The American River Parkway’s Jedediah Smith Trail offers alluring options

Take a cycling journey on the American River Parkway’s Jedediah Smith Trail…

The American River Parkway begins where the American River flows into the Sacramento River and follows the American River east to Folsom State Recreation Area, just beyond Folsom Dam.

The Parkway and its Jedediah Smith Trail offer a network of well over 40 miles of paved trail, and an almost endless array of side trails into riparian forests, making one forget it courses through one of the larger metropolitan areas on the West Coast. It’s home to a variety of historical sites and recreational opportunities, as well as stop-you-in-your-tracks scenery.

The Fair Oaks Bridge, over 110 years old, takes cyclists off the Smith Trail and up into historic Fair Oaks and its quaint downtown.

The American flows through a landscape that was occupied for more than 10,000 years by the Valley Nisenen (translation, “on our side of the river”), the southernmost of the three groups of Maidu indigenous peoples who lived near the Yuba and American Rivers. The natives prospered for centuries, but a sea-change was coming with pioneers like John Sutter.

John Sutter, a German-born Swiss immigrant, received a Mexican land grant in 1839 giving him rights to develop a good portion of the Sacramento and American River Valleys. As his empire expanded from Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento, he needed lumber to fuel his construction projects. He partnered with James Marshall to find and build a nearby lumber mill in the Sierra foothills, finding in the Cul-Luh-Mah Valley (now Coloma) plenty of pine trees and a river (the South Fork of the American) flowing strong to power a sawmill.

California poppies near mile 20 of the bike trail.

Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento (it’s worth a future travel exploration) received the first boards milled in March, 1848; Marshall found gold in the tailrace of the mill on January 24, 1848. With the discovery, the Gold Rush was soon on and the land became too valuable for lumbering; gold claims multiplied. California’s population would quadruple in the next ten years and dramatically alter US history.

As California’s wealth and population swelled, change came with lightning-speed. In the 1860s, in rapid succession, came the Pony Express, whose riders thundered along the American to the Pony Express’s terminus in Old Sacramento. Soon, the Transcontinental Telegraph followed, putting the Pony Express out of business; then came the Transcontinental Railroad – all ended in Sacramento and added to population growth, but decimated the indigenous peoples.

Cyclists head up Old Sacramento’s Front Street, to connect with bike trail extension to take them to Discovery Park and Mile One of the Jedidiah Smit Bike Trail.

With this storied history, the City and County of Sacramento acted to preserve the pristine river access and the American River Parkway was the fortuitous result. It is a Mecca for hikers and cyclists; walkers can chose from scores of miles of scenic trails, and cyclists can ride a few miles, or tackle all 32 miles in a single day (or even do an out-and-back totaling 64 miles). The route is laced with parks and picnic areas, providing prime fishing and rafting options.

Here are suggestions of where to start and what to see.

One place to begin is in Old Sacramento, home to seven museums including Sacramento History Museum and the California Railroad Museum. Mile One of the bike trail starts right outside their doors, just north in Discovery Park, and heads east up the river. Of many other mid-trail starting points, the Cal State Sacramento campus is a lovely option, and the Guy West Bridge (a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge) takes you across to the American where you can ride either east or west on the scenic trail.

My favorite stretch of the Parkway runs from Sunrise Boulevard, east to Nimbus Dam, then into Folsom, offering a selection of unique recreational prospects. On the bike trail, it’s mile marker 19 just west of Sunrise, up to mile 23 at Nimbus Dam and mile 28 near Folsom. This stretch, heading east from Sunrise area, includes the historic Fair Oaks Bridge, circa 1909, providing a detour north on a side trail to old Fair Oaks, featuring a downtown preserving its quaint and historic character, where free-range chickens abound around every corner. Don’t miss the short hike east into parkland at the northern end of the old bridge, yielding breath-taking views of the river off the tall bluff.

Boats at the Cal State Aquatic Center on Lake Natoma, just off the bike trail.

 A few miles up the river trail, reach the Nimbus Fish Hatchery, open for tours on selected days; and the lovely Sacramento State University Aquatic Center, which rents kayaks, SUPs, sail and pedal boats for tours on Lake Natoma.

Once you reach mile 28 near Folsom, you have the option to continue riding to trail end at Folsom State Recreation Area, detour along the relatively new Johnny Cash Trail or take a break in Folsom’s historic district. From the trail’s eastern reaches, it’s mostly downhill, heading west.

How to get to the American River Parkway: From San Joaquin County, take I-5 or Hwy. 99 north to Sacramento to CA Hwy. 50; access to the parkway is just off Hwy. 50 from a variety of starting points.

For more information: American River Parkway, regionalparks.saccounty.net; California Railroad Museum, californiarailroad.museum; Sacramento History Museum, sachistorymusuem.org.

Contact Tim, tviall@msn.com; find his archive, recordnet.com/travelblogHappy travels in the west!

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Walking and running in your hometown in the age of pandemics

See your hometown; walking and running in the age of pandemics…

We’ve been mostly homebound for the past seven weeks, and many of us are wondering how do we stay active and maintain some semblance of fitness in this new age. My spouse and I are blessed living just a block from a scenic walking and cycling trail and we’re determined to use that on most days.

Using your feet to walk, jog or run also allows you to get up-close and personal with your hometown or nearby destinations. For travelers who walk or run, it’s a great way to see your state or the western US. With this column, I decided to talk to a couple of my favorite Stockton walking and running gurus.

Author’s grandkids, L to R, Hunter, Jessica and Jack, on a hike around
Shima Tract in N. Stockton (yes, photo is a couple years old…)

Ralph Womack, age 71, provides perspective of a former non-runner who started later in life but, with determination, became a regular runner. He relates, “back 20-some years ago, I knew I was not getting enough exercise. I had run in boot camp but never really liked it. The difference later in life was that I decided to go above being “determined” to get more exercise to being “committed” to doing something about it. I would say for sure that determination, commitment and consistency (D.C.C.) made the difference, and it was fine to start with small, achievable goals.

