Woo-hoo! The Farmers’ Market is Back

Woo-hoo! Pleasanton’s year-round Farmers’ Market opened May 9, 2020. We receive a delivery of vegetables and fruit every other week and supplement our fresh produce with quick trips to the market. But visiting the farmers’ market on Saturday was one of our weekly treats.

One thing I’ve been missing most is the fresh-popped kettle corn. When I heard the news, I planned all week how to keep myself safe. Blue skies and temps in the low 60s made it a perfect day for being outside. I left the house early to arrive before nine, the designated time for oldsters to shop.

Stella loved kettle corn when she came to visit

I pulled on my gloves and face covering, slipped my camera strap around my neck, and crossed the street. Where vendors usually occupied both sides of the street like in the photo below . . .

Will we ever crowd in so close again?

on this Saturday they only covered one side. Instead of the vendors all squished together, there was plenty of space in between. This left plenty of room for lines to form and patrons to pass through. An X inside a circle marked the spot for people to stand while waiting for their turn to make a purchase. I looked to the west . . .

Looks so strange to see all the masks

and then to east but “Eat the Best Kettle Korn’s” blue, screened-in tent was nowhere in sight. They must be around the bend.

People look like they’re dressed to rob a bank

Everyone wore a mask as was the rule. Even the policeman standing watch modeled proper behavior.

The Officer Knight looked like a bandit too

A vendor commented on how strange it was not to offer samples. He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do besides stand there and wait for customers. Customers aren’t allowed to pick up the food or squeeze or pinch it to test its ripeness. Do not touch until you buy it.

Oranges and squash all bagged up and ready to go

Usually, there’s a person or several playing music and singing songs. There was no such activity this Saturday. Nor did I smell the aroma of popping corn or hear the corn kernels being stirred around in the metal kettle.

I’ll take a 3-pack, please

I turned the corner where the vendor booths continued the length of the parking lot. My shoulders drooped when I reached the end and realized there’d be no kettle corn for me.

No kettle corn as far as the eye could see

I’ll have to wait a little longer to satisfy my craving for the sweet and salty popcorn. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy my 3-pack of red heart strawberries and cartons of blueberries and cherries.

Fruit on a Plate

Although our governor loosened some COVID-19 restrictions this week for local areas that meet certain criteria, our county and the Bay Area do not meet the requirements. We must abide by the more restrictive orders. The only prohibitions the health department loosened this week was for construction, real estate transactions, and some outdoor businesses and activities so long as they follow social distancing protocols.

To the delight of local golfers, the Pleasanton Golf Center at the fairgrounds opened the gates.

Ah, the sound of golf balls being whacked by a club

The familiar thwack, thwack, thwack is back for those who dare, however chipping practice is off-limits temporarily.

No chipping practice for you

That concludes my wrap up of the goings on in Pleasanton. How are things working out in your neck of the world?

Stay Safe

Winter 2016 Adventure – Big Bend National Park or Bust Part One

Today we begin our look back on a trip we took before The Traveling Todd’s blog started. It was February 15, 2016, when we left our home in California with Big Bend National Park as our ultimate destination. Of course, we had to make several stops along the way before we arrived. I invite you to sit back and enjoy the first installment of our adventure. More will come in subsequent weeks.

We pulled into Desert Willows RV Park in Hesperia for our first night. While we contemplated the closed gate that greeted us, someone drove up and ta-da, the gate opened. Setting up in the dark is not something we usually do, but sometimes it’s hard to avoid in the middle of winter. In the morning the hills and mountains iced with snow surprised us, given that the past few days had been quite warm.

Wrightwood topped with snow

The next day we transitioned from Interstate 15 to Interstate 10 going east and made a stop at the General Patton Memorial Museum on Chiriaco Summit.

General Patton Memorial Museum

On November 11, 2018, the museum celebrated its 30th anniversary with the opening of a new exhibit called Chandi West Wing. I guess we’ll have to return someday to check out the displays that tell of Patton’s early years, the Great War, and World War II.

Remembrance walls

Most of the displays we saw were outdoors. They included the Remembrance Walls, the outdoor chapel, and vintage vehicles.

Outdoor chapel
Vintage vehicles all in a row

Jon was most interested in the tanks as he compared them to the ones he drove in Viet Nam.

Handsome hubby

Then on to Blythe, California, for a three-night stay at Riviera RV Resort and Marina where we snagged a spot overlooking the Colorado River.

Plenty of space at Riviera RV

That’s right; we hadn’t left the state yet. We had driven through Blythe before without stopping in the past and wanted to see the area. We’d also heard a lot about Quartzsite, Arizona. It was time to see what all the fuss was about.

Colorado river

Our poking around time came to a halt before it began the next day. Jon noticed a separation on the front right tire. We were thankful it didn’t blow out the previous day. A Goodyear store in Blythe was not a “true” Goodyear store and was no help. Our closest option was Yuma. The hour and a half drive there and back and the two hours waiting for the new tire took up most of the day.

