Posts Tagged ‘Kern County’

Limos, lights- a Christmas visit to CALM (California Living Museum)


Here in Bakersfield, CA we have a place called CALM – California Living Museum.  Each year for the holidays, CALM is decorated with millions of lights.  Josh Barnett, whose company is Lightasmic, designs the show, which is a fundraiser for the museum.  Josh started doing lights as a teenager here in Bakersfield and now his company does displays all over the country.  It’s just stunning, and I hope everyone in Bakersfield has been at least once.

We’ve been going for many years, taking the grandkids.  Now the Bakersfield Seven are teenagers – all but one, but we still go.  This year I had a surprise in mind.

Yep, I rented a limo.

We tried to go in the limo and really enjoyed it for the first five minutes, until the limo broke down.  You know, those things happen, and we went ahead and took our cars.

We spent a little while just sitting in the limo, though, as we parked and waited near a cleaners.  This led to lots of joking about being on a stake-out looking for laundered money.

We got the limo from The Limousine Scene – I had it reserved, then it rained for three days and three nights, CALM was closed, I canceled the limo, and the rain stopped and CALM opened.  I tried to rebook and it was so last minute  – but these folks worked like crazy to get us a limo and driver.  It was a beautiful limo even if it broke down – that could happen to anyone anywhere.  Next time we hire a limo (like we do this all the time, right?) we will call Limousine Scene again.  I think they’re even making it good by giving us credit even though we didn’t have to pay.

So we got to CALM.

The dinosaurs were first, as well they should be.

I was sorry the Colorado Four weren’t here.  Jackson loves dinosaurs.  We’ve taken them before, but since Sam is brand new (almost two months old) the Colorado group didn’t come out for Christmas.  The T-rex was animated by the way.

Stegosaurus is my favorite dino, and then triceratops.  Why do I like those two?  I have no idea.

I am really truncating the exhibit – I have so many more photos than I’m showing but this ought to be enough to get folks out there before Jan. 31.  So into the Congo Safari…

Many of the exhibits are animated.  For example, this monkey climbs the tree and drops the coconut.

It really is a wonderland out there.

This was the most important place. Ali was bathed in purple light but we’re not calling her Purple Ali. (I never did figure out why Kelly on Survivor was called Purple Kelly.)

Jen took the obligatory group photo.

At least Jen made it into a picture, here with Sarah.  Martians.  Actually, I was happy with the photos since I didn’t take my tripod.

Xavier wanted his photo with the penguin.

So that’s our CALM journey.  Bako folks, get yourself out there before it closes.

Go Take a Hike


Has anyone ever told you to go take a hike?  I told myself to do that very thing yesterday.  About 1:00 in the afternoon I decided to find a trail my friend Chris McKee told me about. Just a short distance from the cabin.  I loaded my pockets with important things like my lipstick, my small camera, water, phone, car keys, and set out.

I was a good girl.  I let my husband know where I was going since I would be alone.

The trail of the bear?  That got me wishing I could see a bear but knowing I wouldn’t.  But I did want to and thought how I would jangle my keys and make lots of noise if I did see one.  No dice, though.

So I set out – I was walking too fast.  I kept telling myself to slow down, I wasn’t in a race, I should look around.  So I took many short breaks to look around me.  In “My Photo Tips” on the tabs above, which don’t seem to be working quite right – but I talk about that – always take a look behind, to the sides, etc.  I took my advice.

Here I am, on the trail and happy, wearing that damn shirt I bought at WalMart about 7 years ago for under $5 I think.  It won’t wear out!

Here’s the trail.

Elevation started about 6,000 feet and went up to over 7,000.

First I saw a bunch of pine cones.  All kinds – they should have been labeled.  Close up, a pine cone could be many things.

This could be little hillocks with just a trace of snow.  Or something.  I started wondering about Fibonacci’s sequence in nature and couldn’t believe math had entered my mind, or anything to do with it.  Anyway, I think pine cones follow Fibonacci’s  Golden Ratio.

Now this was cool.  What a great shape; such a graceful tree.

