Lister 5/1 Diesel

California Visit

Pictures of our week in California - Page 1

We are fortunate in having good friends from the UK living in California, and a recent invitation to stay with them for a week was gratefully accepted, especially when it coincided with the Swap Meet at Turlock, where we hoped to be able to meet up with a few local engine guys and have a look at a typical US-style engine get together.

Tim & Sally live in Cupertino, about 20 minutes freeway drive from the San Francisco International Airport, and Sally was kind enough to collect us from the airport after our flight landed. We flew Virgin Atlantic from Heathrow and had a very good flight. The food and service were excellent, and the flight very smooth. We landed almost a full hour earlier than scheduled, which didn't cause any problems as we had a fair queue to pass through immigration and baggage reclaim, and Sally had checked up on the arrival times on the Internet before leaving the house.

We had a very high baggage allowance, probably tailored to US citizens more than UK, and we brought Tim over a BBC computer, disk drive and Monitor in our luggage, which was very well treated and suffered no damage. Virgin staff marked it up as fragile goods and it was handled separately from the main baggage.

Once at Tim & Sally's we had a shower and change, having been up since 05.30 UK time, and by now it was getting on for Midnight in the UK! Their rented house is quite large but very nicely proportioned, but with a small garden by UK standards for that size of house. After a chat and a meal I went off to bed having been up for 22 hours. Rita followed afterwards, having suffered less than me from the effects of the flight.

Day 1 - Visit to Santa Cruz, Pier and Bookshops.

The first full day we had, we went off to Santa Cruz, to look at the Sea Lion colony that lives under the pier, and a few bookshops in the main town itself. The trip out was via a very windy country route which was through a hilly and wooded area of California, and a lot of small settlements were seen by the side of the road, mainly selling souvenirs and momentos for a living. A lot of machinery was also noticed, most of it unused and rusting away.
The actual town of Santa Cruz was quite pleasant, but we saw a lot of 'hippy' types, and a few beggars/street musicians, which surprised us a little, as did the fairly high Police presence. A protest was going on about the Iraq situation, and although the Police had allowed it to go ahead, it was dispersed later in the day when others came along and started to cause problems. We didn't see a lot of trouble of any kind while in the USA, and Police presence was minimal wherever we went, although we did see the occasional patrol or Sheriff's car. A couple of decent secondhand bookshops were visited with suitable books accompanying us home... The Sea Lions were heard, but only one was actually seen. A much larger colony was seen later in the trip, at Pier 39 in San Francisco harbour.

We returned to Cupertino to do a bit of local shopping and have an evening meal. Americans eat out a lot, and often, and we were pleasantly surprised at the quality and range of food on offer, together with the size of the portions! We both found that we couldn't eat as much as we had expected. A local electrical/electronics company calls Frys was a regular stop for me and Tim, both for computer bits and for domestic items such as a DVD player on offer for $50!

Saturday morning saw us off to Turlock, to visit the WHEAT swap meet and the gemstone & Mineral Show, both held at the same site although in different places. The trip over from where Tim & Sally live was uneventful, but interesting. The actual town of Turlock is pretty typical of a small town in the USA, with good facilities and recreational areas. We booked into the Motel6, filled up the car and then went to find a restuarant to have a meal. Tim likes Mexican food, so we elected for a local cafe/bar which looked a bit run down but served very good quality food. Tim suggested the fried Catfish, which I was a bit unsure about (!) but it turned out to be excellent, both fresh and properly cooked.

We then called at the Gemstone show for the first of two visits. The show itself was quite large by our UK standards, and the range and standard of exhibits was very good indeed. We had a good walk round, and agreed to come back in the morning to have another look and purchase some things which the girls had seen. We found the site of the swap meet and had a look at what had turned up so far. The main event was in the morning, but we found plenty to interest us for the time being.

Evening meal was at the local Dairy Queen take-away, where I had my first Thick Shake which I thoroughly enjoyed! We were all a bit tired after the travelling and walking, and I felt a bit out of sorts, so we headed off to bed early. The motel was very good although it looked a bit run-down from the road. It was clean and had excellent showers and bathrooms, looked as if they had recently been refurbished. Next morning we were up and out before 8 o'clock, to have another look at the engine swap meet. Some of the pictures are a little dark as they were taken either late evening or early morning where the sun was low in the sky.

Day 2 afternoon & Day 3 morning - Turlock Swap Meet.

I felt quite at home with the guys at the meet, they were all pretty much the same as in England, quite ready to have a chat and a haggle over something they were selling or looking to buy. The goods on offer were much as we would have in the UK, and altogether it was a nice setup. No charge was made for admission, something we should take note of over in the UK... I met up with Steve Gray from the Atis engine list, and we had a happy half an hour chatting about the engine stuff and other related topics. I admired Steve's Ford pickup, which I found to be well made and with a good quality of finish.

There was a larger Ford F650 pickup at the meet, which was superb! We all had a look at it the previous evening, and even Rita thought it was pretty neat. Cost was $105,000 on the road from what Steve told me, so just over £61,000. It was fitted with a turbo-diesel Caterpillar V8 engine, although we didn't get a chance to have a look at it. While I wasn't expecting to buy anything, I found a couple of books that I bought, and, quite unexpectedly, an Engine Indicator made by Schaeffer- Budenberg, so that made my day! That and the books was my total purchases for the visit. We finished at the swap meet by 10am, and went round the corner to the Gemstone & Mineral Show so the girls to do a bit of shopping themselves.

Day 3 Morning - Turlock Gemstone & Mineral Show.

We have a family interest in mineral and naturally-occurring gemstones, and looked forward to visiting the stands at the show. Our brief visit the previous evening had whetted our appetite, so off we went. Admission was $3 each person, quite reasonable in our view, with free re-admission (a small ink stamp was made on the back of the hand, same as we do at the Rushden Cavalcade, our local show in the UK. Rita bought a piece of Ammolite, a piece of Opalised Ammonite shell, while I bought a book on Fossils for our eldest son, plus some gifts for the rest of the family.

The range of goods on show was really excellent, with display items such as Pyritised Ammonites, where the shell of the Ammonite is replaced by Iron Pyrites, or sectioned fossil Ammonites, all of which were available to buy as well as being on display in the show cabinets. The girls were in their element, while even both Tim and myself were fascinated by the different materials and things made from them.

As we had planned a trip further south, we regretfully decided to leave the shows and go on down to San Juan Bautista, where the old Mission and Church has an excellent museum which can be visited. It was on our way back to Cupertino via a southerly and roundabout route, but the drive was interesting to both Rita and myself, as we had a chance to see the countryside outside of the main towns, and very different it was too!

The Church and Mission at San Juan was very well looked after, and we went up to walk around after a Mexican lunch in the main street of the town. San Juan Bautista is not a large place, but has a lot of tourist traffic, even on a quiet Sunday. There are the usual tourist and antique shops, but it was relatively low-key and we enjoyed the shops and looking at the goods for sale. The Church and museum was very nice indeed, and we would recommend anyone going to that area to make a stop and have a look. The museum includes a large collection of horse-drawn carriages and buggies, which we couldn't photograph as they were all in storage in the dark converted stables.

There is a series of rooms in the building next door, which has settings of the period, including furniture and items such as utensils which would have been in use at the time (1797 onwards) A walk along by the wheelwright's workshop found a small Detroit stationary engine, not complete but nearly all there. The cemetery gave us pause to think, over 4300 people are buried there, in a very small area indeed. While it was a Catholic church, I found it very interesting and we left with some nice images of the visit.

Day 3 Afternoon - San Juan Bautista Mission.

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