Tag Archives: california

The view

Out & About San Diego

I have a beautiful view out my living room window of the East San Diego County. Whenever I need a break from the office and binge-watching Netflix and PrimeTV (currently watching “Lie To Me”), I’ll walk to the living room, pet Little Queen Olivia (she’s usually on the sofa), and then look out the window to see what wildlife is thinking that my plants might be a good buffet. At 3:45 p.m. on September 7, this was the view that greeted me:

Valley Fire, San Diego County

The thermometer on Little Queen Olivia’s shaded catio was showing 110 effin degrees.

100 effin degrees

Little Queen Olivia was, like “Meh. Why do you keep coming in here every 15 minutes?”

Little Queen Olivia

California has so many fires each year that they get names, kind of like hurricanes in the Gulf and Atlantic. This fire started in Japatul Valley, so it got named the Valley Fire. It started at 2:51 p.m. and burned 400 acres in the first hour, making it a very fast-moving and dangerous fire. It slowed due mostly to the fact that there’s not a lot of stuff to burn out there. The problem would be the continued high temperatures and the wind. Originally the winds were blowing to the west, so the fire was marching westward, straight towards me, the suburbs, and downtown San Diego.

By the end of the night, it had burned over 1,500 acres, continuing to march westward. I didn’t get much sleep that night since I was monitoring the overnight progress of the fire. Evacuation alerts were arriving regularly on my phone courtesy of the emergency notification system.

I had brought Little Queen Olivia’s travel crate in just in case we had to leave suddenly, and I had food and water packed and ready to go.

Yesterday morning when Little Queen Olivia got me out of bed, there was very little smoke in the air. That was good. Around 11:30 a.m., the winds shifted direction, blowing the fire to the west/southwest, causing a new smoke plume that lasted all day.

Valley Fire, San Diego County

That was good for me but bad, of course, for people in front of its new advance. Here at my house, I was expecting a high temperature of 113 effin degrees. The heavy smoke eventually covered the sky, blocking out the sun, so it only got to 108 effin degrees.

Fire smoke always makes for great sunset pictures. Well, almost. Since the sun was blocked out, there was no sunset. This was the best picture I got—5:11 p.m., exactly two hours before sunset:

Valley Fire, San Diego County

There is no sign of smoke this morning from my living room window due to the east-blowing winds. As of 10:00 p.m. last night, over 10,500 acres had burned; it is only 1% contained. Eleven structures have burned. The fire continues to rage. Evacuation warnings have been extended to the east. In the map below, I live in Winter Gardens (red arrow).

Valley Fire, San Diego County

Pets are welcome at evacuation points. If you need help with animal evacuations, including large animals, call the San Diego Humane Society’s emergency response team at 619-229-7012 and press 1. Large animals will be held at the County Animal Services South Shelter in Bonita (lower left).

For a historical perspective, the 2003 Cedar Fire here in San Diego County burned 273,246 acres , destroyed 2,820 buildings (2,232 homes), and killed 15 people, including one firefighter. At the time, it was the largest wildfire in California’s history. After the 2018 and 2019 fire seasons (only California would actually have a “fire season”), the Cedar Fire now ranks as the third-largest, the fifth deadliest, and fourth most destructive, causing just over $1.3 billion in damages.

The Cedar Fire was started by a novice hunter, hunting alone, who had gotten lost. He admitted starting a fire intentionally to signal rescuers but quickly lost control of the fire because of the heat, low humidity, and low moisture content of the surrounding vegetation. He was rescued but prosecuted. After a plea bargain in which prosecutors dropped the charge of lying to investigators, he was sentenced to six months in a work-furlough program, 960 hours (40 days) of community service, five years’ probation, and $9,000 in restitution. If I had lost my home or a relative, I’m not sure I would have been satisfied with that sentence.

Valley Fire, San Diego County

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

Who does yoga better?

Out & About

For the first time since I self-isolated on March 14 due to a lot of
pre-existing conditions and a lot of unknowns about Covid-19,
I got my big camera (and a couple of masks), jumped in the car,
and went to La Jolla, California, to take pictures.

My goal was the young sea lions from 2020’s pupping season. Many pups were frolicking in the water, but most of them were on the rocks soaking up the late afternoon sun.

This momma seemed to be teaching yoga to the young pup at her side:

Sea Lion at La Jolla, California

The young pup seemed to be learning well…. a good student….

But I ask you, who does yoga better, Ms. C. Lyon (above) or Little Queen Olivia (below)? You can even vote for the student if you’d like!

Little Queen Olivia

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

Out & About—De Anza Cove, San Diego

Out & About San Diego

I love exploring the boondocks and finding abandoned places.

Sometimes, though, one doesn’t need to go to the boondocks.

