CALIFORNIA 2018

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Photos © Ruud Leeuw

 


California 2018, my travelogue: Ruud 'Rudi' Leeuw
Our flight made a nice approach, circling around San Francisco before landing
Date 10Apr2018

California 2018, my travelogue: Ruud 'Rudi' Leeuw <

This are, however, the only photos of San Francisco I can share, as we drove off after landing at SFO, passing immigrations, collecting the bags, collecting the Alamo rental car - which all took a hell of a time!
This was a vacation trip redesigned several times over, never a very good idea, but the schedule I had made for this trip in California, basically travelling from San Francisco to Los Angeles, was pretty tight and there was no time to spare for San Fran...
I have been here before and am not a great fan of big cities, so the choice wasn't hard.

Anyway, while I was prepared for long queues at immigration, almost always a tiresome hassle entering the US, we went half way around the world to get to the rental car lot! Took ages.
Worst thing, adding insult to injury, was the traffic congestion all the way to Sacramento! What a sick country!
So I was agitated and frustrated on day 1 and that never really left me this trip (am a bit to blame myself here too, I have to admit).
But here goes...

 

On our way to Sacramento I 'ran' into this Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia; wikipedia) and since I've taken up
birding recently, albeit in a modest way, I was quite jubilant with how I was able to photograph it.
This cheeky owl took its time posing, knowing it could even outrun me if the need arose.

Burrowing Owl at Vacaville,CA
Burrowing Owl near Vacaville.


LaQuinta Inn, Sacramento North
We stayed in 9 different motels during this 12-day trip, LaQuinta in Sacramento-North was the first one.
The room was good enough, the included breakfast meagre, the weather in the morning cold but sunny.

Aerospace Museum of California
I had driven to Sacramento to meet up for a first face-to-face meet with John Vogel, volunteer at the
Aerospace Museum of California on Sacramento-McClellan Airpark. John is a regular (aviation) contributor to my website.
He can be seen in the background, talking to Ada, while a colleague of John captivates the attention of a group on tour here.
Aerospace Museum of California
Some of the art work on these planes is better than most; I had no trouble recollecting this plane from the mid-1990s.

Should you be interested in planes (overload warning!), go to my CALIFORNIA 2018 AVIATION REPORT


 

On this first full day we drove through rather uninspiring countryside to places that held an aviation interest for me, at Stockton Airfield and Castle Air Museum. From Atwater / Merced we drove west to Santa Cruz, the country side wasn't much more inspiring but the agricultural nature was obvious.

<leeg>LaQuinta Inn, Sacramento North
California roads

 


 

SANTA CRUZ

California 2018, my travelogue: Ruud 'Rudi' Leeuw
I try to book motels which include a breakfast; it saves time and money. Here in the Quality Inn, in Santra Cruz, the
breakfast area was very small (only 3 tables, with 2 more in the mext door office). The buffet selection was pretty good, with fruit (bananas) and a waffle iron. But it was a dance sometimes, shuffling around people to get what you want.
We stayed here two nights, now we're off to see some whales...

California 2018, my travelogue: Ruud 'Rudi' Leeuw
I had booked with Stagnaro Charters (www.santacruzwhalewatching.com) for a 3-4 hour trip to spot whales.
This was my 8th or 9th whale watching trip, but the first one where I was at a recommended time and recommended
place to see whales passing the coastline.
I would only be satisfied if I'd get to see a whale 'breaching', with its head above the water; it would be a first. Alas.

California 2018, my travelogue: Ruud 'Rudi' Leeuw
Sealions had taken the day off..

California 2018, my travelogue: Ruud 'Rudi' Leeuw
After a good while we came across some dolphins; these were Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus), itis the only species of dolphin that cannot be bred in captivity, as told by the onboard naturalist (but Wikipedia has different info).
It is commonly known as the Monk dolphin among Taiwanese fishermen.

California 2018, my travelogue: Ruud 'Rudi' Leeuw
Risso's dolphin is named after Antoine Risso, whose description formed the basis of the first public description of the animal, by Georges Cuvier, in 1812. The markings on these dolphins are quite distinct!
These crisscross scratch marks on their skin (they increase over time) may be caused from teeth marks of other
Risso's dolphins as well as squid bites and parasites. Risso's dolphins eat squid and fish, they live between 20 - 40 years.

And then the sea seemed empty, the crew of the vessel kept searching while at least a 3rd of the passengers were
fighting seasickness.. There was a cold wind blowing but the sun was fierce and I got some sunburn.
I took some photos of the coastline to keep busy. I had brought a Canon 400/5.6L lens, which I would only need this day.

