Monday, November 22, 2010

Southbound again.

I enjoyed the beautiful sunny, warm weather at Lake Sonoma, but the forecast was changing as a big cold front came in from the north west.  The weather maps showed that the very southern tip of the snow might actually reach me, so it was time to move on.

Even the local bat populations seemed to be seeking shelter


Perhaps the ‘bat house’ was full, but this little one was crawling in behind the glass on this signboard.



So we bid Liberty Glen farewell and headed south and out of wine country.


We picked up I-5 and made a mile, eventually pulling into Bakersfield for the night, where it rained, but was still fairly mild.   We went east from Bakersfield over Tehachapi pass, and I took the scenic route the last little ways into the town of the same name.  It is a steep ascent, and the railroad has to make a spiral to get up the grade.  I stopped to read the plaque calling it one of the wonders of the railroad world, and I’m sure it is considering it was done mostly with hand tools and Chinese labourers about 120 years ago.  But when compared to the spiral tunnels in Yoho National Park back home, it somewhat paled.  There, the CPR mainline makes two spirals to get up to the continental divide, but unlike Tehachapi, the spirals are entirely in tunnels right inside the mountains.  Regardless it is beautiful country and high elevation, so I did not want to remain there long with the weather still coming down.

Staying on the secondary roads, I found one through a part of Edwards AFB, CIMG2609which worked well for the first 15 miles, till I came to the security gate! 

One U-turn later, I was back on #58 eastbound again towards Barstow.CIMG2611

But not before another fiasco at those lovely California gas pumps that are very unfriendly to non-US credit cards.  No, the ‘postal code’ trick does not work for me.  This time I had to go inside and leave both my credit card and my driver’s licence!  Well, I pumped $1.81 worth before the guy accidentally turned off my pump!  After another trip inside to re-start the pump, I put in an additional $44. worth.  So I was expecting to pay a total of $45.81.  Nope.  He charged me $44.53 for the $44. purchase, as well as the $1.81 purchase, on two separate credit card transactions!  Apparently in California, the price on the pump is not the price you actually pay!

I had hoped to make it to Mojave National Preserve, but time and daylight were running low, so I checked out a BLM wildlife viewing area called Harper Dry Lake Marsh.


I had only planned to be there for the night, but it was cold and rainy in the morning, and the football game started at 1:30pm, so I just decided to stay put and make sure I had good satellite coverage for the game.  True to form, the Riders pulled it out again, defeating Calgary on their home turf, in very cold temperatures.

CIMG2614CIMG2613CIMG2615CIMG2616It is a very quiet area, on a dead-end road, and were it not for occasional wind, I might be tempted to stay a little longer. But so far, I have been unable to spot much of anything for ‘wildlife’ in the viewing area.  Certainly nothing to compare to the wildlife preserve in Arizona where thousands upon thousands of Sandhill Cranes fly over twice a day.

Time to make a mile.  See you down the road.


  1. We aren't at the ranch this year but over east of Elfrida for awhile at the foot of the Swisshelm Mountains. The Sandhill Cranes don't fly this side of the valley so we never see them anymore:((

  2. Ivan with the issue you are having with credit cards in the US , I now have a US dollar CIBC credit card . With this card your bills come in US dollars and you pay in US Dollars. You do not have to pay that 3% (or whatever it is) service charge that the Canadian banks add on when our CDN cards are used in the states . I use to get my US money in Banff at the Clock tower mall which was a lot cheaper than the Banks but now I have found that Money Mart also a very good exchange rank . Also some financial advisors will exchange US at very very good rates I am not sure what you would do to pay it when in the US but I am sure it is not a big problem .