Here in San Diego, one of the most beautiful beaches, De Anza Cove, has hundreds of properties lining the beaches that have been abandoned for nine years.

I went to look at them on August 1 after I had read about them.

Here are just five of the pictures I took.

De Anzo Cove Mobile Home Park, San Diego

De Anzo Cove Mobile Home Park, San Diego

De Anzo Cove Mobile Home Park, San Diego

De Anzo Cove Mobile Home Park, San Diego

De Anzo Cove Mobile Home Park, San Diego

I’m still doing research on these properties. The story begins about 60 years ago and is really fascinating, especially for such prime beach properties.

They belong to the City of San Diego but have been vacant since at least 2011. Campland on the Bay was supposed to take over in January 2018, clean up the place, and make it part of Campland. Two-and-half years later, here we are with nothing done.

I will have more pictures and blog posts in the future as I discover the full story.

Protest, destruction, beautification

I went to a Vietnam War protest during my senior year in high school in Kingsville, Texas. That was 1973. That was the last one I went to because there were several injuries and an out-of-control crowd. I’m all for peaceful protest, but when the peaceful protests last for several years, perhaps even decades, and no one listens, perhaps it’s time for something other than peaceful protests.

Remember this?

Protest peacefully

Eagles fans

I remember studying how the South protested when they lost the privilege to own black people.

White people rioting

Then, of course, there was the Boston Tea Party which happened because the King of England would not listen to the people’s concerns.

Boston Tea Party

The city of La Mesa, California, where Jim and I lived for eight years, had a riot on Saturday, May 30. It started very peacefully, but when the marchers wanted to enter the on-ramp to Interstate 8, the police turned them back towards downtown. That’s when the rioting started.

I had heard about the riots but did not see any pictures, notwithstanding so many posts saying that the press was glorifying the violence.

Yesterday I read about many arts associations traveling to downtown La Mesa to paint positive messages on the plywood and particle board covering both broken and unbroken windows. I immediately ventured to La Mesa to see for myself. The destruction was like nothing I had ever seen, but I’ll take this destruction over that of the Philadelphia Eagles fans any day of the week. And when the powers that be refuse to listen to the concerns of their communities, seen as way too willing to reign in police brutality, well, something’s going to happen. It’s gone on for too long. There also are way too many reports of police brutality continuing during the protests….

One man lost an eye after being shot in the face by a “rubber bullet,” which are not bullets by any stretch of the imagination. They are huge projectiles.

A 75-year-old many was pushed to the ground by two police officers and left there to bleed. A grandmother died after being shot with rubber bullets. Lots of videos of police beating protesters peaceably assembled.

Due to my age and underlying health conditions, I’m in no physical or mental condition to even go out whenever I want during this pandemic. Add in protests, and it’s perilous for me. I did get some ugly stares yesterday from some in downtown La Mesa, and every time I got one of those ugly stares, I gave the artists a monetary donation to help pay for the supplies they were using to make the plywood less ugly.

La Mesa, California, The Jewel of the HillsLa Mesa has always been a peaceful city, even during their acclaimed Oktoberfest, so I was quite shocked at the destruction. However, I also found out that although the death of George Floyd prompted protests nationwide, an incident of police brutality in La Mesa—captured on video by a bystander, of course—is what led to this protest starting at the City Hall/Police Station complex. A black person was caught smoking a cigarette at the San Diego Trolley station in La Mesa. Smoking is not allowed, yet even my Excel spreadsheet doesn’t have enough cells to tell you the number of times I have seen white people smoking at the Trolley stations and on the Trolley. The police had been seeking to press charges against the person who captured the brutality on video, but they announced yesterday that they would not do so. I think that’s a good thing.

I also got a chance yesterday to use the camera on my new Samsung S20 Ultra 5G phone. So here are all the pictures I took yesterday, with no comment other than the picture of Randall Lamp, which was a historic building; the other pictures of burned out buildings are of Chase Bank and Union Bank.

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Sunflower

Where do I cancel?

Out & About

On Saturday, March 14, I drove to Visalia, California, a distance of 327 miles. It was a 10-hour round-trip. My purpose was to speak to the Visalia Succulent Club on Nature’s Geometry in Succulents.

Cover of "Nature's Geometry: Succulents" by Russel Ray

I got to go over The Grapevine, a 40-mile stretch of Interstate 5 over the Tehachapi Mountains from California’s San Joaquin Valley to Grapevine.

The Grapevine

It’s a monster of a road because there’s a lot of semi traffic doing 5-10 mph in the slow lane, and semi traffic doing 10-30 mph in the second lane. Traffic in the other lanes is cruising by at 55-65 mph, with some doing up to 90 mph in the fast lane. The weather can be atrocious because of the height of the mountains, raining at the top (4,000 feet) but clear on both sides, and even snow at some times of the year. Couple the weather with the wide range of speeds, and there always are various accidents.

