Friday, November 8, 2019

Fresno Forestiere Underground Gardens

I just realized that the theme for this trip should be “Eat, shop, and sleep.” Oh, and I guess I should add
“Searching for a place to spend the night!” 

On Wednesday, Nov 6, we headed for Fresno. After eating and shopping, we did do some sightseeing.
We visited the Forestiere Underground Gardens. We have been here many times and never found them
open. But, I was determined to finally visit them and we were lucky to find them open and offering tours.
The underground chambers built of hardpan sedimentary rock and supported with found objects was
started in 1906 by Baldassare Forestiere, a Sicilian immigrant. He was a ditch digger and tunneler by
trade but wanted to be a citrus farmer. He bought 80 acres of land in Fresno and only when he started
digging found out it was all rock and had no soil for planting trees. But, since he was used to digging and
tunneling he realized he could build underground chambers and find enough soil to plant trees
underground. He had many clever ways of getting in light via light tubes in the ceilings; watering via
cisterns where he collected rainwater, The trees grew out of openings in the roof of his structures and
the fruit could be picked by stooping over at ground level! He created spaces where he could live in this
cooler area below the summer heat of Fresno. The work was a labor of love - much like Watts Towers or
the House on the Rocks in Wisconsin or many other such edifices built by visionary men. He eventually
managed to grow enough citrus (oranges, grapefruit, lemons, etc.) to live off the proceeds of their sales
and truly became a citrus farmer. Google it for some beautiful pictures.
The bath tub

After visiting this interesting Historic Landmark, we ate and went to bed!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Visiting UC Davis

Tuesday, Nov. 5 we were on the road again. We decided to visit UC Davis. The campus is just a few
miles west of Sacramento and has several sights open to the public. Of course, nothing is ever easy
and parking was a real problem - there wasn’t much to be had! We could pay $10 for an all day
pass, or find a meter to put quarters in. We ended up buying a 2 hour pass for $3.00 which was a
good decision for what we ended up doing.

UC Davis was started as an agricultural college and that was definitely the flavor of our visit. The first
thing we saw was the teaching vineyard. We really wanted to visit the Arboretum which is planted all
along the river at the south end of the campus. In driving around the campus we saw the large
animal section with lots of horses in and out of the stables. We also passed the small animal section,
but I only saw one dog! The Scrubs Cafe obviously catered to the student and teaching

The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art opened at noon so we decided to visit that
first. The building was circular, one story, all white - very modern looking. The art work was mainly
done by former Davis students and faculty. It was all very interesting and modern. I liked the glazed
ceramics of Kathy Butterly. She made interesting shapes (a crushed soda can, a purse, a shoe, etc)
and painted them with colorful and whimsical designs. There was a large ceramic model of the home
of one of the faculty members - also with lots of fanciful and imaginative elements.
Don  at the Arboretum

Then we found parking by the Arboretum and walked there for awhile. The trees were beautiful and
there were a few roses and other blooms. We walked as far as the river, which looked more like a
lake at this point. The ducks were enjoying feeding and swimming in the water.
Suzanne - where else? the restrooms!

After such a pleasant and relaxing stop we had to get back on the road and look for camping. Again,
all of our favorite spots seem to have disappeared and we were forced to park in a Flying J truck
stop near Lodi.  Maybe it is time to go home!

Monday, November 4, 2019

Gold Country

On Saturday, November 2, we shook the Reno dust from our feet and headed west over the mountains.
It was a beautiful drive with lots of mountain passes (up to 8000 feet), pine trees and some color from
the aspens and other deciduous trees which are losing their leaves now. 

We stopped in Truckee for a break from the windy roads. It was a railroad town and is now a popular
spot for fishermen to load up and fish the Truckee River. We walked around and looked at some of the
tourist shops.
Suzanne in Truckee CA

From there we drove on to Grass Valley to visit Empire Mine State Historic Park. Gold was discovered
here in 1850 during the California Gold Rush days. The traditional placer-mining methods did not work
because the gold was embedded in quartz rock. So hard rock methods were used in which miners went
down in holes and blasted the rock out of tunnels. It was then crushed in the stamp mill and further
processed to remove the gold. The mine was active until the 1950s, which is sort of amazing. It has been
preserved by the state of California. We walked around and looked at the stamp mills, the buildings that
housed the mine manager, the assay office, the refinery, the warehouse; the welding, machine, and
blacksmith shops; the headframe and the hoist house; and lots of other equipment and decaying buildings
Don at the Empire Cottage

The other half of the park was the beautiful homesite of the founder’s son, William Bowers Bourn, Jr.
The Empire Cottage was built in 1897. It is actually a two-story stone mansion set in a grassy park with
huge trees and several reflecting pools. There is also a formal garden filled with rose bushes and slightly
unkempt. We spent an enjoyable afternoon exploring this park.

Then we started looking for a camping spot. Don called several which said they were full. So, we drove
almost as far as Sacramento before deciding to stay in a travel plaza.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Kleinbub 2019 camping trip

We started our 2019 camping trip on Saturday, Oct. 26. I didn’t realize that we hadn’t used the camper
since Dec 2018, so it was a bit of an adjustment to drive, especially after driving my Bolt!

Our first night was spent celebrating Don’s birthday with our kids in Crestline. We left after mass and
breakfast on Sunday and drove to Yucca Valley. We found a friendly Wal-Mart, ate and slept.

On Monday we headed for Laughlin NV. We were able to get a camping spot in Riverside RV Park and
spent the night eating and sleeping! Tuesday was somewhat of a repeat as we drove to Las Vegas, got
a spot in the Main Street Casino RV Park and ate and slept! It has been a rather dull vacation so far - but
I think we both needed to get away and chill out!

