Friday, February 1, 2013

Headed to the Bay Area

We didn't have as far to drive today, so we slept in a little before having breakfast. We ate and checked out around 9 a.m. and headed for the highway.

On the building across the street I was intrigued to see the firm of Quad Knopf. I don't know what a Knopf is and why a Quad version is better than a Triple, Dual or even a Single Knopf. This is just one of those mysteries I can find more humor in than the inevitable mundane truth.

We drove for about 3/4 of an hour before stopping. We stopped at a Chevron Station, and this was the view across the street. Although we knew we were in the San Joaquin Valley, we felt as if we were back in Texas, it was that flat.

After another hour or so we stopped at the Romero Visitor center, on the San Luis Rey Reservoir.
This reservoir was built starting in 1962 and was finished in 1967. A combined project of the Federal and State Government it impounds 2,518,000,000 cubic meters of water. An entire valley has been dammed and water arrives in the O'Neill forebay via the California Aqueduct and the Delta- Mendota Canal a total of 667 miles. It is pumped up and into the reservoir in periods of low water usage and drawn down when usage is higher. This water is then sold to farmers and towns in the San Joaquin Valley.

This is a memorial to 2 commercial divers who died while working on the project in regular maintenance. It is fitting that they should be immortalized in this plaque of remembrance.

The reservoir is about 40 feet low at present. The snow melt on Mount Shasta might provide enough water to fill the reservoir, but there is an ongoing disagreement between farmers and ecologists and the farmers are getting less water allocation every year. Since California provides over 50% of all fruits, vegetables and nuts in the United States yearly, they need the water for their crops, and have implemented as many water saving measures as they can, and switched crops to less labor intensive ones. Still the water allocations are dropping as more domestic demand is required and less is coming down from the mountains every year.

Here is a photo of 2 wind blown wanderers. We were glad to soak up a little sun and take a break for a while. The Lake is very picturesque, and the Romero Visitor Center very informative about the history and current culture of the area.

One can see across the reservoir to the verdant and rolling hills on the far side. There are striped bass in the reservoir, and the current record stands at 90 lb., caught in the O'Neill forebay.

A quick visit to the facilities prior to our departure showed a poster affixed on the wall near the sink. One doesn't often think of where the water comes from.

We continued driving until about an hour later we started to see signs for "Casa de Fruta." The signs were sufficiently enticing to pique my interest.

Casa de Fruta was established as an orchard starting in 1908 and now includes Casa de all kinds of stuff, in a village they have built to accommodate it. It includes Casas de RV park, fuel, wine, sweets, fruits, restaurant, miniature train and carousel. It is a very large property with many farming antiques everywhere. Here is a picture from inside one of the buildings. It appeared everything was for sale at Casa de Todos.

This is a picture of an olive tree. we both decided to try one right off the tree.....big mistake....huge. The taste was very sour and the aftertaste mouth puckeringly bitter. I would heartily recommend against your trying it to determine just how truly awful raw olives are!!!

Oh I forgot to mention it was also Casa de huge flowering Mimosa Tree!

This was a display of  necklaces/ it caught my eye with the sun shining through.

This was a water feature outside Case de Restaurant. Shouldn't it be Casa de Mangare?

 Here is the adorable Scooterchick. We had a lovely chat with the restaurant manager. We
 eventually settled on Cheese steak sandwiches.

I thought a picture of the place mat might be apropos.

As usual, I no sooner snapped the pic in question, when Scooterchick copied me.

Here is the cheesesteak. It was a pretty decent sandwich. Too much bread, but there you go.

This is the passageway between Casa de Restaurant, and Casa de Frutas.

This old Dodge truck was inside the fruit stand. How cool is that?.............pretty cool!

This is a  shot of the instrument panel of the truck. It shows 43,251 miles on the odometer, but it doesn't say how many times around the clock it traveled before it ended up as decor rather than utility.

Outside the fruit stand there was a waterwheel, and the concept was that one would purchase bags of sand inside, then screen the sand to see what treasures they produced. Naturally the sand was "salted" with small polished rocks of various types, as there was a chart for the young "miners" to identify their "treasures".

Now this here is the "Real McCoy". It is a retired rear tine tiller. It harks back at least to the 40's or 50's because that's about when they first started to put rubber tires on them. How many miles were patiently walked behind this marvel, coaxing good produce from the earth for the tables of America?

