’21 May-Jun: Memorial Day Road Trip

LA-Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo-Morro Bay-Pinnacles National Park-3 nights at The Ranch-San Francisco-Sacramento-3 nights at Lake Tahoe-June Lake, Mammoth, Manzanar, Home Sweet Home.

Santa Barbara

I started this trip with a swing by the car place to get everything double-checked and to get a couple new tires. Then it worked out that I could see Nancy and Jim in Santa Barbara for a little while. I could have enjoyed just sitting in the garden admiring the birds. But we also went for a walk, so good for us!

Heading to San Luis Obispo over the Chumash Highway, I pulled off to stand for a few minutes amid these amazing trees and the wonderful smells of California Live Oak.

San Luis Obispo

Strolling through downtown SLO I came across a tourist highlight, Bubblegum Alley. Wiki says this use of the alley was recognized either after WWII or in the 1950s but at least by the 1970s it was a well-established Happening Thing.


I was hoping to get into the Mission in SLO since I can’t remember ever having been in before but today was not to be the day. They are still doing mass out here in the garden. Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was founded by Spanish Franciscan Father Junipero Serra in 1772, fifth of what was to become 21 missions on the El Camino Real, running along the California coast from San Diego to San Francisco. A little perversely maybe considering my feelings about religion…I seek out these missions just like when traveling I always want to find the cathedrals. Long story I suppose, but I Think I do know why. I’m going to make a list!

They’ve got a pretty big college here, the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, established in 1901, a golden oldie with 22,000 students enrolled. SLO, with a city population of around 50,000, does the 50k include the 22k? I don’t know, but in either case the population skews very young. This is evident by the downtown commercial properties being predominantly bars, restaurants, and clothes for college-age souls.

There was a month-long Let’s Have Flowers event which was fun.
There’s a creek down there and it creates a lovely place to walk and find some shade in the summer.
The creek runs down there too, between the bushes and the stone wall, you can’t see it, and the mission is there behind the plaza. I sat out here and enjoyed my book and a glass of surprisingly good College Bar wine.
The setting here in SLO is really quite pretty so if you’re ever rolling along the 101 you might consider a stop. And the Madonna Inn is just down the road…

Morro Bay

What a delightful day with Becky and Jack at their beach house in Morro Bay!


The weather was perfect, cool, bright, fresh, perfect. We had a yummy lunch…
…in this harbor where we enjoyed a beautiful stroll on the boardwalk through a bird sanctuary and you know how much I appreciate a boardwalk.
And from everywhere, views of The Rock.
We took a short walk down to a protected rookery. Notice all the nests…
And we had to swing by the big entertainment of the past week – The Dredge. This guy comes by once a year to dredge out the harbors and then build the protective banks. (There is a vocabulary word that is escaping me right now. Yikes!)
It was from here that we walked over to The Dredge and then on to The Rock to watch the otters. I’m not sure if the walking trail goes all the way around but it looked intriguing as do many other walking trails in the area.
Thanks guys, it was great and congratulations on your awesome home. Jack, Becky, me, on the balcony at Casa Brand.

Pinnacles National Park

First I’m going to make a map. I ‘think’ I’ll have time for that before it’s time to EAT AGAIN. omg The Food here at The Ranch.

An overview of where Pinnacles is:

And a closer view to appreciate the long and winding roads.

Notice how the two sides of the park, the East and the West Entrances do not join. Just one of the reasons I’ve never been to the West Entrance, the whole point of this little sojourn. Google offered me a nice short alternate route to get from the West side to the East. What Was Google Thinking?!

I traveled 14 miles on a rutted dirt road with crazy-sharp switchbacks up and down through the mountain. What?! YES! I wanted to drive on roads unknown to me but maybe not quite that unknown.