First, I measured a one-mile loop from my home and back; then each day I would slowly run until I had to walk. Then I would walk until ready to run again. It became a challenge to then run a little further each day; I eventually could slowly run the whole loop without walking.

Some of Ralph Womack’s running pals on the Calaveras Bike Trail.

I wanted to have something to work toward so I picked out the 5k Asparagus Run (then at Oak Grove Park) and began to work on the same method to now stretch my run out to two miles, later to three. Then I ran my first 5k and it felt great to have the goal, work toward that goal and then accomplishing it.

This experience that got me hooked, kept me running regularly and why I still run today. It was also the enjoyment of running and its benefits that came to mind when I was a board member at the Emergency Food Bank, suggesting that we put together a 5k run as a fundraiser. The annual Run and Walk Against Hunger was born” (author’s note: Ralph was the event’s founder)!  

“This would also be a great goal for anyone to try training and then entering in the Run Against Hunger, Thanksgiving morning, or other run (once the current restrictions are lifted of course). However, do not wait for an organized run to get started. I run from my home these days and simply do a loop to get my distance in. Speaking of distance, I can easily keep my distance from others in the wide open, fresh air of my own neighborhood. Run, walk or run/walk but remember, DCC”!

Runners head east and west on Weber Avenue for the annual Run and Walk Against Hunger, help each Thanksgiving morning as a fun and fundraiser for Emergency Food Bank.
Ralph Womack takes a sunset run along Shima Tract in Stockton.

Tony Vice, Owner of Fleet Feet in Stockton, Modesto and Brentwood, is one of the area’s most outspoken walking and running advocates. Vice shared, “luckily, our state government has blessed running and walking while observing social distancing practices. Outdoor activities naturally allow us to create space among each other. Be a friendly steward of our streets and trails; offer a friendly hello or give a wave while you distance.

Now is the time to get started on that healthy, active lifestyle journey. It’s a simple as making a plan around your shelter in place day – work from home duties, distance learning and so on. If you’re new to running/walking, start by just going around your block. Add a little more distance as you feel stronger – and I promise you, you will. Experienced runners know the drill.

Walkers, runners at a recent Resolution Run, held annually by Fleet Feet Stockton.

Everyone can track their distance and/or time using phone apps or wearable tracking devices. These keep you accountable since your running/walking buddy can’t be around. Make sure to join a social media group to share your adventures. We’ve started a Running is NOT Cancelled group on our Facebook page (fleetfeetsmb); post your workouts, pictures and comments about your day. It’s a fun way to distance meet new people, so when orders are lifted we can start doing this together in groups”.

Fleet Feet Stockton offers curbside pick-up or home-delivery as well as ‘virtual fittings’, offering clients gait analysis and Q&A through the video function on one’s cell phone, staff then recommends proper gear.

Favorite walking or running routes in Stockton/San Joaquin should logically start from your home. Other choices may be more distant, like the running trails along the Calaveras River between University of the Pacific and Brookside, the Bear Creek Trail, the Joan Darrah Promenade along Stockton‘s Deep Water Channel, neighborhood loops around some of Stockton’s lakeside communities, nearby Delta levee access such as Shima Tract at the west end of Hammer Lane, or quiet roads in the vineyards to the north and east of Stockton.

Elijah Dennison and grandfather take a walk in the Quail Lakes neighborhood.

For more Stockton walking and running inspiration, including a self-guided downtown walking tour and six running/cycling routes, see Visit Stockton’s website, visitstockton.org.

Contact Tim, tviall@msn.com; find archive at recordnet.com/travelblogHappy travels in the west!

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Tiny trailers; touring the west in a small, cozy travel trailer

Touring the west in a small, cozy travel trailer, how to do it…

Most of us are sheltering at home and thinking future travels – now is a good time to consider making small travel trailers a part of your future treks. We moved from tent and car camping to tiny trailers about 15 years ago, first with two tiny, teardrop travel trailers, then on to a slightly larger, classic 13 foot Scotty trailer.

We thoroughly enjoyed the two tear-drops, each 4 feet wide, 8 feet long, 4 feet tall. They offered cozy sleeping for two, a tiny kitchenette in the hatch-back area and ability to tow with a four-cylinder auto and get 27 miles per gallon towing. We still own our 58 Scotty teardrop, which took us across the US and Canada, three times. It’s under a tarp beside our house; I occasionally suggest to my spouse a six-week trip up to Alaska – though she isn’t buying the idea.

Our 58 Serro Scotty teardrop, a fine reproduction model, trying to one-up a huge fifth wheel.

But, we longed for something a bit larger; a few years ago, I found a vintage 1964 Serro Scotty in Southern California. I paid only $900, thinking it needed some modest repairs in the back of the trailer. Upon getting it home and looking more closely, discovered lots of dry rot precipitated by years of leaky roof seems, necessitating a down-to-the-frame rebuild.  After about 500 hours and another $4,000, we had a totally rebuilt, cute little Scotty. 

The Scotty features a front dinette for four, making into a bed large enough for two grandkids, a small cabinet with sink and two burner stove and wardrobe in middle, and a full double bed in the back. It’s comfy, turns heads in campgrounds, and remains, at 1200 pounds, light enough to tow with a four-cylinder Ford Escape and fit into the smallest of campground-sites.

Our 64 Serro Scotty, rebuilt from frame-up, with spouse Susan,
in the June Lakes area, Eastern Sierra, April, 2019.

