Tag Archives: california

Out & About — They got their kicks on Route 66, and stayed….

Out & About The World

Before the Interstate system came along, Barstow, California, was a thriving city on Route 66, the Mother Road. Barstow’s main purpose now seems to be as a major railroad junction, and visiting the historic railroad yard was my main purpose in going to Barstow this past July.

I stayed at a little Route 66 Motel:

Route 66 Motel

The motel celebrates its association with historic Route 66 using historic items, especially vehicles.

Route 66 Motel in Barstow, California

Route 66 Motel in Barstow, California

Route 66 Motel in Barstow, California

Route 66 Motel in Barstow, California

Route 66 Motel in Barstow, California

Route 66 Motel in Barstow, California

Route 66 Motel in Barstow, California

Route 66 Motel in Barstow, California

Route 66 Motel in Barstow, California

Interestingly, most of these historic vehicles were taking up parking places, which seems to indicate that the motel doesn’t have a lot of business. Another way to look at this is that these folks in their cars got their kicks on Route 66, and stayed….

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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Out & About — My new best. pizza. ever.

Out & About San Diego

I’m pretty sure that I was eating pizza at the age of one day. Gerber’s had to have a pizza flavor baby food mush when I was young.

My favorite is barbecued chicken pizza, a culinary delight that I discovered in 1989 when Café Eccell opened in Bryan, Texas. I lived and worked just a mile away so I visited often.

Café Eccell always had been #1 on my list of top pizza restaurants, until yesterday, when I discovered NAPIZZA.

NAPIZZA in UTC, La Jolla, California

NAPIZZA a new restaurant in San Diego’s largest mall, UTC, currently adding over 90 stores and doubling its size by adding a second story.

I love barbecue chicken pizza, so that’s what I had. Sadly, I ate all of my pizza at the restaurant without taking a picture. Fortunately, I brought a slice home with me:

BBQ pizza from NAPIZZA at UTC in La Jolla, California

They call their pizza “Roman style,” and apparently it is made in advance and 80% cooked.

NAPIZZA in UTC, La Jolla, California

When you order a slice, they finish cooking it. So it’s fast and fresh at the same time. What an interesting concept.

As you can see in the picture, they don’t skimp on the toppings. What really pushed their pizza up into my #1 spot was the crust. I’m not a fan of greasy pizzas or soggy crusts. I do like flavorful crusts. The crust on my slice was, perhaps, not as flavorful as some other pizzas I have had (the names of which I won’t state here since I have been boycotting them for eight years and don’t want to give them any free advertising or Google SEO), but the crust was to die for because of its crispy flakiness. My wise old grandmother would have wanted such a crust on her wonderful pies.

I also enjoyed sitting in the restaurant and reading their two huge murals about what they do, how they do it, and why they do it.

NAPIZZA in UTC, La Jolla, California

NAPIZZA in UTC, La Jolla, California

The prices were extraordinarily reasonable, too, especially considering that this was UTC in La Jolla, a place not known for having reasonable prices for anyone but the extraordinarily wealthy.

NAPIZZA in UTC, La Jolla, California

They also have locations in Little Italy (a closer location to me), 4S Commons in 4S Ranch, and Encinitas. I rarely get to 4S Ranch, but I definitely shall be visiting the Little Italy and Encinitas locations, as well as going back to the UTC location.

Try them, and tell them you heard about them from your favorite blogger. I am your favorite blogger, yes?

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Del Taco in Barstow, California

Out & About — Just where DID Del Taco start?

Out & About The World

When I was in Barstow, California, the last two days of July, just down the block from the cute little Route 66 motel that I stayed in was a Del Taco.

Del Taco in Barstow, California

I have not eaten at a Del Taco since I left Texas in April 1993, possibly because I used to eat at the one in College Station, Texas, virtually every day. Since I was trying to escape the Great Nation of Texas, eating at Del Taco would remind me too much of that state.

I was on my way down to the historic Barstow railroad yard but there were a lot of homeless people in the area. One of them asked me if I had any change. I did not, but I had a credit card and offered to buy him supper. He accepted. I told him he could order anything he wanted, but I don’t think he did. I think he was simply grateful for a meal. While he was ordering and waiting, I walked to the seating area because there was a large mural on the wall. Looked like this:

Del Taco in Barstow, California

After reading the mural, I logged onto Wikipedia to read all about Del Taco. According to Wikipedia, the first Del Taco was opened in Yermo, twelve miles east of Barstow, on September 16, 1964. Its success led to the opening of two restaurants in Barstow. That left me dissatisfied with this location claiming that “it all started in Barstow.” Apparently it did not; it all started in Yermo. City rivalry perhaps?

