Monday, May 25, 2009

It’s a Sign!

Ok, it really is a sign. How could I ignore a town that had a street named after my blog! J

To be honest, I traveled to Shafter because I wanted to see what Wildwood Road looked like. I was hoping to find a “For Rent” sign in front of a perfect home with a huge fenced yard and lots of trees.

Shafter is 18 miles N.W. of Bakersfield. The population, according to the 2000 census, is 12,736. 68% of the people there are Hispanic and 29% white, the remainder - other. The unemployment rate is 21%.

According to Wikipedia the town is named after General Wm. Rufus Shafter. The business of the town centers around agriculture. I saw alfalfa and corn fields, orchards and very large dairy farms.

Corn already 5 feet high...

Wildwood Road is bound on all sides by fields. There was a small group of homes surrounded by beautiful, graceful eucalyptus trees. Sadly, there was not a “For Rent” sign to be found in the enclave.

Alfalfa, orchard, wind-break trees...

Cow keeping an eye out for strangers...

Further down the road a large dairy farm. The cows all housed in large open air barns. There are mountains of hay, lots filled with farm equipment and hills of tarp-covered silage. Are you familiar with the California ad campaign about cow milk from California? I didn’t see cows feeding in lush pastures. It’s all about precise production. Those girls do serious work for a living! This is agri-business. These farmers are taking it in the chops right now as milk prices are very low. The recession has many faces in California.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Last few photos of Pine Mtn

The trees are still sporting Spring green leafs. The soft yellow-green adds a gauzy view to the mountains.

Will head back to this delightful village in June for the Pine Mountain Wine Festival!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pine Mountain's Lilac Festival (con't)

The Lilac Festival has many booths for local artisans and community groups. Great time to find that perfect and unique gift for someone special on your Christmas list.

The Lilac Festival is children friendly. There is something "shiny" for people of all ages.

The Lilac Festival

To experience the sight and scent of a large and fragrant variety of lilacs, I suggest you take a trip to Boston, Ma. The Arnold Arboretum has a vast collection of lilacs and is host to an annual viewing on Mother's Day. If you want to see a few lilacs in a country setting with clean air and have a delightful day in the mountains then Pine Mountain Club should be on your 'to do list'.

Pine Mountain Club is host to a very sweet festival. It is family friendly and at least this year was dog friendly (critters on a leash, please). The sound of Celtic music and the aroma of BBQ filled the air.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

It's the mix...

It is the road side surprises that I love while on a explore. The large flowering cactus was a delight to find, even more so because this desert dweller was rooted right next to a thriving orchard!

The flowers have a delicate nearly waxy transparent quality to them...
The next trip is planned for Sunday. A return to the Los Padres Mountains is on the schedule. The temperatures in the Valley will be climbing to the low 100's. So it will be off to the cooler temps and a mountain festival.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More cattle in the desert

HBFG asked me what the bulls ate. Thought by way of a response I would add another post. Before finding the boys in the last post I came across this group of youngsters. There is no grass here. Perhaps last month there was but this herd of heifers or steers would have made short work of that tender and sparse new grass.
The ground is parched and there are is no shade. The animals are an Angus Hereford cross. Black cattle in this heat are probably not thrifty (or so I've been told) as they stop eating and lie down on the ground. No eating therefore no weight gain. This group is up because my walking around them made them uneasy. Not easy to be a prey animal. Perhaps the agricultural group here puts hay or grain out in the morning or evening when it's cooler.
There was fresh running water and none of the animals were at the trough.

Do you know where your beef comes from???????

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I stumbled upon this all Men's Club while driving around looking for the main road. These look like pretty sturdy guys with solid muscle through the hind quarters and butt.

Cadillac? Limousine? Any cattlemen out there?

The old man below slowly stood up and began snorting and pawing the ground and then started a quick trot over to the intruder with the camera. I took that as my invitation to leave and did so with haste!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Terrain around the small town of Lost Hills

To the west of the town of Lost Hills (population about that of McKittrick)the Temblor Range. The infamous San Andreas Fault runs just to the west of the hills.
Off Rt. 33 power lines and telephone poles probably mark another oil field. There are also trucks and trailors ... agricultural workers?
Immediately across the street - an agricultural Eden, the wonders of irrigation!

McKittrrick Oil Fields

Chevron, Mobile, Occidental are all represented in these oil fields in the hills.

Try to imagine men and mule teams hauling surface crude out of this place in the early 1900s. They refined the surface crude into Kerosene. The trip to any town and WATER by wagon and mule train was days away!
I wonder if most oil workers in today's world live in mostly isolated dry places? Hmmm, perhaps not...some are out at sea.