About now my knee was hurting a little.  Oops – forgot the Aleve.  I have chondromalacia patella in my right knee, whatever that is.  It’s an ailment common to runners; however, I never run.  I am overweight – but I get a runner’s problem instead of a weight problem.  Go figure.  Anyhow, I adjusted my gait a little and went on.

Look!  It’s a rock. A rock for the ages. (Slap myself.)  It does have an interesting pattern though, which I could tell you about if I was remotely interested in geology.

I have to digress here – when I was teaching fifth grade, I was almost the only teacher in the school who did science.  I found a tape in the library called Igneous Rocks – yes, a title to excite anyone – but it went with our unit so I showed it.  Who would have known that volcanoes fall into the igneous rock category!  It was the most popular tape I showed all year.  And yes, I do mean tapes.  Schools are always eons behind in technology.  I had to buy my own DVD player.

How about this pine cone?  It landed upright, apparently, when it fell, because I’m pretty sure it didn’t come from that little tree.

About now I was getting hot.  I’d only brought one bottle of water because I didn’t expect it to get hot.  I was rationing.  There was no trail map so I didn’t know how long this was going to be.  I’d picked up a pamphlet at the trail head and it had numbers where you could stop at markers and read about how it would have looked from the point of view of the Tubatulabal Indians who were native to the Southern Sierra Nevada.  However, I put the pamphlet in a crevice where I thought the next person might see and use it.  Why?  I never saw a sign post with a number, and the trail map said “not to scale.”

I saw a butterfly.  I saw a marker. Sign post #12.  Where were the first 11?  Now I wished I had the not-to-scale map so I could find out how many signs there were.

It was a beautiful day.  But I felt a little shivery.  Uh-oh.  It wasn’t all that hot, but I’ve had heat exhaustion three times previously and I know the signs.  I wasn’t going to take any chances. I turned around and went back the way I came.  I was probably almost at the  mid-point anyhow, but I couldn’t risk finding out.

Going back the same way had its advantages, however.  I saw these flowers – I think perhaps they are called Snow flowers although they don’t match google images exactly.  Anyone know for sure?

Here’s a close-up.

When I got back to the cabin (about a 2-minute drive), I looked online for the Unal Trail and found it was 3.6 miles.  I’m sure I went almost two of those 3.6.  I’ll go back another time.  I’m sure I’ll tell myself to take a hike again.

Weedpatch Camp and Sunset School: Right Here in Kern County


I have a few more pictures from my wildflower jaunts earlier this week, but first I want to show a couple from the Lamont-Arvin area.  There are many Okies in Kern County – and it’s a term we use affectionately.  During the 1930s, right on the heels of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl occurred. During the dust bowl, people from the affected areas of the Great Plains streamed into California and Kern County.  There were rumors of jobs in the fields, yet folks weren’t much better off once they got here than they had been at home.  For a quick history of the dust bowl, click on the link above – it’s the Wikipedia article and it’s pretty good.  Do click on the link if only to look at the photos if you’ve never seen a dust storm.  Unbelievable.  AND read the bottom of the article about the influence on the arts of the great Dust Bowl migration, where there is a mention of the Bakersfield Sound!  Yes indeedy, here in Bakersfield we have a brand of music all to our own and it’s known worldwide.

The Weedpatch Camp right here in Kern County was a bright spot for those lucky enough to secure a tent spot.  A few of the buildings have been preserved and restored and are now on the National Register of Historic Places.

I drove by and took a few photos the other day.  John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath featured Weedpatch Camp, which has also been known as the Arvin Labor Camp and Sunset Camp. The buildings in the picture are the library and the post office, and the movie Grapes of Wrath was filmed right here.

These buildings formed the community center where dances and other activities were held.  Tom Collins was head of the camp and a better administrator couldn’t have been found.  He had compassion for the migrants in their terrible situation.  He also was helpful to John Steinbeck.  This article has a great review of their roles.  I was lucky enough to read Collin’s original journal of the Weedpatch Camp and I wish I could remember more details.  He is a man whose name should be widely known.

I went through Weedpatch the other day – remember?

