Fort Ord closed in 1994. After the Army pulled out, the land and its problems, was given to the state of California. Lead contaminated ground had to be removed and taken to landfills; 700,000 pounds of spent ammunition was also removed. California has created a bike route through the area, and has closed most of it to humans. It's now a sanctuary for a Plover and Blue Butterflies.
'This is an old firing range. The recruits would shoot at stuff and the officer would sit in that tower and grade their accuracy.
The whole area looks painted, the ice plant ranges from green to bright red. I always thought it was native to California. It's not, it's from South Africa. The army brought it here to stabilize the dunes. It did a great job of that, too good. Dune movement is needed for many species to survive. The ice plant kills the buckwheat that the butterflies need. Everywhere you see it, you're seeing the death of an ecosystem.
This dune is wearing green ice plant.
Some of it has turned red. The black areas are dead ice plant. Old runners die out, but new ones grow in their place. Big Sur is just covered in this stuff. It's everywhere, sort of like kudzu in the south.
Anyway, the ride through Fort Ord was just delightful. The are hills, there was some wind but not too much. When we got down to Seaside, the trail moved into a very crowded urban area. I would like to do the ride around Carmel, but I think if we do we will rent hybrids. Riding in crowds clipped in and on twitchy bikes is just not that much fun.
Jim wanted to see the old barracks, which have been left in place. They're full of asbestos and need to be taken down. California ran out of money in 2008 and has not gotten to it, yet.
It's amazing how well things grow here. These are succulents in a pot outdoors. We never could pull this off in Seattle (too wet) or Tucson (too hot). But it is just right, here.