Thursday, May 30, 2019

Food and Wine in California

After leaving Nevada, we drove into California and spent a little over a week driving from the  south end of this huge state to the north end and on into Oregon.  On  the  way, we were impressed with the variety of crops grown in the San Jauquin and central valleys.

From a past visit, we had learned that California provides much of the fresh produce for the rest our country.  In fact, Califoria is the world's 5th largest supplier  of food, cotton fiber and other agricultural comodities.  It is the lrgest producer of food in the US but has less than 4% of the farms in the country.  The climate allows the cultivation of over 450 different crops.

Californis the the 4th largest wine producer in the world and produces over 90% of the wine in the US.

We saw vineyards,

orchards of just-planted trees,

young fruit or nut trees,

corn fields,

and huge haystacks.

Several times we saw large numbers of what we nornally would call grain elevators.  We weren't sure what they held here--seeds? nuts?

I believe this is a field of newly planted trees.

Possibly new grape vines, with stakes.

I had no idea rice was grown here.  These are numerous fields filled with water and rice plants.

I believe this was a newly mown hay field.

There was a massive wildfire in 2018.  This may have been destruction from the Camp fire.  If I remember correctly, that is the fire that was blamed on the electric company and lines that sparked and started a fire.

Sometimes white plastic sheeting covers newly planted seeds or sprouts to keep out weeds.  Here they appear to be spraying something on the plants.

It was a really interesting trip.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The California Giants

It has been 17 years since we visited Sequoia National Park in California, home to the largest trees in God's creation.  The Sequoia has the largest volume of wood of any tree.  According to the park brochure, at least one tree species lives longer, one has a greater diameter and three grow taller. The sequoia grows naturally only on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada Range between the altitudes of 5,000 and 7,000 feet.

The General Sherman Tree is estimated to be 2,200 years old.  Every year it grows enough new wood to produce a 60-foot-tall tree of usual size.

Yesterday was rainy and, at about 6,000 ft and above, snowy.  We didn't make it to the General Sherman Tree.  Because of the weather, we drove through part of the Giant Forest but turned around before we got that far.

Just look at these photos of the trees.

The bark of the Sequoia is up to 31 inches thick, providing good protection from fire.

Here is a photo I took of one of the trees.  Notice the fire scars on the bark. 

Those 4 people don't take up as much room on the forest floor as even 1/3 of what the tree trunk uses.

John took this picture of me, dwarfed by the tree.  Notice the snow at my feet.

We are staying in Visalia, a town on Highway 198 west of Sequoia about 35 miles.  The temperature in the park got down to 33 as we drove higher in the park.  And just look at the curvy road.  No wonder they recommend no vehicle over 22 feet drive there.  We went through numerous 10 mph curves.

At times this was our view of the trees as we drove along  Notice the slush on the road and snow on the edges--on May 21!


The Marble Fork of the Kaweah River flows through the park.  It was full of rushing waters.

Kings Canyon National Park is north of Sequoia and in good weather you can drive from one park to the other. It was not possible yesterday because of the road conditions. We remember that park as being beautiful, but being from Colorado, mountains and canyons aren't quite as special as the trees in Sequoia so we didn't plan on visiting there again this trip.

In 2002 on our visit to California, we also went to see the Redwoods that grow near the coast. We won't be going there this time as we are going to head north up the middle of California, then Oregon and Washington. We haven't spent as much time in that part of these states in the past and want to explore some new areas.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

A CALM Experience

We wanted to explore Bakersfield a little yesterday so we headed first to the Kern County Museum. When we saw this line at the entrance we decided to try the other option.

We drove to CALM--the California Living Museum. This is a zoo showing animals that live in California and are animals that have been rescued and can no longer live in the wild. It was the museum's 36th birthday. We also saw several families enjoying birthday parties for children.

Most zoos house exotic animals. What we enjoyed here were mostly animals we were somewhat familiar with.  One enclosure had a sign saying there was an coatimundi but it must have been hiding.  We heard about that animal when we were volunteering at Santa Ana National Wildlife Area in Texas.  One day we caught a glimpse of this animal--or at least it's tail-- that lives mainly in Mexico but they are so rare, we weren't positive.  Then we learned one of the maintenance staff had also so seen it.  We really would have seen it here in California.
Here are 3 animals that also have bushy tails, the island, red and San Joaquin fox.

There were 2 black bears.  One was cinnamon colored, but it is still a black bear.

This is a snowy heron, I think.

A turkey is so impressive when it shows it's tail.  Did you know that a turkey's head and throat will change color, depending on it's mood?  I didn't till I read this sign.

This might look like a small cow but it I really a very pregnant black sheep.

  I love seeing the roadrunners.

Here is the racoon.  Notice the colored paper.  A number of the animals had received their food wrapped in colorful paper.

There were several smallish desert tortoises.

Our least favorite animals were the snakes--YUK.  This is a red diamond rattlesnake.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Shooting Before Traveling

Yesterday morning we went to the pistol range at the Clark Country Shooting Complex.  This time we each had our own target--I wanted to see how I did without trying to figure out which shots John made and which ones I did.

I felt really good about the first 4 shots I tool with one of our 38 pistols.  Look at that--right in the center!

This target is also mine--with a different pistol.

This is one of the targets John used.  His pattern is much tighter than mine.

Until this year, I hadn't shot for over 40 years. I find I enjoy it. And I'm better at shooting than I ever was at golf.

Today we left Las Vegas and drove to Barstow, California. Here is some of the scenery we saw along the way.

These are some of the Joshua Trees we saw as we drove into California. They are such interesting shrubs/trees. Our son Doug was stationed at 29 Palms Marine Corps base near Joshua Tree. When we visited him there we saw our first of these plants.

We plan to make our way north through California, then Oregon and Washington. Beyond that, nothing is certain.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Touring the Las Vegas Strip

There are lots of reasons to go to the Las Vegas Strip--gambling, taking in the shows, big name restaurants.  We were interested in getting lots of pictures and eating at a burger and steak restaurant--Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill at Caesar's Palace. We have been watching the Food Network for years and Bobby Flay is a really top chef--he wins almost every contest he enters, as well as hosting his own shows.

We were seated right next to the open kitchen where we watched the chefs cook meat on a grill and the griddle then plate the meals.  We enjoyed watching them.

John ordered the pork tenderloin sandwich

and I asked for the chili con-queso burger--both served with southwestern fries.

We strolled through the Forum Shops, looking at expensive clothing, outrageous shoes and numerous jewelry stores.  We didn't buy a thing.

This little boy like these lighted benches.

A look down the main street toward El Mirage Casino.

The Venitian makes you think you really are in Venice with water and gondolas

I think this is a statue of Poseidon.   Any one have other ideas?

I loved watching these fountains.  The water moved to the accompanying music.

This was another fountain down the street.

These are next to the pirate ship at the Excalibur.

These unusual chairs were in the Forum Shops.

We enjoyed our lunch and the stoll down the Strip, but I doubt we will return. I have all the pictures I need and we can find Food Network chef restaurants elsewhere. We were first in Las Vegas about 49 years ago. My parents loved going there and took us along. It really isn't our cup of tea today.