If you’re thinking vintage travel trailers, be prepared to pay good money, $6,000 to low-teens, for completely rebuilt trailers. A benefit, should you make a wise purchase and use the trailer for a number of years, it will be worth as much upon resale as you paid for it. Classic trailers prized in the west include Scotty, Shasta, Airstream, Little Caesar, DeVille, Terry – most have Internet and Facebook owner sites with lots of advice about both purchase and refurbishment.

Should you seek a more modern trailer, you have the choice of purchasing brand new, or finding a nice slightly-used model. Favorites we’ve seen include T@B, R-Pod, Casita and A-liner trailers; the first three range in length from about 17 to 20 feet, while the A-liner is a hard sided pop-up that fits easily in most garages.

An almost new T@B trailer, owned by our friends the Lewises, in Carmichael, CA.
A small and very classic Airstream trailer, and equally impressive tow vehicle.

Smaller trailers share common attributes; small, easy to maneuver into tight campsites, towable with many four and most six cylinder vehicles (delivering decent gas mileage) and creature comforts for up to a family of four. For retiree couples like us – plenty of room to spare!

Purchased new, these trailers cost from the high-teens to upper-$20,000 range, depending on length and options. Most have inside bathrooms, with showers and inside-kitchens. Search online and find used versions of these trailers at 25 to 40% discount compared to buying new; with the pandemic, it should be a buyer’s market for the next six months.

A popular R-Pod, owned by my cousin Anne Linton of Bend, OR.

T@B trailers have been around for almost 20 years, and are favorites in campgrounds, based on their retro look and positive owner comments. Friends Steve and Christine Lewis of Carmichael, CA, travel as a twosome with one dog in a T@B trailer towed with a six-cylinder Toyota SUV. I asked Steve how they came to purchase their trailer a year ago. Steve notes, “We’ve been kicking tires on trailers for years; we saw this one and fell for it, just the right size, we thought. We purchased from a Folsom RV dealer and liked the idea of a new trailer”. 

Casita trailers are sleek fiberglass trailers, looking a much like the classic Airstream shape.  Several owners have raved about their Casitas, including Bill Palmer, happy to show off his trailer in Bryce Canyon National Park, noting he tows with a six-cylinder Toyota Tacoma pickup. Small

A nicely rebuilt 1955 DeVille trailer.

Airstream trailers are top-of-the-line, and the most expensive to purchase. Hard-sided pop-up  trailers like the A-liner have grown in favor – with owners noting that they fit handily into their garages when not in use.

A Vintage, rebuilt Shasta, built in Los Angeles, seen at Trailerfest at Tower Park Marina.

R-pod trailers (built by Forest River) are another favorite, offering the additional space amenity of slide-outs. My cousin Anne Linton and husband, Bend, OR, travel both in sunny summertime and cold seasons with pets.  Anne notes, “We went to an RV show and really loved the R-pod 179 with slideout (at almost 18 feet, the slideout gives them even more internal room). We have found the R-pod light and easy to transport. We also wanted a kitchen and bathroom inside so the really small trailers were not enough; we absolutely love it as a four-season trailer!”.

A vintage Terry cab-over trailer, seen at Tower Park Marina at last year’s Trailerfest.

Before purchasing a new or used trailer, be sure your intended tow vehicle can handle the weight of both trailer and the contents of the tow vehicle.  As example, if your vehicle is rated at 3,000 lbs. tow capability, and your trailer weighs 2,500 pounds, when its loaded with camp goods and you pile two adults and additional camp items in the car – you’ll exceed the car’s tow abilities.

Where to find a trailer: Most can be found locally; do a web search for favored models; vintage and used versions can be found on Craigslist or eBay; put up a daily search for “vintage trailer”. For more insight into classic trailers, see Tin Can Tourists fine site, tincantourists.com; for info on particular trailers, search the Internet where you will find owner’s sites like the National Serro Scotty site, nationalserroscotty.org.

Contact Tim at tviall@msn.com, find more photos at recordnet.com/travelblogHappy travels in your world!

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Travel in the age of pandemics, virtual tours of your home town or region

Travel from the comfort of your home with virtual tours of your city or region

Governor Newsom encouraged Californians to shelter at home effective March 20. Since then, many of us have been home-bound, finding ways to function and stay active from the friendly confines of our house, get groceries or meals home-delivered and have learned the intricacies of online video conferencing with family and friends through Facebook Messenger, Zoom, Go to Meeting and the like.

Many of us have had to cancel travel and vacation plans, but, we are dreaming of future travels. With a bit of discussion and planning, many families have built dream travel lists to nearby and further-afield travel destinations – yet we don’t know when the ability to travel beyond our county or state will return to something akin to “normal”.

What to do to end cabin fever and “get on the road” – all from the comfort of your home? Here are ideas for local, regional and more distant travel, which can be done from home by you, kids and grandkids. If you will, “virtual road tripping”.

I started locally, by checking in with Visit Stockton, our local travel and visitor organization. Delightfully, Visit Stockton offers virtual tours of many of our area’s most noteworthy visitor attractions – and I’m betting many of us have not yet toured to these in the flesh.

Stockton Cambodian Buddhist Temple (Visit Stockton photo)

Hence, jump to the VisitStockton.org website, for tours of the Stockton waterfront and the Joan Darrah Promenade in Downtown Stockton, stand on stage at the historic Bob Hope (Fox California) Theatre, or gaze at home plate from the pitcher’s mound at Stockton (Banner Island) Ballpark. Tour the Children’s Museum, the Haggan Museum, even the evocative Stockton Cambodian Buddhist Temple and more, including a walk through the gorgeous grounds of University of the Pacific.

Use your smart phone, tablet, iPad or laptop computer; from the VisitStockton.org website, scroll down to the blue section and select the suitcase icon that is labeled “VIRTUAL TOURS.” This link will take you to the homepage for these exciting adventures. You can immediately start with the full screen experience, or scroll down the page to start with one of the most popular tours.

