It's starting to look like we might not get out of California on this trip. I guess that's kind of understandable given the size of the state and how much there is to see and do here. We left the Merced Best Western (which happened to be the site of our lone good deed of the day) and landed in Sacramento at the Blue Diamond Growers complex. They are known for being the world's largest producers of almonds. They had a good video to watch about their almonds and had plenty of free samples. We like free samples. By the time we left I wasn't much interested in lunch. I think the mounds of almonds were just appetizers for Pee Wee though.
Next we drove a few miles to the California Aerospace Museum. They had planes from WWII times to the space age. The highlight there was the "Skytrooper" they had on display. This plane actually flew into Normandy on D-Day in 1944 loaded with paratroopers and with a glider in tow. We were allowed to sit on the same seats where U.S. paratroopers sat 68 years ago. It was quite a feeling sitting on the same seats where our heroes sat on that fateful day as they prepared to jump and then land and then battle the Germans. We even sat in the cockpit and pretended to fly the plane - I'm not real sure if we were allowed to do that but at the time there was nobody around to tell us no which meant yes to us.
We left the museum and stumbled into a Jack in the Box. We both grew up with those tacos - there was a Jack in the Box right next to my high school in St. Louis and there aren't any tacos like those tacos. Since we hadn't seen one in many years we made up for lost time and loaded up. Which brings up the one negative about these trips; before we left Atlanta I had gotten myself in pretty good shape - I had been working out at the gym four days per week, running 5 Ks with my sons, doing wrestling camps, and eating right. And Pee Wee paints so much that he was in pretty good shape too. But now we sit a lot during the day and eat way too much restaurant food. I hope eleven unhealthy days in July won't be noticeable when we return.
Today was a day of stumbling into things and did we ever stumble into something for our last stop of the day. We somehow found "Rieff's Gas Station" in Woodland, CA. This is a house in a typical American neighborhood, but there's nothing typical about the house. There is a Cessna plane impaled into the roof of one of the two garages and a 1950s Chevy stuck into the side of the garage. Mark Rieff is the owner and sole resident of the house and he took us on a tour. The entire house has hundreds if not thousands of machines, appliances, and many other items from the 1950s and earlier. Then outside and in another garage are many old time gas pumps, beautifully restored cars, a replica of a steak and shake style restaurant, and many other items that made us feel like we were back in high school in the 1970s. He told us he's been on some TV shows, he has tour buses come by frequently - and it's really his house where he lives. His website is www.reiffsgasstation.com/ It's one of those places you need to see to really appreciate, but it will go down as one of our all time favorite stops.
Shortly after leaving Mark's house we stopped along the road we were on somewhere in north central California and took the following picture at a sunflower garden. I've heard how fertile parts of California can be and we have definitely seen that - groves of appricots, almonds, peaches, plums, grapes, strawberries and the list goes on and on.
We're spending the night at the Old West Inn in Willits, CA. The rooms have names like Sheriff, Jail, Post Office, etc. and we're staying in the "Livery Stable," which is kind of appropriate considering the smell emanating from the front seat of our car. I asked for a discount because Pee Wee's last name is West and he's old, but it didn't fly. We're in the mountains and the temperature in the mornings have been in the 40s - that's 80 degrees cooler than where we were less three days ago.
Going back to the one good deed - at the Best Western this morning we noticed several large flower pots holding various kinds of plants in the parking lot. Most of them were very dry, but after we were through watering them they weren't thirsty any more.
Time to get to bed. I think I'm going to get up early and go for a run - there's some tacos I need to run off.