The mural says that Del Taco started in 1961 as Taco Tia.

I could find no verification for that. The only Taco Tia I could find was Taco-Tia, an early name for Taco Bell, Del Taco’s rival. In fact, the 1961 verbiage on the mural is identical to the 1964 verbiage on Del Taco’s current web site.

From the mural in the restaurant:
From the mural in the restaurant

From Del Taco’s web site:
From Del Taco's web site

Considering the location of this Del Taco in Barstow, 401 N. First Avenue, I suspect that it is, indeed, the first Del Taco in Barstow, so probably the second Del Taco overall.

A Google search brought up three videos about the first Del Taco in Yermo, and the first one I watched gave me an address: 38434 Yermo Road. The video, uploaded to YouTube on January 21, 2018, says that there currently is a restaurant there called Burger Den. In this still, taken from a YouTube video uploaded on July 21, 2017, you can see the Burger Den sign and an old Del Taco sign:

Del Taco/Burger Den

I’m going to go with the Yermo location being the very first Del Taco and the Barstow location simply practicing a little sibling rivalry.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Old Barstow train station

Re-purposing historic buildings: Barstow, California

Halls of History

I have been a history buff since the Cub Scouts introduced me to philately, which they called “stamp collecting.” That was in 1963. I used to research the subjects of postage stamps, finding them quite interesting.

I always like it when cities save their historic buildings, even if it means re-purposing them, which it often does.

The original train station in Barstow CA has been re-purposed into the bus station with a few billion stores and restaurants being located in historic rail cars that also have been saved and re-purposed.

The rail cars in the second picture are painted a specific color, including that unique golden arch, which should tell you that they are being used as McDonald’s seating areas; the order/pick up area is at the left, just out of the picture. Pretty cool.

Old Barstow train station

Old Barstow train station

Old Barstow train station

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

SNIPPETS (9-16-2018)

Snippets

SNIPPET 1

Oh, dear.

I never switched to the “easier way to create posts on WordPress.com” because I didn’t find the new editor easier.

I just logged in to my blog and find that WordPress.com now is developing their “Gutenberg” editor. I was offered the choice to try it out while it’s still in development, so I did. One look at it, and I deactivated it.

Gutenberg is a “block editor,” which means you edit things in blocks. I have vast experience with block editors since most of the email programs use block editors (I have been using Mailchimp for six years); I absolutely despise them. They are the most difficult things in the world to use. Just give me a good HTML editor and I’m happy.

If WordPress.com forces us to use Gutenberg once it’s fully developed, my blogging days at WordPress.com here at Russel Ray Photos shall come to an end. Since I have an upgraded blog that costs $99 a year, if I quit paying that $99, everything I have written over the past six years will disappear into thin air.

Oh, well.

That just means I can start over again on a different blogging platform, and everything old shall be new again!

SNIPPET 2

I have been looking for nice, durable, strong, good-looking outdoor furniture that I can display some of my larger plants on. Finally, at Wayfair.com, I found a lot, and I ordered a lot. My first order arrived this past week. Here it is, a two-shelf wood/metal table with my huge Mammillaria displayed nicely on it.

Outdoor table from Wayfair

The wood is solid Paulownia, lightest-to-strongest-ratio wood species in the world, and the metal is recycled aircraft-grade aluminum pipes. Extremely easy to assemble (i.e., NOT IKEA!). I like it so much that I ordered two more.

SNIPPET 3

My first experience with Wayfair.com was several months ago when I ordered a “mushroom stool” to use as a side table outside on my patio. It is exposed to the elements, which here in San Diego means mostly sun, and still looks as new as the day it arrived. Recently I ordered three more and moved the first one to the other side of the house where I display an expensive Aloe in a custom display that I made specifically for it:

Mushroom stool from Wayfair

The rocks are real rocks from out here in the East San Diego County boondocks. They are glued together with GE 100% silicone with a hole in the middle filled with cactus soil. The pot and rocks (and plant!) weigh 53 pounds, so it really did need something strong to sit on besides the ground. When the other mushroom stools arrive, that pot sitting on the ground to the right also will be placed on one but about twenty feet down the deck.

SNIPPET 4

When I win the lottery

(which will be never because, uh, I would have to play the lottery, and I don’t),

I want to buy about 5,000 acres and create a dog sanctuary with 2,000 acres, a cat sanctuary with 2,000 acres, and an “Other pets” sanctuary with 1,000 acres, and have enough money left over to hire people to manage the place so that all I have to do is walk around and give lots of love to lots of pets.

