Monday, May 2, 2016

On the road again

View of Allensworth State Historic Park, southern Central Valley of California
I am on my way to Yellowstone for another season.  This time I chose a different route than the usual across Nevada, on either 80 or 50, or the route across Idaho which I have used at the end of the season.  I headed south, which from Coarsegold is only one hundred miles longer than highway 80-north to Idaho Falls and West Yellowstone itinerary.

I've always encountered heavy winds in the region from Wells, NV to about Pocatello.   This time was no different; it just happened in the southern California desert.  There were several days of high wind advisories on Hwy 58 from the north side of Tehachapi Pass to Baker, CA.   RVs were advised not to drive it, and I did hear one semi-truck flipped.   I know my RV is light and doesn't handle wind well, so I had a few days in the south end of the Central Valley after leaving Coarsegold.

Col. Allensworth Historic State Park made a good stop-over.  The town is the only one in California founded, built and governed by African Americans.  Col Allensworth, born a slave, served in the Union Army.  At the time of his retirement, he was the highest ranking officer of color ever.   He invited fellow soldiers to join him in the establishment of this town.  It had a school, library, stores, church, barber shop, bakery, and hotel.  And it thrived for awhile.  Then the railroad, which had stopped there, chose to make nearby Earlimart its rail center for the immediate farm county.  That, and issues with water rights, brought the town into decline.  The state park has restored and rebuilt some of the buildings.

Staying there also made a dinner get together with Chris' sister, Debbie and brother-in-law John possible.  They live in Poerterville.  Good chance to get caught up.  Another night was spent in the Elks lot in Wasco.  If you have seen the movie "McFarland" with Kevin Costner you will have a feel for the small valley towns like Earlimart, Wasco, and Pixley and McFarland.  Although that one is set in the late 50's, early 60's, they are still small farm communities with strong Hispanic ties.

When the winds finally died I had an easy crossing.  Lunch at the Mad Greek's in Baker (the roasted eggplant rolls stuffed with feta were great).  I had such an early start, almost no traffic, that I had plenty of time to continue on to Mesquite, NV for a night of free parking in a casino lot.  Tonight I write from Beaver, UT where it will be about 34 degrees tonight.  That will sound cold to some of you, but it will be good preparation for Yellowstone which will be even colder when I arrive.  Its 23 degrees there tonight.

Just before leaving Coarsegold I joined friends for a weekend of photography based in Volcano, CA.  This is Mother Lode Country in the foothills, and heart of the '149 gold rush.  In the nearby town of Sutter's Creek is the old Knight Foundry.  Great spot.  Lots of old equipment lying around. Perfect early morning spot.  We photographed before going to breakfast.

Nearby is Indian Grinding Rock State Park.  Several very large slabs of granite are filled with grinding hole.  Acorn meal was the main staple of the Native American diet in California.   Several family style shelters and a large ceremonial lodge are also on the grounds.  The local Miwoks and others helped build, maintain and use these facilities during the year.   The oak trees on the site are about the best examples I have seen.  They are massive.

This rock is probably 75 to 100 feet long.  Only a portion is shown here.

Abandoned house in Beaver Utah.  The clouds moved in before I returned with my camera so the highest snow covered peak in the distance is hidden.   But even the lower mountains still have a lot of snow