Author’s grandson Jack drives an RTD bus and Stockton’s Children’s Museum.

Once you make your selection, you will be transported to your destination in a slick display of virtual technology. Upon arrival, you can look up and down, left and right, using your mouse (desktop) or finger (mobile device) and experience the space as if you were there. Tap or click the blue location icons to travel, by high-speed video imagery, to the next stop on the virtual tour.

To move between different locations in the city, select the menu icon (four dots next to four stacked bars) located on the left side of the grey task bar that sits across the bottom of the page. This will bring up other virtual tours available for you to explore across Stockton. Select one and continue your virtual experience. It’s fun, kids and adults can do it, and, it really is that easy.

Wes Rhea, head of Visit Stockton, notes, “While staying at home to protect the ones we love and our community I highly encourage you to take the opportunity to explore places close to home in a new and exciting way. Virtual tours are an excellent way to do this so, what are you waiting for? Head over to VisitStockton.org today”.

In the Sacramento area, with popular museums and destinations temporarily closed many local area museums have gone virtual with fun and free activities for families to do at home. Many of our favorite stops have joined the virtual tour society, including:

Southern Pacific locomotive 6051 pulls out of the California Railroad Museum.

The Aerospace Museum of California offers hands-on activities and tutorials that are fun for children and families. Easy-to-replicate demonstrations are available on the museum’s Facebook page @AerospaceMuseumCA; for online events, including Hubble’s 30th Birthday Celebration, see: aerospaceca.org/events.

The California Museum launched a new Distance Learning program providing educational materials for K-12th grade students aligned with Common Core and California State Content standards. A State Symbols Coloring Book and a series of five California Indians Oral History worksheets are currently available. For details or to access activities, visit californiamuseum.org/distance-ed.  

Sacramento History Museum docents celebrate Easter a few years ago.

The California State Railroad Museum offers virtual versions of All Aboard for Story Time! on Mondays at 11 a.m. with local influencers reading children’s railroad-related books via Facebook Live. Each week, live and previously recorded book readings are available for viewing on both the California State Railroad Museum and Foundation Facebook pages @CaliforniaStateRailroadMuseum or @CaliforniaStateRailroadMuseumFoundation.

The Crocker Art Museum offersgallery tours and activities for all ages are available on the museum’s blog at crockerart.org/oculus and on the museum’s YouTube channel as well as on their social media channels @crockerart.

The Sacramento History Museum offers a website and free app for iOS and Android devices that takes users on a journey through some of the more amazing moments in Sacramento’s history. “Anytime Tours” feature 50-minute digital walking tours through the Historic City Cemetery and Old Sacramento Waterfront highlighted by 10 stops at each location. The tours can be accessed at sachistorymuseum.org or downloaded free of charge from the App Store or Google Play by searching Anytime Tours.

For insight into 25 additional greater Sacramento area museums working in partnership, check out Sacramento Area Museums, sacmuseums.org.

Contact Tim at tviall@msn.com or follow him at recordnet.com/travelblog. Happy travels in your world.

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Travel in the age of pandemics; plan six months out!

Travel in the age of pandemics, why plan for six months out?

After more than two weeks sheltering at home, I am going on the assumption that you and family members have spent time thinking about and discussing future travels. Whether it has been face to face with your spouse, or via Skype, Zoom, Facebook Messenger or other high-tech modes connecting to family, you have, or soon will have, identified the destination(s) and felt the excitement that comes with visiting nearby or distant exotic places.

If you have finished your discussions and planning, you have:

  • Captured a running list of travel hopes and dreams,
  • Challenged members of your new “travel team” to do research (web searches, your local library, scanning TV resources like Travel Channel , Nat Geo)
  • Visited sites like Visitstockton.org (for Stockton travel), Visit California or similar state sites for overall state travel info, or specific national park sites,
  • Shared that research with family (using Skype, Zoom or others), and,
  • Updated your written bucket list, and now you are ready to make reservations.

Let’s also assume that, within five to six months, the coronavirus will be mostly behind us, and we can freely travel through the western US and beyond. Be forewarned that pent-up travel demand will see prime vacation spots book quickly for September and beyond. Whether your destination is Southern California beach front condos, the state’s pristine state parks like several on the Big Sur coast or one of California’s nine national parks, they will book fast for the fall.

Perhaps you are dreaming of a fall trip to a scenic beach in Newport Beach, CA.

Perhaps you are also thinking of an ultimate bucket list destination, like the national parks of Yellowstone, Grand Tetons or Glacier in the winter; or something even more exotic. But, those parks, and Glacier, virtually overrun by tourists from June through September, are nearly deserted in the winter; making for memories to last a lifetime. Such special trips may necessitate planning even more than six months out, perhaps a year or more.

Let’s target just a couple suggestions, where the methods will work for other destinations. We already have a campsite booked in Yosemite for May, but the park will likely remain closed due to the pandemic, as it is today. Hence, we are thinking of early September. Whether you plan to book the historic Ahwahnee Lodge, or a campground, get planning, and reserving, now!

Visitors gather on Glacier Point for view of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.
Bison and calf, Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park.

For Federal campgrounds, like Lower Pines in Yosemite, or Sequoia, Yellowstone and others, use the recreation.gov site. Yosemite campgrounds are currently reservable through August 14, 2020 (but currently booked almost solid). On April 15, 2020 at 07:00 am PDT, availability will be released through September 14, 2020. Hence, log in and book moments after 7:00 AM on April 15!

Old Faithful Geyser thunders into a dusky sky and an absence of visitors, January, Yellowstone National Park.