Texas A&M UniversityOf course, I’ll have 5,000 acres of gardens, too, so the cats can climb in trees, the dogs can, uh, raise their legs on trees, and I can finally use my forestry degree from Texas A&M University (Class of ’77).

SNIPPET 5

Update on Zoey the Cool Cat’s diabetic diet.

End of week four.

After becoming a floor cat and refusing to jump up on anything for four months, she now has jumped up on the bed four consecutive nights and made herself at home, usually between my legs. She’s losing weight; moving about the house to find all the sunny spots during the day; jumping up on shelves, chairs, and beds; and returning to her old feisty, playful self.

Thank you Hill’s W/D prescription diet!

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat

SNIPPET 6

I guess margarita didn’t fit.

Bureeto car

SNIPPET 7

Found deep in in the East San Diego County boondocks, but what is it?

What is it?

SNIPPET 8

Uh-oh. The chicken is heading towards the road. You know what that means but we still don’t know why.

Chicken heading for the road

SNIPPET 9

I was in the El Cajon Home Depot a few days ago at 6:00 a.m. Dad and his 6-year-old son were there. Son was standing in front of the skeleton canines pointing and crying. He was frightened.

Halloween at Home Depot two months early

Dad was over at the battery rack ignoring his son. I felt so sorry for the little kid. My first question, though, was “What dad takes his 6-year-old son to Home Depot at six in the morning?” Kids should be in bed at that time of day!

SNIPPET 10

Killers of the Flower MoonI have always enjoyed history, which includes etymology. I just started reading “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” by David Gramm.

On page 11 is the etymology of Whizbang, Oklahoma (no longer a town, just a road – Whizbang Road – on the Osage Reservation):

“….the reservation’s tumultuous boomtowns, which had sprung up to house and entertain oil workers—towns like Whizbang, where, it was said, people whizzed all day and banged all night.”

Stunning visual, but I could not find a video on YouTube…..

SNIPPET 11

We get lots of beautiful sunsets in the east here in San Diego, but only after the sun goes down in the west. Something to do with the curvature of the Earth, reflections, etc. Here’s a sunset in the east taken by the dash cam in my car on September 14, 2018:

Sunset in the east in San Diego, California

SNIPPET 12

Zoey the Cool Cat has something to say about the current election season:

Elect functioning adults in November 2018

SNIPPET 13

“I give the fight up: let there be an end, a privacy, an obscure nook for me. I want to be forgotten even by God.”

—Robert Browning, “Paracelsus,” 1835

SNIPPET 14

From a news story:

“Families help shape you as an individual, and they’re always there for you, no matter what.”

Well, if the family happens to be Mormons and Catholics, and you happen to be gay, no, they are not “always there for you, no matter what.”

SNIPPET 15

From a news story:

“….[M]any corporations donate to both political parties. You never know which way the winds will turn, so you might as well have a bribe in both camps.”

Fight organized crime

SNIPPET 16

This little cat often welcomes me at the back door when I arrive at Friends of Cats. It’s a Turkish Van, a breed that I had never heard of. Very beautiful!

Turkish Van cat at Friends of Cats sanctuary in El Cajon, California

Turkish Van cat at Friends of Cats sanctuary in El Cajon, California

SNIPPET 17

Slowly but surely I’m working my way out of this severe depression caused by retirement, i.e., not having anything to do.

My mother-in-law’s boyfriend told me about San Diego Oasis, providing programs for the elderly. I checked them out and immediately volunteered to help K-6 children who have been identified as lagging behind their classmates in their reading skills.

I also proposed a new program for them, a chess club. In my proposal I mentioned my playing experience, my teaching experience, and my chess club experience. I also told them that I was a firm believer in keeping the mind active and that an active mind can prevent the onslaught of dementia, Alzheimer’s, depression, etc. The San Diego Oasis Program Council liked my idea for creating a chess club, called me for further details, and has approved me starting a chess club with the Spring 2019 curriculum. I’m so happy!

Here is a picture of some of the members of the La Mesa Outdoor Chess Club that I helped start in August 2013:

La Mesa chess club

SNIPPET 18

Every bookshelf needs a great adornment.

Zoey the Cool Cat on the bookshelf

SNIPPET 19

This little one is Max. He is one of my favorite cats in Cozy Cottage at Friends of Cats.

Max at Friends of Cats sanctuary in El Cajon, California

I love his long ear hairs. Max is in Lifetime Care and is not adoptable. Usually Lifetime Care means that the owner died or otherwise had to give up the cat, possibly going to assisted living himself. Friends of Cats will take cats into Lifetime Care with just a $5,000 contribution. Doesn’t matter how old the cat is.

