Moving on – from Nicolaus, CA to Redding, CA

4/4/17 Tuesday in Redding, CA (Redding Elks-$25)

On my way to the bathroom, before we left, I saw something I thought was long gone: a phone booth. I took a photo with my cell phone but it was in dim morning light and came out blurry, so you don’t get to see it. Sorry.

This morning, thankfully, all our departure procedures went smoothly. We’d considered going a shorter/faster route (by 14 minutes according to our GPS) on SR-99 N versus going over the I-5N. The latter route had less intersections and no towns with their stop lights. I checked my prior blogs for times we went between Redding, CA and Nicolaus, CA. There I’d noted that we felt taking I-5 for a less interrupted trip was worth the extra 14 minutes, so that’s what we did. L> Marcum, R> Powerline, R> SR-99N, L> SR-20W, L> Fremont St, L> SR-20W (10th St), R> I-5N, R> Exit 678 (Central Redding), R> SR-273, L> SR-273 (Market St), L> Quartz Hill Rd, L> Harlan Dr, R> Elk Dr. SR 20W for the most part was a good highway, as well as I-5N. Today was cloudy and less windy, thank heavens.

We stopped at the Willows Rest Area and saw beautiful flowers growing on the thick branches of their tree. Fascinating and lovely.

tree

We arrived at 11:30, no missing turns this time. So glad we figured our path out beforehand because John’s GPS wanted to take us about 6 more miles on some roundabout way. Because it’s Elk’s, we don’t have sewer but do have water and good 50 amp power. You need to be an Elk member to use their camping facilities. They normally don’t have sewer available and sometime don’t have water. They usually have a dump site and provide a water source when there aren’t any at your site.

We went grocery shopping in order to exercise our CRV and help charge it’s battery, then stopped at a local park near the Elk’s lodge. This was a beautiful, huge park that really needs some loving care. Just the same, we walked several paved paths, one along a river and we saw a deer near a wooded area and Canadian geese next to an Olympic sized pool. There were playgrounds for the kids and a skateboard area for the teens. It felt great to exercise our bodies and enjoy this green space.

Back at home I took a 2 hour nap, waking at supper time. How was that for timing? Finally, I felt more like myself, less like a taut violin string.

We cross the Siskiyou mountains tomorrow, trying to get across before the big winter storm (winds, snow in mountain areas) hits. We checked Highway conditions and the DOT cameras and all looked clear.

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Moving on – from Coalinga, CA to Nicolaus, CA

4/3/17 Monday in Nicolaus, CA (Lake Minden-TT)

Well, we would have been on our way around 7:30 but up cropped an adventure: the battery in our car was dead. We figure it died because, even though I turn off all the accessories I can while it’s being towed, there is still a “parasitic” draw on the battery. Normally that’s not enough to cause a problem because we unhook and drive the car once we arrive at the campgrounds. We usually drive to the grocery store or sites before we leave as well. This time, however, we didn’t even unhook the car. So besides a longer than usual drive with draws on the battery, it sat the rest of the day until about 4pm then was so low it couldn’t start the engine. How easily we forget these things.

John tried his 3 in 1 battery charger/jump starter. Whoops, it was dead too! Even though the office wouldn’t open until 9, I went there in hopes that I might find someone to help. The office was closed so I walked past it in hopes of finding someone awake at this hour. Bonanza – the owner and his wife were sitting on their balcony in their jammies and bathrobes, talking. I wouldn’t have noticed them otherwise. So he generously gave me a battery charger/starter that you could plug into the pedestal. That did the trick!

By the way, I’d forgotten to mention our little adventure yesterday, before we left Soledad. The MCD night shade over our windshield wouldn’t come up. Having experienced that before we knew it just needed to be reprogrammed, so we did that and it worked fine.

So we managed to leave at 8 for an even longer trip today of 219 miles. This trip is all freeway (I-5N). For us that’s easier than negotiating various intersections. We get to let the traffic pass us as we travel at 60 mph as well.

We both expected this to be a breeze of a trip. Maybe that’s why some cosmic force felt it was time to spice up our travels. Thus came our next adventure, John’s whole travel mug of water spilled over by the driver’s window, with the water eventually spreading over to my side. I jumped up and got a towel, wiping what I could see and reach. Sigh. Thank you California roads. They really haven’t been too bad until this stretch of I-5. Miserable potholes on the right side. Stockton was the worst five years ago when we last passed through. This time was fine; new concrete road through town. This was also a very windy/gusty day. Headwinds to boot. It calmed down some after Stockton. We did enjoy a laugh when we saw this truck with his big and small cargo. Strapped on the bed behind his large blue tarp covered load was a small toy truck.

