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A step back in time: Moss Landing
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written by Jeanne:
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The Spectator
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Jeanne Carbone
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A brief hour away from the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley, a quaint fishing village offers a look into the past by the cool Pacific Ocean.

With a backdrop of the landmark 500-foot smokestacks of the surreal Pacific Gas and Electric Power Plant structure on Highway 1 lies the town of Moss Landing, busy with fisherman still fishing commercially, picturesque streets of Victorian homes accommodating antique and collectable shops, and a variety of restaurants offering everything from fish to enchiladas.

With a population of about 500, the coastal getaway was named after Capt. Charles Moss, a Texan who established fishing facilities and a pier developing commercial water traffic in the mid 1800s. The gold rush demanded products and California’s coast developed rapidly to assist. Among the cargo was produce from Watsonville and Pajaro Valley. The vegetables arrived at the nearby Elkhorn Slough at Hudson’s Landing for shipment to San Francisco.

Oyster farming, commercial fishing and a whale processing plant were industries already launched. Southern Pacific Railroad arrived in the late 1800s and became the primary means of delivery. A harbor constructed in the 1940s served the commercial fishing boats.

Today, serious hunters of another kind, wade through collectable treasures offered by a couple dozen antique shops that once housed residents of Moss Landing.

Whatever you desire can be purchased on Moss Landing Road, the town’s original main street. Antique furniture, glassware, oriental pieces, clothing, American colorful folk art, jewelry, pottery and everything else in between is available with friendly shopkeepers knowledgeable and eager to assist.

Yesterday’s Books offers a plethora of out-of-print and first-edition books. Next door, Waterfront Antiques features a collector’s cooperative full of California, Western and Indian pieces. Across the way, a red caboose is filled with reasonably priced nostalgia from another time and place.

If adventure is your forte, try fishing excursions, surfing, canoeing, power rafting, kayaking, whale and bird watching of some of the 275 species of warblers at the Elkhorn Slough. Elkhorn Slough Safari will take you up close and personal to harbor seals, sea otters, feathered critters, flora and fauna from a 27 foot pontoon boat. The marsh consists of five miles of trails and is a Natural Estuarine Reserve and one of California’s largest wetlands.

Perhaps a walk of one of the last fishing villages on the west coast will suffice.

Maybe it’s the ocean air, but everything tastes delicious at the classic fishing port and there are a multitude of choices to wet the most discerning taste buds. If you arrive early, try breakfast at the Moss Landing Lighthouse Harbor Grill; lunch at the Moss Landing Deli for fish and chips. The Whole Enchilada offers fish and Mexican delicacies and their clam chowder should not be missed. For dinner, Charlie Moss’s offers seafood, steaks and grog that its namesake would heartily approve of. Phil’s Fish Market and Eatery is legendary and you can wrap up a fresh catch to take home.

Overnight accommodations are sparse. The Captain’s Inn Bed and Breakfast features rooms on the water, each romantic bedroom with its own bath, lovingly decorated by the proprietor’s handpicked selections from the seaside’s communities own antique shops. Moss Landing RV Park is adjacent to the harbor and accommodates vehicles up to 45 feet.

In July, the sleepy fishing town’s population grows to 10,000 as tourists flood the area at the Moss Landing Antique Street Fair. Held the last Sunday of July since 1971, thousands of antiques and collectables are sold at the largest outdoor market on the central coast. Local shops share space with over 200 vendors, displaying everything from antiques to food, with special treats of a fish fry and artichokes. Charlie Moss would have been proud.
Half way between Santa Cruz and Carmel is Moss Landing -
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