Yes, it does rain in California

2 03 2014

After several months of no rain (unusual for winter in California), the heavens have opened. It rained in much of California most of Wednesday and Friday this week just gone, all night Friday night and much of Saturday. As another storm front was coming in I changed my plans and decided to leave Monterey today (Saturday) instead of Sunday. And I’m glad I did.

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Storm clouds inland from Monterey on Hwy 101

It took me just under 4 hours to drive from Monterey to Bakersfield, which is perhaps half way to Palm Springs, my ultimate destination tomorrow. Had I left it to Sunday I’d be driving 7 to 8 hours in possibly horrible conditions.

As it was, driving today wasn’t exactly a piece of cake. There were strong winds, heavy rain in patches, steady rain the rest of the time, some minor rock falls on the shoulders (though if you’d hit one of those small rocks with your car tires, you’d know all about it), and reasonably steady and moderate density traffic. Lots of trucks on Hwy 46, and very bad surface for some of that highway too.

Some more observations on this drive:

  • Many of the groves of nut trees (almonds? pecans?) were covered in white/pale pink flowers, which looked like light snow on the ground.
  • At the ends of some rows of nut trees are bee hives. I’m not sure if they are there to fertilize the trees or to collect pollen and make honey from the flowers of these trees, but it looked like a win-win for the orchardists and the apiarists.
  • Tumbling tumbleweeds have almost become fences in their own right when they’ve got caught in the fences on the side of Hwy 46.
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  • Lost Hills isn’t a town so much as a paddock full of oil wells (donkeys; see the photo at the end of this post). There are hundreds in a very small area of land. There are quite a few by the Alvarado River, north of Paso Robles too.
  • Close to Bakersfield there are oil donkeys in the middle of fields of crops,  which seemed a bit odd.
  • Bakersfield looks pretty dry and dusty and very much a workers’ town, at least the bit I saw coming in from the I5 on Hwy 58.

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Amazing mac and cheese

2 03 2014

A friend and I had another dinner at Hula’s Island Grill in Monterey last night. We’d gone there last Saturday too and the food was so good we went back!

We shared a small bowl of their Poblano mac and cheese, and it was SOOOOO good!

I had the Kalbi (Korean style BBQ beef) for my main meal, which was also excellent, but I could’ve eaten that mac and cheese all night!

The owner shared with us what was in it when we asked, so here’s how I remember it: Jack, cream, and parmesan cheeses in the mixture, along with mashed up Poblano chili and elbow macaroni of course, topped with Jarlsberg cheese and popped under the griller for the cheese to melt and form a golden crust. It was SOOOOO yummy! And so simple.

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Empty Spools at Asilomar: Friday 28 February 2014

2 03 2014

Our last day today. Well, half day.

When we got to the room after breakfast some ladies had already packed up and gone, especially those with long drives ahead of them, such as the lovely Marilyn from St George in Utah. Others had partly packed.

I wanted to get the background of my 3rd piece completed before they came to pick up the rental sewing machines from our room, and got most of it stitched.

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My body of work for the week

Pam had a final Q&A with us, then it really was time to pack up and vacate the classroom.

I got a couple of lovely cards from the ladies and a small gift from Donna, as well as a thank you card from the whole group. That was very unexpected and it was lovely reading all their nice comments.

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The ‘another’ reference is to the fact that I was an Australian taking a fellow Australian’s class… in the US!

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Those left in our group had our final lunch together and then it was time to say goodbye.

Would I do another class with Pam? ABSOLUTELY! she’s a great teacher and an enormous amount of fun (and she wears the greatest colours!). I’m privileged to know her and to have been taught by her. And the great thing is that have three almost finished pieces to take home with me — at previous workshops, I’ve finished maybe half the work, so it was gratifying to get so much done.

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As I said yesterday, it’s been a great experience and I’ve learned a lot, made new friends, and enjoyed the tranquility of this gorgeous part of the world.

All photos from my week at Asilomar (many are not in these pages) are on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/sets/72157642239044034/

See also: