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Archive for December, 2009

End Post for 2009

I’ll be leaving again for another 2 weeks – some in Mexico. This will be the last post for 2009. I’ll close with a few odds and ends from my trip.

We came across these oddities on a walk in Ojai.|

Guess a metal-smith lives here.

We came upon this beauty in Santa Paula.

It’s a beautiful world we live in. Pax vobiscum and pax in terra! Have a great holiday and new year.

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Teardrop Trailer

My sister has her van. My brother Tom’s building a “Teardrop” trailer. Guess we have the vagabond blood in us.

Teardrop trailers are very small camping trailers. Most are homemade, apparently some can be bought ready-made. My brother is building his from scratch.

The back hatch will flip open to expose an outdoor kitchen counter with stove and refrigeration. Tom’s looking into a solar charging system. The plan is to be able to grind coffee and blend margaritas!

Here Tom and his wife Vickie bend the door flashing on the kitchen island.

As any seamstress can tell you, when you bend a straight object … it buckles. With metal you just pound out the wrinkles. Amazingly, the buckles just get absorbed.

Here’s the fruit of their labor waiting to be trimmed, glued and screwed in place.

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A Little Piece of Eden

The Ventura-Oxnard alluvial fan is a rich agricultural Eden! Those green patches are largely agricultural — sadly, being greedily encroached upon by housing.

Besides citrus orchards, there are sprawling acres of strawberries, artichokes an celery — to name a few. They all seem to be in perpetual harvest and renewal. We drove out among the fields for a walk. There are miles of very flat off-highway roads and paths ideal for walking or biking.

Those distant mountains have snow on them! It’s a rarity in a place where my brothers complain, “What? Another sunny day!”

Back at my brother Art’s place we “rode the dogs” for long rides through the lush semi-tropical neighborhoods.

Then we were on to my other brother, Tom’s place just outside of Ojai. Our first excursion was a quick drive up to Rose Valley to see the snow first hand.

This was another wet portion of the trip — at least by Califoria standards. This open storm channel was flowing at a brisk clip.

This is where Krishamurti ‘retired’ — and you can see why. Ojai is a lush valley nestled in a bowl of mountains. It it home to orchards of avocado, pomegranate, apricot and a vast array of citrus — whose perpetual blooms scent the balmy evening air. (Can you tell I love this place?)

Here the clouds lift out of the Los Padres National Forest above an orange tree orchard.

Another view…

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Reagan Library

My brother Art has a rental property in Simi Valley. You can’t drive there without seeing the Reagan Presidential Library up on the hill. We decided to pay it a visit.

Here’s Art at the entrance. I must avow that President Reagan was not a favorite of mine. I deplored his cavalier disregard for the environment and a host of other policy and tactical decisions throughout (and prior to) his presidency. I was a resident of California when he, as governor, closed all the “half-way houses” for the mentally ill. But I digress.

I only mention this to explain that I couldn’t bring myself to spend the $12 entry fee. Instead I walked the grounds and took in the sights while my brother and sister took the tour and saw Airforce One.

It is an undeniably graceful and majestic enterprise situated atop a mountain with vast vistas of classic California terrain. The flags alone were stately — on their towering parallel poles.

I kept trying to capture their grace.

At first, I couldn’t figure out when this garish slab was doing here. Then it dawned on me that it was one giant momento of the Berlin Wall.

Mr. Reagan is buried here. His mausoleum was indeed very beautiful.

I couldn’t help but find these pillars rather missile-like. Here the back courtyard is lit up by the setting sun.

The large windows made for awesome reflections.

I caught myself reflected along one wall.

It was hard to photograph the setting sun due to the glare. I stood behind a bush to block out the brightest light and caught these images.

With a camera in hand, there’s never a dull moment!

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Lompoc … who knew?

After a rainy night and drenching wet morning in Pismo Beach we headed for Lompoc. A colleague of my sister grew up there and Nancy promised to photograph their old home.

We performed our errand and then wound through town searching for Hwy 246 to Solvang and eventually Hwy 154 via the San Marcos Pass to Santa Barbara. In so doing, we happened upon a colorful alley and decided to stop to walk the dog.