McKittrick neighborhoods & back streets

Someone here cares for their yard and have managed to create a bit of beauty in a harsh environment

I wonder what percentage of folks in the Valley drive pick-ups? This is not a criticism. Were it not for the poor mileage I would get one too!
Alleys everywhere have an universal down trodden appearance.

McKittrick and oil

Driving South and then West to find McKittrick takes one back to areas that are dry and barren. Bear in mind that argricultural areas are not more than 20 miles from here. In the far right hand corner you will see (through the haze of smog) telephone poles. Those poles in the the middle of what appears to be 'no where' are indications of oil activity out here the Central Valley.
The tiny town of McKittrick is home to the 2nd largest oil field in California. In 2007 the population was 190 and there are about 80 +/- homes. The town itself occupies about 2.6 square miles.
I took a photo that included the street sign "Reward" as that was once another small town mentioned in the book "Black Gold". Don't think Reward exists any longer. Perhaps the town folks work the oil fields here. The roads over the mountains to the west lead to the ocean - eventually.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Mother's Day to Me and Thee

In honor of Mother's Day I'm posting a few last photos from last week's explore to this Blog. They represent two of the three of my favorite subjects: trees and horses.

I love trees. There is almost no vegetation let alone trees in the fenced spaced called 'my the back-yard'. So I relentlessly photograph images of trees. Sometimes the absence of trees at the rental house makes my heart ache. My computers slide shows are heavily loaded with photos all three of my "favorites": my delightful grown children, trees, and horses.
As for horses - I don't own or lease one. But I would be thrilled with either option. Wonderful animals. Instant stress relief just to groom one.

To slightly parapharse: "there is no poem as lovely as a..."
I'm off to exercise and then explore the Lost Hills. Read about the area in a book entitled "Black Gold", written in the 1940's the author described the earliest of California's oil prospectors. McKittrick was one of the towns mentioned. Will take a look and post photos during the week. It is going to be in the 90s here today so all this needs to be done before the sun is too strong or all you will see is the smog - in fact that may already be a problem as we've had several hot days. Then there is the problem with parts of Santa Barbara (on the coast) burning - don't know how much smoke has blown over the mountians. It all makes for a thick soup in terms of air quality. Then there will be a Mother's Day brunch at work for the Residents. New photos during the week...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Completing the Circle

The highway to Glennville leads me back to a familiar haunt - Granite Road. On this Sunday, I came upon two Condors (or at least I think so, gaging from the wing span and the 'finger like feathers' at the wing tip). Alas I have just this one lens so am limited for long distance close up. They were circling a carcass on the side of the road. My presence had disturbed their Sunday brunch.
No trip to the country side is complete if I have not included a goat, cow or horse....viola
Heading back to Rt. 99 and thoughts about where to next week-end....

Monday, May 4, 2009

Odds and ends from Lake Isabelle to Glennville

The rocky terrain of the area around Lake Isabella is startling. A large lake surrounded by near desert. In fact, the desert and Red Rock Canyon lie just 30 or so more miles to the South East side of this mountain range. These mountains are a tiny barrier when one considers the enormity of the complete arid, dry heat that lives in the desert.

Thistle guards the gate at the damn - ready for all manner of climatic assault.
The forest is lush and green just beyond and up hill a few miles north west from Lake Isabella. But the clouds and rain are soon to disappear. The average rainfall in May is 1/2 inch and it is down hill to just about bone dry by the end of September. Then California begins to burn. The Firemen must dread it.
And a small reminder that these forests are home to all manner of creatures: great and small....

The road to Glennville

The highway that leads to Glennville is a winding sometime narrow road too. But to my great pleasure there are numerous turn outs that provide an opportunity to pull over and take a photo or two. The road also has places where many rocks slide off the mountain. Should you decide to venture up there, go when you take a leisurely drive.

I love path ways in the distance. Always reminds me of the Robert Frost poem. The decisions we make - journeys to destinations unknown.

Clouds sitting on the mountain. Little promises of rain.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Lake Isabella - a place for boats and fishermen

I brought my tackle and rod but was too consumed with photography to drop a line. It was windy and a bit brisk. Note to self: leave a jacket in the car!

Lake Isabella - built on a fault line...

When Lake Isabella was under construction no one knew it was directly on top of a fault line. If and when the "Big One" comes the Lake will put the city of Bakersfield some 40 miles away under many feet of water. Driving up the canyon today I understood the physics of the potential disaster. The suddenly freed waters picking up speed as it is forced into the narrow canyon. Lake Isabella is very low right now. So does that make it 13 feet over the city rather than 18 feet? On the other side of the dam...a trailer park (of course).

Small hidden places along the river

Peaking through to the Kern - looks calm. That might be a nice fishing spot