Lower Pines Campground, located in stunning Yosemite Valley at an elevation of 4,000 feet, is surrounded by waterfalls, sheer granite cliffs, deep valleys, grand meadows; make that timely reservation to secure a site.

Perhaps I have piqued your interest in the national parks of Montana and Wyoming for a winter visit. There are about three choices how you might do such a trip; drive the 1000 miles to Montana, or fly into a city like West Yellowstone or Kalispell and rent a car, or – the ultimate – book a snow coach trip deep into Yellowstone Park and spend several nights at Old Faithful Snow Lodge as we did about seven years ago.

I will always remember, on our first day in Old Faithful in January, we walked the three blocks on snow-packed board walks to Old Faithful Geyser, stood in the clear, crisp -5 degree evening, noted one solitary fellow other human a hundred yards to our left, a skittish coyote on the geyser’s far side, and watched the geyser thunder into the Wyoming setting sun. Hot water and steam rising a half quarter-mile into the sky; a moment all to ourselves, forever frozen into our memories.

The drive to, or fly and rent a car option, gives you opportunity to visit one, two or all three of these iconic parks. But, with main roads through both Yellowstone and Glacier closed in winter, interior access can be a challenge. With Yellowstone, one can drive into the park’s North Entrance at Mammoth Hot Springs (adjoining Gardener, MT, offers a selection of motels and hotels, including our favorite, the Park Hotel). Mammoth Hot Springs are a destination in their own right, and one can motor relatively deep into the park, including the Lamar Valley, where wolves are frequently sighted, and out the park’s northeast entrance.

Four bison cross the Lamar River in the Lamar Valley, Yellowstone, in February. Visitors can drive into the Lamar Valley in winter, from the park’s northeast or north entrances.

Grand Teton National Park, while adjoining Yellowstone’s south boundary, requires a bit of circuitous driving to access the main jumping off point, Jackson, WY. Here you have the choice of numerous hotels and motels, skiing at two ski areas, including a favorite, Jackson Hole, and the National Elk Refuge on the edge of the city.

Likewise, Glacier allows you partial drive-in access, to the Lake McDonald Lodge on the park’s west side, and limited access on the east side. For Glacier, consider spending some time in the lovely nearby resort town of Whitefish, MT, ski a day or two at Whitefish Mountain and visit the park over several day trips. Our favorite overnight stop is the Grouse Mountain Lodge, surrounded by a cross-country ski complex, with free shuttles up to the ski hill and into the town a mile away.

Glacier National Park’s roads are kept open from the park’s west side entrance, to Lake McDonald Lodge (about 12 miles into the park).
A frozen Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park, February.

For more information: Glacier Park, nps.gov/gla/: Yellowstone Park, nps.gov/yell/; Yosemite Park, nps.gov/yos/; Camping, recreation.gov.

Contact Tim at tviall@msn.com or follow him at recordnet.com/travelblog. Happy travels in your world!

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Travel in the age of pandemics, planning and research while sheltering at home

Planning and researching travel in the age of pandemics

We are part of a country not accustomed to taking a break from daily routine. Work, school, moving kids or grandkids around to appointments, striving to be better at what we do – the go-go-go society we’re a part of.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed all that for most. Many people are furloughed from work, or asked to work at home. Businesses have closed, hours have been cut, schools shuttered, daycare centers darkened, casting even more responsibility on parents and grandparents.

Older Americans, and millions more with medical challenges ranging from heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, those on blood thinners and with compromised immune systems – all are at risk. Younger people, thinking themselves invincible, may not realize they can carry the virus, transmit it to these groups of fellow citizens and worsen the problem.

Accepting all that, we and millions of other Americans are at home, following the news on television, from newspapers and magazines, or online, and wondering or fearing what the next day or week may bring. However, many of us continue to think about travel plans. Travel plans to spring and summer destinations disrupted, the chore to rebook those destinations and dreaming of an end to the health crisis and returning to normal times, as well as the allure of travel, both near and far.

Sheltering at home gives you the time to research and plan bucket list
trip destinations such as a “winter in Yellowstone” trip!
Favorite travel inspiration volumes, from top, clockwise; The Yosemite, photos by Galen Rowell, text by John Muir; The Other California, by Gerald Haslam; The Lincoln Highway, by Wallis and Williamson; Weird California, by Bishop, Oesterle and Marinacci and the Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada, by John Muir Laws.

Hence, a few thoughts on how to spend your and your family’s time thinking travel. Here are resources to brighten your day and help you reflect, research and plan future travel trips. 

As a family, consider connecting with one another through new modes like Skype or Zoom teleconferencing. Our youngest daughter set us up with a Zoom account, and soon we will be able to video conference with her family and other family matters. Other options include Marco Polo, WhatsApp, Facetime on Apple devices and Facebook Messenger.

How about updating both your personal and family bucket list along the way? Certainly you have a written set of targets for future travel, no? If not, why not build one, and get the family (including kids and grandkids) thinking of the destination(s) and excitement that comes with such planning.

500 Nations is a great book to interest younger travelers in the excitement of visiting special places in the history of our Native Americans.

Start by getting your significant other and key family members into the thought process. Take these steps:

  • Gather a running list of travel hopes and dreams,
  • Challenge members of your new “travel team” to do research (web searches, your local library, scanning TV resources like Travel Channel , Nat Geo)
  • Once your destination(s) are shaping up, do web searches like Visitstockton.org (for Stockton travel), Visit California for overall state insights, specific national parks.
  • Family discussion (using Skype, Zoom or others)
  • Update that written bucket list, lay plans and make reservations

With more time on your hands, visit inspirational travel websites: Travel and Leisure, Sunset Magazine, Condé Nast Traveler’s on-line magazine, Visit California or Travel California. For your special places (such as Yellowstone park area encompassing Montana, Wyoming and Idaho), do a web search and turn up special resources like the Mountain Journal, featuring articles about both travel and the crush of development around our favorite parks like Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park (mountainjournal.org).