It turned out there wasn’t much to interest us in Blythe. At least we got to spend some time in Quartzsite and the surrounding area the next day. While looking for the Bouse Fisherman (didn’t see it), a cholla attacked Jon’s pants and wouldn’t let go.

Never found this work of art
Steer clear of the cholla, they jump

We saw a naked man at a bookstore and bought a couple books from the old cowboy sitting out front. The naked man was Paul Winer, who passed away on May 7, 2019. He was the owner of Reader’s Oasis Books in Quartzsite and also known as Sweet Pie, a boogie-woogie piano musician. I was glad to see the bookstore is still open when I checked their page on the internet.

Who is that hiding in the shade?
See anything you can’t live without?

Another attraction in Quartzsite is the Hi Jolly Monument—built in 1934—that honors the first Arab Muslim immigrant to the US. He arrived in the states by invitation of the US military thanks to Jefferson Davis, secretary of war. Around 1848 at the end of the Mexican-American War, Davis persuaded Congress to approve $30,000 for a US Camel Corps.

Hi Jolly Monument

Hadji Ali, nicknamed Hi Jolly, was the lead camel driver for the experiment to use camels in the dry western deserts. The plan failed because the camels caused Army’s burros, horses, and mules to panic, and Congress did not continue funding because of the American Civil war.

Quartzsite cemetary

Besides the nickname Hi Jolly, Ali had two official names over his lifetime. He gave up his given name, Philip Tedrow, when he converted to Islam and became Hadji Ali. He returned to Philip Tedrow when he married. In his later years, Ali eventually settled in Quartzsite where he was buried in the town’s cemetery in 1902.

We also drove around the desert and marveled at the saguaro along the road.

I see you
Framed by saguaros
Watch out, the Ocotillo have thorns

Next up we spend a few days in Gila Bend, Arizona, and visit Organ Pipe National Monument for the first time.

Stay Safe

A Walk in the Park: Business Park, that is

Bernal Corporate Park sign overlooks Interstate 680

I was all set to write my next post detailing our 2016 travel adventure that took us to Big Bend National Park in Texas. Then I took a walk. It felt good to get out of the house and enjoy the feel of the sun on my arms, hear birds singing in the trees, and smell the fresh-mown grass and blooming flowers. I walked the half mile to Bernal Corporate Park where there is a concrete path that surrounds the park.

The first thing I see is a spiky green ball hanging from a tree. I wondered what it was while I snapped a photo.

Is this a conker or horse chestnut?

New growth on a redwood tree looked interesting too.

Future redwood limbs

I’m not sure what these long strands are in the photo below. They sort of look like Brussels sprouts stalks, except the balls look soft. Perhaps they turn into flowers. Although I’ve walked this path many times, I never once remember seeing these and the spiky balls.

Does anyone know what these strings are?

I often see co-workers out for exercise or otherwise engaged in a confab between two or more whenever I walk the path. This was Saturday, a day off for most. Except around these buildings, Saturday is usually still bustling with employees. This day I only saw people out for a leisurely walk, walking their dogs, or running.

Exercise equipment and benches for resting along the path
Flowering trees line the path
Cars usually pack Interstate 680 even on Saturdays. Not this day.
Reflections in the windows
Snapdragons and pansies, my favorites

In the photo below, water used to flow over the bricks into a pool at the base of the metal structure. It was turned off during the drought and never turned back on.

Art in the park

The sound of water flowing drew my attention to a courtyard. Water rushed over these two obelisks and splattered into a pool. Benches, tables under a cabana, and a full kitchen including a bar with taps would be a great place to hold a party. For employees who prefer working outdoors, there are even power towers, some of which include both USB connections and electric sockets.

Courtyard for relaxation and fun
Fully equipped outdoor kitchen
Plug in and charge away
Lillies in the grass

Need to work on your putting skills? Head out to the putting green in the courtyard.

Putting green

I can envision people gathered around the fireplace on cooler days and nights. I wonder if they have marshmallow sticks to use.

Got marshmallows?

The Pear Tree Café is closed temporarily. I never knew the restaurant was there. I must try it when they reopen. The photo of the Ahi Poke Bowl on their Factbook page looked like a delicious choice.

Hope Pear Tree Cafe reopens

There are charging stations for the electric vehicles that are so popular in the Bay Area. I’ve heard that nature is taking over since humans are stuck in their homes. It looks like spiders have already taken over after only forty days.

Spiders take over the world

As I worked my way back home, I saw this woman and her husband riding minibikes around the empty parking lots. The huge smile on her face told me she was having great fun. This is one way Pleasantonians can enjoy themselves when everything else is closed. I wished I could have joined them.

Hey, can I have a ride?

