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Notes from the road

alt.polycon in Las Vegas is over; the OH and I spent two days with webmaven and chickenwitch; and I got back on the road. Tonight I'm back in Bakersfield in the same hotel (Springhill Suites) and same room even.

I had plans to go to a restaurant, but I have a thing against going alone to sit-down restaurants. It makes me feel self-conscious and anxious. I considered combating the anxiousness and going anyway, but I didn't have the energy. So I went to Trader Joe's. The Bakersfield Trader Joe's doesn't have any prepared salads or sandwiches the way my local one does, but they had microwave-in-a-bag green beans and carrots, and a new product that I absolutely love, Marinated Three Bean Salad in a can. When I got back to the hotel I realized I didn't have a can opener, but then I realized I did have one on the swiss army knife I carry in my knitting bag. I've never used that kind of can opener before but I figured it out without cutting myself. Go me.

Trader Joe's helps my Buddhist practice because it reinforces the fact of impermanence. That is, they are always introducing some product that I love and then taking it away again just as I start to rely on it. The product I am still pining for is Hot & Sour Soup in a jar. It was perfect and I bought it by the dozen hoping they wouldn't stop selling it, but they did. Now they've introduced the Three Bean Salad and I suppose the same thing will happen. In the meantime I'm enjoying it.

Random thoughts and observations from the road:

I can has cheezburger? Starting a few miles outside of Barstow, CA - the town on the edge of the Mojave that has the first 'services' for many miles (although there are more services between Las Vegas and Barstow than there used to be) - there were multiple billboards for different restaurants and fast food joints, all with virtually identical photos of cheeseburgers. No billboard had a photo of any other kind of food that I can recall.

Wind energy There is a wind farm on the peaks near Tehachapi pass. I think the wind turbines are beautiful and love to see them all spinning.

Trainspotting Somewhere around Tehachapi, paralleling CA route 58, there is a railroad with multiple short tunnels boring through the hills and coming out again. Snaking in and out of those tunnels was the longest freight train I've ever seen. I think it was going through at least four tunnels simultaneously. (Google tells me this railroad is called the Tehachapi Loop and that sometimes the train is so long it even loops back on itself.)

Black gold, Texas tea In a field next to 58 between Tehachapi and Bakersfield there were these machines that looked and acted like gigantic drinking birds. I thought at first they were irrigation pumps, but further investigation tells me they are oil pumps. Kern County oil fields produce ten percent of US oil.

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
micheinnz
Feb. 7th, 2008 05:32 am (UTC)
New Zealand has a railway construction similar to the Tehachapi Loop -- ours is called the Raurimu Spiral. Same problem, same solution, both of them awesome. (I've ridden on the Raurimu Spiral, which is on the main trunk line. It's an interesting experience.)
usqueba
Feb. 7th, 2008 06:02 am (UTC)
I have a thing against going alone to sit-down restaurants.
There are a couple of sit-down restaurants near work that I go to alone (I used to go w/ my friend but she moved). I REALLY like them. If I didn't go alone, I'd rarely/never get to go. They aren't really fancy. I bring a book to read or CEU quizzes to work on while I wait. I LIKE being by myself in those situations.

That is, they are always introducing some product that I love and then taking it away again just as I start to rely on it.
I feel your pain!
elainegrey
Feb. 7th, 2008 06:52 am (UTC)
Cool, nice to read how you saw where i was recently. Was there snow in Tehechapi?
firecat
Feb. 7th, 2008 09:16 am (UTC)
Quite a bit of snow - more than when I passed going in the other direction last week.
okoshun
Feb. 7th, 2008 12:09 pm (UTC)
I had plans to go to a restaurant, but I have a thing against going alone to sit-down restaurants. It makes me feel self-conscious and anxious.

It took a long time for me to get used to eating alone, but with all the travel by myself, I got used to it. I actually kind of enjoy it now. :) Me, my book, good food and people watching.
firecat
Feb. 7th, 2008 06:19 pm (UTC)
I have been known to enjoy it, but I have to make an effort unless it's a hotel restaurant or another sort of place obviously catering to travelers.
(Deleted comment)
firecat
Feb. 7th, 2008 06:20 pm (UTC)
Dim sum!
cappyhead
Feb. 7th, 2008 05:00 pm (UTC)
Last year Trader Joe's sold a product called "Chocolate Frosting," which was really the most delicious chocolate ganache in a jar. We would warm it up & pour it over ice cream. It was sooooo good.

Poof, gone.

*sadness*
loracs
Feb. 7th, 2008 05:32 pm (UTC)
The first time Guy and I went through Bakersfield (about 20 years ago), we went through an area where there was an oil pump in someones front yard; it cracked us up. I had no idea that area produces so much oil.

I guess the little bit of rain we got in Vegas was responsible for the extra snow on the mountains. We noticed there was much more snow too.

Did you see the signs for "Fresh Alien Jerky"? It was maybe an 1 1/2 hours outside of Vegas. We happened to stop there for a bathroom break and they have this giant sign with a standard green, bug eyed alien in a cowboy hat sitting on top of it next to a flying saucer. There's also an explanation, but we were in a hurry so I took pictures of it all and will read it later. It was just bizarre.

Somehow the ride back seemed so much longer. We didn't hit Bakersfield at a hungry time, so we didn't go to the Basque restaurant. :-(
firecat
Feb. 7th, 2008 06:22 pm (UTC)
Yes, I saw a Fresh Alien Jerky sign, come to think of it. :)
ex_serenejo
Feb. 7th, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC)
My thing like that was their tom khar soup. This was way back in the early '90s, when there was only one Trader Joe's in San Diego, and I would trek out there for cans of the stuff, and then one day it wasn't there any more. I can still remember how utterly heartbroken I was. I kept going back to look for it, and I *still* look for it, almost 20 years later, but it never returned. I always went there just for that soup, so I stopped going to Trader Joe's after that, not out of spite, but because there was nothing else I wanted there.
innerdoggie
Feb. 7th, 2008 10:06 pm (UTC)
Trader Joe's helps my Buddhist practice because it reinforces the fact of impermanence. That is, they are always introducing some product that I love and then taking it away again just as I start to rely on it. The product I am still pining for is Hot & Sour Soup in a jar. It was perfect and I bought it by the dozen hoping they wouldn't stop selling it, but they did.

I didn't know they did that. You've just explained to me why their excellent cocoa powder went away. Sic transit gloria etc.
aquaeri
Feb. 8th, 2008 04:21 am (UTC)
Trader Joe's helps my Buddhist practice because it reinforces the fact of impermanence.

I sort of aspire to Buddhist practice, and I am really bad about losing products I've grown fond of. Thanks for reminding me.
(Deleted comment)
firecat
Feb. 8th, 2008 06:39 am (UTC)
Ah! I understand why all of those burger ads would be especially appealing from the point of view of newly trained soldiers.
(Deleted comment)
opalmirror
Feb. 10th, 2008 02:31 am (UTC)
Thank you for sharing your story.

Cracked up at the impermanence reflection on Trader Joe's. Very clever.

I last drove through Tehachapi just before sundown and it was gloriously beautiful and green after days in the desert canyons, dry lakes, and boulder-outwashed mountains.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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