Sunday afternoon, and our regular afternoon trip out to San Juan Bautista beckons; a long-standing date for an ice cream at Margot's ice cream parlor, every other Sunday, since C works one weekend off, one weekend on. We pick a new flavor every time we go; we'll see what we get to pick this week. First, however, it's time for a late lunch at JJ's Homemade Burgers. It's the Dino Burger for me this week; topped with guacamole, mushrooms, and onions; an absolute feast. San Juan Bautista is swarming today, busy with an antiques fair, perhaps all the more startling since pretty much every other store on the main street is an antiques store. Heaven only knows where the bikers will end up parking this week.
San Juan Bautista is curious; curiously recognizable. Pretty much everything lies on the main street; a collection of strange bars in aged buildings and antique stores. Chickens wander up and down the main street; clothing stores don't resist the opportunity to sell T-shirts emblazoned with inevitable cock jokes. The Mission of Saint John The Baptist, after whom the town is named, looks very familiar indeed; it's the scene where James Stewart and Kim Novak proceed towards the finale of Vertigo
, possibly my favorite Hitchcock movie, but with one major exception. The bell tower that features so prominently in the movie is not there. It never was. That's a bit of movie magic, constructed on a Paramount studio lot. The mission itself is the largest in California, and, perhaps it's because of the movie connection, walking through the mission courtyard is bewitching. There's a huge cactus leering over the wall of the San Juan Bautista park; a sign announces movies in the part on the last Saturday of every month in summer 2010. I think it is Shane
this month; the season finishes in September, almost predictably, with Vertigo
The buildings along the main street are curious mixes of period wooden and brick buildings, redecorated, reconstructed, and, just as often, thoroughly re-envisioned. La Casa Rosa
is painted bright pink; next door, Jardines
has an upstairs balcony that would rival a Western saloon; further up the road, Mom and Pop's Saloon
outdoes them both, with the strains of Woolly Bully
pounding out from the inside, a bar that is already packed and throbbing at four o'clock in the afternoon. The antiques stands are set up in force; everyone today seemingly has everything possible to sell; movie collectibles, metal signs from a bygone era. One gentleman over here is selling a box of piano rolls. $15, he'd rather someone took the box with them than have to return home with it. They might be worth a fortune, or legally embroiled
We made it to Margot's, and picked our flavors out. Hana Road for her today; rich chocolate ice cream, nuts, marshmallows; Rocky Road by another name, but forget what you have ever tasted at a Baskin Robbins. Mine is a blueberry cheesecake swirl, rich, fruity, tart, sweet, heavenly. Difficult to walk with and eat at the same time, so we continue to merely saunter. There's no hurry today, we don't have much money to spend, it's up to us to make it last. This gentleman here has a bizarre machine; seemingly, it's a John Deere tractor, resplendent in green and yellow. It looks like a sausage grinder. He explains how it's a lawn sprinkler. The little tractor follows the hosepipe round the lawn, while the spray rotates on the top. It's been a long day, apparently; he's unenthusiastic, no doubt because he has to pack all of this stuff into the back of his truck soon. The man in the next stand with the wooden birdhouses has already started packing; almost throwing his wares straight into the back of a Dodge Ram.
We reach the end of the street, marked by a pepper tree, gnarled, seemingly ancient. We could carry on, but from here it is pretty much like falling out of town, our tour ends here. We turn and notice something strange out of the corner of our eyes; the word London
, in San Juan Bautista of all places. We take a closer look; a reproduction of a few pages of the Illustrated London News
, dated February 5, 1863. Reports from the "war in America" from "our correspondent", accompanied with sketches and a handful of words to convey the story, in a nice but weathered frame, no glass, five bucks. C begins to haggle, and we acquire the item for two bucks plus some change, the lady takes whatever we have, we take the item. "It'll be just the thing to go in the front room, when that becomes your home office, someday".