This is a place I had never heard of until I started collecting National Park Unit stamps. Since it was on our way to Sequoia National Park, we decided to make a quick stop there to get the César E. Cháves National Monument park unit checked out of our park book. And to be honest, this place was pretty quick to see.
WHO WAS CÉSAR CHÁVEZ?
César Cháves was a human rights activist who started a labor union for farm workers in California. As many of you probably know, California produces most of the fruits and vegetables eaten in the US., and the farm workers don't always live in the best possible conditions. Cháves' achievements are not only known in California, but also in the whole United States, some states even celebrate César Cháves Day.
César Cháves worked on farms until 1952, until he became a labor leader, human rights activist and idol for Latin American farm workers. He was able to raise the salaries of farm workers and improve their work conditions at farms.
CÉSAR E. CHÁVEZ NATIONAL MONUMENT
This monument is located in a small town called Keene, close to the mountains of Kern county. It is one of the national park units and therefore protected. A small, twisty road took us to it and there was no other cars in the parking lot; nor was there anyone else at the monument neither. It consists the home of César Cháves, which also served as the headquarters for the movement, a garden and a grave site. Since there was no one else there, we had all the time in the world to talk to the ranger and walk around the little museum in the house.
After that we went to the gardens. There are two sections in it; a rose garden and a cactus garden. We were there at the best time of the year, since both of the gardens were blooming. Behind the garden there is an old mission style house, Villa la Paz, where they still continue Cháves' work. The Villa is mostly used for meetings. We did not go in but instead went to see the grave site of César Cháves and his wife Helen Fabela Cháves. The place was beautiful and very peaceful.
A visit to the César E. Cháves Monument is free of charge.
BEST LUNCH OF THE ROAD TRIP
After spending some time at the César E. Cháves National Monument it was already lunch time and we started to get hungry. I had seen some recommendations for the Keene Cafe, but when I saw what it looked like I was a little hesitant to go in. There were no other restaurants close by, and I'm glad we went in, since it ended up being the best lunch we had on this trip.
There were many locals having lunch in the Keene Cafe and the food was delicious. We chose to try some tacos and everything tasted very fresh. Also the staff was very friendly. If you are near by, you should definitely stop here and it is very close to the monument. Afterwards, I found out that it was actually run by the César Cháves Center, and has been a popular breakfast place of farmers as early as the 1920's.
After lunch we headed north as we had planned to visit some redwood forests in the mountains. Everything went well until the temperatures started to reach 30C and my car air conditioning broke... but more on that is coming later!