March 27th, 2011

More likely than not, the reason you are coming to this hotel has something to do with technology. The Silicon Valley, as we all call it now, has, for my whole lifetime, been only that. Apple was born just before I was, so I’ve only ever known this place as a big suburban sprawl that was, and is, changing the world. But before Apple, and me, there were orchards. This entire valley was covered with fruit and to grow up here was to live with other people’s nostalgia for trees. When I was a little girl, there were still cherry trees in someplace in San Jose, but they’re all gone now.

To get a little glimpse of what it must have been like, you can go to Casa de Fruta. It’s about an hour south and it’s a warm, friendly place to go feel a bit of California’s past. I will not deny that it’s set up in a somewhat cheesy, touristy kind of way. In addition to a fruit stand and a restaurant, there are weird little “attractions” and everything there is called “Casa de something or other”. “Casa de Restaurant,” for example, or “Casa de Choo Choo and Carousel”. Still, what they are doing, by means of these marketing strategies, is keeping a real, functional, family orchard alive well past its natural expiration date. Plus, tucked away as it is, southeast of Gilroy, en route to nowhere, it may be touristy, but it’ll never be overrun with tourists.

It’s a nice, quiet place to touch this agrarian part of California that doesn’t get as much attention as beaches, mountains, movies and computers. And a good place to stock up on the dried fruit and nuts that make such good gifts for family and friends.

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