Max is described as a “long-hair brown tabby with white.” Since tabby is a coloring and not a breed, that probably means that Max is a Domestic Long-haired cat, or as we knew them back in my youth in Kingsville, Texas, an “alley cat.”

He’s such a sweetie.

SNIPPET 20

My wise old grandmotherMy wise old grandmother was a conservationist before it was fashionable. She constantly told me,

“Do not throw things away! There is no away!”

To this day, I recycle whatever I can because I firmly believe something else that she told me:

“One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”

In today’s world with eBay, Amazon, Etsy, and all these groups on Facebook where one can buy or sell things, it’s amazing what people are willing to buy and how much they are willing to pay. I speak from experience, both as a seller and as a buyer.

One can even buy and sell plants online, and in plant auctions. Here’s the first plant that I bought in an online plant auction, an Operculicarya pachypus:

Operculicarya pachypus

I’m not telling you how much I paid…………..

The seller was located in West Hollywood (suburb of Los Angeles), and I guessed who it was based on his email address at eBay. Since I knew him, and had his phone number, and wanted this plant badly, I called him and asked if I could drive to his place and pick it up instead of having him ship it to me.

The problem with shipping plants is that sellers almost always ship plants “bare root,” which means they take them out of the containers, shake off all the soil from the roots, wrap the roots in moist napkins and such, and ship the plants. Shipping expenses are less.

Some plants can take that, some can’t.

Because of what I paid for this beautiful little tree, I didn’t want to take the chance, especially since I was unfamiliar with its growing requirements, so I drove to Los Angeles to pick it up.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

 

Let sleeping cats lie

Cats

The first time I ever got scratched by a cat was in 1966 when I saw one sleeping in the alley by our trash cans in Kingsville TX.

I went to pet it.

Nope.

My wise old grandmother told me as she poured hydrogen peroxide on the wounds:

“Let sleeping cats lie.”

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

All pictures by Russel Ray Photos at Friends of Cats sanctuary in El Cajon, California.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

SNIPPETS (9-2-18)—Maybe I just don’t hang out in the right places

Snippets

SNIPPET 1

Litter bikesFirst it was Cars 2 Go, then lime green and orange bikes, now Bird scooters. Haven’t played the game yet. I’m waiting for the Ferrari to be dropped off in front my my house. Then I’ll play.

SNIPPET 2

Sunset on September 1, 2018, from Yogurtland in El Cajon, California. The contrails, or “chemtrails” as conspiracy theorists call them, add a certain uniqueness to the sunset, especially considering that San Diego County has the largest population of military service personnel than any other free place in the world, including the Pentagon, according to the people who know more than me.

Sunset on 9/1/18 in El Cajon, California

SNIPPET 3

My wise old grandmother told me to learn something each and every day, so in recognition of yesterday being International Bacon Day, I thought some chemistry might be appropriate. Chemistry can be fun! You’re welcome.

I love chemistry

SNIPPET 4

Zoey the Cool Cat’s response to International Bacon Day:

Day?

SNIPPET 5

To everyone who has a birthday (pretty much left that one wide open):

Happy birthday!

SNIPPET 6

The result of shooting a video at Friends of Cats where I volunteer 5 days each week but the subject of the video thinks the camera lens might taste good:

Cat tongue

SNIPPET 7

New plant in my garden. Euphorbia antisyphilitica. The name tells you what it has been used for, mostly in Mexico, and through the end of World War II. It’s a very waxy plant, and the wax still is used in the cosmetic and food industries.

Euphorbia antisyphilitica

SNIPPET 8

On September 21, 1973, I was headed to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the Texas A&M–LSU football game. That was back in the days before MADD, DADD, and SADD, so we had to make a pit stop in Lake Charles.

At the truck stop I found a Bible store. I already was pretty anti-religion as a freshman at Texas A&M University but what I found interesting, and what added to my logic reasoning about religion being fake news, so to speak, was the number of Bibles I found. If the Bible were the infallible word of God, it seems there would only need to be one Bible, perhaps in different languages, though. Instead, I found 48 different versions of the Bible, all in English: the Catholic Bible, the NIV, the King James, et al. The best Bible I found, though, was one which had eight separate versions on every two-page spread so that one could compare the versions. That really sewed it up for me.

Now I’ve found that there is one more version, the recently released NRE:

New Republican Bible

SNIPPET 9

Sunsets have been pretty magnificent lately. Here is sunset on August 30, 2018, in the East San Diego County boondocks where Jim, Zoey the Cool Cat, and I live:

Sunset in the East San Diego County boondocks on August 31, 2018

SNIPPET 10

When I was 11 and my wise old grandmother was helping me set up my very first company (a typing business for college students at Texas A&I University), she told me to treat each day like every other day, doing some work and some play each day. That way I would never be distracted by looking forward to the upcoming weekend and would never be depressed when the weekend ended.