The migrant children suffered terrible discrimination so the Kern Superintendent of Schools, Leo B. Hart, said that if no one would accept them in their schools, he’d build them a school, and he did – known then as The School at Weedpatch Camp and now as Sunset School.  You can read the whole story in Children of the Dust Bowl – it’s a young person’s book so a quick read but a great history.

When we moved to Kern County in 1979, I was astounded to learn that this historic site was right here in my new backyard.  I’ll bet that most residents of Kern County don’t know we have this significant historical landmark.  It thrilled me then and it still does.  It’s quite a story.

Kern County residents (and others) can find a wealth of information at the Lamont Library and from local Dust Bowl historian Doris Weddell.  Contact information is on this page.  Also, there is an annual Dust Bowl Festival in Lamont every year.  Info on that can be found also at that link.

Wildflowers: A Story of Spring and Renewal


Yesterday I talked about Kern County oil and agriculture as the base of our economy.  Today, wildflowers will tell a story of Spring.  Spring, in turn, tells a story of renewal, rebirth, and hope.  We all feel it.  As Spring approaches, the days get nicer, the trees and bushes start to hint of new green, but the first day that feels like Spring is different.  The air is balmy, we want to go outside, life is relaxed all of a sudden, and of course it stays light longer.

We’ve had such abundant rainfall here in Kern County so it’s a good year for wildflowers, one of the most exciting signs of spring.  Yesterday I took some wildflower photos on Highway 223, but today I drove up to Rancheria Road, one of my favorites.  Yesterday I tempted you with poppies.  Here’s another.

It was perfect lighting.  The trouble with nature is it doesn’t do what we want when we want.  Today, for example, it was hazy – not perfect conditions for wildflower photography.  But yesterday…

California Poppies are exciting.  When entire hillsides are covered and the sun is out, the landscape is ablaze.  Intense and fiery.

I’m not sure what these little flowers are, but they are always alone.

Today I set out again, this time to Rancheria Road.  This road goes from Highway 178 up to Highway 155 and comes out right near our cabin in Alta Sierra.  It’s still closed on our end though due to snow, so I couldn’t go all the way through.  And although there were flowers everywhere, it was so hazy.  C’est la vie.

So, yup, it’s me, trying to take a self-portrait that also has flowers in it.  It’s kind of weird, but then again so am I at times.

This little guy was so delicate and pretty.  Names? I really don’t know too many of the wildflower names, and whereas at one time I would have looked them all up and tried to remember, now I just enjoy them.  I have enough other stuff to remember.

Here’s my trusty Ford Escape Hybrid.  I love this car – the Awy Team (away team).  It’s a Star Trek license plate.  Did you see the college decal in the photo in yesterday’s post?

Looking closely, all kinds of little flowers show up.  Spring is a story of diversity.

They all mix together.  Spring is not only a story of diversity, it’s a story of inclusion.  Think how much calmer we would all be in this life if we could just open our arms and embrace inclusion.

Bringing a tripod would have made it a lot easier to include myself in photos, but this was a story of adventure.  And a story of “How Fast can Susan Move?”  Fast enough, as you can see next.

Haha – I didn’t even know when the camera went off but I made it.  Isn’t the landscape gorgeous? The rolling hills?  That’s the road down there.

Beautiful.  New growth, new color, and the seeds for next year’s growth.  Spring is indeed a story of renewal.

One more for today.  Tomorrow I should pack, but I have a feeling I’ll be heading up Hwy 155 to see what’s blooming up there.  I should visit my parents first, then I already know I’ll head for the hills.  Why fool myself?  Spring is a story of rebirth, renewal, diversity, inclusion, and adventure.  I have to get my adventures as they present themselves.

Who knows where the road will take me?  As I always say, if you come to a fork in the road, take it.

By the way, on my web page in the Floral Gallery, there are lots of photos of last year’s wildflowers on Rancheria Road.  Take a look – they are stunning.

Kern County: A Photo Jouney through Oil and Agriculture (and Wildflowers)


Kern County is oil.  Kern County is agriculture.  Today I set out on a little drive to check out the wildflowers, but it turned into a story of oil and ag also.  This is me.  Ready, set, go.

