The fields along the California coast are a sea of pumpkins this time of year.
Big news from the famous Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival on the Northern California coast. A California pumpkin won the prize for biggest gourd. Alien peoples from the nearby state of Oregon (and sometimes from even more alien places like Idaho) have been taking the pumpkin prize at Half Moon Bay since 1999, and native Californians were certain those outlanders had devised some devious means of doing so.
But for the 2010 event, they vanished, mysteriously I might add, and Ron Root of Citrus Heights, California (up near Sacramento) was the proud winner of the grand prize. His baby weighed 1,535 pounds. And that isn't even a record.
It is a terrific bunch of fun, this Pumpkin Festival, and always a surprising reminder of how rural the California coast can be, so close to the busy hills of San Francisco. Along Highway 1, within sight of the waves rolling in from the Pacific, is a fruited plane where family farms still grow artichokes and lettuce, flowers, Christmas trees and pumpkins.
The autumn weather is spectacular, the ocean will knock you out with its beauty, and there is only one negative. Also a feature of California.
The traffic is as clogged as Bill Clinton's arteries.
Looking seaward from California's Highway One.
The main roadway from the Peninsula over to Half Moon Bay, is two-lane Highway 92. On an ordinary day it is a wonderful, meandering road through the Coast Range and down to the sea.
On Pumpkin Festival weekend it is as backed up as the security line at O'Hare.
So, make your plans with care. By 8:00 a.m. on festival days--October 16-17, 2010--Highway 92 is bumper to bumper. One alternative is to take Route 84 from Woodside up through the hippy enclave of La Honda, and down to Highway One, from whence once can head north to Half Moon Bay. You can have fun poking along through La Honda spotting the marijuana growing.
My advice is to leave at dawn, miss the traffic, park the car and walk to breakfast in the cool quiet part of the day. See the pumpkins, stroll the tents filled with art, and then get the heck out of there by noon, before the traffic going out gets bad.
Last year I took the precaution of visiting Half Moon Bay one week ahead of the festival and had no traffic problems whatsoever. Which made me truly outstanding in my field.
MORE ON THE HALF MOON BAY PUMPKIN FESTIVAL