Thursday, April 4, 2013

I'm Home!

1965 total miles
Laughter, beauty, and peace
The support of friends and family 

Absolutely Amazing.

My reflection tonight is simply this photo. Love to you all.

Underground Orange Grove

"Impossible!" you say. But some of the trees have been there for over 90 years.

Smack in the middle of Fresno (which is about 1/4 mile from the far end of Fresno) is an underground orange grove. I know because I saw the sign and the chain link fence that goes around it.  Proof is below.

I'll say there were wet conditions!  I drove through them in order to get here.

Now if I had been able to take a tour, this is where it would have started. I could see that at the end of the path you descended into the grove.

UFO and Aliens

I Laughed out Loud!

I was completely prepared for this to rival Toad Hollow. A convenience store in Lathrop with a UFO that had crashed into the roof.  The little bit I read about it encouraged you to come in and see the aliens.  I fully expected an employee with boing-y
antennae.  Below is what I saw as I walked in.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Reflections on Day 5

A bear claw with marzipan
Allowing myself to be gullible
Feeling like a Rock Star

The highlight of my day today was running into the two students from school.  I was greatly touched by their genuine excitement to see me there. But I feel like I have let them down in a way by not knowing their names.  I know the students who are frequently enmeshed in trouble.  The students who do not pass through my office do not attract my attention.  What a sad, yet powerful, revelation. Because how many times in life have I given my attention to the negativity in it, rather than embracing what is good, and positive?
Tomorrow I head south.  I have a couple of stops on the way to keep it interesting, but knowing me, after those, I will push to get home. In one sense the time has flown by, and in another sense it seems like I have been gone a long time. I think that means it has been a great vacation, and also that I enjoy what I have at home.

Happy trails,

The National YoYo Museum, Chico, CA

Featuring the world's largest wood YoYo.

Make sure you have another reason to come to Chico.  

I really thought it was going to tower over me, so I decided to kneel in order to create that effect. In hindsight, after being on the road for 9 hours, it wasn't the brightest idea I've ever had.

Toad Hollow

Gullible, gullible, gullible.
This one wins the prize.

Davis, CA.  Home of the UC Davis Aggies.  So when I read that there was a place called Toad Hollow that had been built because toads were getting squished by crossing the road, I assumed that it had some academic basis.
Gullible? Yes! 
It is at the Davis Post Office. No one knows about it there, nor seems to care. Little houses with no purpose, except to note, I guess, that toads live there. The questions I am left with though, are "who?" and "why?".

Jelly Belly Factory Un-Tour

Or:  When I have Spring Break, So Does Every Kid in California

You can see already that there are not going to be any pictures of a tour.  The line wrapped around like Disneyland, and it was full of antsy children who were already amped up on Jelly Bellies.  That hardly seemed like a vacation, but I was hungry, so I took the opportunity to get lunch. While sitting eating my BLT, I heard from the line "Hi Miss Pollero!" Yes...two students from my school.  I could hardly be dismayed as they were genuinely excited to see me...and to be honest, so was I to see them.  Good kids, never in trouble...I have no idea what their names are. But I will find out before I give them a copy of our picture.

The Spite House

Or:  "How to Get Even with Your Neighbor"

Okay, so this appealed to that really shallow part of me that had to see the revenge of a really ticked off man. It seems that the city  (Alameda) took away a portion of his land to put in a street, and he was left with a 10' wide lot.  The neighbor was not sympathetic, so the man got even by building on it, right up to the neighbor's house. 

Here is the front of the house...looks pretty good!
Wondering what you are looking at? The spite house is behind the tree.
Here is the view through the tree.

There is less than a foot between the houses and it blocks both floors of the neighbor's house.

The Berlin Wall

No wonder I'm tired of driving...

No, not Berlin...Mountain View. It is the craziest thing.  In the back of a business park are two slabs from the Berlin Wall. There is a very nice tribute at the site, but the 2 people I spoke to knew nothing about who put them there. I had to wonder about the East Berliners who had stood at this wall and how their lives had changed when the wall came down.

Before posting this, I had to make sure what the graffiti said. I was pleasantly surprised that it means "We love you".

See, it's just tucked away in the back of this complex.

