Here’s To You California..

ISOA Banner  I will be the first to admit that I have only been in California on a handful of occasions and only once in the 21st century. But here is my gallery celebrating your State.  I visited San Francisco and those pictures will be coming soon. But for this gallery I want to concentrate on the central farm lands and such. Here is a gallery of that:

As usual click on any picture to see a larger slideshow view:

California Biking…

I have been doing some housekeeping in my photo archive this wintry day and ran across these “biker convention” pics that I have yet to publish.  They were taken in the summer of 2009. I think most of these guys are boomer weekend warriors, not the Hell’s Angels variety.

As usual, click on any pic to see a larger slideshow…

Automatic voter registration through DMV

Gov. Jerry Brown acted Saturday to increase participation in California elections and help prevent shootings at colleges, approving automatic voter registration and banning concealed weapons on campuses.

Source: Jerry Brown OKs automatic voter registration through DMV – LA Times

California has always been kind of “out there” for me but they do things that need to be done much before most other States. Where most of the “red” States are doing things to make it harder to vote, leave it up to very blue California to do the opposite. Thinking about it, it just makes sense that if you are getting a license with a permanent address attached why shouldn’t that automatically allow you to vote with that address? Why do you have to do anything else? Given that so few of us seem to vote these days we should make it as easy as possible to vote.  You got a driver’s license, you can vote…

But since this new law will mainly affect those 18-24 year old voters I imagine the GOP will fight it in red States. Most of those young folks will likely vote Democrat.  Maybe their decision to require a valid driver’s license at the polls in the red States  will backfire on them. Wouldn’t be the first time.

I just don’t understand how a party that claims almost sole ownership of patriotism and the Constitution can act the way they do sometimes.  I read recently where a southern State is now limiting the hours of voting in certain districts.  They say it is to save money but almost all the districts are predominately African-American.  Hypocrisy is saying one thing will doing the exact opposite. That description just seem to totally fit the 21st century GOP right now.  I hope that changes but I don’t see, given the current anti everything mood over there, that it has a chance of happening…

As Goes California, So Goes The Nation

The Great American Garden Basket…

Central California – Garden Basket of America

When we visited central California in 2009 I was expecting to see many vegetable fields but not as big as what I found. The picture above is of an artichoke field of probably 3,000 acres. I never imagined that many artichokes were even consumed by us.  Without California we would be restricted to fresh veggies only while they are in season. The California vegetable fields are very American….

Apple Computer…

Cupertino, CA – Apple Computer

One of the things that give America the edge in the world is our technological genius and nothing says that like Apple Computer. Given that they are making some major announcements today I thought it appropriate to feature them in today’s post.  A couple of kids starting a multi-billion dollar industry in their garage is very American…

From The Redwood Forests..

Sequoia National Park, CA – The Mighty Redwoods

Until you have been up close and personal with a mammoth redwood tree you just don’t understand the majesty of them. My most recent encounter with them was in the Sequoia National Forest. Yes, that is me in the picture. I don’t think redwoods grow anywhere else in the world so they are very American.  I am a firm believer that we should change the national anthem to Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land. I “From the redwood forests to the Gulf stream waters” shows the heart of America much more than a puny sea battle of an 1812 military conflict. I wonder what it would take to get that done?

Epic California Drought Could Change the Way We Eat

2014-03-11_08-41-22California is America’s bread basket—or, more accurately, its fruits and vegetables basket. The Golden State produces 95 percent of the country’s celery, half of its bell peppers, 89 percent of its cauliflower, 96 percent of its tomatoes, 95 percent of its garlic, 90 percent of its avocados—and the list goes on. In fact, the state accounts for nearly one-fifth of the entire agricultural output of the U.S. SOURCE: Epic California Drought Could Change the Way We Eat – Ovens.

Lets face it, we are all addicted to California fruits and veggies.  We expect to have our strawberries throughout the year instead of just during the Spring months as our grandparents did. We want everything, even if it is out of season. The California droughts could have a profound effect  on our supply of fruits and vegetables. One thing to relieve that is that there is quite a bit more things coming from Mexico and South America now. Even our little supermarket here in my small town has tomatoes from Mexico, plums for Argentina and other countries.

2014-03-23_13-10-30The drought problem for California in not surprising given that they have a population of more than 38 million people! That is several times more than all the ten red States (shown blue on this map)  in the “Great American Desert” combined. They now pump much of their water from hundreds of miles away.