Below is a picture of my favorite part of the park. Meandering between buildings, a path follows a creek under mature shade trees. I always wished I could have had my office overlooking the creek when I was still working. It’s always a few degrees cooler there and refreshing to walk through after a power walk. I crept up on this gaggle of geese pecking around in the grass searching for food. Too bad I didn’t have my Sony with the zoom lens.

A gaggle of geese

Across the street from the business park, the Alameda County Fairgrounds and Stanford Health Care-ValleyCare prepares for the April 27, 2020, opening of a COVID-19 testing site scheduled to operate through June 27.

Testing anyone?

The building below is the off-track betting facility operated by the fairgrounds. Parking near the building is reserved for the facility. Out by where I took the photo, commuters use the lot to park their cars, then board a bus to ride across the bay to their workplaces. During the week cars fill the lot to overflowing into adjacent gravel lots. There are days the freeway crawls with semis and vehicles to the point it barely moves. I can’t imagine how bad it would be with the additional cars that fill these lots. For now, while most employees are working from home, the lot is empty.

Park and ride the bus from the off-track betting facility

On most Saturdays golfers sometimes have to wait for a spot at the driving range and a constant thwack, thwack, thwack can be heard. Unfortunately, the county health department classified golf as a nonessential activity during the shelter-at-home restrictions. I’m sure many people disagree with the classification and are jonesing to whack a bucket of balls for an hour or two.

No golfers at driving range during the lockdown

Energized from my walk and with a phone filled with fresh photos, I hurried home to write up this post to share. The 2016 Big Bend trip can hold for another week. Of course, there’s always the chance something else shiny and new will capture my attention.

Stay Safe

Riverside, California, Mt. Rubidoux, and Tio’s Tacos

Gale force winds woke us early on February 10, 2020. Driving during a wind warning is not our idea of fun, but it was moving day. We had reservations at Rancho Jurupa Regional Park and Campground for four nights, so we packed up and headed out.

Spot 213

We were glad we tried this park. The spaces were wide, surrounded by green grass, and quiet. Instead of a noisy freeway like we had in San Diego, we heard birds singing in the trees and small aircraft flying overhead. I think this park is going to become our place to stay when visiting the Inland Empire in the future.

Crane scouting for food

The park includes two fishing lakes, cabins, and unobstructed views of the sunset and Mt. Rubidoux each evening. And the gnarly tree limbs were perfect subjects to photograph.

“Walk away, then. I’ll wait here.”

Perfect place for a barbecue and picnic near the lake

Mud hens having fun

Playground for the little ones

A trail to where

Horse and rider

Line of trees leads to Mt. Rubidoux

Goodbye sun

Our friends Suzie and Dan Bloomer came to visit one day, so we drove over to Mt. Rubidoux to get a good view of the valley from the top of the mountain. There is an easy trail and a steeper trail. We chose the easy trail up and came down the steeper trail.

Prickly pear garden

The Peace Tower and Friendship Bridge is a popular landmark built in 1925 to honor Frank A. Miller for his vision of the mountain and his ideals of International Friendship and World Peace.

Peace Tower and Friendship Bridge—the guy in the red shirt under the bridge is Dan

The cross and tablet at the summit was erected in 1907 to honor Father Junipero Serra who is thought to have traveled through the valley and rested at Rubidoux Rancho. Americans United for Separation of Church and State objected to the cross on city property and threatened a lawsuit to have it removed. To avoid the legal tussle, a group formed to raise money to purchase the top of the mountain and the .43 acres beneath it. They raised enough money to purchase the land and provide an endowment, the interest from which is used to manage and maintain the property.

Cross at the top of the mountain

Sunrise services have been held on Easter at the top of the mountain since 1909. However, due to the California and local COVID-19 restrictions in place, the service has been canceled for April 12, 2020. The top of the mountain is also used for July 4 fireworks. Let’s hope and pray for lifted restrictions by then.

View northwest from Mt. Rubidoux

View south from Mt. Rubidoux

View mostly east from Mt. Rubidoux with what I believe is the San Jacinto Mountains in the background

The trek up and down Mt. Rubidoux triggered hunger in our bellies so off to Tio’s Tacos for lunch. Opened in 1990, Tio’s has become another landmark in Riverside.

Tio’s Taco entrance

The owner, Martin Sanchez, is the creator of the funky art pieces that populate the half-acre of unique gardens. All of the pieces were created from recycled objects once relegated to the fate of landfills.

Dressed in plastic dolls

Roof acrobats

Suzie sprouted angel wings

Craft project: Shape a roll of chicken wire, fill it with plastic bottles, and presto change-o, a work of art

Mission bell, flags, and lights

We definitely want to come back and explore Riverside in more depth. We hear the Mission Inn went through a recent renovation, and I’d like to check out the mission-style architecture in the area.

Next up is Pismo Beach which was the last stop on our Winter 2020 tour.

Wishing everyone health and well being in these trying times as we hunker down the best we can and avoid traveling too far afield.

Stay safe