19 October 2010

Day Eleven: Barstow, California

So today's travel blog is a bit of a mixed bag. Relatively boring day, driving through the central part of California from the coast, but will get to that later. First, some few remaining pictures from San Simeon yesterday.

At sunset the trees were well illuminated:

This cluster of trees caught my eye:

We were working on tiring Gretchen out by having her play outside, so we spent some time in this gazebo.

Where she took on as her task the predation, decapitation, and dismemberment of dandelion flowers.

Another walk by the beach:

The surf at dusk:

Signs are posted everywhere about not feeding the wildlife but something tells me the surprisingly tame squirrels have sorted out how to game the system.

And here is the same fellow leaping for the jugular vein in rage as he learns I have been coaxing him near with a proferred hand of naught more than pebbles. Gretchen follows my lead, in her less subtle way, by picking up pebbles and throwing them at the squirrel who wisely decides to make acquaintance with tourists more amenable to breaking the posted rule.

OK, back to the trip. We passed a delightful night that evening until about 2AM when Gretchen decided that WOW she was sure AWAKE! and wanted to do anything but keep quiet and go back to sleep. We eventually went on a drive which at long last put her to sleep again, and we got some more sleep. It was nice to see the ocean under a full moon, very entrancing, particularly when one is yearning for sleep anyway.

So this morning we got off and passed inland towards Paso Robles, Bakersfield, and Barstow. Paso Robles is a nice area dominated by vineyards, and we noted a large quantity of "report drunk driving!" signs which became a bit funnier when interspersed with the dozens/hundreds of "Wine Tasting Next Right!" signs put out by the vineyards.

Bakersfield is a nice enough town, it's a decent size and seems to have lots of the accoutrements of a medium-sized city, such as a Trader Joe's, which we gave our patronage, but try as it might to be cosmopolitan, the air smells of cattle manure. Not an altogether bad thing, it is likely better smelling than vast swathes of New York or Paris. At least there is the sense of old-fashioned farming and ranching there.

Tehachapi was cute, particularly the huge hills of the Tehachapi Wind Farm and the hundreds of windmills, precious few of which were turning. I wonder what it cost the Californian taxpayer to put in. I wonder how much each year the bill is for maintenance. I like to amuse myself with the thought that when proposing the initiative, none of the dingbat lawmakers responsible bothered to consider much in regards to ongoing maintenance costs, but I could be wrong.

Finally, we passed Barstow and went on a dozen miles to Calico, a ghost town/theme park I remember from many years ago. We didn't actually spend a lot of time there. Strangely there were mostly foreigners there, like at the Grand Canyon. Whole busses full of Japanese, and a number of German and French visitors were audible. It's a quaint sort of thing because you pay for admission, and then most everything inside is a shop where you can buy things. If you can work out paid admission to a shopping mall and get busloads of foreign folks eager to deplete travellers checks in your retail stores you've got on to a good thing.

The famous CALICO written in the hillside:

Walking up to the rock shop to buy a piece of amethyst:

Very interesting rock formations, layers of sedimentary rock obviously contorted and squeezed:


The Angry Coder said...

Did you try Lil's Beer Garden?

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Very nearly, but for $2.75 a hot dog we opted for another trip to El Pollo Loco.