis Reservoir, heading east on highway 152. The above photograph was taken there a couple years ago.
  • Fremont Peak State Park is south of San Juan Bautista, which is about 7 miles from Hollister. Once upon a time it was known as Gavilan Peak. It was named after Capt. John Fremont who supposedly defied the Mexican government in 1846 by camping there and raising the U.S. flag at the tippy-top.
Anyone know of other hiking places in San Benito County?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ten Smells of Hollister, California

I have yet to sniff the Hollister California line of bottled fragrances. But, it intrigues me that some people are willing to buy and apply a smell that would make others (and themselves) think they are living a fabricated Hollister California life.

It also got me thinking about the aromas of my hometown. What could I bottle and sell as Sigh, I’m Feeling Nostalgic for the real Hollister California? These are my top 10 smells (past and present). They are not in any particular odor. Hee-hee, I couldn’t resist the pun.
  1. The wild mustard that bloom in spring
  2. The tons of tomatoes as they are being canned on a hot summer evening
  3. Freshly-mowed grass on a Saturday morning
  4. Morning fog that clings to rows upon rows of tomato plants
  5. The heaps of fresh compost on Highway 25
  6. Manure just laid on newly-prepared vegetable fields
  7. Meat being barbequed on charcoal by next-door neighbors
  8. Gas, oil, and/or burning rubber fumes of a beyond-vintage truck or car passing by
  9. The livestock stalls at the county fair
  10. Approaching rain
What aromas get you thinking of home?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Back on the 25!

Yeah, I know. I’ve been away much longer than six weeks. What can I say? Deadlines never cease.

So, what’s new on Highway 25?

The 25 bypass, for one! Opened a couple of weeks ago, this extension goes around the city of Hollister. It was built so that downtown would be more pedestrian-friendly and hence more people will head downtown to shop and eat.

Yes, you read that paragraph correctly. If more people use the bypass, what then is the incentive of going downtown? I dunno.

However, the next time you visit Hollister, or go through it for points elsewhere, do take the 25 bypass. It is a short scenic drive. Be aware: The bypass has several stoplights. Be sure to drive the speed limit, regardless of how fast someone may have swished by you. But, also make a point of heading downtown for an enjoyable look-see as well.

For a peek at the northern third of the 25 bypass, please click on the photo below. It will take you to the video that I posted at 1971 Balers. It’s not the best footage, but I like the music. ☺



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