Monday, July 29, 2019

Author Recalls Gilroy Visit...a Nostalgic Road Trip

By Cal Orey
Author Goes Home to Northern/Central California

Last weekend I took a nostalgic road trip down memory lane, from Lake Tahoe to Gilroy known as the "Garlic Capital of the World"--and much more... My primary goal was attending a book signing at the town's Barnes and Noble bookstore, but of course, my list of must-dos was a long one. After the book event, it was onward to Monterey-Pacific Grove.  Yep, Cannery Row, and the 17 Mile Drive were part of the journey.  I had a fun agenda ahead but sharing the Healing Powers Series was first and foremost on my road duties of  being an author going back home.
Store Image
Gilroy Crossing

Steinbeck loved the sea, dogs
Enter Gilroy: It is a city in in Northern California's Santa Clara County, south of Morgan Hill, and has decades of flashbacks for me. In the eighties, I took a bus out of San Jose and performed hours and hours of research in the John Steinbeck Public Library in Salinas; later writing a story about the author and his love for canines, published in Dog World Magazine. And, I chose Steinbeck who was born in Salinas (touted for its grape vineyards and vegetable growers, the backdrop of his novels) as one of my three authors to study for the oral exams in graduate school at S.F.S.U.  Not to forget, as a lover of his novel Travels with Charley (he drove a camper with his Standard Poodle in tow across  America), inspired, I hitched and hiked with my dog, a black Lab, across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.. and these days continue to write about my past and share present on the road escapades in the Healing Powers Series. 

Quake Prediction in
Gilroy Dispatch
Leaving Skyler is a Challenge
Also, I recall my visit to the Gilroy Garlic Festival (eating garlic fries and garlic ice cream); and the sobering October 17, 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake and how this region was affected...Years later, I wrote about it in The Man Who Predicts Earthquakes; a biography about the late geologist Jim Berkland whom actually predicted the major shaker the rocked my world and the nation with its impact. His  forecast come-true was published in the Gilroy Dispatch on Friday the 13th. And his life changed when the earthquake hit at 5:04 P.M., and moved the Earth for 15 seconds. In 2006, Berkland attended our book signing at Gilroy's Barnes and Noble and spoke to a crowd of his fans--as I was stuck in the sierras due to weather conditions and a bout of shyness since the man always drew a crowd. 
On April 21, off season and springtime in the mountains (heaven), I did make the five hour trip to Gilroy and am happy for the journey. I left the mountains to revisit the agricultural hub and smell salty sea air along Cannery Row. My beloved Australian Shepherd was not happy; kenneled with other dogs, separated from me; I found a pet sitter for the sensitive Siamese, Zen (who went on strike and didn't sleep with me the night before). The challenges were a bit stressful--not zen-like-- but I wanted to go back home.

And I sat through bumper to bumper traffic in Sacramento, got fresh images of change in San Francisco Bay Area, as I drove past my hometown of San Jose (where I was born and raised) and on into Gilroy--a place full of memories. Once inside the cool and calm bookstore (it was a hot day, especially in contrast to Tahoe) I felt an instant sense of  belonging. As I put myself into extrovert mode, chatting to staff and customers it was apparent. Gilroy locals are warm, down-to-earth people and I enjoyed the lingering conversations. There wasn't a gigantic audience awaiting me (I have experienced that, though) but it was a beautiful day outside (versus me indoors) and there were good people, good chats and some good books signed and purchased.

Baby boomers (male) were especially interested in my reader-friendly book collection (all penned in the mountains even though I adore the ocean environment and cherish my Santa Cruz days and nights) because they appreciate good health,  and farm-to-table eats. 

And, it was The Healing Powers of Honey that attracted attention. I didn't know why at first.  (Going back home to Tahoe I noticed beekeepers' honey signs on the road and jars of local honey for sale at produce stands.) As a I sipped a cup of chamomile tea (courtesy of the store manager) folks of all ages shared their feelings about eating better for more energy and longevity, to fighting seasonal allergies and beating high blood pressure... Also, we chatted about farming, water wars, and earth changes. It was enlightening and pleasurable to communicate and bond with people who were real. No attitude, just plain talk. 
Penned Healing Powers Series
in the sierras
When I glanced at the wall mural my eyes met the face of author John Steinbeck. I had come home full circle. Feeling the vibe around me of the two earth-minded mentors in my life--John Steinbeck and Jim Berkland was as good as it gets--and a genuine warmth of this specific bookstore and its people (I have been to hundreds of signings, big and small, over the years) I felt right at home. But while I sense my place at this time in life is still California--Lake Tahoe is like putting on your favorite jeans and exhaling for the comfortable fit.

--Cal Orey, M.A., is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, and Superfoods) published by Kensington and available at fine bookstores everywhere. (The collection has been featured by One Spirit, Literary Guild, and the Good Cook Book Club.)  Her website is

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