Leaving King City at 6:30am heading into the West Entrance where I have never been. I filled the tank with gas in King City so as to be sure not to repeat a previous episode when I got lost going to the ranch and arrived on fumes. Fortunately Jerry keeps a gas station on the property but I hope, if at all possible, to never repeat that embarrassment. Here I am turning onto Highway 126 from the 101.
Along the way I passed many fields…
And vineyards. It was a lovely ride.
The main activity at Pinnacles National Park, from both sides, is hiking which usually involves some scrambling and climbing, and also repelling is popular. I asked a couple of guys at the parking lot who were loading up their gear, how long would it take to get to where they were going. Oh about 45 minutes of hard slog. Not surprisingly, not for me!
I did stroll along a little for this view, just my speed. I was concerned by the huge blinking sign at the entrance declaring one might expect a 1-2 hour delay due to the one-lane road ahead. I was there so early I had no problem but people kept arriving and I thought I might as well head out.
Check this, a cloud lake! I am about to hit the dirt road. I’ve asked google a hundred ways and I can’t find anything to tell about that dirt road and I was too absorbed in No Falling that I didn’t take any pictures. Oh well, I’ll not be on that road ever again anyway.
Into the more developed East Entrance I chose this place to consider a stroll. The mileage markers are the distance to the trail head. Not one of the hikes was ‘easy’, ‘moderate’ was the least challenging and knowing what the Park Service considers moderate “appropriate for children” I just went a short way in and turned around when a family with three wailing children passed me on their way down.
The distance I did travel was lovely. I had been on one of these trails before, leading to the dam and a cave. I remember, it was beautiful.
One of my goals was to find a quiet comfortable shaded spot to settle down and listen to the surrounding landscape, but it was not to be. There were people, and rocks really are not that comfortable.
Views aplenty though.

Here’s a little wikipedia about the Park and why you might not have heard of it:

The national park is divided by the rock formations into East and West Divisions, connected only by foot trails. The east side has shade and water, the west has high walls. The rock formations provide for spectacular pinnacles that attract rock climbers. The park features unusual talus caves that house at least 13 species of bats. Pinnacles is most often visited in spring or fall because of the intense heat during the summer. Park lands are prime habitat for prairie falcons, and are a release site for California Condors that have been hatched in captivity.

Pinnacles was originally established as a national monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt, and was re-designated as a national park by Congressional legislation in 2012 that was then signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 10, 2013.

The Ranch Memorial Weekend

Above, part of the olive tree lined driveway into the ranch, and below, the entry gate.

For the welcome first night’s Friday dinner we always have Shabbot with candles and prayers, songs, and challah with wine. Tradition! Bill and Rita always bring duck from Chinatown and make a vegetable stir fry. We always have salmon, this time prepared by Nana in Japanese style with another vegetable dish and rice. Sandy made poppy seed cake with whipped cream and fruit.
EAT is right. Oh my goodness. The food is so tasty and so very much of it and proffered so very often mostly by Barbara and Jerry but everyone has something to offer. The cooking and clean-up, no surprise here, is held up primarily by the women in attendance.
This is the other main eating venue. Lunch is always out here, and also the traditional BBQ FEAST on Sunday night. There’s a large and fully stocked kitchen there to the left and the BBQ area is down the path past the fence.
Samara, Sandy, Lewis, Lynn in the Dining Hall.
Bob, Bill, Dennis, Carl at the Pool House.

This was an unexpected and delightful addition to the program. Ian and Nana and their fabulous baby who I enjoyed Every Day came in from their home in Japan. Here is Nana making us all Japanese tea with a delicious selection of snacks she brought from Japan, and cookies she had made the night before, all served up in the new family dining room. You go!

Jerry’s Garden…GROW!
Naomi and Rita. So many sporty activities for the guests to enjoy. Tennis, basketball, ping pong, swimming, hiking, yoga, what else? added to a barn full of indoor games such as skee ball, foosball, pool, and more.

And then there’s the spa! Lynn, Naomi, Marijke.

Everyone takes The Walk at least once per day, a one mile stroll (or power walk or run…) around the olive groves with much to be seen and enjoyed along the way.
I was so excited to see these cherry trees thinking Hanami might be in my future but Jerry fears they’re not going to make it. Fingers crossed for someday a canopy of cherry blossoms.
This is here as an example. Everywhere Barbara goes she comes home with trunks full of amazing things, things that one finds in every room of the property.
Lots of cars this year.

And below, Inside and Outside my front door.

Here and below, some pictures from around:
Ben and Bonnie enjoying these amazing better-than-a-hammock things. We took a picture of the label but I don’t think it will be too much help since it only gives an address in China.

Here’s me taking a turn. So even if we could find them to buy we couldn’t buy this view!

And below, I’m closing with the group shot from Saturday’s Entertainment Night. I hope to get a few pictures from the others of the bits I missed (Bonnie…).
Bill, Jerry, me, the baby (get the spelling!), Nana, Lewis, Barbara, David, Naomi, Lynn, Carl; Ian Dennis, Samara, Rita, Ben, Bob, Marijke, Bonnie. Missing: Sandy, Dusty and his two boys.

