Friday, September 30, 2016

Panama Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco

Thank goodness I'm not old enough to have attended the exposition in San Francisco in 1915 that touted the opening of the Panama Canal.  Among the exhibits was the C. P. Huntington, the first steam locomotive purchased by Southern Pacific Railroad and now on display at the Sacramento State Railroad Museum.  Did you know there was another train exhibit?
This one was an exact 1/3 replica on 19" tracks that moved passengers around the exposition.  The Overfair Railway was built by Louis MacDermot for the Exposition.  Louis came from an extremely wealthy family due to his fathers wheeling and dealing swindles.  Louis did however, have a penchant for building things, like a steam powered motorcycle and an entire light system for his mothers house, not to mention a dress she could wear that lit up like a Christmas tree.

When the PPIE requested he supply a people mover for the fair, he built four locomotives, the 1912, 1913, 1914 and 1915 along with 60 passenger cars.
Fast forward to 1962 when Al Smith became President of Orchard Supply Hardware.  After purchasing quite a bit of property around Davenport, just North of Santa Cruz, he became fascinated with the 19" railroad.  Eventually, he purchased all the locomotives and one remaining car.  You see, when the little railroad finally went broke and Louis MacDermot died penniless, most of the cars were burned.  Amazingly, the metal parts survived and Al bought those too.
Very few people in the world know these facts, but Dan Chance got a line on this setup and was able to add it to our agenda.  On this little ranch named Swanton outside Santa Cruz, Al Smith built a roundhouse and a repair shop, along with a couple miles of track.  The story doesn't end here however.  Wanting the little railroad to survive, he donated all his land to Cal Poly State University for instruction and classes in Agriculture, included the railroad and an endowment to make sure it lived forever.  Now THAT's a story!!
Not really open to the public, it is run mostly by volunteers.  They are currently in the process of rebuilding the locomotives, one of which is almost complete.  Whenever manufacturing parts or bridges or even buildings are required, Cal Poly's classrooms go to work supplying design plans.
One of the little locomotives never was completed.  When the Sacramento State Railroad Museum wanted to buy one, Al Smith gave them that one, which now sits on the entry floor of the museum.  1914 is the completed engine above, with 1912 and 1913 under repair here.
This is a look inside the boiler.  Eventually the tubes will be replaced and this baby will be back on the tracks.
This is the one remaining car that's still intact ... sort of.  There's a little rot here and there, but that's being repaired.  If you want to volunteer to work on her, you're more than welcome to come for the weekend and help out.
This barn houses the little diesel engine that pulled the train for us.  They only bring the steam engine out a few times a year.  Once for a fundraiser and once for a big party for the locals in the area.  That doesn't mean you can't show up ... just give them a call and find out when the volunteers are working.
They do have a regular restroom in another building, but this caboose is closer should you need to use the facilities.  I'd like to warn you however, it's the ORIGINAL bathroom in this caboose, which means it's barely two feet wide, pitch black (no lights) and the door doesn't close so well.  Don't worry about the tracks below, it IS connected to a sewer line.
All forty of us met at the little train station where we loaded up and went for a trip across the creek and out to their pumpkin and Christmas tree farm.  You too can ride the train to pick your pumpkins or your Christmas tree (which they will cut for you), then return with your prize to your car.  Check for dates and times.
Here's the 1/3 size diesel engine that could.  It's got a tractor engine and backhoe parts and pieces that make it work.  Don't bother asking to ride in the cab, us old folks won't fit inside.  
The bridge was engineered and built by Cal Poly students.  Volunteers and students are allowed to camp and fish on the ranch should they so desire.
Even Ida thinks riding the train is fun!!  She went the entire way with us .... TWICE!  Dan talked them into going a second round!!
The people mover cars are replicas, but most of the metal parts are the real deal.  Everyone was fascinated with this little train setup, not to mention California's largest buckeye tree which stands in their yard.  I'm sure there will be some volunteers from our group showing up to work on the train.