The meeting was at 6:00 p.m., and since I got there at 10:15 a.m., I had a lot of time to explore. Visalia and its sister city of Exeter were quite beautiful with all the trees that were blooming.

Strawberry Tree (Arbutus sp.)

Flowering Maple (Albutilon sp.)

Redbud trees

Flowering trees

Exeter, with a population of 10,000, had a very cool little downtown area. There were murals on the exterior of 32 buildings. I didn’t find them all, but the following one, #15 and titled “Tracks of Time,” was my favorite.

Tracks of Time

In Exeter, I found a bookstore with lots of local history books, so I bought one, a hard-cover edition of a book that itself is difficult to find.

Visalia Electric Railroad

The bookstore also had a cat. I’m one of those who have to take time out of my busy schedule to pet a cat, so this little one got 15 minutes of love and attention from me. Look at the expression on his face as I told him that I had to go but would make him a Facebook star.

Exeter bookstore kitty

With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, when I got home at 4:00 Sunday morning, I decided to self-isolate, not because I think I might have caught something in the Central California Valley but rather because at my age (65 years and 8 days) and with my high blood pressure; skin cancer and seborrheic keratoses; BPH; and constant coughing, sneezing, and trouble breathing due to a deviated septum from a broken nose sometime in my early childhood (according to the otolaryngologist), I’m in the high-risk category. My constant coughing and sneezing also might cause concern to anyone within hearing distance. I have pills to help control the coughing and sneezing, but I never know how long before they take effect and when they might expire.

I’m keeping a journal of my days at home in self-isolation., trying to keep things in perspective.

Day 1—I have decided to self-isolate. Since I am retired, between watching television (although no sports), gardening (lots of weeds to pull and flora to plant), and taking care of Little Queen Olivia (who doesn’t seem to be real excited about me being home all day), self-isolation shouldn’t be too hard.

Day 2—After a day of drinking margaritas and watching the Hannibal series on Prime TV, I can definitely state that drinking margaritas all day does not make you poop. Thusly, I am out of margaritas, but I have 1,618 rolls of toilet paper.

Day 3—Little Queen Olivia is completely oblivious to the fact that I am home and willing to give belly rubs.
Little Queen Olivia

Day 4—Self-isolation isn’t so bad, but I do find it interesting that there are 8,471 grains of rice in one box and 8,552 grains in the other box.

Day 5—It’s been raining all this week, with 3½ inches these past two days, and it’s raining hard right now. Pulling weeds and planting flora is going very slowly. Ah well, that means I definitely still have things to do during the next nine days of my self isolation.

My self-isolation will end on March 28, and three days later my 90-day free trial of the year 2020 ends. Where do I cancel?

Hope everyone is doing well in these weird times we’re living in.

The historic Southern Pacific Railroad depot in Bakersfield

Halls of History

Never fails! When I’m out and about doing one thing, trains seem to crop up here and there.

When I was in Bakersfield on February 11 speaking to the Bakersfield Cactus & Succulent Society, I had to go downtown and check out the historic Southern Pacific depot.

Looks like this:

Historic Southern Pacific depot in Bakersfield, California

When construction of the Southern Pacific Railroad line had reached the southern San Joaquin Valley in 1874, Bakersfield was the preferred stop. However, a land dispute between Bakersfield and Southern Pacific resulted in Southern Pacific building its tracks two miles east of the Bakersfield, in Sumner, a town laid out by the railroad, as many towns were back in those days. A small depot also was built.

When the Bakersfield depot opened on June 27, 1889, it was located in Sumner, California. Sometime between 1888 and 1892, Sumner incorporated under the name Kern City. In 1910, Kern City voted to become part of Bakersfield.

The depot originally was built in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, comprising both a train station and a hotel. One of the station’s most defining features was the long arcade stretching along the north side and connecting the station and the hotel.

In the late 1930s, Southern Pacific wanted to demolish the depot and build a completely new one. Instead, the depot was remodeled, providing a more streamlined appearance by removing many of the ornamental Romanesque features and transforming the depot into a Spanish Colonial Revival style. The steep roofs, part of the original style, were kept. Additional expansions included a section in the Moderne style.

Historic Southern Pacific depot in Bakersfield, California

Historic Southern Pacific depot in Bakersfield, California

The depot served Southern Pacific passenger trains that ran on the San Joaquin Valley Route: San Joaquin Daylight, Sacramento Daylight, Owl, and West Coast.

Eventually the hotel closed and was converted to office space; I could not find the date of its closing. Closing the hotel also resulted in half of the portico (on the hotel side) being enclosed.