When I say our economy here is based on oil and agriculture, I mean it.  Sometimes they are inseperable.

See what I mean? They share the same fields!  Kern County is technically a desert, but that drainage ditch shows a precious ingredient, water.  As they say, food grows where water flows.  And the San Joaquin Valley, where Kern County is located, California’s Central Valley, is known as the breadbasket of the world.

Next time you buy carrots, look at the package.  They will almost certainly be from Grimmway Farms or Bolthouse Farms – the biggest carrot growers in the world.  The drive I took today took me through the little towns of Arvin, Lamont, and Weedpatch, where Grimmway Farms is.

Yes, we have a town called Weedpatch.

When the first shuttle landing was taking place at Edwards Air Force Base – also in Kern County – I remember that the news organizations were all over the place.  There were actually correspondents stationed in Weedpatch waiting to hear the sonic boom.  Don’t you love it? “Reporting from Weedpatch, California…”

So I set out, taking a meandering path, going where the road took me.

I went past some orange groves.  This tree has oranges on it.  We see these every day; we even have an orange tree in our backyard.  Most of us have lemons too.  But when I was in Palm Springs for the Adam Lambert concert, I went to lunch with a group of Glamberts, and we passed orange, grapefruit and lemon trees.  You would have thought we’d seen the space ship Enterprise or something, everyone was so excited.  And I remembered that in most of the country, people don’t have orange trees, that to some people these are exotic.  All what you’re used to.  Anyhow, this was a scraggly orange tree.  Needed trimming.  And the trimmer was in action.

The machine in the middle of the rows has rotary blades that can cut the tops and sides of the trees.  There’s no sense letting the trees get so big that oranges can’t be picked.

Gotta say, I was pretty excited to see this.  I was standing at the front of the row with my camera, and didn’t realize how fast this thing was coming – so I had to scramble and jump in the car and move it just in  case this contraption had a wide turning radius.  Needn’t have worried.

This brings me back to oil, water and ag.

Cool picture, huh?  You can see it all, including a faint tinge of orange in the distant hills.  From here I got back on Highway 58 only to exit on General Beale Road just in case there was something to see.  And there was.  A whole truck of beehives was being unloaded with a forklift.  The driver was in full bee-keeping regalia.

I bought a book on beekeeping once.  I was going to be a bee keeper during the late 60s – you know, when we made our own granola, baked all our bread, and went to gather dandelions for dandelion wine.  Except if you’ve ever tried that, you know it’s physically impossible to collect enough dandelions for wine.

Here’s a picture showing the full scene where the bees are.

Kern County is BIG.  We’re the third-largest county in California, area-wise.

Here’s a close up of a bee hive I took last year.  The hives are being distributed, by the way, because the bees pollinate the crops.

As I was getting back on the freeway, I saw a stop sign where obviously someone hadn’t stopped.

I started out in pursuit of wildflowers, which I did find, but I found so much on the way to wildflowers, that I’m saving them for tomorrow.  So I tootled on up to Highway 223 and passed this cattle shute.  Cattle is also a big Kern County crop.

What’s cool about this is that last time I was out here, maybe 10 years ago? I took a photo of this but it was a misty day and it had a ghostly appearance to it.  I entered that photo in the Kern County Museum of Art annual Visual Arts Fest and won the first prize!  I wanted to jump right in here and take the same angle but now there are signs posted about security cameras.  Phooey.  In compensation, though, there was a really cool fence.

Onward!  Highway 223 winds up a hill and back down again, which reminds me of a song I sang endlessly as a child.  Mom says that for a long time, every morning when she and Dad got up, I was in my room with my wind-up phonograph, singing to a record: “The King of France with 40,000 men,  marched up the hill and then marched down again.” Powerful lyrics, huh.  I loved that song.

The point being, from that hill we have a nice view of the agriculture down in the valley.

Tempting you for tomorrow with view of wildflowers.  Here’s some more temptation.

While I was up there I took a nifty rear-view mirror photo so you can see my college decal on the back window.