Whale City Bakery

They had to pry me away

Heaven! When I intruded on Stephen and Helga, he recommended that I drive north on Highway 1 and stop at this bakery. Yum! It was worth the extra miles, and oh, yah, the ocean and cliffs and tree covered drive was pretty good, too.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Reflections on Day 4

Winding roads under canopies of trees
Dismantling stereotypes
Heath bar ice cream in a waffle cone

Today I realized that with regard to this trip, there is nothing that I must do. While I have a plan, I have not chiseled it in stone.  This freedom has allowed me to reach out to others. The lack of a schedule has allowed me to enjoy being lost. I have stepped out of my comfort zone again and again.  And each time, it gets easier and feels more natural.
I used to plan my spontaneity. I would have been hesitant to start a discussion with someone who appeared different than I. I could dwell on what a loss that has been, but truth is, I'd rather look forward to the opportunities that still await me.
Tomorrow I leave Santa Cruz. I have enjoyed my time here and I will miss it.  However, I am looking forward to whatever is around the next corner, characteristically passing it, and making a u-turn.
I will let you know what that is.

The Mystery Spot...

...And How I Dealt with Disappointment

I could not put it off any longer.  I mean, the genesis of this trip was the idea of going to the Mystery Spot, which my brother and sister had been to years before. But once here, I really didn't have the desire, mostly because I was having fun doing other odd and non-touristy things.  But I was committed, so Prius and I headed down the road to it.

I was secretly hoping that it would be closed. 

Below is my photo documentary of the experience.

Darn my luck...

The wait for the next tour was going to be 2 hours.  Unfortunately, I had things to do and could not wait that long. This photo was taken as I left.

To deal with my disappointment, I went to Marianne's Ice Cream. I had heard it was the best ice cream ever and I've been there a couple of times now in order to confirm that.

Yep...It is. But I fear that my blog is not the only thing
 that is getting too big.

Ukuleles, Coffee, Redwoods, and Banana Slugs

A Lesson on Just "Going with It"

Where do you go after a concrete ship? Ukuleles in Felton seemed like a great idea! So I headed that way, only to find it did not open until 12:00. Good fortune was mine though, because there was a coffee shop just doors away! Sitting outside with my latte, I imposed myself (as I have become quite comfortable doing) on the two next to me. Stephen and Helga were quite happy to tell me all about the area and suggested I walk through the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park to see the last remaining original redwoods. My good fortune continued as I not only saw the majestic trees, but also saw several banana slugs as well.

Me, helping to hold up this tree
The path through the park

What is not to love?

Stephen, my tour guide for Felton.  He also knew so much about Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young that I had to Google Stephen Stills and make sure I had not just been talking to him. 

I'm Sure It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

A Ship Made out of Concrete
An extreme way to save money on an anchor.

Today started with a quick drive to Aptos to see this ship. It was built to be used in World War I, but was finished too late to actually see any action.  I would have recommended a quick drying concrete. 
The beach in Aptos is wonderful!  I have included a picture of the view toward Santa Cruz.

Reflections on Day 3

Unknown Number of Miles
Beauty That Inspires Tears
Random Acts of Kindness

Day 3 was a mixed bag, and that kind of caught me off guard. After a wonderful chat with Philis, the clerk at the hotel, I headed out. Breakfast downtown had me sitting next to a young couple who improved on my directions to the Meditation Center. In spite of them, I managed to get lost. The UPS driver was helpful, getting out of the truck so he could gesture better. A slight detour to a Safeway Starbucks and I realized my sandals were caked in mud from the photo shoot at my new home. As I was cleaning out the restroom sink after washing them off, a woman stepped up to the sink next to me.  I was sure she was secretly judging me, but I greeted her pleasantly. She responded in kind, then tore off a long section of paper towels to help me. What a simple yet powerful reminder to not create the thoughts in other people's minds, and to allow their goodness to show itself.
The drive to the Buddhist retreat was beautiful. By the time I got there and walked the grounds, I was overcome with emotion.  I won't say it was sadness...It was the depth of feeling that comes from the intensity of a song (for me, "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan) coupled with the beauty of nature. It is not something I experience in my day-to-day life.  Which leads me to question, "Is it Santa Cruz and its people and nature, or is it something in me that can be tapped into anywhere, as long as I allow it?" And will I remember that once I get home and back into my routines?
Of course I had to balance out this heady experience with silliness.  What started out to be a simple photo op at the school district office led to a long conversation with Geri, a secretary at Human Resources and her giving me Desiree's card for future contact.  Hmmmn.