It currently is used as an office building and crew change center by Union Pacific, and on very rare occasions (about once every ten years), it serves as a stop for Amtrak’s Coast Starlight when Union Pacific’s Coast Line is closed. When that happens, the Coast Starlight goes through the Tehachapi Loop. Getting a video of Amtrak on the Tehachapi Loop is #1 on my Bucket List. Here’s a video of a long BNSF freight on the Tehachapi Loop in February 2017 showing the front of the train passing under the rear of the train:

BNSF freight on the Tehachapi Loop

The depot itself closed in 1971 with the founding of Amtrak and the termination of individual railroad passenger trains, thus ending Southern Pacific passenger trains through the station. The office portion would continue to be used by Southern Pacific, and later by Union Pacific.

Historic Southern Pacific depot in Bakersfield, California

Historic Southern Pacific depot in Bakersfield, California

Historic Southern Pacific depot in Bakersfield, California

Historic Southern Pacific depot in Bakersfield, California

Historic Southern Pacific depot in Bakersfield, California

There is a nice Amtrak station not too far away, and there are plans for two new rail systems, both having a stop in East Bakersfield near the historic Southern Pacific depot. Kern County also has been toying with the idea of a regional commuter rail system which would use existing Union Pacific tracks. Not to be left out, Bakersfield also has been mulling a future light rail system. Both systems are not on the drawing board before 2025.

Out & About—California Living Museum in Bakersfield, California

Out & About

When I was in Bakersfield, California, on February 11-12, 2020, high on my list of places to visit was the California Living Museum, or CALM for short. It specializes in California native fauna and flora.

California Living Museum logo

California Living Museum logo

Although the California Living Museum is only 14 acres with 250 animals representing 80 species, I can highly recommend it.

Keep in mind that I have been a member of zoos, arboretums, aquariums, and animal sanctuaries since I was 13 when my wise old grandmother got me a membership to the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. After that it was the San Antonio Zoo and the Houston Zoo. Also keep in mind that I have been a member of the San Diego Zoo since May 1993.

When I was searching for things to do in Bakersfield and found the California Living Museum, I immediately compared it to the San Diego Zoo at 99 acres, 3,700 animals, and 650 species, and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park at 1,800 acres, 3,500+ animals, and 400+ species.

I had convinced myself that I would be disappointed, but I just cannot bear to miss a zoo, arboretum, or sanctuary, so off I went, thinking that since it specialized in California native flora and fauna, maybe I would see something that I had never seen before. At $10, the price was right, too!

I spent four hours at CALM, which breaks down to $2.50 per hour. That’s entertainment that doesn’t break the bank!

Following are some of my best pictures of CALM.

Seeing a saguaro (Carnegia gigantea) in the parking lot gave me great hope
and it only got better.California Living Museum

California Living Museum

California Living Museum

Barrel cactus
Barrel cactus

Northern Mojave Rattlesnake
Northern Mojave Rattlesnake

Northern Pacific Rattlesnake
Northern Pacific Rattlesnake

Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake
Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake

Sidewinder
Sidewinder

Sonoran Gopher Snake
Sonoran Gopher Snake

Chuckwalla
Chuckwalla

Desert Iguana
Desert Iguana

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise

Desert Bighorn SheepDesert Bighorn Sheep

CoyoteCoyote

Mountain Lion
Mountain lion

Mountain lion

Nelson’s Antelope Squirrel
Nelson's Antelope Squirrel

Roadrunner
Roadrunner

Turkey
Turkey

Western Scrub Jay
Western Scrub Jay

Barn Owl
Barn Owl

Acorn Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

California Living Museum

Did you notice that I got a picture of both a coyote and a roadrunner?

Coyote and roadrunner

Out & About—Slab City, California, public library

Out & About

One of the nice things about libraries here in California is that almost all of them have a “Friends of the Library” association, taking in book donations and selling them to make money for the library. I have bought many books from Friends.

Here is the public library at Slab City, California:

Slab City, California, public library

Here is their Friends of the Libary:

Friends of the Library at Slab City, California

Dolphins killed Jesus

Out & About

One of the “neighborhoods” of Slab City, California, is East Jesus.

Its complementary neighborhood is West Satan.

East Jesus and West Satan don’t get along. No surprise there, but since the leader of our photographic expedition was wearing an East Jesus shirt, we decided to skip West Satan. Consequently, all I have to offer you today is pictures of the East Jesus sculpture garden, obviously Slab City’s “tourist trap.”

For your visual entertainment:

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

East Jesus sculpture garden

A Smith Corona Coronamatic.
This was my first electric typewriter.
I would have kept mine if I had known
that some day it would be a museum piece.
East Jesus sculpture garden