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.
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 . . .
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 . . .
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.
Everyone wore a mask as was the rule. Even the policeman standing watch modeled proper behavior.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
The familiar thwack, thwack, thwack is back for those who dare, however chipping practice is off-limits temporarily.
That concludes my wrap up of the goings on in Pleasanton. How are things working out in your neck of the world?
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.
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.
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.
Most of the displays we saw were outdoors. They included the Remembrance Walls, the outdoor chapel, and vintage vehicles.
Jon was most interested in the tanks as he compared them to the ones he drove in Viet Nam.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Next up we spend a few days in Gila Bend, Arizona, and visit Organ Pipe National Monument for the first time.
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.
New growth on a redwood tree looked interesting too.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Need to work on your putting skills? Head out to the putting green in the courtyard.
I can envision people gathered around the fireplace on cooler days and nights. I wonder if they have marshmallow sticks to use.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We’re on day 35 of sheltering in place. Our yard isn’t sure what’s going on. Used to neglect because of our travels, future boysenberries are taking shape.
The lemon and lime bushes received much-needed grooming and now look more like trees. Well, the one on the right anyway.
Tomato, pepper, and zucchini plants seem to grow inches a day in the raised beds filled with new soil.
And the roses are in their blooming glory.
We’re not sure how long the virus will curtail our travels, but it looks like we’ll be around until harvest.
In the meantime, we are San Diego dreaming as we look back at past adventures. In November 2014, we stayed in San Diego so Jon could help our son Kevin and his girlfriend Bailey renovate their kitchen. We took a break after several days of work and hiked the Razor and Yucca Point trails in Torrey Pines State Reserve.
After our hike, we stopped in at South Beach Bar and Grill for lunch and refreshments while looking out the window at the beach and pier.
Then we headed to Ocean Beach and Dog Beach for recreation, relaxation, and the sunset. I spent most of my time photographing the scene.
As of the publication date of this post, all San Diego parks and beaches are closed until further notice. I’m sure I’m not the only one who longs for a day at the beach or a hike along the cliffs. Here’s to the day when we can again enjoy the warm sand under our feet, sea spray on our faces, and a salty breeze in our hair.
At the end of last week’s post, I said Pismo, California, was next up and our last stop. That was not entirely true. I forgot about having to stay in Valencia for the three-day President’s weekend. There had been no problem procuring sites since we left on January 24, 2020, and the holiday weekend slipped my mind. At the last minute, the only spot I could find was at Valencia Travel Village RV Resort, and they required payment for three nights.
To make the best of the situation, we drove to Fort Tejon State Historic Park. I guess my slippery mind was still fully engaged because I left my camera behind. That’s okay, I used the best camera I had, the one in my pocket.
On our many trips up and down Interstate 5 through the Grapevine, I would see the signs to Fort Tejon and wonder what was there. We took this opportunity to find out.
Fort Tejon became a state park in 1947, designated as a California Historical Landmark in 1954, and added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1971. We stopped in at the visitor center where informational panels tell the historical story of the park and displays contain artifacts and recreations.
Edward Fitzgerald Beale, Superintendent of Indian Affairs in California, was instrumental in the establishment of the fort in August 1854. It’s mission being to “protect and control the Sebastian Indian Reservation,” and to protect white settlers from raids by other Indian groups. Ten years later, it was abandoned.
Then we took the self-guided tour around the grounds where foundations outline the footprints of buildings. Some of the buildings have been restored, and apparently, there are plans to restore others.
The website lists the Frontier Army Days event scheduled for May 2, 2020. It would be wonderful if the State of California was back in business at that time. More than likely the event will need to be canceled due to the dreaded virus.
Not ready to head back to the trailer, we drove up to Mt. Pinos in the Los Padres Forest and found a place to park and eat our lunch.
Then we stopped at Pyramid Lake, which is part of the West Branch California Aqueduct of the California State Water Project. The lake is fed with water from the San Joaquin Valley, which is pumped through the Tehachapi Mountains. The water then flows downstream to Castaic Lake. Both lakes supply water for the Castaic Power Plant, a 1,405-megawatt pumped-storage hydroelectric plant.
There are 90 tent and RV camping sites at the Los Alamos Campground. Tucked far away from the freeway in lower Hungry Valley, it’s quiet and rustic. It includes drinking water, toilets, a dump station, and a camp store. This is a place we might consider staying overnight in the future if we need to.