I was now down in the valley, the valley so low.  And hungry so I went by McDonalds in Arvin, where a kid’s meal cheeseburger tastes the same as it does in New York, and found an orchard not yet in bloom to eat in.  Actually, the trees may be dead.  I don’t know.  But on my web site, there are photos of other types of Kern County orchards in bloom – almonds and wow, something I don’t know but the blossoms are pink.  The first three are almonds, then more almonds at G4-99, and at G4-117 you get the pink blossoms.  Conveniently numbered in case you want to buy some, uh huh.

Across the street was evidence of another huge Kern County crop – grapes.  The vines are still dormant but I love them like this – they make me think of a city with an electric grid.

I headed on home, but stopped for a huge bag of oranges at a roadside stand between Lamont and Weedpatch – only $3.00.

So that’s just a short tour of one teensy bit of Kern County.  And to tempt you, here’s a little of what tomorrow’s post will look like.

This was a great day – my favorite kind.  Just driving around and seeing what’s out there.

#CED2010: Home is Where the Art Is


Thinking about home.  Thinking about art.  Realizing that for so many of us, home is where the art is.  Yesterday I wrote about chasing the cobwebs out of my mind by getting the space around me in order.  I spent lots of time ordering the studio and I posted pix of that yesterday.  Whollyjeanne made an interesting observation about that post – she says she has a notion that physical space is often a reflection of inner space.  I’ve never thought in those terms exactly, but it makes sense of course  – because if we are lucky, we arrange our physical space to be that in which we are comfortable observing and existing.  It goes even farther than that however, because I think our physical space can be a reflection of what we would like our inner space to be – or perhaps how we would like our outer life to reflect our inner space.

Our house has always been full of art – my dad’s art (he’s actually a famous artist), my mom’s art (quilting), and then whatever we could afford.  Which wasn’t a whole heck of a lot.  But honestly, our walls have no blank space – art is everywhere.  Yet there was none of my art because I wasn’t making any.  I was generating an income however I could for years, then teaching seventh-grade, and when I was 60, I retired. (Thank goodness my husband is still working because becoming an artist is expensive.).

That’s when my inner space synced with my physical space.  The art was always in me I guess.  Photography always, for sure.  But all of a sudden my inner space started erupting with creativity and I started creating collages from my photos.  The whole art thing is so exciting that I ran off in all directions at once, but recently realized I have to pull in and create using my photos, which is where I am strongest and where my “artistic” roots are.

So, yes, home is where the art is.  Here are two of the latest things I’ve done.  When I was snowed in at the cabin I finished these, but with the sadness of the last week I haven’t had time to post them yet.  At least I’m pretty sure I haven’t since I came home to all that turmoil during which photoshop decided to quit, etc.  In fact, these are not the best scans of these canvases because I have been having scanner problems, photoshop problems, computer problems, phone problems (not that that has anything to do with art), missing tripod-part problems – in other words, it’s been a messy week.

I posted a small study I did in my art journal but I knew it wouldn’t be the final form, and indeed it wasn’t – this is.  Most people don’t like this.  I do.  I forgot to put a second coat on the background (acrylic) so I rubbed pastel all over it and then put omni-gel over it all.  I took the photo of the cans in a little country store, the Twin Oaks General Store, in Twin Oaks – a very small community on Caliente Creek Road in Kern County.  Had never seen Popeye spinach and it just captured my fancy.  The orange circle, the bowl of peas, and Plenti Grand are from vintage fruit and vegetable crate labels.

The background photo for this collage is a stop along Interstate I70 – and the giraffe I actually took eons ago at the Santa Barbara Zoo.  I found this photo during the infernal and still unfinished photo-organizing project.  So I thought I’d move the giraffe to an unfamiliar location – his inner space and physical space are no doubt suffering a  disconnect.  Perhaps he’s longing for the familiar.  Then I added some art paper embellishments but I don’t like the way the pink meets, or maybe I do, so I’ll either fix it or I won’t.  How’s that for decisiveness?

So that’s it for Home is Where the Art Is – and I made a completely ungrammatical decision to capitalize the last I!  This construct of Creative Every Day and monthly themes is proving most productive – nice to give a direction for thoughts to roam.