Sunday, December 26, 2010

Fort Ord

Historic photo from the Fort Ord Reuse Athority
When I came to the Monterey Peninsula in the 1970's, Fort Ord was a very active military base and training center.  It is located just north or Monterey, and bounded by the cities of Marina and Sand City (which were developed in response to the needs of Ft Ord).  Along with the Defense Language Institute (DLI) and the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), Ft Ord gave a distinctly military presence on the Montery Peninsula.

Fort Ord began its life during the Mexican-American War in 1846.  But it was most active, and named Fort Ord from 1940-1976.  My step brother trained there in the 1960's.  He was a most unlikely soldier, spending most of his time there in the infirmary with pneumonia.  I think they finally gave up trying to make him into a fighter and assigned him to drive for an officer.

Maybe this is what did my step brother in!  (source FORA)

The facility was closed by the military in 1994.  Now there is a California State University on a smll part of the base.  Some of us hoped that it would be named the University of Fort Ord, or UFO.  Instead, it has the unweildy name of California State University at Monterey Bay (CSUMB).  There is also an area for an extension campus of Monterey Peninsula College, where I taught for almost 30 years.  (I still teach an online class twice a year.)  I believe there is also a training area for police and fire fighters.

In the 90's, most of the base was still off limits to civilians as they were trying to clear the area of unexploded ordinance.  I used to walk there occasionally on open areas with my standard poodle, Keisha.  But now there are miles and miles of hiking trails, dirt and paved roads open to the public.  If you would like to see a map of the area with trails marked and a warning about unexploded ordinace at the bottom, click

So, on the day before Christmas, Daphne and I took our first hike on Fort Ord land since I have been back.  The trail head was well marked, with parking on both sides of the street just before it is barricaded.  People were biking, riding horses and hiking.  And yet, within a few minutes you could be completely alone on one of the many trails.

As we moved higher up the hills, I saw that I would have an opportunity to show the Salinas Valley (produce capital of the US).  As I drive from my inland home in Gonzales toward the Monterey Bay, I drive on River Road.  I assume the river is the Salinas River, though it is not visible from River Road.  Instead, River Road runs along the edge of the Salinas Valley.  One side is the flat, ridged fields of the valley.  The other side is the lovely hills leading up to the  Santa Lucia Mountains, complete with livestock and my beloved Coastal Live Oaks.
This shows the valley looking toward Salinas, with the farmland in between.  Click on any of my photos to see more detail.

This view is toward the bay. 
The shiny spots are not water.  They are the plastic that is laid over the ground for growing strawberries.
This is the country I find so beautiful.

When we got back to the car, I at first thought that this horse was tied to a fence.  But there was a little holding pen.  His folks were putting other horses in the trailer.  He was not happy about being left here.  He had clearly had a good workout as he was all sweaty.  Interesting colouring, don't you think?

Here he is showing his frustration by calling to his friends/owners.

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