If you are a 62 and older traveler, make sure you acquire the Federal America the Beautiful Pass; a one-time, $80 purchase gets you into Federal National Parks and Monuments for free, and saves you half-off parks, monuments, national forest campsites. For Life!

Find time to read newspaper travel sections (in the Tuesday Record, the Sacramento Bee or San Francisco Chronicle). Dig through your home library to find favorite travel books and guides or find them at your library or purchase on-line.

Some of my book favorites include The Yosemite, featuring Galen Rowell’s stunning photos and John Muir’s notes from his pioneering exploration, The Other California, Central Valley life and Letters, edited by Gerald Haslam; The Lincoln Highway, Wallace and Williamson, tracing the historic highway’s establishment as well as early path across Donner Pass, into Sacramento and south through San Joaquin County and Stockton; Weird California, by Bishop, Oesterle and Maranacci, packed with unique and oddball destinations throughout our state; and Laws field guide to the Sierra Nevada, by John Muir Laws, just the tool for exploring the flora and fauna found up and down the Sierra Range.

Should walking in the steps of our Native Americans play into your travels, 500 nations by Alvin Josephy, Jr. and The Native Americans, an Illustrated History by Thomas, Miller, White, Nabokov, Deloria have provided unique insights. You can find many more books and/or websites on specific interest areas such as nearby ghost towns, covered bridges, Gold Rush history, favorite state or national parks and much more.

Atlas Obscura offers interesting and odd-ball destinations all over the USA and many other countries; guaranteed to pique interest of the most seasoned travelers!

Consult favorite travel blogs: my own, blogs.esanjoaquin.com/valleytravel, sourcing several hundred local and regional travel features, others such as nomadicmatt.com; Matt also lists these as his favorites: Legal Nomads, sharing a former attorney’s travel featuring food and culture, No Vacation Required, sharing insights on digital nomading and travel to intriguing destinations, Hey Nadine, documenting Nadine’s YouTube adventures as she travels the world and View from the Wing, which profiles travel loyalty and airline programs.

Search Facebook groups like Travels with Tim (my own site, with Record travel features and reposts of scores of other travel stories), Western United States Travel, and United States Travel Society. Build your own list of travel-focused publications, web sites and travel blogs to build your interest and inspire future travels.

Northern California destinations like Trinidad offer spectacular sea sides and
usually small crowds in your future travels.

Ready to book your travels? Consumer Affairs list these as trusted booking sites: BookIt.com, CheapOAir, Booking.com, Expedia, Priceline, Hotels.com, Airbnb and Hotwire. We have been pleased with both Priceline, for booking hotels/motels at last minute and Kayak.com, for booking of flights, hotels and rental cars. Campground booking sites (with pent-up demand, booking favored sites six months from now is imperative, so act now for September and beyond): reserveamerica.com and reservation.gov.

Contact Tim at tviall@msn.com or follow him at recordnet.com/travelblog. Happy travels in your world!

Posted in Central California, Mountain West (Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado), Northern California, Pacific Northwest USA (Oregon, Washington, Idaho), Sacramento/Capitol region, Sierra Nevada, Southeast US, Southern California, Southwest USA (Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas), Stockton/San Joaquin County | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Travel in the age of pandemics; look local!

Look for local options for travel in the age of pandemics

I was reminded of the challenge of travel in today’s skittish national psyche, when several  things occurred this week. I called Marriott, to shift our Newport Beach time share by one day in late April, from Saturday to a Sunday start. My Marriott rep noted one could not change the reservation within 60 days of arrival (and, that he was fielding a lot of calls from people wanting to cancel travel plans). 

The same morning, my wife suggested we postpone a planned two day Amtrak trip from Sacramento up to Reno and back, based on coronavirus concerns. The next day, Denver friends who we had agreed to housesit for called; Viking Cruises had cancelled their cruise to Australia, so our housesitting Colorado trip was toast. Today, I received an email noting the huge outdoor Sea Otter Bike Classic, with 10,000 participants and crowds that top 70,000 over four days in mid-April, is being postponed until the fall.

Yikes, it hit me – this is serious business, affecting travel in a myriad of ways. What to do?

Author’s grandkids Hunter, Jessica and Jack hiking on Shima Tract in North Stockton.

First, apply known travel safety measures. Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggestions are below.

If you are skittish and suspect this contagion may get worse before it gets better, consider your options, including the timeframe you have to change or cancel planned trips. As example, with Marriott, you’ve got to make changes 60 days in advance or you’re stuck. Hence, check with your airline, your cruise ship, your hotel reservations so you’ll know what your options are.

But, rather than deciding to go underground for the next number of months, consider all the special places nearby, where you can walk, bike or travel by car and avoid crowds. Ask your kids or grandkids what quiet, intriguing places they would like to explore (prime their pump by getting them thinking of such things as Native American or pioneer history, scenic wonder and the like). With literally scores of interesting options, consider:

View of the Delta, looking west toward Mt. Diablo, from Village West Marina.
Good walking options along the Delta in this area!

Serenity in your backyard: Head for nearby bird and wildlife watching to places like Cosumnes River Preserve, wildlife reserves like Lodi Lake). Go for a hike in the San Joaquin Delta (Shima Tract offers a four-mile and a nine mile loop, at the west end of Hammer Lane in Stockton). Bike the Calaveras River Bike Trail, or part of the 30-plus mile American River Parkway in Sacramento.

Tail end of cyclist group riding in the vineyards to the southwest of Lodi.

Day trips or weekend overnight trips: Go in search of something special, like California wildflowers, covered and historic bridges, ghost towns, Sierra vistas (Google a topic like “covered bridges” and become an explorer!).