California 2018, my travelogue: Ruud 'Rudi' Leeuw
California 2018, my travelogue: Ruud 'Rudi' Leeuw

I guess the charter for '3 to 4 hours' has the 4th hours in case the whales are not spotted in the first 3 hours.
We certainly did need that 4th hour but then two grey whales were spotted! Unfortunately the crew was unable
to get close to the whales (it is hard), even considering the code for whale watching. I cropped the pics to get 2 good ones.
California 2018, my travelogue: Ruud 'Rudi' Leeuw
Grey Whales make one of the longest migrations of any mammal on earth.
Every year they swim more than 10.000 miles round trip, between nursery lagoons in Mexico, to feeding grounds in the Arctic.

And this one still has the whale's breath and spittle in the cold air...
California 2018, my travelogue: Ruud 'Rudi' Leeuw
But I didn't see any tails nor whales breaching and I have to admit that it left me somewhat disappointed.

Santa Cruz,CA

We drove a short while along the coastline, found with some difficulty a parking spot and watched surfers and sealife.
In Europe there would be a restaurant where one could sit outside and watch the waves, I could not find such a thing here.

 


BOARDWALK

California 2018, my travelogue: Ruud 'Rudi' Leeuw
A typical American phenomenon I think, doesn't tickle my fancy but 'went with the locals'.
California 2018, my travelogue: Ruud 'Rudi' Leeuw

California 2018, my travelogue: Ruud 'Rudi' Leeuw
California 2018, my travelogue: Ruud 'Rudi' Leeuw

California 2018, my travelogue: Ruud 'Rudi' Leeuw

California 2018, my travelogue: Ruud 'Rudi' Leeuw
We picked up some refreshment's and drinks, at Trader Joe's, retiring to our room having soon grown tired of Santa Cruz.

California 2018, my travelogue: Ruud 'Rudi' Leeuw
A nice restaurant close to our motel, The Water Street Grill. Regular fare but enthusiastic service and
we could sit outside (it was chilly but they put a burner beside our table) and watch the sunset.
Callahan's Pub promised live music, but the jetlag was hurting and I regret to say we did not go there.


 

MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM

It was only an hours drive from Santa Cruz to Monterey, the dominant city here at Monterey Bay. We spent another day here, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (last time I visited here was in the mid-1990s) and Cannery Row. A very pleasant day this was, but for the prices of the accommodation we continued for the night to Salinas.

Monterey Bay

Monterey was the capital of Alta California under both Spain and Mexico. It was the only port of entry for taxable goods in California.
In 1846, the U.S. flag was raised over the Customs House, and California became part of the United States after the Mexican-American War.
Monterey had long been famous for the abundant fishery in Monterey Bay. That changed in the 1950s when the local fishery business collapsed due to overfishing.
A few of the old fishermen's cabins from the early 20th century have been preserved as they originally stood along Cannery Row.

Among Monterey's notable present-day attractions are the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, Fisherman's Wharf and the annual Monterey Jazz Festival.
en.wikipedia.org:_Monterey,_California

Cannery Row is the waterfront street in the New Monterey section of Monterey, California. It is the site of a number of now-defunct sardine canning factories. The last cannery closed in 1973. The street name, formerly a nickname for Ocean View Avenue, became official in January 1958 to honor John Steinbeck and his well-known novel Cannery Row. In the novel's opening sentence, Steinbeck described the street as "a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream."
en.wikipedia.org:_/Cannery_Row

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey Bay Aquarium

I had visited this aquarium in the 1990s and was impressed at the time. So I really wanted to revisit it and found
it had only grown better and more impressive. One has to be able to stand the hordes of children here, of course.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay
Puffins are cute, they 'fly' under water: their short wings are adapted for swimming with a flying technique under water.
In the air, they beat their wings rapidly (up to 400 times per minute) in swift flight, often flying low over
the ocean's surface. Very entertaining animals.

Monterey Bay
We shouldn't forget the world has an immense pollution problem with plastics floating in our seas and oceans.

Monterey Bay Aquarium
On top, left & right, are American avocets.
In the middle (left) a Red Knot I think, on the right a Semipalmated Sandpiper?
For the lower two I would opt for the Marbled Godwit on the left and the one on the right I could not identify.

Monterey Bay Aquarium
The one top left I could not identify, the one on the right could be a Ryddy Tirnstone..?
On bottom left is a Snowy Plover I think, on the right a Black Oystercatcher.

Even using the charts below I find these birds sometimes hard to define and identify!


Monterey Bay Aquarium
Birds, birds, birds...