It seems that the most needed invention for this world today is taking the salt out of ocean water. If that could be done on an economic scale California could quit stealing water from its neighbors and continue to be the vegetable garden for the U.S.

Trip Log – California dreaming….

SL California ShoreHere is my synopsis of California as I promised yesterday.  California is indeed a very beautiful State and the weather is great.  The great redwoods in the northern part of the State are awesome along with mile after mile of pristine shoreline.

But I think just way too many people have  “discovered” California.  30 million people; wow! After seeing the local news for almost 4 days I have come to a couple of conclusions:  They can’t see the forest for the trees; even those in the northern part of the State 🙂 .  They seem to want to vote on just about everything. In that respect it is quite impossible to have any overall plans or objectives for the State.  The California government is in an impossible situation because of such short sightnedness. The voters want it all but don’t want to have to pay for it. They micromanage everything thing including their 9.25% sales tax with a complicated number of exemptions.

The other thing I noticed is that for some reason they all seem to think that the speed limit signs must be “average” speed. They spend hours and hours every week in traffic jams  and then go 100 mph to make up for the creeping.  And they are probably the least courteous bunch on the highways that I have ever encountered and I have been in the NYC and Boston traffic! If you come here don’t dare use your turn signals to show a lane change; you are just asking to be cut off.  And “keep right except to pass”; forget it; it doesn’t exist. Their road signs in a word suck.  If you don’t know that xyz “street” is actually a highway that  goes to a particular city then you are certain to get lost because they never show you that.

But, when Californians get out of their beloved cars they are a friendly enough bunch. We struck up conversations with several of them during our stay there. Mostly to ask for directions . That was Yvonne asking not me of course 🙂 .  The final mention on this topic is that they have a great  mass transit system around San Francisco but almost no one has “discovered” it yet I guess. So, overall, California is a great place with WAY WAY too many people who WAY WAY love their cars TOO TOO much. One thing that could help most of the above problems would be for a very brave governor and legislature to add a $3/gallon gasoline tax. But of course no one is that brave in California.

PS………  One thing I forgot to note on this post was the ethnic diversity of California. Around San Francisco there are people from all around the world.  Part of that is due to being close to Stanford, CalTech, and the other high profile schools. There is also a very high percentage of Hispanic origin even in northern California. It was not unusual to be someplace as a white Anglo and be in the minority. That almost never happens to us in the Midwest. At lease for those living outside the major cities.  It would be nice to have that kind of diversity where we live.

Even in northern California the housing prices are simply sky high. A small shack of 700 square feet costs about $500,000.  How can lower class and lower middle class even live here? I suspect the average monthly mortgage is over $2500 per month. The cost of everything seems to be higher (for instance a hamburger outside the fast food places is typically $8.50) but housing, even after the bust, is out of reach. The final post observation is that I was surprised at how the average towns seem to mimic those of  Mexico in there makeup and appearance.  I know that of the Hispanic origins but I was just surprised how strong it still is.

Trip Log – Veggies, veggies, veggies (in search of Garlic)

SL Salinas Veggies

SL Salinas Gilroy

We started our day with a quick stroll back to Fisherman’s Wharf to see the Aquarium there.  Quick that is considering all the walking we did yesterday (ha).  The aquarium was outstanding.  The first picture above was of some Luner Jellyfish. They looked unreal but they were indeed real.  We then walked through over 100 feet of clear tubes where the SF Bay water was all around us.  It was amazing all the different types of fish and such that they collected there.

After the aquarium we checked out of our hotel and headed south to Salinas. That is where most of the countries veggies are now grown. That is those not being now imported. We first ran across about 20,000 acres of artichokes.  There were just huge huge fields of them in various stages of development. Following that was lettuce, brussel sprouts, and a couple of fields we couldn’t identify.  We also make a stop at a cherry stand in Gilroy California.  Some of you may know that Gilroy supplies over 90% of all the Garlic consumed in the U.S. !  We bought some cherries and asked the young lady there where the fields of garlic are. Of course being a local she didn’t know 🙂 .  We looked around some but didn’t find them. Maybe they are planning on having a garlic shortage this year.

Anyway with all the veggie sighting under our belt we decided to make our official turn around on our vacation and start heading home.  We got back to  west of San Jose about 5:30PM; just in time for the Silicon Valley rush hour.  And believe me when I say I don’t understand why they call it rush hour when all we did was creep along with 12 other lanes of traffic.  We ended up stopping at a Denny’s resturant for about an hour to let it subside some.  It did reduce some but was still very heavy even at 7PM. I will do an overall thoughts of California tomorrow and will discuss this more then.  We decided to try and get around Sacramento and therefore most of the rush hour traffic tonight instead of facing another traffic jam tomorrow.  So, as a result we landed in our hotel around 9:30PM.  Tomorrow will be mainly a travel day to Salt Lake City.