Book of WisdomI think college football (FBS) has been reading my wise old grandmother’s Book of Wisdom. Here is this weekend’s schedule:
Thursday: 12 games
Friday: 8 games
Saturday: 64 games
Sunday: 1 game
Monday: 1 game

I wonder how those Monday Morning Quarterbacks handle this.

SNIPPET 11

This guy normally is the first one to jump on my lap at Friends of Cats:

Why do you have a strange cat on your lap?

He was eating when I arrived, though, and did not notice me until it was too late. That look let me know what he thought about another cat being on my lap.

SNIPPET 12

Zoey the Cool Cat, what do you think about the current President of the United States?

Zoey the Cool Cat's opinion of Twitler

SNIPPET 13

Benoit PaireBenoit Paire (picture at right) of France played Roger Federer last week at the U.S. Open tennis championships. Paire has what Tiwtler and his ilk would call a “terrorist beard,” the only tennis player I can think of with that beard style.

I can’t think of any other in tennis, or any in golf, and only a dozen or so in football and baseball, who have that beard style. I would think those beard styles would be difficult in football and baseball because of their helmets, but why so why few, or no beards, in tennis and golf?

SNIPPET 14

I’m not much for prognostication but I am a history buff. It seems to me, especially since 1992, that when an administration goes too far to the left OR too far to the right, there is a mid-term correction. Look at 1992 Clinton and the 1994 “Contract With America” correction. Look at 2000 Bush and the 2002 correction. Look at 2008 Obama and the 2010 correction.

Twitler is the worst of the most recent four presidents so I’m going to go out on a limb and predict a huge blue tsunami in November 2018, so huge that I believe the Democrats will take over both the Senate and the House, and we will see Twitler impeached and convicted. Immediately afterward we will see Pence, assuming the mantle as president upon Twitler’s conviction, impeached and convicted. Then they’ll get to work trying to undo all the damage that Twitler and his ilk have caused.

SNIPPET 15

After graduating from Texas A&M University, my first home was in Houston, Texas. I had two little Beagle puppies named Union and Pacific, after the Union Pacific Railroad. Yeah, I know. I was weird then and am still weird now.

My neighbors, however, had a little Welsh Corgi which they had named Little Shit. It was weird when I would hear them out walking the dog and they would yell, “No! Quit that! Get back here you little shit!” I resolved then never to name my pets anything other than wholesome names safe for telling someone at work what the name of my pet was.

Many years later, after moving from Houston to College Station, I had two dogs, a Chow Chow-Besenji mix named Sugar and a long-haired Dachsund named Penney.

Penney and Sugar

Sugar used to ride around town on the back of my motorcycle. I even took her to Dallas, Waco, Austin, and Houston several times at speeds up to 60 mph when the speed limit was 55 mph.

Sugar the motorcycle riding dog

Best rider I ever had on the back seat of my motorcycle. She understood how to lean into the curve, and when we were flying down a straightaway, she would put her head to my side, watching where we were going and letting her ears flap in the wind.

SNIPPET 16

The cats at Friends of Cats absolutely adore me, probably because I have so much love to give. Unfortunately, I do not have any food to give, so when the Food Lady arrives, they abandon me. I am left all alone. I know my place in their lives.

The food has arrived

SNIPPET 17

Zoey the Cool Cat continues to get better on the thirteenth day of her anti-diabetes diet.

Throughout her life, except for the last four months, she has taken up residence outside the bathroom door while I showered, shaved, etc., waiting patiently until I came out. On the ninth day of her diet, she started that practice again. Every. Single. Morning. Here she is, patiently waiting for me and ready to lead me to the kitchen where she knows she will be fed.

Zoey the Cool Cat patiently waiting outside the bathroom door

SNIPPET 18

Picture caption contest. Here’s the picture:

Will you love me today?

Choose a caption:

Cat: “Are you the one who will love me today?”
Me: “Yes, yes I am.”

or

Me: “Are you the one who will love me today?”
Cat: “Yes, yes I am.”

SNIPPET 19

I can count on one hand the number of dragonflies I have seen in San Diego County since arriving here on April 27, 1993. This one stopped by my front door a couple of days ago:

Dragonfly

Did not stay long, though. There have to be more. Maybe I just don’t hang out in the right places….

SNIPPET 20

This month, remember the words of Zoey the Cool Cat who always speaks the truth.

Truth isn't truth!

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post