Never realized that to watch these gently floating, pumping jellyfish (& sea nettles) could be so relaxing....
Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

 

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Inside... and outside. Sea otters are funny creatures.
The sea otter (Enhydra lutris) is a marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean.

Sea otters, whose numbers were once estimated at 150.000-300.000, were hunted extensively for their fur between 1741 and 1911; the world population fell to 1.000-2.000 individuals living in a fraction of their historic range.
A subsequent international ban on hunting, conservation efforts, and reintroduction programs into previously populated areas have contributed to numbers rebounding, and the species occupies about two-thirds of its former range.
The recovery of the sea otter is considered an important success in marine conservation, although populations in the Aleutian Islands and California have recently declined or have plateaued at depressed levels. For these reasons, the sea otter remains classified as an endangered species.
en.wikipedia.org:_Sea_otter
 

Monterey Bay Aquarium
The cormorant

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay


CANNERY ROW

Monterey Bay Aquarium

 

Monterey Bay
John Steinbeck is forever linked with Cannery Row, due to his book by the same title

Perched atop the rock sits John Steinbeck.
He is surrounded by eight other figures, some reminiscent of Cannery Row's bustling sardine canning days and other characters from a different time, whose great imagination transformed Cannery Row into a vibrant tourism destination it is today.
At the base is E Ricketts, Steinbeck's good friend and one of the fathers of marine biology.
The Chinese fisherman is a reminder of the Chinese fishing village extablished in the mid-1800s on this very shore.

Monterey Bay


 

FAMOSO AUTO CLUB RACEWAY
~DRAGFEST~


Famoso Raceway Dragfest 2018
It just so happened I was heading to Bakersfield and got wind of this 'Dragfest' on the sunday.
Pity I couldn't get there on the saturday, to see the oval dirt racing. Maybe next time!

Famoso Raceway Dragfest 2018

Famoso Raceway Dragfest 2018

Auto Club Famoso Raceway celebrates in 2108 '60 Years of Quarter Mile Drag Racing'..! 

The Famoso Raceway dragstrip is located north of Bakersfield and is known historically as the home to the annual
March Meet, also known as the U.S. Fuel and Gas Championships.
The strip, located on Famoso Road between Highway 99 and Highway 65 east of the Highway 99 and Highway 46 interchange, was originally built in World War II as an auxiliary training base for the nearby Army Air Corps training base at Shafter's Minter Field.
After WW II, the Army abandoned the field.

It was in the 1950s that an aspiring group of drag racing pioneers from the Bakersfield area, the Bakersfield Smokers, purchased the strip and made the necessary adjustments to allow for drag racing.
The Famoso Raceway hosted the first ever March Meet in 1959 and it helped establish the National Hot Rod Association's (NHRA) legitimacy.

Today the Famoso Raceway still hosts the March Meet but it is now strictly a nostalgic hot rod and dragster event.
The track also hosts fuel-altered events and the annual California Hot Rod Reunion in October as well as a high school racing series and other smaller events.
It is run by the Kern County Racing Association, Inc. with major sponsorship from the Automobile Club of Southern California, which also sponsors NASCAR and NHRA events and tracks throughout Southern California.
en.wikipedia.org:_Famoso_Raceway
famosoraceway.com/schedule.htm

Famoso Raceway Dragfest 2018

Famoso Raceway Dragfest 2018

Famoso Raceway Dragfest 2018

Famoso Raceway Dragfest 2018

 


Famoso Auto Club - Dragfest 2018


 

 

California 2018 - Ruud Leeuw
View from our room, the Comfort Suites in Bakersfield,CA
Something nice, like a motel with a pool, can sit in an otherwise uninteresting, even ugly landscape.

California 2018 - Ruud Leeuw
Moving into the Mojave desert region


Countless numbers of windmills; plenty of wind here, always it seems

California 2018 - Ruud Leeuw
Mining in a desolate area, with obvious signs of the past and present

California 2018 - Ruud Leeuw
Our rental car, a nice Ford Escape, among the Joshua trees

California 2018 - Ruud Leeuw
California desert country; the roads get worse and worse

California 2018 - Ruud Leeuw
Found a bunch of people making a film, with a lot of smoke. Near the Aviation Warehouse at El Mirage.

California 2018 - Ruud Leeuw
Around 14:30, 15:00: schoolbusses galore

California 2018 - Ruud Leeuw
Into the mountains, the landscape improves immensely; we spent a night in Big Bear Lake.
During the night temperature dipped to freezing, by the time we had breakfast it was only 2 degrees Celsius, brrr.


 

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Created: 14-May-2018
Updated: 19-May-2018