Trip Log – Sanoma

SL Winery   SL Winery Flowers

Today was a restful day as all Sundays should be. We slept in, had breakfast at our Inn and then headed for the wineries. The one we stopped at was the Benzinger Winery.  They are one of the few family winery’s still left. As is usual with farming Corporate wineries are taking over the family ones by leaps and bounds. Benzinger  is what is called biodynamic vineyard.  It is a several steps above being organic. It is a beautiful place that includes obviously grapes but also many flowers (one shown above) and veggies. Of course we got the full tour along with the obligatory wine tasting at the end. We bought a bottle to take into San Francisco but more on that later.  After the winery we stopped off at Jack London Village.  This is a place that Jack London frequented and is now mostly owned by his family. For those of you who may have forgotten, Jack London was a popular author in the mid 1900’s. I literally devoured his books “Call of the Wild” and “White Fang” as a boy. His books are one of the reasons I become an avid reader.  We had lunch there and it reminded me of our time in Mexico as we ate outside among many flowers and plants. We did manage to make it back to the room about 3PM and therefore in plenty of time for a Sunday nap. This has been a truly restful day in Sonoma California.

This morning I made reservations for our San Francisco visit.  We will be staying at a hotel about a block away from Fisherman’s Wharf. We are going to trust OnStar to get us there and parked and then we will be doing our touring on foot tomorrow and via a tour bus and ferry on Tuesday.  After that we will head to Salinas California to see exactly where all our veggies are grown and of course is the home of another famous California author John Steinbeck. I’m pretty sure I read all his many books as a boy.

Trip Log – Grape Country

SL Sonoma GrapesI am posting this Sunday morning as I was just too lazy to do it last night.  We spent Saturday mostly on the road to grape country.  We stopped in Santa Rosa to get info from the visitors center.  This was the first chance we had to get Statewide info. The people there recommended we go to Sonoma for our vineyard tours so we headed down that way.  For the last 50 miles or so of our traveling, we saw field after field on grapes.  I knew grape country must be big but I didn’t imagine it was as big as it is. Today, Sunday, we will visit a few winery’s in the area and of course do some taste testing.  We are also, for the first time on this trip going to stay at one hotel for two days. We are currently in the El Pablo Inn in Sonoma and it is very nice. Lush gardens outside our patio door.  I am sitting on the patio now as the wifi connection is pretty weak in the room. It is great to be out here doing this. I would almost like to stay here all day.

Tomorrow we will be heading into San Francisco. It is less than an hours drive from here. We have almost decided to take one of the packaged tours so that we can see everything without the driving.  OnStar is nice,  it did get us to this hotel without any problems, but I imagine driving in San Francisco would be quite a challenge.  After breakfast today I will be looking for a hotel room near the Fisherman’s Wharf to stay tomorrow night.

Trip Log – Oh those redwoods are BIG…

SL CA Redwood 1

SL California Redwood 2I am making this post on Saturday morning, or afternoon for everyone in Indiana.  Yes, we did make it into California yesterday as evidenced by the sign above.  We entered the State on Hwy 101 so it was a rather modest sign to introduce us to the State. We spent most of yesterday going through the redwood forests of northern California. Yes, they are BIG.  Since we were focusing on the trees in these pictures the people (Yvonne and I) are dwarfed in the photos above.  That is me standing below the large vertical tree.   The story around the tree was that in the early 1900’s the loggers had a competition on who could take down the largest tree.  Many of the bigger trees are 2,000 years old; what a shame the many of them are forgotten decks and siding on now abandoned homesteads. Anyway the tree that I am standing in front of someone wanted to cut it down and make a dance floor on the stump.  But the locals were finally beginning to realize that “their” big trees were quickly disappearing so they came to the defense of this one and therefore saving it.  We took a mile and a half hike through the Lady Bird Johnson Grove of redwoods.  It was truly awesome but a little tiring for Yvonne as seen in the last photo above. This was about a mile into the trek and she was starting to doubt whether she would see civilization again :).

We spent the night in Eureka and will be heading down to Napa and Sonoma valleys today to see where all our wine and vegetables come from.  More on our trip there tonight.