Fresno to Modesto in 9 Hours

Yes … nine hours from Fresno to Modesto. These two cities are only 104 miles apart – a 1 hr 36 min trip for normal people according to our GPS. Extending that 1.5 hours to 9 was accomplished by taking a side trip to Yosemite National Park on the way. It was just on the way and begging for us to visit. So, we did.

I suspect for most folks planning a day trip to Yosemite is kind of lame, but we’re old, don’t climb up the sheer face of cliffs, and do not hike on trails that scale incredible heights or hike extremely long distances. We just enjoy looking at stuff, not interacting with it. A hike for us is climbing upstairs from the basement.

I gotta tell you that we had the best time ever looking at stuff. We even walked a lot farther than planned and enjoyed every minute.

From Fresno we took California Highway 41 to the park which goes through a very long tunnel that ends with parking lots on either side so folks can park and check out the incredible first view of el Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Falls.

Driving further in gave us better views.

We stopped at the chapel and took a photo requested by our friend Carolann.

The view from the chapel’s front steps.

Not all of the surrounding forest on the way in and out of the park is pristine green. Recent forest fires came close to totally devastating the entire park, but by some miracle that didn’t happen.

That’s a nasty photo, and typical of a great deal of the forest. Still, there are plenty of beautiful sights to take your breath away.

Leaving the park we took Highway 120 to Modesto. It reminded us a great deal of Highway 1 along the California Coast. Very curly cue for many many miles. It was a long day, but a really good one.

Tomorrow night we plan to be in Grants Pass for the last stop on this trip.

Fresno ?

So, here we are in beautiful downtown Fresno, a city we’ve driven past dozens of times over the years but never stopped. I actually don’t know anyone who ever stopped here on purpose. This time, however, we have a motive. For us it’s the gateway to Yosemite National Park on our trip home from Palm Springs. Yes, we could have stretched our day a little further and driven closer to the park, but Fresno was our choice mainly to because of the difference in price for rooms as one gets closer to the park.

Getting here was about a 5 hour drive which is about the extreme limit of how far we like to travel on any given day. We could have gone further today, however, because Diane let me drive for almost a couple of hours. OK, I drove about 1.5 hours. Technically, that’s almost a couple of hours when you round up.

Tomorrow morning we’ll be driving a couple of hours in to the park for the day. Once we’ve seen what can be seen in 5 or 6 hours we’ll drive out to Modesto to spend tomorrow night.

I took a bunch of photos on the drive up, mostly of highway signs to document where we were, so they aren’t very scenic. Just lots of lanes of cement traffic lanes on Highway 99 and I-5 and many other lesser important tributaries of those magnificent roads. Since I took them, I’ll show a couple of them.

Just leaving the northern extreme of Palm Springs. Snow. Who knew?
Flowers blooming all over thanks to a wet winter & fall.
That brown smudge up ahead is LA air making its presence known as we passed Pasadena.

Regarding that last photo, it’s just more evidence that people who live in LA, and the surrounding area, don’t breath anything they can’t see. Once we got over the first hill the air cleared right up.

Makes Fresno look fantastic!

Happy Easter

Today we went to Easter service at Our Savior’s Community Church that we’d scoped out a few days ago. We got there at 9:30 for their 10:00 service which turned out to be a good time. Everyone was friendly and the church was beautiful. Unlike other churches, to which we’re accustom, this one didn’t have a bulletin so we could follow the service. Instead, it was all on screens on which were projected lyrics to the songs and scripture verses read by Pastor Rob. It was OK working without a bulletin, but bulletins hare meaningful to me because I’m the one who prints them for our home church, Bethany Lutheran in Warren, Or.

After the service we returned to the condo where Diane whipped up a terrific Easter dinner of ham, tiny peas, and tiny klondike gold potatoes. It was a pretty awesome meal.

Instead of taking a nap after eating, we jumped in the car and drove all over the area, even to the east side of I-10 just to see what was over there. Turns out there are just more towns with Palm(s) in the name and lots more houses. Choices are: Palm Springs, Thousand Palms, Palm Desert, Desert Palms, to name a few. Actually, that’s all the towns I can find with that common word in the name. Still, for a newcomer to the area I can see why the city names could cause confusion. We’ve discovered, in our short visit here, that Ramon Ave is a link that always leads us back to Palm Springs Tennis Club Resort. At least it’s been working so far.

An interesting thing about Palm Springs is that no where in the city is there a parking meter. Parking is free everywhere, including the parking garage located on the main thoroughfare. Also, as our Jennifer pointed out, the streets are amazingly clean. It’s almost like people care enough to NOT litter. Maybe keeping it clean is a tradeoff for all that free parking. That, or people are just proud of their surroundings.

Solar panels are everywhere here which makes perfect sense since the sun shines most of the time. By everywhere, I mean lots and lots of houses have their roofs covered with them. What surprised us was the prevalence of wind power options. We drove through an entire forest of the wind turbines when we arrived last Tuesday, but today we got up close to them so I took a photo. This field is located near the I-10 corridor …

We have these in Oregon, too, but not in such mind-boggling numbers, so close together. Ours are typically scattered loosely across the tops of hills which is nothing like the above photo. If you can enlarge the photo, you’ll see that the turbines seem to taper off into infinity toward the far away hills. If I had to guess how many wind mills are out there, I’d have to say a couple of million. Easily. But, I’d be wrong. Data from 2013 states there were 2700 of them at that time. Another undated report states there are 4000 of them. Now, who knows?

While looking for that information, I was surprised to learn that the Wind Turbine farm in Palm Springs is the oldest facility of this nature in the US. Who knew?

Happy #51 To Us

Hard to believe that we’ve been together that long until we stop and consider all the things we’ve experienced over those years.

We leaned heavily on each other during periods of profound sadness, and danced together joyfully during moments of extreme happiness.

We spent many years living in distant places, away from family and friends but we were never alone.

We always had each other and we always will.

There is no place I’d rather be than by your side.

I love you Diane Jean.

Indian Canyons

Today we visited Indian Canyons, an area not far from Palm Springs. I’d tell you which direction it is but have no idea and don’t feel inclined to look at a map right now. If I had to guess, I’d say they are south and east of the village. OK. They are south of us. I had to look.

Getting there was simple partly due to GPS but also because of the handy signs that are posted all around the place.

Our initial desire was to hike up Tahquitz Canyon which takes about an hour. After talking with a nice young lady at the ticket counter I made a command decision that it wasn’t in Diane’s best interest to go that direction. It’s uphill going in and is littered with huge steps anywhere from 10 to 20 inches tall. So, we took her recommendation and headed for Indian Canyons. Honestly, not going to Tahquitz was also in my best interest. I talk a good story, but doubt if I’d have made it without a lot of pain from either falling down or from gasping for breath.

At Indian Canyons we chose to tackle Andreas Canyon, the shortest of the many available choices. According to the map we had it was only one mile long and was lined with green indicating it was an easy one. Some of the others were up to 7 miles long and were marked in red.

This is where the fun begins

The canyon trail runs along Andreas Creek that has water all year long. It’s crystal clear and pretty cold when compared to the 100 degree temp of the air. Thankfully, the path is shaded most of the time with the myriad California Fan palm trees that are fed by the stream. There are lots of other kinds of things growing but they are pretty short, not good for shade unless you collapse and someone passing by is kind enough to roll you off the trail. The low foliage is good for collecting tons of debris that gets washed down the canyon when the creek gets rough in wet weather. The evidence is everywhere. There are piles everywhere that indicate the water level in the canyon is at times more like a deep roaring river than a sedate shallow creek.

After conquering Andreas we returned to the car to plan our next adventure for this day. I suggested we visit Palm Canyon which is within the boundaries of Indian Canyons. The clincher for Diane was that there is a trading post at the trail head, so that’s where we went.

Once there I discovered that Palm Canyon was more than a simple hike away and they advertised that this trail was also a rattlesnake habitat. So I prudently chose to visit a small waterfall falling down a little canyon on the other side of the trading post.

It was a simple and satisfying hike. Got some photos and Diane was just coming out of the trading post when I got back. Great timing.

The road out through Split Rock

Then we went to Ralphs. There are Ralphs grocery stores pretty much everywhere in this area. Makes it handy when you need something. The last time we needed to go there was to get a pool noodle for Diane. This time it was for ketchup and more mayo.

Back at our condo we cooked steaks Diane got yesterday which was pretty tricky because there are no BBQs around and all we have is a microwave. But, it’s also convection. So we fiddled around with its dials and buttons, finally figuring out that we could, indeed, cook steak in this micro. Quite nicely, I might add.

Then we ate, and took a nap prior to getting ready for a good night’s sleep.

Outta Town. Again.

What I see while floating on my back in the pool.