The adventures didn’t end there. As we came to the left turn for Hwy 99 (toYuba City), we turned, unfortunately, that was the wrong turn. Long story short we drove some road all the way to Garden Rd (on a levee-no shoulder, deep drops on both sides, 2 lane road) to get to our campground. They’ve changed the configuration there and none of our maps “understood” where to go. Then when we arrived and unhooked our Honda, the battery was very dead. Our battery charger/jump start had not sufficiently powered up in the RV, so it didn’t help. Finally the camper next to our stranded car offered his help and jump started us. Then we left it running as we had lunch. Then John drove off to check out what went wrong at that turn (should have turned left later, after the short left turn lane). He also checked out how we’ll leave successfully.

Whew! Ready to rest and visit with our friends Kathy and Irian, then they generously fed us supper! So wonderful on such a rough day.

We ended our day watching Spokane’s Gonzaga basketball team play in the NCAA Championship game. Wow, such a nail biter. Both teams worked really hard and were hobbled, I think, by the incessant referees. Unfortunately our team lost, but I say they gave it a great shot. Hard to sleep, after all of today’s excitement.

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Moving on – from Acton, CA to Coalinga, CA

4/2/17 Sunday in Coalinga, CA (Sommerville RV (GS, EA) $39 cash per night)

On our way from Soledad Canyon at 8:12. This trip was over 200 miles, so a long one in our book. Preferring to avoid the “Grapevine”, a steep, curvy mountain road (I-5) north of LA, we chose a route that took us through Tehachapi: R> Crown Valley Rd, R> Soledad Cyn Rd, L> SR-14/SR-138 (continue straight on SR-14 at exit 49), L> R-58W (Bakersfield), L> SR-223, R> I-5N, R> Jayne Ave (Exit 325), L> W Jayne Ave, L> S Glen Ave. SR-223 was a 2 lane country road with no shoulder. The good points: the pavement was fine and the views were pastoral. Once you go downhill through the mountain (about 4 miles), it’s just plain level and straight until you reach I-5. Lovely farmlands; grapes, fruit trees, onions and hay. Best of all, that’s how we avoided Bakersfield.

 

sr 223

Sommerville RV is a private park, right off I-5, with FHU (50 amp, great power) and free WiFi. Good Verizon Cell phone reception and satellite TV. Small but lovely sites. Right next door are truck fuel stations (Jayne Travel Center & Valero next to each other), which is pretty handy. We got fuel before we drove into the RV park a bit after noon. We didn’t have to unhook the car, with wonderful level pull through sites as well! Such a treat: grass, picnic table and our own almond tree! Plus all the birdsong is just heavenly. It sure feels like Spring.

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William S Hart Park and Museum

3/29/17 Wednesday in Acton, CA (Soledad Canyon-TT)

We drove about 30 miles to the William S Hart Park, arriving before noon so we could catch the first tour of his mansion. He was one of 3 top movie actors in the world, along with Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, appearing in 69 silent movies. He studied in Europe to be an actor, having grown up in the Midwest among the Sioux. Back home he was upset with the way the West was portrayed – nothing was authentic. He eventually got his friend, Thomas Incle, head of Paramount, to let him star in and produce better Westerns. Tom knew that Westerns were a dying genre, but let “Bill” give it a try. The Hart Westerns were a huge hit, making Hart a wealthy man. Note, Bill didn’t start acting in the movies until he was 50! Here he is with his beloved pinto pony “Fritz”. Both he (a tall man) and Fritz (a short horse) clicked from the beginning and both did their own stunts. Hart even had a special burial place for Fritz, as well as another for his dogs. In his love for animals he also kept many that are now on the site for people to enjoy…”for the benefit of the American public of every race and creed.” He wanted all those people who paid their nickels and dimes to see his shows to enjoy what he loved.

hart a

hart 1

The Ranch House was originally built in 1910. Then Hart wanted to use it for location filming, putting boards and nail walls up so they could easily be removed for “sunlit” scenes. Later (1921-1924) he lived there, using it as a second home, a breather from Hollywood. Yes, he permanently installed the walls and stuccoed the outside by 1922. Click on images for captions.