Downtown at night, and even though it was a Monday, it was still quite busy. No street dancing but I am staying another night, so will tap my way down there tomorrow.

Simple experiences in life can be intoxicating. I am so thankful that I am able to discover that.

With love,

Monday, April 1, 2013

Santa Cruz!

This sign says it all.

The Kim Son Buddhist Meditation Center
Peaceful, reflective, welcoming


My New GPS
"Go up the hill just past the boarded up Mt. Madonna Inn and turn left.  At the 4-way stop at the big redwood tree go straight."
My kind of directions.

The advantages of getting lost

Checking out job opportunities

I even found a home.  Needs a little work.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Reflections on Day 2

375 miles of amazing scenery

A couple who stopped to let me walk across the street, then made a point to wish me a Happy Easter

Just enough rain to wash my car

With less driving to do, I was able to sleep in, talk to strangers, get lost (again), and enjoy the day (again). Music varied throughout the day. I sang along with the Carpenters until the angst of the lyrics made me want to slit my wrists. Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles saw me through much of the drive.  k.d. lang was my choice for my arrival in Santa Cruz.
My plan is to be here for two days but I have only one site on my schedule. I am allowing whatever happens, to happen. One thing you can count on though: it will be fun.
I hope the rain stops because I want to dance in the streets. I both heard and read that they do that spontaneously here, and since I know no one here, I think I will dance with them. 
I wish you all well.  Life is good, you know.

Pezzini Farms: Home of the Deep-Fried Artichoke

In hindsight, maybe I should have opted for GPS.

They said it was right off the freeway.  I forgot to ask, "Which freeway?"

Notice the lack of activity. I had to opt for ice cream in
 Santa Cruz.

Nit Wit Ridge

Just when you think you've seen everything that could possibly be made out of trash...a house.

Now, if you are starting to worry that my trip has taken on a disturbing theme, rest assured that this is the last site I am going to that is founded upon debris. Well...I am going to see two slabs of the now razed Berlin Wall, but that is historical debris.
Nit Wit Ridge in Cambria also has historical significance.  The owner pissed people off for years with his constant waste recycling efforts in the heart of downtown. It turns out he was the town's trash collector by profession, but instead of taking the items to the landfill, he brought them home. I went to the address, not expecting to take a tour as it required reservations and since it was Easter Sunday, I had figured it would be closed.  But the next tour was going to be at 3.  I considered it, knowing that I still had deep fried artichokes to get to.  I went to the local coffee shop to mull it over.
While there, I asked the young woman (Chelsea), "if a person didn't have much time to spend here, what would you tell them they had to see?" She first mentioned the Hearst Castle.  I worked really hard to not roll my eyes.  Then she said Nit Wit Ridge.  I said, yes, but sadly I had not made reservations.  She said no problem, her father owns it and gives the tours.

What luck!  I was in! Below are the pictures and a description of what you are seeing.  I had a picture taken of Chelsea and me, but the photog had his finger over the lens, so I will start with a photo of my tour guide, Mike.

Great guy! Really knowledgeable and has a passion for telling Art's story.

An outdoor fountain

Toilet seats were used for picture frames.
(Note to self:  Do not take pictures while laughing)

Jim, The Mystery Tree

Because the line at "The Virgin Mary in Tree" was too long.

You will have to drive to Atascadero to see this, and if you just go by the picture, you may decide that it is not worth it.  However, there was a side benefit to detouring to see this enigma: the drive from the tree to the 101 at Morro Bay was beautiful! So I will leave it to you to decide if it was worth getting out of the car. I have to admit, the picture is much better than seeing it in person, as I could not really "see it" when I was there.  However, I attributed that to my innate inability to see those "Magic Eye" posters of the 80's, either.

Ostrichland, USA

"Do NOT call me an Emu!"

Leaving Santa Barbara, I headed to Buellton, not for pea soup, but to see acres of ostriches roaming free.  What I found was acres of ostriches who had learned that if they hung out at the fence, they would be fed. I carefully read the instructions and cautions about feeding them. In spite of that, I was nervous when holding out the food. But I cast caution to the wind (and the remainder of the food when an ostrich pecked at me) and fed them...a snack.

Yes, they do. 

"Trust Me"