Sunday, May 31, 2009


I have not had Internet access for the last several days, because I am now camped in the community of Bootjack. You probably have never heard of this place, but it is about 5 miles south of Mariposa on CA-49. Jim's relatives live here and I am the guest of Ruby and Keith, Jim's aunt and uncle. Rudy is the fire chief at the Bootjack fire station. I am parked behind it on a wide level dirt area.

This my second day to drive up from Bootjack and day-use Yosemite National Park. The first day I took over 140 pictures and I was going to come back yesterday but it was a rainy day up here. We even got some rain in Bootjack. Today is a beautiful day, so far, but thunder showers are predicted for this afternoon. That is OK, because I will be back at camp to attend a Bar-B-Q that Ruby and Keith are putting on with all the relatives for my benefit. More on Bootjack in future posts.

Right now, I am sitting in the Ahwahnee Hotel using there WiFi to get on line.

There is no shortage of water here at the Yosemite Waterworks. I have never seen the falls more full of water. Take a LOOK!

Not only is Yosemite Falls full, but ALL the falls are going strong. Even the Royal Arch Cascade that is located behind the Ahwahnee is flowing. Everywhere you turn, there is a picture waiting to be taken. I have seen numerous deer that are wandering around the campgrounds.

Perhaps the most famous spot to photograph from is this:

Until next Wednesday when I will be able to get on the Internet again, I will probably not be able to post

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

California Orange Depot

Speaking of Depots... On my way back to the campground this morning, I stopped at the Fruit and Nut stand that is just around the corner from the campground. I wanted to see if they had anything that I could get to give Jim's relatives in Bootjack for letting me stay on their property for a week. I found some dates and a big bag of naval oranges that I thought they might like.

Upon talking with the lady in charge about what they were processing in the big shed next door. She told me they were packing valencia oranges. When I asked if I could take pictures, she said, "Sure." I grabbed my camera out of the car and she showed me into the shed. She told me that the machine is an old peach processor, but works fine with oranges. They wash and wax the fruit in an adjacent building and then the fruit comes into this building for sorting and packing. These ladies really hussel to keep up with all the oranges that come their way. When I asked how many boxes of oranges they pack in a day, I was told from 2 to 4 THOUSAND boxes. With the amount of packers they had today, they could pack about 2,500 boxes. Each lady packs a different grade of orange.

With this orange packing plant almost in the campground is just another evidence that I am truly camped in an orange grove

Tehachapi Train Depot

This morning, I drove up to Tehachapi in hopes of taking pictures of trains going through town, but none went through in the two hours that I waited. Upon talking with the owner of the train store, Trains Etc., I learned that Mondays are usually maintenance days for the Union Pacific. Although today is Tuesday and the trains should be running, yesterday was a holiday so today is "Monday" for the railroad.

I learned a little more about the fire at the depot a year ago. I was told that a contractor had just finished installing a fire sprinkler system the day before the fire in the depot as part of the refurbishing of the building. The contractor had scheduled the city inspector to witness the pressure test on the next morning. Can you imagine what was going through the contractor's mind when he drove up the next morning and there was no depot?

When I asked if they ever found out how the fire started I was told that two drunks were shooting off bottle-rockets at passing trains and one of them landed under the depot and set it on fire. A passing newspaper delivery person reported the fire around 3:00 am, but by the time the fire department arrived from three blocks away, the depot was fully involved in flame. There were some propane tanks inside from the construction and they exploded. This blow out windows in the stores across the street. The fire department could only take a defensive stand and protect the surrounding buildings from catching fire. The following picture is of the town clock that stands at the sidewalk about 20 feet from the depot. As you can see, the heat did a number on the clock.

This is one of the many banners that are all around the town that promote the rebuilding and the opening of a rebuilt depot and museum.