The more we looked the more we discovered that this town is a hot bed of murals!

Some historic …

Some principaled …

And all top rate — complete with artists’ names.

And these are only a few of the dozens we saw. I don’t know who lives here or how this got started. I’m told it’s a very windy place to live — out on the “elbow” of California. What a cheery surprise to this otherwise soggy day.

The other discovery was the Stone Pine – or Umbrella Pine – with awesome Van Gogh bark. True to their name they form a graceful broad canopy.

From here we sped on to Solvang – “the Danish capital in America”. The usually bustling streets of this Disney-esque tourist town were vacant in the driving rain. Nancy and I strolled through one high-end trinket shop and then dined on tea and ‘danishes’ before heading on to our destination in Camarillo, CA.

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On the Road

The first leg of our sojourn together was from the Oakland airport to Scotts Valley with lunch in Los Gatos on Friday, Dec. 4.

We visited relatives in Santa Cruz and had a wonderful time. We got a kick out of this roadside sign in the nearby town of Soquel.

Soquel also sports my favorite coffee house, “The Ugly Mug” where I checked my email. We managed to hit the road by noon on Sunday, Dec. 6.

Hwy 101 goes through the Salinas Valley and then drops down the Questa Grade into San Luis Obispo and meets the coast at Pismo Beach.

We listened to a book-on-tape of “My Life in France” about Julia Child. My sister Nancy ordered it from the library before we left. At 10 CD’s in length, it was good for a lot of miles. Her dog Mr. Lincoln was curled up between us in the laundry basket / doggie bed. Life was good!

Hwy 101 runs through the Salinas valley, bordered on either side by mountains. The valley is flat farmland or grazing foothills. Every curve of the road is etched in my psyche — from over 20 years of driving it to Ojai about twice a year!

Here a vineyard rolls away into the hills.

The overcast skies muted the effect, but near the town of San Miguel the “rolling golden hills” are at their prime. They possess a velvet voluptuousness that reminds me of  simmering custard — or a sleeper under covers.

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The Van

I spent the last 10 days on a road trip / family visit in California. My sister, Nancy, converted a Chevy 350  “high-boy” cargo van into a travel van. I’ll catch up on our travels in subsequent posts, but wanted to show off our lodgings.

Nancy’s not a cook, so all she wanted was a place to sleep for herself, her dog and a friend. She refurbished the van herself — putting in a vinyl floor and building the bed frames. There’s ample storage for clothes, dog food, biking gear, books, etc.

That’s my bunk along the back door of the van (with curtains in closed position). The porta-potty is in the lower left corner — a marvelously odorless and effective device. Plastic suction-caddies store bedside books, glasses, etc.

Nancy’s bunk runs the length of the cabin. Two pull-out drawer units are just barely visible underneath. The wires are for the electric blankets (which I never used) — just in case. She also had a space heater, reading lamp and even HD TV (which we never watched). The parks provide electricity and cable hookup.

She loves her “naked men with mitts” poster!

RV parks are quiet, congenial, pet-friendly and affordable. The cost was typically $25/night — higher around big cities. That’s Nancy’s recumbent bike hanging off the bike rack (upside down).


Ever-efficient, my sister uses a “bathroom bucket” to schlep her toiletries to and from the van. The bathroom/shower facilities have all been clean, warm and very welcome!

I joined Nancy in Oakland. Our first stop together was the Carbonero Creek RV Park in Scott’s Valley. The staff made us feel very welcome. I walked to a Peet’s Coffee in the morning while Nancy slept in (as usual).

Our 2nd stay was in Pismo Beach at the Pismo Coast Village Resort. This was a terrific park. Each site had a fire ring (wood and kindling sold at park store) and the beach-side location was tops. However, it was driving rain during our visit.

Only the ducks were happy.

Our final destination was my brother Art’s place in Camarillo, CA. My sister and her dog slept in the van on their driveway. It was this sunny most of the visit. It has to be said that van-camping is a LOT more pleasant when it’s dry and warm!

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