Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Monterey and San Diego: A Comparison

What are the commonalities between San Diego and Monterey? Both are popular California destinations today. Monterey has 'Del Monte’s' Pebble Beach, the 17 mile drive, and Carmel by the Sea. San Diego has the famous Torrey Pines, La Jolla Shores, Hotel Del Coronado and La Costa. Both had thrived once as fishing capitals: Monterey - Cannery Row and sardines; San Diego - tuna. Respective attractions for children are Monterey Bay Aquarium versus Sea World, Balboa Park and the world renowned San Diego Zoo.

Back in the 18th century, both attracted Spanish explorers, conquistadors and missionaries as ideal ports of calls. They enjoyed the scenic beauty, abundant wealth of sea life, and, in my humble view, “pine” and cypress trees, though the Spaniards, the voyagers, could not tell the difference.

They named the bay after their sponsor, the Count de Monte Rey and the point at the southern end of the bay, Point Pinos (la Punta de los Pinos). Monterey served as capital for Alta California under the Spanish and Mexican rule and was the only port allowed to trade on the west coast.

Portola, the Spanish captain, built the Presidio, the fort to guard a possible Russian attack from the north, while Father Junipero Serra celebrated Thanksgiving Mass. Father Serra built a small mission, but relocated it later to Carmel after Portola was replaced by Fage. Father Serra and his mission will be dealt with in a future blog.

A few words on Monterey Pines - I found their cones are “serotinous”, i.e. they remain closed until opened by the heat of a forest fire when the abundant seeds are then discharged to regenerate the burnt forest. The cones also burst open in extremely hot weather. I quote Frank Perry, Research Associate at Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, “On very hot days (a rarity where I lived) the trees emitted an eerie cracking sound as some of the cones opened." (Click here for more information). Besides Monterey, Monterey Pines grow in San Mateo, San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, Guadalupe and Cedros Islands down south.

A few words also on the Presidio, taken over by the U.S. after the Mexican war - The Presidio remained a fort and as a U.S. infantry military facility. When World Ware II broke out and Pearl Harbor was attacked, the Army established an Intelligence School to teach the Japanese language to Nisei American soldiers, but in 1942 it was moved to Minnesota and renamed the Military Intelligence Service Language School (MISLS). The school produced 6000 wartime graduates.

Japanese imperial military codes were deciphered by the graduates. Today, the school moved back to Monterey and is renamed the Defense Language Institute West Coast branch under Washington DC Headquarters.

Speaking of language studies, Middlebury Institute of International Studies (formerly known as Monterey Institute of International Studies) is famous. My ex-employer used to hire MIIS graduates.

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