On my way back to the campground in Bakersfield, I saw a section gang working on the railroad where it goes through a series of tunnels right along US-58. That was the reason for No Trains. That just give me a reason to come back at a later date.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Special Delivery

This morning I attended the Central SDA Church in Bakersfield. Before I left Apple Valley, my good friend, Dorothea Myers gave me a package to take to one of her friends, Alice Ferry, who attends the central church in Bakersfield. So today was delivery day.

After church, I delivered the package to Alice and she invited me to stay for Pot Luck. I could not turn down what turned out to be very good food, so I sat with Alice and her husband, Al and we found out that our Pot was indeed Lucky.

We talked for a short while after lunch and I found out that Al heads up a group called Missions of Love, Inc. They are a non-profit company that raises money to buy musical instruments for underprivileged and troubled youth. They even pay for the music lessons. They have a singing group called Except For Grace that give concerts at various locations. Their songs range from Traditional, Southern Gospel, Contemporary, Country to some of the favorite hymns we all grew up with. Changing lives of young people through the power of music is the dedication and purpose of Missions of Love. If you would like to find out more about the group, contact Al Ferry at 661-889-0191.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Caliente - Where Trains Make a U-turn

This morning, I went up to Caliente to see if I could catch a train going through town. I parked in front of the Post Office and waited.... and waited.... but only one train went through in the two hours that I was there.

The train is going down hill and will pass by the end of the train that is still up on the side of the hill.
I spent most of the afternoon creating a soundtrack for the Trains of Tehachapi slide show. That's about it for today.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Train Watchers Paradise

After breakfast this morning I took my tripod, folding chair, camera and cooler for water and headed east on a road that parallels the railroad tracks. I had to wait only about five minutes before a Burlington Northern Santa Fe came rolling up the grade doing about 45 mph. I paced the train for a while......

and then I drove on ahead and waited for the train to reach the area where it leaves the road and heads up a canyon to Caliente.

After the train disappeared around the bend, I continued down this two lane road until I hit CA-58 and went east and took the Keene off ramp. This is a continuation of the old road and it winds around the hillsides until it took me to the famous Tehachapi Loop. Along the way, I came across many patches of wildflowers.

I pulled the car off the paved road and walked out across the side of a hill to get a good spot to setup my tripod. Then I found a shady spot where I could unfold my chair and sit and wait for the train that I had taken pictures of earlier in the day.

It did not take long for a train to appear. It was ahead of the train that I had paced down in the valley. I probably took 60 or so pictures there at the loop. I don't have room to post them all but I did stitch three of them togeter so I could show you a panarama of the loop. You will need to click on the picture and then scroll from side to side to get the full impact of seeing the train travel over itself. With today's longer trains, almost all the trains that travel the loop will do this.

As it turned our I was not alone on the hill watching trains. A couple from Switzerland stopped and chatted with me and there was a group of about 8 to 10 guys sitting around watching from the area where the cars were parked. They were not taking photos. They just were watching. I had a great time and will go up there again next week, if the weather permits.

About noon, I packed up and headed into the town of Tehachapi. I wanted to check out the place were the original Southern Pacific Depot had been before it burned to the ground a year ago. I had no trouble finding the spot, which is now just a whole in the ground. I then went into a store that was directly across the street from that location. The name of the store was Trains Etc. I talked with the proprietor and he told me that ground breaking to rebuild the depot will be next month. When completed, it will be a museum operated by the Friends of the Depot.

I also found were someone has a backyard full of old railroad signals of all sorts. Yes, it seems that Tehachapi will remain a railroad town and a train watchers paradise for many years to come.

On the way back to the campground, I stopped at the NAPA store in Bakersfield and picked up my new windshield wiper for the coach. I will install it in the morning when it is not so hot! Now it won't rain for the next three years, just because I now have new wipers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

We Have Liftoff

Yesterday I washed the coach and took food on board in preparations for today. At 8 o'clock this morning I hooked the car to the coach and headed out on my next adventure. Destination, Salem, Oregon. I am looking forward to being able to spend a couple of months or more with my son Brent and his wife, Marlene. They have two children, Andrew (11) and Aaron (7). I want to be with the boys this summer and be a part of their lives in a positive way. I will be taking about 5 or 6 weeks to get to Salem, which should occur around the first part of July.