Wednesday we were appalled to find that our favorite outlet mall in Vegas is now charging $7 to park.
Luckily the mall to the south does not charge for parking and has most of the same stores. So, I got my
shopping fix!

Thursday was a bust as we finally decided we must do something about the shimmying of our camper
when we were driving. We went to Wal-Mart to have the tires balanced and found that both front tires
(which Don had purchased after our last trip) were defective and starting to delaminate! So, we invested
in two more tires and traveled much more comfortably.

Thursday night we found a nice campground in Bishop and Friday we got to replenish our water and
empty our septic tank! We got to Carson City and decided to push on to Reno. Our favorite camping
spot does not take overnighters anymore, so we had to scramble around to find a Wal-Mart where
we could park.

I am sorry to be out of LA and miss all the excitement. I hope everyone is OK so far and we will find
everything back to normal when we get home, I hope I will have some more interesting news the
next time I write in this blog.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Visiting Harpers Ferry

Saturday, June 29, was our last day of DAR activities. We did some final research in the Library, voted for a new slate of National officers, decided that the National organization would now take over the Insignia business for NSDAR, and attended the evening ceremony during which we honored our military and veterans with several prestigious awards!
Bob, Holly, Samantha & Suzanne at Chadwicks

Sunday, we were back to being tourists. We drove to Harpers Ferry VA to visit the National Historic Park. It is the 75th anniversary of establishing that park (it started out as a National Monument) so they had special activities for the week end. There were portrayers of Civil War people and events and also events from 1944 and WWII when the park was founded. My favorite was the WWII Dogs for Defense tent where they showed dogs trained to search for fugitives. Lots of people had their dogs and were interacting with the trained dogs.
Suzanne at the Point

The park is in a beautiful location (it is so sad to hear about the devastation during the Civil War, but it has certainly recovered). The Shenandoah River enters the Potomac River here which made it an extremely important location for transportation and industry. And that made it an important location for both the North and the South. We took a drive through some of the battlefields and tried to imagine what it must have been like to be a soldier fighting here.

The town itself has been restored after being flooded out several times and almost neglected after the War. The streets are hilly, but we did manage to hike up to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church to look at it and the view.

There was a large Irish contingent in the town and this was their church. There were also sites telling the story of John Brown who led a slave insurrection in October 1859. We also learned about the “Green Book” a travel book for African-Americans traveling in the 1940’s and telling them where they could find lodging and food.

Friday, June 28, 2019

DAR Continental Congress

We have been in Washington DC since Monday and we are enjoying a fairly low key time. We took the train from NYC to DC. The Shaffers picked us up in their rental car and we proceeded to their daughter’s house in Alexandria to stay with them there.

The next 4 days were spent attending DAR activities at their 108th Continental Congress. We spent time in their extensive research library working on our genealogy. We visited the shops set up in the hallways of Continental Hall and bought items made by the students at our DAR schools. The Museum Shop and other DAR groups also had items for sale.
A packed hall for opening night at Continental Congress

Each evening there is a special program showcasing DAR programs and activities. The first evening we heard “George Washington” telling us about the period before the Revolutionary Was from his point of view.  The second evening we heard from the winners of the various DAR essay competitions. What well spoken children they were. It gives you hope for our next generation.  The All American DAR Chorus also performed. Samantha and I sang in it and it was a joy to join our voices with over one hundred women to sing Patriotic songs.

Don and Bob visited Fredericksburg VA to see George Washington’s boyhood home.
They also toured the Spy Museum. We have helped Samantha in projects around her new home and enjoyed some nice meals here and in restaurants.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Our last two days in New York

The view from our hotel room!

Our last two days in New York City and we are winding down. Our bucket list is getting depleted along with our energy!

On Saturday, June 22, we visited the Turtle Bay Festival. The city closed Lexington Avenue from 42nd Street to 54th and vendors set up food stalls, craft booths, and information carts. There was all kinds of food – corn on the cob, turkey legs, ethnic dishes, bakery items, etc. Too bad we had just eaten our usual buffet breakfast at the hotel. There were lots of jewelry vendors, clothing, leather goods, hats, gadgets for all kinds of use – on and on. It reminded me a lot of going to the swap meet in Quartzsite AZ. It was a beautiful day for shopping – the rain had stopped and the sun was out.
Times Square from the top of the TKTS Booth

In the afternoon we went to TKTS in Times Square and got tickets for a musical “The Prom.” It was a cute show, very good dancing, great singers and actors, but not so memorable music.

On Sunday we went to mass at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle near Columbus Circle. It is the mother church of the Paulists, so it felt like home. After mass we spent some time looking around the shops at Columbus Circle and visited the Museum of Arts and Design. This was another museum with 6 floors of exhibits. Two of the floors were dedicated to punk graphics – art work celebrating bands, writers, and artists from 1976 to 1986. Unfortunately, our lives had gone in different directions at that time, so none of the items resonated with us.  I thought I might like the floor with futuristic jewelry, but that was a little outlandish and unwearable. Even the gift shop was way out of my price range. I did enjoy looking at the works by Roger Brown.
Suzanne in front of a Roger Brown installation
He does still lives using the many objects he collected over the years. He does a painting and incorporates the objects into the painting via a shelf that he places them on. I thought his juxtaposition of the objects and the colors in the paintings was lovely and his style was clean and simplistic. He died in California, but this is the first I had heard of him.

We decided to call it a day and came back to the hotel to get ready to leave tomorrow.