And the road goes on forever...

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Goodbye Bakersfield, On to the Middle of Nowhere

The view from my window as I sit in my recliner is of an old trailer park and one of the ubiquitous dry yellow treeless hills of the western Central Valley. Even at 5 or 6 a.m. the roar of the semi trucks reverberates inside the RV for we are only ½ mile from I-5 at the truck stop made famous by Pea Soup Anderson, Santa Nella. There isn’t a whole lot here: a few truck stops, fast food joints, a couple motels, and this RV-slash-trailer park. It’s a transient park for the most part so we may be surrounded by rigs by night, which vanish the next morning like flies in the cold and then we are left with the regulars. All of them, like us, are in old rigs with an air of desolation about them. Some are occupied by families with several children. It’s a night and day flip from the high-dollar resort in Bakersfield where we last were. To get a cleaner and level spot (instead of the weedy dirt in back) we needed to be up front on the concrete area, which much to our dismay features no cable TV. WIFI (with our booster) at least works passably. Town is 13 miles away but I am well loaded and stocked so may not have to set foot there beyond maybe one grocery shopping venture. Marc tells me I won’t be missing a thing. Did I say before how much we hate California? Our penance may soon come to an end. The projects may be petering out; at least the ones Marc’s company will be getting. Our vision and dreams are filled with thoughts of Oregon, family, and sitting beside the ocean. If unemployment is the cost of that, so be it I guess.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Antiques! (And Good Friends)

I love old things, thinking of those hands which may have originally fashioned and then used something. My best friend since college came over to visit last week for a couple of days and we decided to make it a priority to visit some of Bakersfield’s myriad antique stores. The old downtown section along 19th Street and environs is filled with at least 12 major antique stores, some of which are huge malls with individual booths which take hours to get through. Oh man, what a fun couple of days! 

Parking is easy along these streets, especially first thing in the mornings but is limited to only 30 minutes to an hour. Certain sections farther east along 19th seem not to merit the attention of the traffic cop chalk-marking tires but we diligently moved my friend’s pickup as we finished with one store and moved on to the next. I’m a sucker for old rusted and vintage iron anything and I scored well in the first store with a couple of items. Once I walked into the booth and saw this fabulously simple iron chair with striking lines I knew it had to belong to me next! As I was checking out with this purchase I happened to mention that I was also looking for an old coffee grinder. The very helpful older lady showed me to a booth where I had totally skipped noticing this beauty. It too, became mine and I was pleased to see on EBay that the auctions were commanding up to $575 for the same model. I got mine for a fraction of that price although it is missing the top dome. But it has a melodic groan as I push the wheel around and around grinding breakfast coffee. We next wandered into the most amazing collection of memorabilia and antiques I have ever seen under one roof. Housed in an old building with beautiful strips of ancient and well-worn hardwood flooring, this place simply “rocked” if you are an antique lover! The prices weren’t cheap so I only ended up with a couple of beautifully aged turquoise bottles. I certainly wanted to cart home one of these beautiful Parisian wrought iron gates though. Most astounding was a beautiful entire library wall of walnut wood and stained glass with double entry doors which probably came out of some old English mansion. In addition, if one is ever looking for a real working toaster—you know, the kind from the mid last century like Sunbeam and Toastmaster which in all their chrome beauty continued to work past the three month mark, in fact are still working 60 years later, you can find aisle after aisle of them here. This alone could definitely require a revisit on my part. By this time we were hungry so asked the antique store owner about local dives with good food within walking distance. He recommended La Costa Mexican seafood on 21st and it did not disappoint. Fueled up, after lunch we continued our jaunts. We had so much fun we decided to continue the next day and came across the nostalgic old Woolworth building; now housing a two-story antique mall called the Five & Dime, complete with its original luncheonette. You remember those don’t you? 

I grew up in a small town in northern California and I can remember Woolworth’s is where I bought the fabric for my first sewing project in high school sewing with Mrs. Casagrande; a raglan-sleeved blouse with no collar. Of course, this was prior to the advent of JoAnn’s and other fabric stores so Woolworth's was where you went—the WalMart of its day. To this day I can also remember sitting with my mother on one of these stools, munching into a Woolworth’s hot dog, which was done up on a toasted special bread-type bun with its special sauce. The singular taste remains in my mouth these many years later. What a kick it was to see this. Well naturally I continued to find some treasures that just had to come “home” with me. I found a lovely vintage original French hand towel holder which we had fun researching to see what the French meant. That will go somewhere in my kitchen. Oh, and more old iron in this shabby-chic vintage light fixture which I will have Marc make into a swag light to hang somewhere. I loved this smaller sized old trunk but just couldn’t figure out where I would put it right now. Ah, antiques. Aren’t they fun?