There was a duck pond being constantly refilled by the artesian spring that watered the property. The extent of this Casa de Empire is not readily discernible but includes the original farm and  orchards as well as much more farmland and other property near Hollister and Gilroy. apparently the Casa de Todos philosophy worked well for them. Hard working success is always good to see and enjoy.

Somehow it seems cleaner than the making of millions shuffling paper back and forth and inflating values or displacing workers variety. Just a personal observation.

We must have spoken at length with 6 or more employees, and all seemed thrilled to work there, It was really a big family atmosphere, inviting and friendly.

I suppose this could be called Casa de Carousel under renovation.

The property is large enough that they have their own train. It wasn't in operation while we were there, but it takes 15 minutes to make the loop.

Here is another water feature outside the train station. It seems there are many of these scattered liberally throughout the property. Considering the summer temperatures in the Pacheco Pass, it probably helps to establish a micro climate.

Another fountain with a happy visitor in attendance. we really enjoyed our time there, wandering around looking at all the things they had on display. The food was pretty good too!!

We continued on our way through Gilroy and west on CA152 until we turned north to join 101. Things started to get interesting as we passed more built up areas on our way into San Jose (do you know the way?) and I saw another sweeping sculpture in concrete. Oh save me,.......... what a beauteous swoop of engineering and solidity.

We turned off 101 and pulled into our city of destination for the night. After we checked in I walked back out to the street to snap a picture of El Camino Real. This picture also shows the intersection where what has come to be known as "the ramming incident" took place.

While we were stopped at a light we were rammed from behind by an urban hipster in an aged Cadillac. Since he made contact with the rails of the trailer, I wouldn't be surprised if he had 2 channel iron shaped holes in his plastic bumper fascia. We were amused more than anything else, as he beat a hasty retreat.

Here is another view of El Camino Real. It is 4 lanes of busyness all day long. 

Here are our digs for the next few days. The plan is to go to the city today, visit with Pat's brother tomorrow, go to the San Jose Flea Market on Sunday, and then return to our room to watch the big show. We are rooting for the Niners of course.

Apparently the folks at Comfort Inn are rooting for the Niners as well. What, wait a minute. It appears that they are only rooting for one of the Forty-Niners, and they are't telling us which one.

Although we requested a ground floor room, there are none.  Everything is on the 2nd. or 3rd. floor, with parking on the ground. Here is a happy girl, now that we have found our home for the next couple days. The room is average, but the location is great.

Inside the corridors, there are plantings and skylites. A nice touch, gives a feeling of spaciousness.

There is a row of redwoods along the parking lot. These juveniles if left to their own devices will end up being 250 feet tall and 12-18 feet through. It will only take several hundred years for this to occur.

The hour grew late and our stomachs grew empty....what to eat? We wet looking for one restaurant, but ended up somewhere else when we couldn't find the first one.

The menu was of necessity Cajun. What to order? Let's see.

While I am making my selection, the indomitable Scooterchick seems to have found something to her liking. They had a Buttermilk Brined Fried Chicken, and so help me, the chef knew what he was doing. He got a good scald on it, it was juicy and crispy at the same time, and not drowned in salt as s many fried chickens are.

I settled for a Shrimp Fennel Bisque. You can pretty well guarantee that if there is any type of seafood bisque on the menu, I'm going to want to get myself around some.

I followed that up with Bacon Wrapped Oysters, fried crispy and served up with some baby mesculun greens and a lemon remoulade. Oh yeah!!

I did leave room for beignets. These were served up hot with banana, strawberry and whipped cream. They were light, not over sweet and just delicious. Mes compliments a le chef! Quelqu'un artiste!

This little Mardi Gras goer was at the entrance to the restaurant, inviting us to return. Perhaps we will.

After leaving Creo-La we drove around and sightsaw. Here are some sights....see?

 This street was lined with lights and many more interesting looking shops and eateries.

We even drove up the hill and I managed to get a night shot over the city, which after a little judicial massaging is worthy of posting for your viewing pleasure

And so our day ends. We came back to the hotel, and blogged until our weary eyes would not stay open any longer. We head into the city today. Until next time.......adios.

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