When I have travelled whether it be by car, train, plane, bike and now boat, the thing I have enjoyed the most is the history of where I am. The buildings, the people, the landscape, what does it tell me, what information can I find? Who to ask? You just never know what will be revealed.
China Camp, California
China Camp, located in San Pablo Bay was a gem. It is a state park and has been since 1977. What made it such a gem was my good fortune to speak with Georgette Quan. She is a volunteer at the state park and cousin to Frank Quan. Frank died last year prior to his 91st birthday and had been born and lived most of his life at China Camp. When the camp had been taken over as a state park he was granted residency for his life time.
By the mid 1880’s China Camp was one of many Chinese coastal fishing villages and rose to a population of 500. They caught mostly shrimp, sold some locally but most were dried and shipped to China. Approximately 3 million pounds per year.
Franks mother’s name was Grace and she was white. It was forbidden for a white person to marry a Chinese person in California so Frank’s father and soon to be bride went to Reno to be married. Georgette told me that Grace although white could speak Cantonese fluently and liked to smoke big cigars! Georgette said she grew up with American kids and knew no other language but English. She said they all had to work hard but looking back she said she had a good childhood.
Up until Frank died he would on weekends make chowder in the small store at China Camp. That would have been a great treat!
What a lovely, bike friendly, full of history and Victorian architecture town. There is a great information and walking map of the town at the tourist info centre.
Benicia was originally the Capitol of California. It has an impressive State Capitol building that has been beautifully maintained.
There is a Pony Express Stop and down by the shore is a plaque that talks about the Pony Express Ferry that carried mail. Originally 13 pieces of mail were transported on the first ferry.
Jack London lived and worked on the waterfront in his early years and gathered his inspiration for two of his well-known works – “Tales of the Fish Patrol” and “John Barleycorn”.
This is only a taste of this historic town. It has a wonderful feel to it. You will not be disappointed.