On Monday, February 17, 2020, we left Valencia Travel Village for Pismo Coast Village RV Resort in Pismo Beach. We liked the wide spaces, access to the dunes, and other amenities. The grassy area and large shade trees were a bonus. It was a perfect place to spend the last three nights of our trip.
Monarch Grove Park was a short walk from the resort on the other side of Pismo State Beach North Beach Campground. We encountered a few butterflies while there and a few that had wandered over into the resort, but most of the population had already flown to the next stop on their migration.
In a list of things to do, I found Price Historical Park and Anniversary House. We like touring old homes, so off we went. Too bad the house was all closed up, and we could only walk around the property.
A need for lunch led us to Avila Beach and the Custom House for plates of fish and chips. My mouth waters as I remember biting into the crispy crust to reach the tender moist cod inside. It had to be the best I ever tasted.
Pismo Preserve is a popular place for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Owned by The Land Conservancy, the 880-acre preserve is a private, not-for-profit organization that recently opened for recreation. There are 11 miles of trails and roads on the property that traverse through coastal-hill terrain ranging from grasslands to a wooded oak canyon and streambed.
When near the beach, tide pools are fun to explore and Margo Dodd Park seemed to be the best place for the activity. I checked the tide chart, but somehow got the time wrong, so we arrived when the tide was already coming back in. No worries, though, we scrambled over rocks, then watched the sun sink into the horizon.
For our last meal in Pismo Beach, we stopped in at Ada’s Fish House for a dynamite shrimp dish in a wine and butter sauce served with au gratin potatoes and asparagus. Jon ordered the fish and chips again and said it was as good as what we had at the Custom House. My mouth is watering just thinking of our meal at Ada’s and wish we could drive there for another visit.
That concludes our Winter 2020 adventure. We are patiently waiting at home until the dreaded virus releases the world from its grip, allowing all of us to travel once again. May you all be well during this crisis and keep busy with planning your next trip.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today is Saturday, March 21, 2020, as I write this. We here in the San Francisco Bay Area have been sheltering in place since Monday, and so far we are safe from the COVID-19 virus. I worry about the homeless, the migrant workers, and the 60 some odd million people that live paycheck to paycheck. I hope congress considers them when passing bail-out legislation. Jon and I wish everyone good health and hope you are safe wherever you have selected to shelter in place.
If boredom has set in from staring at the same walls for days, enjoy this tour of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Who can resist looking at a few photos of animals? We visited on February 8, 2020, way before the world closed for business.
Our memories of the Wild Animal Park, as the Safari Park was once called, included wide open spaces, few trees or vegetation, no shade, and a monorail that circled the African plains where the animals lived. Later they added a walk to the elephants and a bird show. Our last visit was sometime in the 1980s.
The 1,800-acre park now includes many miles of trails through various lands, some of which allow getting up-close with the animals, but no touching or harassing, please. Rangers are on hand to eject anyone intent on harming the animals.
We started our tour in the Wings of the World, an aviary housing a host of beautiful birds, the names of which I have no idea.
At the Animal Ambassador Stage, we were introduced to a Pygmy Falcon. These falcons are found in eastern and southern Africa. They are the smallest raptor on the continent at only 19 to 20 cm (7.5 to 8 inches) long.
Next, we took the Kangaroo Walk where we followed a path through their enclosure.
The Bonsai Pavilion includes around 60 trees some of which are at least 400 years old. The members of the San Diego Bonsai Club volunteer to maintain the trees.
Take a walk through the World Gardens to see several species of cacti and other plants.
Then off to the Tiger Trail and the Sambutan Longhouse to watch the tigers eat their lunch.
The African Tram has taken the place of the monorail that once ran. There is plenty of shade for visitors waiting their turn to hop on as the line zig-zags between rails. The following photos are views from the tram overlooking the African Plains and Asian Savanna.
Once our tram tour concluded, we continued our exploration along the pathways. The lemurs were fun to watch. They played on logs for a bit and then walked around, delighting those of us walking through the enclosure.
The Gorilla Trail was a great place to stop. Do we watch them, or do they watch us?
The slow-moving elephants reminded us that we should slow down too. What was our hurry?
And here is one last photo to entice readers to visit the San Diego Safari Park after it reopens once the virus danger subsides.
We didn’t do much else while in San Diego other than watch the Super Bowl Game, go out to eat a couple of times, walk around Lake Murray, worked out at the gym, and relaxed at the trailer. It was nice to take it easy. We needed a breather after the whirlwind of activity during the past two weeks.
We turned the truck toward home on Monday, February 10, 2020, but we aren’t done yet. Next stop was Rancho Jurupa Park in Rubidoux for four nights.