Meanwhile, he got busy building his retirement home on the hill, LaLoma de los Vientos, living there from 1927 until his death in 1946.

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Nethercutt Museum and Nethercutt Collection

3/23/17 Thursday in Acton, CA (Soledad Canyon-TT)

We spent a wonderful time visiting the Nethercutt Museum and Nethercutt Collection with Len/Gloria today. Wow. These are located outside of LA in Sylmar, CA. The Museum is where you park and get to browse among many antique cars and see the trail. If you reserved a spot to see the Collection then you are directed across the street to that building. (Mr. Nethercutt, whose aunt was Merle Norman, was a Chemistry major. After attending CIT, he joined his aunt in her cosmetic business. It is completely American, with the product and the containers all made in the US. They’ve been very successful. Though Merle died in 1972 and JB Nethercutt died in 2004, this is still a family run business. It seems to be a family with a generous heart, when their employees receive dental care for 10% of 1960 prices ($2.70 for X rays and exam) and 3 chef prepared meals and snacks each day for $.25. JB and Dorothy loved to entertain in their Louis XIV room and give gifts to their guests. Built just like the original it includes a crystal chandelier with mirrors where you see it repeated to infinity.  Clicking on images will show their caption.

They also loved to collect “functional fine art”, beginning with luxury antique cars, continuing with very old musical machines, many from the 1800’s. JB once said: “The recognition and preservation of beauty has been a major focus of my life. It would suit me well if what people remembered of me was, ‘Where he went, he left beauty behind’.”

Thus all these gorgeous machines are available to us for free. Plus we could get as close as we wanted to them all, with the firm reminder not to touch and to put away any hanging keys, to put purses in front of bodies. Not only that, they played those really old music machines. I was thrilled hearing that lovely music all the while we looked at the care, then overwhelmed when we listened to the Mighty Wurlitzer Theater Pipe Organ (made to accompany silent movies) play (due to modern retrofitting so it will play back what was played on it once) music from “Phantom of the Opera”. Such rich sound – it was incredible. Remember those antique cars (many pre 1940) are taken out onto the city streets (and freeways to run at 110 mph like the Duesenberg) yearly. They even drove one to a Del Taco fast food drive thru. Needless to say John and I would love to return. I’d especially love to see when they show silent movies and accompany them with the Wurlitzer Organ. The 5,000 pipes on that machine are amazing.

The luxury antique cars, many of which have one Best of Show (1st place) in world renowned restoration contests, some of which are shown below. By 1992 his cars have won the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance 6 times, more than any other individual. Most of the parts needed are built here near the “Collection”, by employees.

cars 3

1933 Duesenberg. One of a kind. Worth over 25 million dollars. Runs up to 110 mph.

cars 4

Another view of the Duesenberg. Guess where the phrase “it’s a doozy” came from.

The musical instrument machines:

music 1

Player piano playing “Rhapsody in Blue”-as it was played by Gershwin himself.

music 2

Bosendorfer piano – unique in that it has 97 keys instead of the typical 88 keys. Thus it’s also VERY heavy. Placed on the keys is an external player that, using player piano roll would play that music when then this piano recorded this old music electronically.

music 3

Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ: 5,000 pipes, 2 men can fit inside the largest, the longest is 32′ long, the smallest is 1/4″ in diameter. The sound is incredible.

music 4

SOME of the Wurlitzer pipes

Then we got to walk through a 1937 Canadian Pacific Royal Hudson Locomotive and 1912 Pullman private car:

Late afternoon we watched “our” basketball team, Gonzaga win a hard fought battle with West Virginia Mountaineers. You can’t believe how excited we were when they won (61-58). Even though Gonzaga has made it to the NCAA for 18 years straight, it’s been a long time since they made it to the Elite Eight.

PS: For lunch one of the restaurant suggestions given us at the Nethercutt Museum was Cas Torres (Mexican). It’s closed.

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Vasquez Rocks Natural Area

3/19/17 Sunday in Acton, CA (Soledad Canyon-TT)

We, along with Len/Gloria, traveled to Vasquez Rocks Natural Area. This place is amazing and only a few miles from the campground. They were having a lecture on this area at the Women’s Club in Acton at 1pm, so that’s why the early meal. The Women’s Club was selling articles for their new building fund there. I took this opportunity to ask them about a dead beetle nearby that looked JUST like one that I’d encountered in the bathroom at Soledad Canyon. They explained that they have lots of those black beetles, that they’re stink bugs. They will spray a stink when they lift their rear ends as well as when you squash them dead. Ah…. The particular critter I saw happened to follow me to my stall and come very close. Let’s just say I sped up my process to get away from him.

