“Cal-i-for-nia, here I come!” This is the song I was singing last July, when I prepared to travel along the Californian coast, from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Among the memorable experiences, one of the most impactful to my writer’s imagination, was one discovered by chance.  China Rock.

We set off for the scenic and infamous 17-Mile Drive. The narrow road twisted and turned its way along the rocky coastline and delivered the natural beauty and manmade spectacle that the brochure promised. We made a stop just outside of Monterey at an understated peninsula to photograph some seals and cormorants that had laid claim to rocks jutting out of the ocean.


The travel brochure read, “China Rock: Here at Point Joe, China fishermen built lean-tos against the rocks for their homes in the late 1800s and early 1900s for their homes.” I tried to imagine the structures that people might have lived in and the hardships they must have endured. I’ve read about the shabby treatment of Chinese immigrants to Canada during that same period of history. I didn’t imagine it would have been much different in this region.

That morning, I took as many photos as I could from as many perspectives as possible to document the coastline. I noted the sounds, creatures and vegetation and how it was different from what I knew in my home near Toronto, Ontario. The following is a sampling of photos I took to help me remember the landscape that surrounded the Chinese families and their fishing village.

Click on photo to enlarge.


Seals and cormorants cover the rock. This photo is a “zoom in” on the rock seen in the prior photo. Click on photo to enlarge,


This looks like an opportune spot to dry fish or spread nets out for mending. Click on photo to enlarge.

I have begun to collect research about the history of the Chinese fishing village that once existed on this stretch of beach near Monterey. Already, I’ve discovered threads of cultural richness blended tales of conflict and endurance.  I look forward to sharing these in future posts.

The world is a fascinating place and we are preceded by people of such courage and tenacity. Discoveries made while traveling often remind me of this. I am forever grateful for the stories they inspire.

Lead  photo (Courtesy, California Historical Society, FN-22407 Photo: Albert Dressler, California Historical Society )

Have you been hooked by history in your travels? 

I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment.