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Showing posts with the label travels

Riding Public Transportation

It has been 15 years since The Husband and I moved out of the San Francisco Bay Area, which, depending on where we want to go, a 30-minute to two hour-or-so drive away. Lately we have been wandering a bit further into the Bay Area maze. Molly the Cat probably wonders what has gotten into us. She, after all, gets stuck indoors when the humans are at play.

The increased number of offensive drivers on the freeway has made driving no longer fun, so we've been trying out BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to get beyond San Jose. The nearest BART station is about an hour's drive to the north of us. It's not too much of a white-knuckle drive to get there.

Right now the cost for our tickets is equivalent to about a tank of gas. Totally worth it. No fuss, no stress.  Looking out the train window as we headed east away from Oakland, I watched cars on the highway swish frantically pass each other.

In a few months I'll turn 65 and be eligible for the senior discount. Hurrah!


A lot of…

Green Acres

It was so gooooood to get home this afternoon. We spent over an hour stuck on a barely moving rural road, which normally would've taken 10 minutes to drive. I feel sorry for the commuters. They have to deal with this every work day.

We three—the Husband, Molly the Cat, and I—live in an agricultural area in which the only way in and out of town are two-lane highways and back roads. It was not a big deal until maybe five or so years ago when construction of proposed developments approved 20 or so years ago finally went into full force. The building moratorium was dropped, which was imposed because the City had to fix its screwy sewage system.  Bam! Bam! Bam!

The bummer about this is that many people who work in Hollister live other places because they can't afford the homes. As for the people moving into the new homes, they drive the two-lane highways and back roads to Hwy 101, the main highway to the cities where they work. Our roads are essentially impacted teeth.

The Husban…

The One-of-a-Kind Windmill in Salinas Valley

Back in March, the Husband and I stumbled upon an amazing landmark in Salinas, California, of which I think many people in our area are unaware. Standing on top of a historic mill on the Harden Estate in North Salinas was a Victorian mechanical wonder known as the Challenge Double Header Wind Engine. It's considered the only surviving windmill of its kind.


Wowza!

The Challenge Double Header Wind Engine was built in 1892 by Salinas Valley pioneer grain farmer and dairyman Duncan McKinnon. Back then, many called the machine's design  a "masterpiece in Victorian engineering". The wind engine has two 30-foot wind wheels that rotate in opposite directions. It also has two smaller wheels which rotate the wind engine so that it faces the wind.

McKinnon decided to build the wind engine after seeing an advertisement. The man had vision. He used the wind engine to power his mill, a water pump, blacksmith shop, and carpentry shop. One source says that the wind engine was used…

Vegas

Vegas as in Las Vegas. The fertile lowlands of a city that's in southern Nevada. Yes, fertile lowlands is the English translation of the Spanish plural las vegas. Hmmm, could that be why you can find quite a lot of golf courses is Vegas?

Some might say that the fertile lowlands refer to something other than terrain. But, I'm not going there.


I've been to Vegas four times. The first time was in 1975 when I went cross-country with a college friend. The Strip wasn't a big deal yet and Downtown Vegas was so-so, but then I was still 20 so what was the use of being there. The second time was another quick stop as the first, late dear Husband and I were driving back from our first big camping trip together. Again, yawwwwn. We had after all spent a week down in a canyon by the Colorado River.


In the late 1990s, the Husband and I spent a few days in Vegas and by then the Strip was a very big surreal deal. The photos are from that trip. We gambled our nickels away at the variou…

A Special Wandering

September 23 was the first day of Autumn. It was also the Husband's and my 19th wedding anniversary. And, yes, it doesn't seem like it was that long ago we turned right at the xerox machine to get married. (For that story, head over here, if you like.)

Our day began with breakfast at our favorite coffee shop in San Juan Bautista—Vertigo Coffee. That's one of the few places I'll allow myself to drink coffee. The Husband had himself a mocha latte, which is an occasion in itself. Until yesterday, he hadn't drunk coffee in over two years.


We also ate BLT with soft scrambled egg panini sandwiches. Yummm! Using coffee stirrers as chopsticks to pick up the eggs that kept falling out of our sandwiches made the meal even more fun and special.


We drove over to the coast and headed north on Highway One. Roadwork was going on, but that didn't bother us. We were after all in no big hurry to get anywhere. We saw a lot of pampas grass growing alongside the road and hills. D…

Random Scenes: The Train to Florence

Minutes before three o'clock in the morning, I ran along the train platform towards an open door. My host ran beside me. "Have fun," he said. "Come back with no money."

I hoisted myself up the train steps.  "Boungiorno," I said to the waiting conductor, then turned and thanked my host. "I'll see you tonight."

"I'll be here." he said. "Don't worry about a thing."

The train to Firenze started. I began my unsteady walk through the darkly lit train in search of a place to sit. For the first time in many years, I was alone traveling in an unfamiliar place.

Rancho del Oso

A couple months ago I had a hankering to be by the ocean and the Husband wanted to be in a forest, so we drove to Rancho del Oso, the western portion of Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Santa Cruz County.  The entry point is across from Waddell Beach on State Highway 1, where you can see surfers and kiteboarders having fun.


It was our first time to visit Rancho del Oso, which translates to Bear Ranch. Once upon a time, the Grizzly Bear roamed the area. Thankfully, we did not meet any bears, but we did come across jack rabbits, squirrels, butterflies, lizards, and an occasional human.


We hiked over a couple of miles, the first half going up and along a mountain side and the trip back on a nice flat fire road. Unfortunately, my left knee flamed up on the way back, so it took us longer to get back to the car. On a positive note: We got to enjoy being under the redwoods longer.






It's the letter R at Alphabe Thursday, the weekly ABC meme hosted by the lovely Jenny Matlock. To read oth…

Niles Canyon Railway

Toot! Toot! Allllll Abooooarrrrrrrrd!

Last year, the Husband and I took a ride on the Niles Canyon Railway, a living museum that runs through the gorgeous Niles Canyon in the San Francisco Bay Area. We rode in historic train cars pulled by a vintage diesel engine. It was about a 90-minute round trip between two small historic towns, Niles (which is now part of Fremont) and Sunol (which is off of Highway 680).


The Niles Canyon Railway is operated by volunteer conductors and engineers. They're part of the Pacific Locomotive Association, a non-profit organization. The volunteers in this group rebuilt the line that was once part of the transcontinental railroad. The volunteers continue to obtain and rebuild train cars. Near the Sunol depot is the train yard where the cars are stored and worked.  One of the association's objectives is to provide the public with a sense of what riding trains was like in small communities throughout the United States once upon a time.


You can sit eit…