Lecture 1

Stink Bug

The presenter, Sarah, was a home town gal who works at Vasquez Rocks. She was so much fun to listen to, we laughed a lot.

I want to share a couple of her stories.

The Yucca moth and Yucca plant. This image is of her slide in the presentation. It really explains the symbiotic process very well. People rarely see this moth because it lives borrowed in the ground.

Lecture 2

Something else I managed to remember from that story is that the Yucca will send up one tall shoot that blooms. That shoot is called a “peduncle”. When it dies, the whole plant dies. This area is covered with Juniper trees, Yucca plants and chemise plants. You’ll see some in my Vasquez Rocks photos.

Lichens: a love story between algae and fungi. This is another symbiotic relationship. The algae (think slimy stuff in stagnant water) can make food (via photosynthesis), but needs shade (a house) to survive. They are like the lady in the relationship. Fungi is a builder and can survive in very sunny or shady situations but it can’t make its food. It’s like the guy in the relationship. They “fall in love” creating their own genetic group/colony, evidenced by their unique color. Because of this relationship lichens are NOT parasitic, they do NOT take anything from the plant, rock or tree they are growing on. Spanish moss is one example. Here at Vasquez Rocks they cover lots of the rocks. I didn’t take any close ups of the lichen this time, but you can see those in my prior blog entry for Oct 31, 2016.

Those rocks were formed in a basin that had accumulated layers of sediment that had fallen down into the valley. Over millions of years this sediment accumulated in varying thicknesses. The area is filled with faults, enduring many earthquakes which push the sediment/rock up on one side, lowering it on the other. Only a small portion of that sediment shows above ground, as it happens with icebergs.

It was fun sharing this special place with Len/Gloria, especially with Len taking photos of us and sharing his pictures with me. Those with dates imprinted are his.

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Moving on – to Acton, CA

3/14/17 Tuesday in Acton, CA (Soledad Canyon-TT)

On our way by 8:35. Smooth getaway, with the temps in the 70’s already. Our route from Palm Springs-TT: L>Varner, R> I-10W, R>I-215N (exit 72), Continue as it becomes I-15N, R>SR 138 (exit 131), L>Pearblossom Hwy, L> Sierra Hwy, L>Soledad Canyon Rd, L>Crown Valley Rd. There was some construction at our exit on to Hwy 138. After several miles we enjoyed lovely new pavement. We’ve taken Hwy 138 to CA14 all the way to Crown Valley Rd before but that entails climbing more mountain, only to go steeply down at Crown Valley Rd. It’s also a longer path. Note: we went from the desert to the canyons/mountains so our elevation increased, lowering our MPG but the good news is the temperatures are also lower! It would be 100 degrees in Palm Springs today, but 82 degrees in Soledad.

We arrived by 11:15, this time we were directed to the Welcome Center parking lot. Here we were given a keycard to pass by the receptor at the gatehouse, so that was fun. It’ll be much better than having to punch digits on a box to make the gate rise, allowing entrance.

We’ve been here in 2012, 2015, 2016, and now 2017. REALLY run down when we were here the first time. They say that ELS has put over $1 million dollars into this park. They certainly have improved the looks: NEW Landscaping, Welcome Center, Family Center, Adult Center, pool (heated) and spa (hot). Once we even saw wildlife (a coyote in the campground on our way to the Welcome Center). Note: I think we hear the coyotes calling/barking at night. Plus there used to be people living here permanently that left lots of crud in their sites. Those are cleaned up, with empty sites available along that section (overlooking the canyon). They are currently working on the power issues, slowly adding 50 amp pedestals. We lucked into a new 50 amp site (free), up the hill in “N” section (N 162), with open skies for satellite reception, along with the FHU. There are trenches they’ve dug. We’re not sure what they’re doing (water? Electricity?). Very large place with over 700 campsites (most are weak 30 amp), with fairly spacious sites. LOTS of great things to see/do in the area that we never had a chance for last time, even a train (Metrolink) that leaves about 6 miles away from Acton for Los Angeles. Great, friendly, helpful staff. Section N is recommended (FHU, cell phone, 50 amp & TV satellite), across a creek, for big rigs

Once we got set up we had lunch and settled in for the afternoon: John watched TV while I worked on the blog and sending messages of our whereabouts.

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