Yes, that’s what I see while floating on my back in the pool which is located in Palm Springs, California. It’s a very serene, calming view. We’ve been here for two days and have decided we really like it. To the point where I checked on Zillow and discovered that Cary Grant’s old abode here in town is on the market for $2.9M. When I saw that I just about ripped the pocket off my jeans trying to get my wallet out so we could run right down to the realtor and make a deal. It’s either that, or just rent Leonardo DeCaprio’s home for $4.5K a night. Decisions, decisions. Perhaps we’ll just think about it a while then go back to Oregon where God lives. It’s true. That’s where he lives. He told me.

Getting here was just half the fun.

We headed south from home last Saturday morning about 9 am. First thing to note is that’s a record for us because we’ve never in our lives (that I can recall) have we left to go someplace at 9 am. It’s true that we’ve planned, numerous times, to do that, but generally we get going closer to noon. So, 9 am was good. It gave us time to stop at Scappoose Bagel for a wonderful start to our day. We love their bagels and save them for special occasions. I’d eat one every day if Diane let me but she doesn’t want me to get any roly polier.

After navigating the customary route up Cornelius Pass, to US 26, then right on US 217 to I-5 south, we were officially on our way to Klamath Falls, our first stop. To get there we escaped the helter skelter mess of I-5 by excecuting a tricky left on Highway 58 in Eugene, home of the Oregon Ducks.

It was an uneventful trip on a relatively vacant highway so we loved it very much. We’ve spent too many hectic trips up and down I-5, from one end to the other, so getting off the beaten path was a perfect beginning to our vacation.

We arrived in Klamath Falls fairly early so we had time to relax a bit before calling it a day. So many times in the past we didn’t find a room until we were ready to crash. Now that we’re older, planning ahead pays off. Diane is an expert at that and makes all the reservations on our route. It’s good to know where we’ll spend the night.

The next morning we got up fairly early and amazingly got on the road again at 9 am. Two days in a row. Another modern day record. Go figure.

Day two destination turned out to be Virginia City, Nevada. What a fun place that is … clamped to the side of a cliff, wooden boardwalks on both sides of the main street, tons of touristy places full of nifty trinkets from China, and real-deal shops filled with incredible local art. Quite a mix.

We spent a couple hours wandering around the various shops then decided it was time for dinner. Based on a recommendation from our host for the evening at the Virginia City Motel which is located at the southern end of town, top of the hill on the left. It’s an old place but very nice.

Dinner was at Cafe Del Rio where we had absolutely the best enchilada’s ever. They were so good that I ate them all up before Diane had a chance to take a photo. Trust me. If you’re ever in Virginia City, go to the Cafe Del Rio. It’s really great.

This is me being amazed about the quality of the guacamole served with the chips. There was enough of it left to smear around on the enchiladas. What a treat.

From Virginia City we wandered south on US-395 down the back side of Yosemite National Park, the Sierra National Forest, Kings Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Park, and the Sequoia National Forest. We didn’t stop at any of them. We simply drove south taking in the beauty of the mountains we’ve always seen from the other side. It was a very nice, beautiful change.

Ridgecrest, California was our next stop. It wasn’t a remarkable place but it was nice. Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake is joined at the hip with Ridgecrest. We snacked in our room after a long days drive and called it a day.

The last stretch to Palm Springs was a short one and we arrived early afternoon at the Palm Springs Tennis Club. Yeah, I was a little confused, too, but that’s where Diane booked us. And we don’t even play tennis. The lady at the reception desk got us checked in and we quickly unloaded all our stuff then took a riding tour of the city until our stomachs decided it was time to eat. We chose ‘Trio and enjoyed a very good dinner.

We’ve been here a couple of days and have been enjoying the pool which is right outside the front door of our condo.

Pretty nice.

Lydia is 20!

Her birthday isn’t until tomorrow but we celebrated it with her yesterday at the Walters’ home. Lydia requested a tea party which her Mom, Jennifer, happily provided. She’s happy she did it but commented that if someone asks her to do another one to make sure she says “no”. It was all beautiful and very tasty, including the avocado deviled eggs I made, with much encouragement.

So, it was scones, tea cakes, cucumber sandwiches, and tea, of course.

Lydia, surrounded by the family girls. Ceiarra should have been there, too, but she was in the kitchen. So all I got was Gilligan, Jennifer, Jerrie, Lydia, Diane, and Baylee

Daniel doing a great job drinking tea in the proper manner.

It was a festive party and was well attended.

Happy Birthday, Lydia.