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Wandrin 2001

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by Lloyd Treichel


Wandrin - November 2001

Dateline: November 2, 2001 -- Pismo Beach, California

Just so you don't have to get out an atlas, Pismo Beach is located about 200 miles up the coast from Los Angeles. 

October started ... near Portland, Oregon.  After another week in Oregon, I headed south along the coast made many stops along the Pacific Ocean until I arrived in San Diego. 

Monterey Bay Aquarium ... To me this is one of the best aquariums in the country. The exhibits are well done and the docents are very knowledgeable. 

As I have traveled, my usual visits to museums and the aquarium were done mid-week. On every one of these visits, I was there at the same time as the school group tours. Considering that I was there on just one of the many days when it was open, I have come to the conclusion that these places must have school groups every day of the week.

I recall only one going on one tour when I was in grade school. Perhaps we went on others, but it was certainly a rarity. Since I attended a country parochial school, there was no bus so that meant that some parents had to be recruited to provide rides. That would have been the hard part. The only thing I recall about any tour that I ever took was the linotype operator at the Green Bay Press Gazette. I still recall that "Rube Goldberg" machine turning the keystrokes into letters as the operator made the columns and the page of the newspaper.

Hiking ... During my stay in the San Francisco area, I went to the coast for some hiking and ocean vistas. One of the places to hike is in the Point Reyes National Seashore. While I hiked a portion of this beach, I came to one rock out cropping and was climbing it for a better view, when I noticed a plaque. It said, "CAUTION DANGEROUS AREA - 6 KNOWN DEATHS." I decided not to tempt fate and become one of the "unknown".

Redwoods ... As I traveled Highway 101 through Oregon and California to San Francisco, I had many opportunities to stop to marvel at the giant Redwoods. At many of these stops, I took pictures of these titans of the forest. No picture really do these trees a service to describe their -- majesty.

Grocery Stores ...  As I travel, I have the opportunity to visit many grocery stores -- from the huge to the very small.  Everyone knows what is like to go into a strange store.  Well.  I have a lot of experience at it.  The upside is that I get lots of exercise walking up and down the aisles.  Perhaps they could make exercise trails in grocery stores like they do in some malls.

The real gripe about grocery stores is their "savings club card".  As I continue to get all these cards, I may need another wallet to hold them.   Fortunately, some grocery chains have not fallen into this scam.  You know who you are.  Thank You!

You can also tell a lot about the neighborhood by what is (or is not) stocked in the grocery store.  That was most true when I took a  ...

Tour of China Town ... A San Francisco tour included a visit to China Town where there was an hour to wander unguided.  Rather than walking the tourist streets, I walked down Stockton with its open air markets where the local population does their shopping.  Standing in one store were the selections of meats included eels and numerous varieties of fish.  Some of the fish were still alive as were the turtles and frogs.

Standing in one store was an attractive Chinese lady with a young boy of about five.  The lady was selecting live frogs with the help of a shop keeper.  The frogs were huge.  The little boy was not standing too close and the lady as well seemed a little timid about the whole affair, but she seemed to know what she wanted of the selection available.  Was she going to take the little buggers home alive?  I was not sure.  It was taking a long time to complete the purchase so I just imagined how the frogs were prepared that evening.  Furthermore, I just could not imagine the attractive young lady actually preparing a meal which served the frogs as the main course.

In these grocery stores everything was written in Chinese.  The fresh vegetables were things that I did not recognize.  I couldn't understand a word that was spoken around me.  Upon looking around the store, I realized that I was the only non-Chinese in the place.  Was I still in San Francisco?

Winery Profusion ... Ever since I was in Oregon and now in California and all the way down the coast, there are wineries all over.  Driving along, I note that hillsides are being planted to even more vines.  No doubt it is pricey to start a new vine vine yard with the stakes, the drip irrigation and the plants.  It is three to five years before the first crop.  Judging by the frequency at which this is being done, it is obviously a growing business (no pun intended).  

Wine tasting is also big business.  Wineries charge for the privilege to taste their wines –- from five dollars and up.  It all depends on the ambiance, the number of tastes, and snacks to enjoy with your tasting experience.  Since I already know what I like and being the "cheap" person that I am, I just take my ten dollars and buy a good Chardonnay at the local grocery.  

My next stop at the library will be to find out how many gallons of California wine are produced annually -- especially when compared to milk.  

This month's hiking story ... When hiking in the Montana de Oro State Park near Morro Bay in California, The trail head sign warned "Mountain Lions Live Here."  One of the rules was not to hike alone.  So -- of course -- I did hike alone.  Sorry to disappoint you, but I did not see the mountain lion.  I didn't even see his tracks.  I wasn't disappointed!

Around Halloween, a question was posed to readers of a local paper.  The question: "What scares you?"  In posing the question to myself, my answer: Warnings at trailheads of lions or bears in the area. 

The Monarch butterfly ... winters in several places along the Pacific Coast. One of those areas is a grove of trees at Pismo Beach. The life span of the Monarch is six weeks except for the generation that winters from October to March at a few places along the Central California Coast and into Mexico.

Just wondering about highway signs ... Why is it that all highway signs use 1/4 or 1/2 or 3/4 fractions when indicating distances to an exit?  You look at the speedometer and note that it keeps track of miles in tenths.  There must some obscure law that was enacted by congress which stipulated that all mileage signs would be posted in fractions.  You know that the math teachers were responsible so we would learn our fractions.

Odds and Ends ...  

Followed a Hitachi Data Systems truck on the freeway in Oregon between Portland and Salem.  The significance is that HDS was my employer from 1991 to 1998.  

California Men's Colony is probably a state penal institution of some sort, but the name certainly has "political correctness" about it.

How long do you have to sit in a restaurant when getting service before you become the "waiter"?

Met New Horizons owners and full timers Tina and Ron Lorenz at the Petaluma KOA -- north of San Francisco.  

Met a couple from Finland making a year long journey around the US in an RV.  And he gets paid half his salary while on the journey.

Eating habits have not changed ... Last month I blamed Rich Goscicki for eating too well and putting on a pound or two.  That was unfair.  Even though I am by myself, I manage to find great restaurants, the Brew Pubs, the fresh bread bakeries, and fresh seafood most everywhere ... and I indulge.    

Cinnamon Roll Search ... I have found variations everywhere; they come in different sizes, deep fried or baked, sweet or not so sweet, sticky bun variety, and varying depths of frosting.  There appears to be some regional similarities.  One cinnamon roll from one bakery will be very similar to one just down the block or in the next city.  

I had asked my sister what was her standard for cinnamon rolls.  She replied that it was our mother's.  Asking another person, I was told that her grandmother made the best cinnamon rolls and that became her standard for judging others.  That explains for personal taste.  

So without a mother or grandmother, the bakery or some national chain concocts something that is large (people want big), overly sweet (people want sweet) and gooey (can't explain that one). That is the cinnamon roll that seems most popular.  

The search goes on.  

Latest Read ... "River-Horse" by William Least Heat-Moon. This is his tale of crossing the USA from New York to Astoria in Oregon via water.  If there was water on which a boat of some style could be floated, that is what happened.  That meant some very small canoe sized streams to a short time on the Mississippi River near St. Louis. To relieve the boredom of pure river travel, he includes historical and geologic references as well as stories about the people that he meets along the way.  

Vanity Plate ...  California plate spotted with CRPEDM2. I'll wager that will go unidentified most of the time. For those of you who do not know Latin, it is "carpe diem" and is usually translated as "seize the day".

Quotable quote ... 
"May you live all the days of your life." - Jonathan Swift