So here we go! I wanted to get an early start to avoid the high winds that develop around noon out here on the desert. First stop is the Flying J Truck Stop in Barstow to fuel up. I took on over 93 gallons of diesel and eased back out onto I-15 and traveled only about 2 miles where I connected with CA-58 and headed west towards Mojave and then over the Tehachapi Mountains and down into Bakersfield, where I will be staying for the first week of this adventure.

On the mountains west of Mojave I passed a large group of wind generators. I just picked up the camera and aimed it in the general direction of the subject and quickly snapped a picture without taking my eyes off the road. I am surprised that they turned out at all, but some did.

Then a little ways west of Tehachapi, what should my eyes see, but a train going through tunnels 15 through 17. Again I quickly aimed the camera out the window and pressed the button.

I pulled into the Orange Grove RV Park in the Edison area that is about 9 miles east of Bakersfield. It was warm, but once I had the coach set up I turned on the air conditioning and the coach cooled down quite nicely. Yes, I am parked in a real orange grove.

This morning as I was cleaning the windshield on the coach, the passenger side windshield wiper blade fell apart. I had replaced the driver's side wiper when I was in Lake Havasu earlier this year. I just replaced the one wiper then because the other one looked like it could last a while longer. Well, today was "a while longer" so I got out the NAPA invoice for the first blade that I replaced and called a NAPA store here in Bakersfield and they will have another blade for me at their store in the morning around 8 o'clock. The blade is 31 inches long and not many places stock them. They have to special order it. I will go into Bakersfield in the morning and pick it up before I head up into the mountains to watch trains. I hope to be able to post some good pictures of trains negotiating the Tehachapi Loop and other locations in the next few days.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Graduation Day

This morning, I went along with Jim to attend the graduation ceremonies for the 31st class of the Victor Valley College Fire Technology Program, where he has been one of the instructors.

There were 33 members of the graduating class that marched in and proudly took their place on the platform.

Their accomplishments of their eight weeks of hard physical work along with academic study were reviewed and praised by the program leaders.

They were supported by many attending family members and friends as they received their certificates. There were about a dozen graduates that had fathers or uncles in the fire service and they were on stage to give those class members their congratulations and welcomed them into the firefighter family.

All in all, it was a very high day for the graduates and their families.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

New Storage Building

Last week Jim and Shonda had a new 10X12 ft. storage building delivered to their back yard. This joined a 10X10 ft. storage building that they had delivered five months ago, which was filled with items that Shonda wanted brought up from the house in Fountain Valley that I sold.

Before delivery, Jim had his next door neighbor bring over his front loader and put down a combination of dirt and gravel for a bass on which to set the storage unit.

Then they hauled in the new storage building on a special trailer.

A cable was attached to the bottom of the building and winched off the trailer. The delivery driver dropped the building in exactly the place they wanted it positioned.

I helped Jim for a couple of days to put in wall insulation and inside wall paneling before we put in two rows of heavy duty shelving on three sides. Yesterday, they started moving items that were stored in one of their bedrooms out into the new storage building. This will give Shonda more room to sort through all the items they have packed in just about every room of their house.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Victor Valley Fire Academy (Part 3)

Note: Captain Jim Hulbert and his crew returned safely to Apple Valley today from the Santa Barbara fire. At last contact, they were cleaning the engine and equipment and will return to their regular duty schedule. No rest for Jim, however, because he is scheduled to be on duty today anyway. So we will not see him until tomorrow morning sometime.

In the last post I included some pictures of the cadets using fire hoses to extinguishing flames that were ignited on various props. There was one more thing that each squad went through and that was to experience a flash-over. They have a special chamber that they have the cadets go into and get on the floor. There is an operator that controls the mixture of fuel in the inside of the chamber until it creates a flash-over.

I was fortunate to capture a photo of a flash-over, because it only lasts for a split second. There is no time to focus or anything.