We had Safeway sandwiches on the property while one of the volunteers gave the group a detailed description of every single member of MacDermot's family.  Thank goodness I sat at a far table to be in the shade and didn't hear any of the 90 minute talk that went on forever and ever, even as we got in our cars and drove away!!

In more current news, the gardner's father showed up to replace two of the dead plants, saying they were killed by roundup.  I know that's what happened to my rose bush in back too.  From now on, there will be NO roundup in my yard.  Not that he did a great job of it, I'm going out this morning to dress it up a little.  

My first day back was a day of putting out fires ... I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Beautiful Downtown Hanford

That title alone would keep me from reading THIS blog!!  I stopped in for a couple of days to attend a Western Motor Home Association Indio Rally planning meeting.  The first thing I would like to say is it was HOT, HOT, HOT!!!  96 degrees to be exact!!  Hanford does have one redeeming factor besides the fairgrounds with 50 amp service for our rigs.  They have Superior Dairy!!

It's a small little place, an old diner to be exact, with pink booths and old time diner stools you don't see much any more.  Betty, Kurt and I made it our first stop.  Never having been here before, I asked if the ice cream was served in a bowl or cone.  Bowl she said, like that one, as she pointed to a normal looking ice cream bowl.  I'll have one scoop please.

You can tell by the shocked look on Betty's face ... the "how in the world am I going to eat THIS" look.  My face had the same expression.  GOOD GRIEF!!!  This folks, is ONE SCOOP!
Kurt just LOVES ice cream, so he was beaming the entire time we sat there!!  There's no way we can eat this in one sitting.  No problem the waitress said, we have cups to go!
This was my chocolate bowl ... you can see the expressions pretty clearly here!!  I couldn't even eat half.  In fact, there was so much left over, it didn't fit in the to-go cup!!  After the first 50 bites, you really can't taste the flavor any more because your mouth is frozen.
So the next time you happen by beautiful downtown Hanford, stop in at Superior Dairy Ice Cream Shop.  You might want to try the banana split with SEVEN scoops of ice cream, an entire bunch of bananas and half a gallon of sauce.  Bring ten of your good friends!!

I arrived home yesterday to intense heat and almost melted before I could get in the house and turn on the fans.  It didn't take long before I noticed this in my back yard.  That's funny, because out front there is so much water I expected to see alligators coming up from the grass.  Of course they mowed over the bog, so now it's full of deep ruts and I'm mad as a hornet, like the ones flying around my head.  They are EVERYWHERE!!
I called the gardner and insisted he come over immediately.  There were a million excuses, as you can imagine, but basically the GFI outlet apparently died a horrible death.  That's the one the sprinkler system is plugged in to, as well as my security lights.  You can't walk by a dead lawn and not notice it's dying, but they did, day after day.  Finally, TWO WEEKS later, they took notice when the entire front yard was brown and hooked up an extension cord.  Why didn't they call me?  It was that new phone, and my number didn't transfer over.  Yeah right!!

To combat the brown, they turned the sprinklers way up, causing the swamp and a new crop of moss.  They were hoping I would't get home until the lawn greened up.  I imagine the lawn will heal, but the ruts will not!!  Nor will the four beautiful dead plants ... I mean REALLY DEAD ... right next to the ones that seem to be fine.  How does THAT happen??  

My gardner left with half the butt he came with, since I chewed him out royally!!  I've called an electrician to replace the GFI and I'm going on the offensive against the wasps.  Good grief ... can't a girl take a little vacation without returning to disaster??

Thanks for letting me rant .... there is still one more railroad to tell you about, but it will have to wait. The pictures are still in the camera, which is still in the rig.  In the meantime, I'm having a shot of happy juice in my morning coffee as I grieve for my poor dead plants!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Trains and Dynamite ... YIKES!!

First off, a little more information.  The redwoods here were home to the native tribes of Sayante people.  Eventually the Mexican government took over and created land grants.  In 1867 Joseph Welch purchased 350 acres to become a tourist destination ... Welch Big Trees.  Upon his death, his widow leased the land to J. M. Hooper who ran a resort that included a dance floor.