Back roads exploration: Take a map or your GPS and go exploring back roads in the Sierra foothills or out into the San Joaquin Delta, sure to lead to quaint towns, spectacular views, Native American and pioneer history and much more. Explore a quiet road up to Pardee Reservoir and stop at the Buena Vista Store, or head west into the Delta to Rio Vista and head north to Isleton, Locke and Walnut Grove.

Egret lands near pelican at Cosumnes River Preserve just north of Thornton
(photo courtesy Chuck Higgs)

California‘s 280 state parks and scores of regional parks: They offer nearby, quiet destinations, such as a day trip to Round Valley Regional Park, on the way to Mount Diablo State Park, with nearby Black Diamond Regional Park which profiles the history and remaining coal mines of California’s coal mining district, producing the black gold that heated the homes and fired the boilers of Delta steam ships from the 1860s to 1900.

Check out Indian Grinding Rocks State Historical Park near, where Native Americans met to grind their acorn flour each spring and summer. Likewise, Marshall Gold Discovery State Park in Coloma reveals the site of the 1848 Gold discovery that changed the course of California history, with nearby Placerville delightful for strolling and noshing afterwards. If we get the rain forecast for this weekend, wildflower viewing will be a special side benefit to the views and history.

Docents at ready for a tour of the Hazel Atlas historic mine in
Black Diamond Mines Regional Park, just north of Mt. Diablo.

Don’t overlook quiet natural wonders like Micke Grove Park in Lodi (containing the San Joaquin Historical Museum, Japanese gardens, Zoo, Fun Town and disc golf). Similarly, just south of Ripon, Caswell Memorial State Park, framing the languid Stanislaus River, offers quiet hiking options into pristine and riparian habitats. Take binoculars for eye-opening new experiences.

Lesser-known national parks like Pinnacles, Lassen Volcanic and Redwoods National Parks are just 3-4 hours from San Joaquin county and offer special allure, spectacular flora and fauna and generally light visitation. For real adventure, book an overnight backpacking journey to Channel Islands National Park with a boat trip out of Ventura.

Machete Ridge in Pinnacles National Park, just three hours from Stockton.

Let’s review: Centers for Disease Control recommends everyday preventive actions, including:

  • Make sure your vaccinations are up to date and get a flu shot;
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick (and, perhaps, big crowds),
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth;
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then trash the tissue;
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces;
  • Stay home when you are sick;
  • Facemasks are only needed for those who show symptoms of coronavirus.

But, don’t become a hermit. Thoughtfully plan your travel, avoid crowds and explore nearby adventures.

Contact Tim at tviall@msn.com or follow him at recordnet.com/travelblog. Happy travels in your world!

Posted in Central California, Northern California, Sacramento/Capitol region, San Francisco Bay Area, Sierra Nevada, Stockton/San Joaquin County | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“Reel Cars: the importance of cars in film making” recently opened at the California Auto Museum

Cars of movies and television on display at the California Auto Museum!

Automobiles have long been a huge part of motion pictures and, more recently, television. As autos became a daily part of American life since the early 1900s, it’s no surprise they’ve taken such a huge role in television and movies. They often take a leading role in films like Bullitt or Fast and Furious, are used to set the scene (as were a host of 50s and 60s autos used in American Graffiti, hearkening back to the cruises on Modesto’s 10th and 11th streets) or help portray romance (as a beautiful white Nash Healy convertible did in the film Sabrina).

Cars from Ford vs. Ferrari flank Aubrey Hepburn’s white Nash Healy from Sabrina, part of the Reel Cars exhibit at the California Auto Museum.

The specialty exhibit “Reel Cars: the importance of cars in film making” recently opened at the California Auto Museum in Sacramento, and runs through July 6, 2020. Automobiles have been a part of motion pictures since the two technologies developed simultaneously in the early 1900s. The cars are not replicas or celebrity-owned – all cars featured were used by studios to make a movie or TV show.

The ‘Reel Cars’ exhibit shows off many of those movie cars, as well as offering insight into how those exciting chase scenes have been filmed over the years. Alas, the 1968 Mustang driven by Steve McQueen and made famous in Bullitt is not here; it recently sold for $3.74 million!

Crowd admires the red Ferrari from Ford vs. Ferrari.

Among the 20-some movie vehicles on display, consider a sumptuous pink 1951 Nash Rambler “Rolltop”, used by 20th Century Fox to promote the 1952 classic Monkey Business, starring Marilyn Monroe. The car was used to squire Marilyn around to a variety of promotions for the movie and at the movie’s premiere, as well as by Monroe in the Miss America pageant when she became the pageant’s grand marshal. It’s a spectacular classic Rambler, made more so by its relationship to the movie star.

The pink Rambler “Rolltop” used by Marilyn Monroe to help promote Risky Business.

You’ll spot two of the cars from the recent Oscar-nominated movie, Ford vs. Ferrari. In the movie, Christian Bale is filmed driving a number 98 Shelby Cobra in 1963. Since the original Cobra was worth a fortune, the movie used this high-quality Superperformance Cobra replica, looking almost exactly like the real thing. Nearby spot a bright red Ferrari also featured in the movie, or a hot custom blue Suburu used in the movie The Fast and the Furious.

Just a few cars away is a beautiful 1953 Nash Healy roadster, from the 1954 hit Sabrina, featuring Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden, all filmed in this spectacular car. The Nash Healy is considered the first American postwar sports car, beating the Corvette by two years, though it ended production in 1954 after turning heads with its unique style by Italian designer Pininfarina.

Another view of the Reel Cars exhibit at the Museum.

