Travel to Visalia, CA

A standard road trip through the belly of the beast  (LA)

Trip Report:  20060727

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The Trip

Since we were going to be in San Diego for only 2 days in preparation for our drive north, Kathleen suggested that we fire up the jet ski and take it to Mission Bay. We did just that and when we got to the bay it was clear, warm, no wind and hot. Perhaps the best day I have ever seen. We got the ski wet and Kathleen headed off. The bay was oddly empty. In fact, it was totally deserted. My curiousity aroused, I quickly found the reason. The bay was closed due to a spill from a month before. Oddly, the spill happened before the 4th of July. But, it seems that the city knew about it but did not wantto risk the reputation of the city with the toursists, so they left it open over the 4th despite the fact that they were aware of the contamination. After the holiday was over, they decided that they should close it to activity. Since we had no intention of getting in the water, we decided to drive on anyway. Hell, the ski was already wet and Kathleen was on her second lap before we discovered the issue anyway. No waves, no wakes, only about 3 boats on the whole bay. It took about an hour before the lifeguards chased us away, but in the interim, we burned through 1/2 tank of gas and many 60 mph laps of the bay. Suspect behavior on the part of the City notwithstanding, Mission Bay is indeed the crown jewel in San Diego. Too bad that the corrupt San Diego City Council puts image above the public good.

Mission Bay park has acres of lawns, all nicely mowed. This fellow came down to study.

Here is a view across the bay, looking west with a boat inbound.

Here is a view across one of the inlets toward the trailer park area. These folks had a 50 year lease and the lease has expired. So, the tenants, despite the fact that they signed the lease and were well aware of the lease terms, the did what any good American would do: sue the City. I doubt they will win. The only question now is what will be done with the land. I am sure that some kind of hotel will go up here.

Bill making a high speed pass.

Due to the lack of boats, the water was super glassy and we were able to go full speed for the entire lap.

This Yamaha ski really rocks. On flat water it will go 60mph, it corners like it is on rails and has great acceleration. Oh, and the best part is that it is reliable. Unlike my Bombardier SeaDoo, which stranded me a number of times and ate 3 engines, The Yamaha runs like a top.

The ski in quiet water. Note the reflection.

I was sitting at the park bench and drinking a water when this little vermin raised his head. I think that the presence of the grass provides them food as I think they eat the roots. Here he is extending his tunnel system, pushing spoil to the surface.

Mission Bay was nice, but the objective was to head north. The first part of any trip is to get out of the house. We managed to do that generally at the agreed time, but that was tough. We had a ton of actions that we had to do before we could leave. Check the tire pressure; check the oil; check radiator and washer fluid levels. We got through that and hit the road. There is no easy way to get north from San Diego. All paths lead to LA in one fashion or another. Both Kathleen and I were dreading having to go through LA, but there was no choice. Usually, traffic sucks, any time of day or night. This trip was no exception. There was slow-and-go traffic through most of the basin. There did not seem to be any real reason for the slowness, it is just LA. The small number of photos below are from the actual trip.

Here is a hot tip: driving and attempting to look through the viewfinder of a camera is somewhat risky. So, that is why I did the "point and pray" method. Here is a shot of something guaranteed to strike fear into the hearts of most folks in southern california: the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station (aka SONGS). The hemispheres are the containment domes for units 2 and 3. Unit 1 has been offline for years and is not visible (but to the right of unit 2). SoCal gets a substantial amount of its energy from these plants. The claim is that the containment can withstand impact of a fully loaded 757 "at speed". Oddly enough, that claim was made many years before 9/11 and it is interesting that they chose that metric of impact resistance. Since all of San Diego county is down wind of SONGS, we were sweating bullets when the WTC collapsed. We assumed that if SONGS was hit and the containment ruptured, the entire county would be contaminated. Gladly, that did not happen.

Anything odd about this photo? Sometimes, when you are on a long trip, your mind starts to wonder. After slugging it out in LA for 3 hours, we broke free and hit highway 99 which goes through the Central Valley. Since the traffic was much less, I let my mind wonder for awhile and "logged in" when I was confronted with the scene above. After I cleaned out my shorts, I realized that the truck was being towed, not driving down the center lane AT ME. The blue car on the left is Kathleen's 330 convertable.

We reached Visalia without incident and Kathleen informed me that she had a real and immediate need for a vanilla shake. After searching town, we found a Carl's Jr. and turned in. Behind the resturant was this creek. Actually, it is probably an irrigation canal disguised as a creek. I never asked, but it was cool so I took a shot.

A Farmer's Market on one of the major steets in Visalia.

Main Street. Visalia, California at 7pm. This is definitely NOT Manhattan. Note the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in the background. Also, this is pickup and SUV heaven from the counts of the cars in the photo.

This BBQ rig at the Farmer's Market was a f**king masterpiece of engineering . Note the chain drive, worm gearing and big firebox.

A front view of the Depot Resturant. This place is a historic monument and used to be the old Southern Pacific railroad depot in Visalia. Recently converted into a resturant, the place serves some of the best food in town.

The old Southern Pacific main line tracks that run through the center of Visalia in front of the Depot.

Bill (author) converses with his best friend's wife about a mutual buddy that lives in Fresno; close to Visalia. Kathleen got this shot at ISO 1600 in the Depot Resturant with natural lighting.


It was a fine drive to Visalia in our cars. It took about 6 hours. Both Kathleen and I missed being able to drive our cars fast in traffic, so this road trip was just the ticket. BMW makes fine autos, but one of the dark sides of living in Manhattan is not driving yourself. That will be changed with the move to Seattle. Tomorrow, we will head into Sequoia and King's Canyon for some photo shoots and from there to Fresno in anticipation of Yosmite. More tomorrow.

Next Day's Adventure

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