What?  A dance floor in the forest?  It drew many famous people like Andrew Carnegie and Presidents Harrison and Roosevelt.  Rumor has it that John C. Fremont and Kit Carson visited the trees in 1846 and slept in the tree, which became known as the Fremont Tree.  Though you have to duck down to enter, you can certainly stand tall inside!
Another interesting business here on the hillside near Santa Cruz was California Powder Works.  Once a huge operation, gunpowder was manufactured here with chemicals from as far away as Sicily.   They built a wharf in Santa Cruz just for the unloading of materials, which were taken to the site by horse drawn wagons over a covered bridge which remains to this day.

A small dam was built across the San Lorenzo River, providing water for power and manufacturing.  Unfortunately, none of the flume or dam remains today.
Once mixed together, the ingredients were ground down to smooth the edges, making it easier to pour and ending up with a smokeless powder the miners loved when it was contained in a small paper tube better known as dynamite.  This is one of the bunkers where grinding wheels worked day and night.   It has three sides of concrete, thereby directing a possible blast away from other buildings.

In 1898 when a huge blast did occur, killing 13 men, raining debris over the entire hill and breaking windows in Santa Cruz, the plant was shut down.  It has since become Paradise Park, a private subdivision of sorts held by the Masonic Temple.  
Next stop ... down a long winding narrow road and up the hill is this beautiful garden railroad, built by a contractor whose name I missed.  These G Scale railroads make for some fun in the back yard.
All of these buildings and signs have been hand made.  If you've got about 20,000 hours with nothing to do, here's a hobby for you!!
When not building, you can be scouting old toy and antique stores for parts and pieces, like this Harley Davidson motorcycle.
Kind of hard to see, but this trestle goes over a river made possible by the 12" wide waterfall in the back, before going through a tunnel under the mountain.  How fun is that??
Inside is an even more amazing setup of small HO trains.  The detail here is beyond imagination.  You could stand for hours and see something different every minute!
The paint signs, the vehicles, the people .... even palm trees ... and the buildings were all hand made.
Around the corner is the old gold mining town, complete with laundry on the porch and a dump for old junk and miniature cans.  I was so fascinated by the setup, I didn't even get a picture of the trains!!
Next up, another garden railroad.  We couldn't miss the location with this baby sitting out front.  Can you imagine driving this???  Apparently the grandfather gave it to his grandchildren.  It's the children's father who built the next garden railroad.
This is a dream for the neighborhood kids and whoever does NOT have to mow the lawn now covered up with railroad.  The entire front yard, down the side of the house and around to the back yard ...... all train setup.
These guys can run four trains at once ... a necessity when there are three kids and a dad ... everyone gets their own train.  There are several water features, at least two tunnels and fun steam engines to drive.
There's even a lumber mill operation and a train full of big logs.  I can see this in my back yard.  I already have the G scale train that runs around my Christmas tree.  With another $10,000 I could build a similar setup.
By now, we're all pretty exhausted, as we limped back to our camp for a huge barbecued pork loin and salmon on a shingle dinner.  This group doesn't mess around when it comes to food.  

There's one more day of train riding at a private facility owned by Cal Poly University.  Bet you didn't know they owned a 1/3 size 19" steam locomotive railroad!!  That's coming up next .... after I hook up and wander back North to home sweet home.  The dogs will be thrilled to run loose in the back yard!!  I can't wait!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Boot Scootin' To The Beach!!

I'm an early riser, that's no secret.  But getting up at 4:30 so you have time to shower before helping cook breakfast for 40 people can be a challenge.  Especially when your CO2 alarm went off at 11:30, 12:35 and 2:45.  Good grief!!!  I've no idea what it's problem is ... it's one of those RV mysteries.

