One thing that IS here .... THE LOOP! Freight trains running East and West cross over these tracks, built in the mid 1800's. Built from the top of the mountain down, the track loops over itself to keep to the ratio allowing trains to get up the hill, as well as down without crashing. They have been traveling the exact same route ever since ... four of them came by last night, blowing their horns to say hello! But I'm getting ahead of myself ...
I left early yesterday morning to get fuel ($2.98/gal) then headed South. Since most of the freeways have been repaired, it was a pretty nice drive. Not much construction going on at this point. In Fresno there was a big fire near Ashlan Avenue. I could only get a picture in my rear view mirror. It was a huge building totally engulfed in flames. Tom Westerfield says this is very close to the previous big gas explosion ... County employees digging where they shouldn't have ... hopefully that didn't happen again!
I came upon the lovely town of Bakersfield before turning East on Highway 58 and heading up the mountain. Trucks are a problem here ... they can really back up traffic when a slow one tries to pass an even slower one. Lucky for me, I only had to pass two and traffic was very light. Not so, later in the afternoon when the rest of our group arrived. Some came up the hill at 20 mph!!
As I turned off the freeway at the Love's truck stop and drove up Tehachapi Mountain, I was greeted by lots of poppies still blooming on the roadside. Who knew this existed?? At the base of the hill is Mountain Valley RV park. Once settled in with a 50 amp service and water hookup (they have a dump station if you need it), I walked around to find jackrabbits, tons of birds and beautiful blue skies.
After everyone arrived, Barbara and Tom Westerfield, Rally Hosts, went over all the information in our welcome bags while we stuffed our faces with wonderful appetizers prepared by the group. This bunch can cook, that's for sure!!
We had quite a few new members here, as well as some prospective member/visitors. Be careful where you walk if staying here, as the squirrels/moles or whatever creatures they are, have made a mole hill out of this mountain!! The park is full to the brim with rigs and I think the owners are a little overwhelmed with this many visitors at once ... 17 rigs from our group alone.
Doug Pickard, a volunteer at the Railroad Museum (Retired Space Engineer who knows all things jet and space shuttle) came to speak about the history of this area, how the tracks were built and who used them. The original surveyors and engineers did such a great job that the tracks are the same as when originally built, with only a few changes in tunnels.
Now that's a lot of train buffs!!! It's going to be crowded around the loop when we check it out on Saturday!
Afterward, Barbara and Tom set up a S'mores station. The original idea was to roast a large marshmallow, scoop out the middle and fill it with Baileys, or some nice liquid refreshment. Unfortunately, their practice session didn't turn out so well. Neither did it work for anyone else I know, including myself!! Instead, we spread Hershey's chocolate frosting on graham crackers and smothered it in a beautifully roasted black marshmallow .... YUM YUM!!!!
They were delicious ... and easier to eat without the chocolate bar pieces, as evidenced by everyone having marshmallow and frosting all over their faces!! What a great time!!
As I walked around waiting for the sunset, several jackrabbits cruised through the grass and sagebrush nearby. What cuties!! That's part of the reason why chairs are set up on the outskirts of the park ... to watch coyotes come down from the mountain looking for dinner. I didn't see any, but heard plenty of them last night around 10:00.
As the sun started to set, the sky began to color .....
And turned into this beautiful pink cotton candy sunset for all of us to enjoy, serenaded by lots of birds hiding in the trees.
It's amazing what you can find, just a short ways off the beaten path.
This morning we will visit the Train Store and Depot Museum, spending the afternoon discovering the town of Tehachapi. Barbara was even able to find an Alpaca Ranch and Yarn Store for us to visit if we wish. This really is a beautiful area and worth a stop on your travels.
Saturday will be the Loop trip. In case you were wondering, there is no train schedule ... EVER! The railroads don't even know when the trains will arrive until they hear them on the radio, so bring a chair and a cool drink!!