San Francisco

My swing through San Francisco was actually a few hours visiting with Roger and Sandy and I was so glad for it. I hope I didn’t do them in…both remarking upon their need for a nap!

The above picture is of Sandy’s recent work from a class, building art inside a small box. Of course Sandy being Sandy, she searched through antique stores to get just the perfect boxes. Below is a picture of a part of two of the many walls covered in her art.

Roger has been doing Uber Eats for some work these days and he doesn’t seem to mind terribly – he likes making people happy when he brings them what they want. He enjoyed it very much when his phone binged indicating a tip had come through, and he brought delicious treats from a nearby bakery, and he made us a chicken salad. Thank you Roger!

Sandy gave me one of her paintings! She had done the painting years before and recently added the frame. I LOVE it! It’s Nancy on the left, me in the middle, and Sandy herself on the right. Isn’t it fabulous!


We went for a short walk around the ‘hood, this is inside the community garden. We think that’s some mutant Swiss chard, Roger and Sandy for scale.
This picture is one in a series of recent collages on the theme of New York New York (it’s a helluva town). I’m still planning to go there soon…

I want to add one of Sandy’s poems. She used it as a contribution to Roger’s Voices of Humanity discussions and it was a big hit. You can click on over and join in too.

Looking for My Nitty Gritty

Still with the wounds that come with age
(and I’ve had my share)

Years of discovery and recoveries
Of digging and pealing at the truth
To get to the core, the heart,
My own Nitty Gritty

Years with my hands in the dirt
Scuffing and chipping my
Nails to behold the tuber
That started it all

I haven’t seen her for a while
My Nitty Gritty

I wonder, is she near, is she close?
Is she in something I do
Or make?

In a painting, a collage, a drawing
Of a wavy headed girl,
In a poem I am writing?

In something I wear
That takes flight?
Like my Mexican twirl skirt,
A patchwork of colors, bold and muted
With ancient Aztec and modern designs?

Is she in the kitchen, in the fruit
That I sliced and put in a
Bowl to eat now or later
With crumbly cheese?
In the apples
Simmering in a pot with cinnamon
And cardamom?

Is she outside
Wrapped in a tea towel
And left by the door?

What could be easier?
I’m always here
Opening and closing cupboards and doors,
Sweeping and fixing,
Hammering nails
Watering and wiping
Metal and glass

Back in the kitchen I sift flour with baking
Soda and salt
Whisk butter and sugar,
Eggs and vanilla,
Folding the wet with the dry
Kneading the dough

Still wondering –
Is she hiding under the sink?
Among old plant containers and worn out
Sponges, jars with lethal
Smelling Substances
Things you don’t want to touch
Or get into your eyes
With left over dirt
Like the stoic cat in a Repetitive dream
That hasn’t been fed or Brushed in years
But continues to live in spite of neglect

Am I the cat?
Am I the Nitty Gritty?
Am I the tuber?
Am I my thoughts? And wonderings?

Tired and spent
I rest to still my mind
Awakening to the fragrance of baking dough
I smile, forgetting my Nitty Gritty

I walk outside and squat in the Garden
Giving the half eaten pear on the cutting board,
Its flesh turned brown,
A new home on the compost heap


Above is the view from my hotel window. I had to change rooms three times but it was worth it considering the two other views were commercial roofs full of air conditioning units.

Rolling into Sacramento at 5:30p the temperature was 110. The following day it was 97. Nice as Sacramento is, but yikes.


My hotel is positioned exactly where I wanted to be, right between Old Town and the Capitol. Coming onto the plaza, here’s the divider:

Following under the gate to Old Sacramento we pass through an underpass..

..leading right into Old Town.

I got up at 6a to have a nice stroll before it got too hot and bonus, it was so pleasantly quiet without people or cars.

I stopped in Sacramento for a chance to have a visit with Christa, to have a rest day on the trip, the timing between destinations was good, and I like Sacramento.

Me and Christa, then and now. Christa took me out for lunch – she’s got a real job and she wanted to pay! Thanks sweetie!!

Here is where Christa lives, her block, looking up the block and across the street. Sacramento, City of Trees.

Even the Capitol area is nestled among the trees:

Opposite the Capitol.