Once full of breakfast, we headed back over to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park where we left the cars, walked over the bridge and jumped on the diesel train to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.  It's about an hour's ride and it drops you off right at the center of the boardwalk.
Along the way, you get to see lots of trees and steep drops to the river below as you listen to Beach Boys music from the 60's.  Our group of Golden Spike members took up almost two whole cars, some enclosed, some open to the breeze.
Just as you get to town, the train enters a long dark tunnel before taking up the entire street.  Cars just have to get out of the way.  With whistles blowing, we made the last mile down along the beach to our drop off point where 40 old folks disembarked to walk the planks of an old amusement park.
Surprise!!  All those old planks have been replaced by concrete.  The beach wasn't very crowded, and with waves like that, there weren't many people in the water.  This is where my mother put the fear of oceans into me.  If I go out more than a few feet, I'll be swept away and drown, never to return.  Yeah, my mom was good at that.  It took me nearly 50 years and five years of scuba diving to get over it.
Patty, Dan and I took the overhead people mover to the far end, saving many steps down the boardwalk, which WAS crowded with people.  What a nice little ride with GREAT views.  Just don't kick your heels together as I did ... I almost lost my sandal!!
Once at the far end, we unloaded and headed out to the street towards the Pier.  The view was pretty nice to say the least, as these guys played volleyball.  I think there must be ten courts here to play on. Sorry guys, there were no girls playing!
It's a little bit of a walk, but there are bicycle guys to give you a quick ride in a cart for tips.  As we walked toward the restaurants, we watched the weekend surfers crash and burn.  This is the beginners section.  You can see the line of cars at the top of the cliff.  If you have your vehicle, you can park here and watch the show.
The Boardwalk has expanded quite a bit since I was here last.  They have torn down one large building and are in the process of adding more rides.  It's packed to the brim with carnival games, lots of little kid rides and every kind of food you can imagine.
Lucky us, there was a T-Bird car show at the end of the dock.  Remember this from American Graffiti??  There were new and old birds (not including us), along with a 50th Anniversary Model.  I prefer the black or pink myself.
We stopped in at Fire Fish Grill for some yummy seafood before hanging over the side of the pier for pictures of this baby.  You don't usually see sea otters here.  This guy was eating up a storm.
When finally done, he went directly to the dock below us, his own personal restaurant, and peeled off a huge bunch of barnacles.  He broke off one small piece at a time and ate it while balancing the rest on his stomach.  Fresh seafood for lunch!!
The under side of the wharf was stacked to the brim with sea lions and seals.  Even the narrowest piece of timber had a seal sleeping on it.  There was scuffling here and there as some got pushed off into the water.  Problem was, the tide was out and they couldn't get back up, causing loud barks and bites!!
Look at these babies ... some balancing across open holes.  They all looked like they had a hard night, just like me.
This guy must have had a boot scootin' night.  He was crashed ... I mean out like a light ... next to the caterpillar blade.  I'm sorry, but that doesn't look like fun to me!!  No telling where he left his right shoe.
THIS on the other hand is GREAT fun!!  Deep fried twinkies .... what could be better??  I passed on that and opted for a Dole Pineapple Whip since it was so hot ... high 80's ... unusual for the beach!!
Although Patty was a little on the short side and could barely reach the opening, I was able to snap this quick pic.  Boy to have THAT figure again!!
We bypassed the Big Dipper roller coaster at $6 a ride and loaded back up on our train for the return trip.   Wristbands to ride the tortuous inventions run about $30 for the day or $75 for a season pass.
Once aboard for the return trip, an ambulance needed to access the wharf with the only route being the railroad tracks.  That required we back up over this bridge to give them room.  See that dumb girl on the track?  She and those two in front almost got run over.  The train doesn't have to stop ... YOU have to get out of the way.  She barely jumped on the concrete square to the left just before the train would have hit her.  Dumb dumb dumb!!  The other two would have been hit also, but they ran like their lives depended on it .... which it did!!
Back at the rig around 5:30, I crashed with the puppies.  We had another day of train riding at Swanton Ranch waiting for us, along with a couple of Garden Railroads to check out.  Whew!!!  I'm exhausted just writing about it!!  

I've almost caught up on my email since surviving the black hole of no phone or internet.  I've been feeling totally disconnected.  Time to catch up on Words With Friends!!!