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To Tulare and Back - News - bespk

To Tulare and Back

Posted on Friday, 19th October 2012 by Eunice

We departed from Los Angeles on the 8th October and headed north to Tulare.  Having learnt our lesson about freeways we decided to leave Los Angeles using the city streets, and with the help of Tina's maps navigated out of town  into San Fernando and then on the Old Highway that runs parallel to route 5.  We were most grateful for as we passed under where the freeways meet it was reminiscent of spaghetti junction.  Unfortunately there comes a time when there is only one way across the Grapevine Pass, in the San Susana Mountains and that is to re-join 5.  For us this was in the slow lane, being overtaken by large trucks.  The noise was tremendous and the car got extremely hot, but eventually we made it to the summit (4144ft). 

The descent was more rapid and allowed the car to cool down.  At the foot of the mountain the plains spread out in front of you, with the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the distance to the east.  The area is very dry and barren where not irrigated.  As soon as it was possible we left the freeway and took the 194 towards Lamont and the turned left on the 58 to Bakersfield where we had decided to stop for the night, to enable us to reach Tulare at an appropriate time.  Initially we were rather unimpressed by the city, Guy having walked to get his hair cut and reported it to be rather run down.  We chose to eat at Uriccchio's Trattoria in the centre of town, where the owner (Claire Uricchio) very kindly refused to charge us for our dinner, after she had heard what we were up to.  We agreed that the cost of the dinner would be put into the charities, which suited us all.

After a somewhat sleepless night; we weren't quite sure if it was from the trains, as the hotel was opposite the Amtrak station, or due to Guy's anxiety about the pending service, we set off to Tulare.  The journey took us initially through several oil fields - a place aptly named Oildale.  Then we were into an area of vast citrus groves that seem to stretch for miles.  Some of these are harvested and pruned by machine. The trees have taken on a bizarre square shape.  It was a bit like being in Alice in Wonderland.  There are also olive, almond, peach and apricot plantations, as well as vineyards, all extensively irrigated.  One could say this was the fruit and nut case of the USA.

Vic & Linda Groah (friends of Chris & Michelle Bamford in Edmonton) had very kindly agreed to take in supplies for us and all had arrived safely.  They had also offered us accommodation.  Being very weary of motels this was a godsend.  They made us extremely welcome and very comfortable.  They have an extensive array of old cars, one of which is the Corvette Linda owned when they first meet.  If she were not such a lovely lady, it might be tempting to think that Vic was attracted to her car.  Guy and Vic spent a happy evening driving some of the cars in the garage and Guy had greater success with the Model T than previously, which re-established his male prowess.

The following day (11th October), Vic had arranged for several of his friends from the local Horseless Carriage Club to come and assist with the service.  They have an extensive workshop, in which Vic has pursued his business of specialist coach building and restoration, when not being a teacher.  Guy was a little anxious as to how they would all fit around the car and also with entrusting his baby to others.  (There were several times during the re-build when Eunice was evicted from the workshop).  He need not have worried, as with Vic acting as foreman and all of them being very skilled in the maintenance of old cars, the team were more than up to the task.

Linda took Eunice for some retail therapy at the local Outlet Mall.  After 10 weeks of wearing the same four sets of clothes, some of which are passed their best, it was necessary - any excuse!  By the time they returned to the house, several of the wives had arrived to help with preparations for a delicious lunch.  This was a segregated meal, the men being fed outside, on account of their greasy clothes.

The service was completed in record time, oils changed  and new tyres on wheels, everything greased and inspected and a re-working of the troublesome wheel bearing.  The car was even given a wash and polish and looked much better for it.  Then came play time and Guy was able to try out a Franklin brought along by one of the crew and a couple more of Vic and Linda's cars.  Eunice was invited to join them for a ride in the 1907 REO, great fun.  Meanwhile the "yellow peril" was test driven by several of the guys.  However Vic got in and out of it is difficult to imagine - watch the video and you'll see what we mean. 

The evening was arranged as a 'pot luck' meal, with all of the wives contributing more delicious food (3 types of chicken, vegetables and salad and for desert red velvet cake, pumpkin, coconut and banana cream pies).  Both Guy and Eunice felt truly honoured by all this attention and cannot thank all those involved enough.  Unfortunately by the end of the evening it was obvious that Linda was not feeling well and she departed for an early night.

By the morning she was no better, so Guy and Eunice took their leave, after struggling to get all of the contents back into the car.  We headed for Wasco where Eunice had discovered that they grew 55% of all the roses in the USA.  Anyone would think she was missing her garden.  We travelled to the east on the137 and then south on the 43.  This is the area of the highest milk production in the US  with massive dairy farms, all of which are highly mechanized, and not a blade of grass to be seen.  The cattle are all fed on alfalfa and meal supplements according to their needs and milk yield.

Wasco was a bit of a disappointment as we hardly saw any roses and having lost our way on arriving were tired and fraught.  A walk to the local supermarket for supper and an early night was called for.  The following day we planned to travel to Palmdale, as on the Map this looked a good place to stop and offered a non-freeway route back into LA.  Guy is very keen to see the Jay Leno collection and Tina is very kindly trying to organize this for us.  We also need to get insurance for Mexico and are struggling with the Spanish, as well as catching up with lots of other admin tasks to try and keep the trip running smoothly.

The journey to Palmdale took us initially on boring straight roads (43 to Bakersfield and then 166 west until we had to re-join the freeway to head south, back over the Grapevine.  Just as hard in the opposite direction, but we don't feel so bad having been reassured that it is a struggle even in a modern car.  Shortly after reaching the summit we turned east on the 136 and then took the right fork onto the N2.  This is a real driver's road, lots of sharp bends and it wasn't long before came across the Corvette Clan Saturday outing, some mountain bikers and were then joined by a howl of Harleys. The road made a great change after the earlier part of the day, but the pace was more sedate than previously, Eunice having expressed her dislike of being scared witless.

The local vegetation is very arid and there are lots of warnings about fire. California has had a lot of fires over this summer and it is easy to see how this landscape could explode in flame, if one was careless.  Just as we were beginning to feel hungry and wondering if there was anywhere we could get lunch, we turned a corner and found a horde of Harleys parked outside an Inn.  This is the Rock Inn and is a notorious bikers haunt, even more so at the moment as it is decked out  for Halloween! 

The landscape flattens out as you reach the foothills and stretches off into the Mojave Desert.  Palmdale is established as a space industry town and apart from the Antelope Valley Shopping Mall, has little of interest.  We should have known that when there is nothing recommended to do on Trip Advisor.  It did give us a good chance to attempt to catch up on all of those tasks we had to do.

We left Palmdale on the 16th October and headed back to LA to catch up with new friends there.  The journey back took us over the San Gabriel mountains using the Angeles Forest Highway (N3) and then on to Canyon Rd., which brought us into LA, directly north of Burbank.  The road was similar to a European mountain pass, even having signs for Ice; difficult to believe with the sun beating down on you.  Somehow, we managed to navigate ourselves to the hotel, as this was not the route we had originally planned.

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