Across the exhibit space spot a huge 1918 Henney Hearse, one of the largest funeral carmakers in the US at the time. Featuring spectacular craftsmanship and ornate woodcarvings, the hearse appeared in the 1955 movie Bad Day at Black Rock, stirring Spencer Tracy. During filming, the owner of the hearse was so worried about its value that he insisted having a bodyguard to watch over the car.

Ornate Henney Hearse from Bad Day at Black Rock.
Visitors can enjoy some 125 additional classic and vintage autos as part
of the Museum’s regular stock.

Museum visitors will spot several custom vehicles designed for high-tech filming. Among them are a huge 1920s Pierce Arrow truck, adapted to carry several large movie cameras to film cowboys and Indians racing along a dirt track, a custom designed Land Rover modified to look like a car 15 years into the future and a recent model BMW sedan affixed to the frame of a stretched cargo van, used to film actors ostensibly driving the car at high speeds. 

Take a seat in a classic Mercedes Benz convertible in front of a moving film backdrop, and produce your own selfie-video showing you and your companion having an animated conversation as the scenery roles by. Not only will these cars and movie-making vehicles wow you, but kids and young adults will be quickly impressed by just how these movie’s action scenes were made. Different rigs and a crashed car shed a light on the behind-the-scenes of cars in motion pictures. There are multiple ways to engage and interact with the exhibit displays, including rolling videos of old silent movies, interactive displays to engage kids and much more. Visitors will come to better understand the process of automobile filming.  

Since opening in 1987, the California Automobile Museum tells the story of over 130 years of automotive culture and history. Exhibiting makes and models of all kinds, the Museum strives to preserve, exhibit, teach and tell the stories of the automobile and its influence on our lives. In addition to the current special exhibit, enjoy another 120 classic and vintage autos as part of the museum’s continuing showcase.

The 1933 Lincoln limosine, owned by the founder of Bank of Italy/Bank of America.

For more information: The museum is located at 2200 Front Street, Sacramento, just a ½ mile south of Old Sacramento; see the website, calautomuseum.org or call (916) 442-6802.

Contact Tim at tviall@msn.com or follow him at recordnet.com/travelblog. Happy travels in your world!

Posted in Central California, Northern California, Sacramento/Capitol region | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Exploring the Great Northern Railroad and Glacier National Park

Great Northern Railroad and Glacier National Park; exciting winter exploration!

I’ve long been a railroad buff, from the days in the 1950s when my late Uncle Bill used to take my cousin Bill Jr. and me down to the railroad tracks in Akron, Ohio to see the last of the steam engines come chugging into town from points east and west.

On a recent trip to Montana, I had the chance to explore sections of the old Great Northern Railway, linking Minneapolis to Seattle with the northern-most transcontinental route. Operating from 1889 to 1970 when it was merged into the current Burlington Northern system, the Great Northern was the creation of 19th-century rail entrepreneur James J. Hill and was the only privately-funded (no federal funds used at all) transcontinental railroad in the country.

The route of the venerable Great Northern Railway.


It’s best known engineer was John F. Stevens, serving from 1889 to 1903, famed for his exploration of Marias Pass on the edge of the future Glacier National Park, determining its practicality for a railway route. He also discovered Stevens Pass over the Cascade Mountains and went on to be the chief engineer for the Panama Canal. The GN went on to advocate for and help establish Glacier National Park (established 1910) in part to benefit its rail traffic.

Exploration also allowed visits to the lovely ski town of Whitefish Montana, Glacier National Park and winter vistas second to none. We started our rail exploration at the Whitefish Amtrak station, still serving passenger traffic to the town and the national Park, as well as considerable freight traffic, including coal and oil moving from the Dakota fields for export out of the country. 

The Whitefish Amtrak Station, also home to the Stumptown Historical Museum.

Inside the Amtrak station is the noteworthy Stumptown Historical Museum, with displays touting the history of the town, the Great Northern, as well as highlighting Native American tribes in the area. An interesting display notes how the swastika symbol was used in Native American art, but was abandoned by many tribes when Hitler popularized its use in the 1930s. Outside, book-ending the station is an old great northern locomotive, and the somewhat-famous “bruck”, a combination bus/freight hauler built by Kenworth which the GN used hauling passengers and freight between Kalispell and Whitefish between 1951 and 1970.

Whitefish, a quintessential western town expanding quickly due to ski, golf and Glacier Park tourism, offers a host of lodging opportunities. We’ve stayed a number of times at the Grouse Mountain Lodge on the west edge of town, wrapped in winter by cross country ski trails, in summer by an 18 hole golf course.

Whitefish Mountain towers over the town of Whitefish, MT.

The town offers scores of upscale, trendy and down-to-earth dining options; our favorites include the Whitefish Lake Lodge (featuring a beautiful 82-year-old log building), Abruzzo Italian Kitchen, Tupelo’s Grill and the Craggy Range Brewpub. Recently voted North America’s third most popular ski town by readers of Skiing magazine, Whitefish boasts shops, galleries and bars, many offering live entertainment.

Whitefish Mountain Resort, just north, offers 3,000 acres, 105 marked trails, almost 2,500 vertical feet and vast bowl and tree skiing. It’s a huge ski area even by Western standards, but be forewarned that temperatures can range from a balmy 40 degrees to 25 below zero, so come prepared for any kind of weather.

Ski magazine continually rates Whitefish Mountain Resort in the top 20 in the country, high in service, friendly staff, kids’ programs and value. A huge benefit – seniors 70 and over ski for a low rate of $25/day, with good discounts for seniors 62 and up and youth; kids under six ski free! It’s the only resort I know in the west that offers such an option for senior skiers.

Paralleling the great northern route, US Highway 2 heads east, along the south side of the national park; plan to visit the Isaac Walton Hotel, in Essex, MT, an inviting stop for a meal or lodging. An old Great Northern Railway hotel, comfortable lodging is offered in the old lodge as well as a number of refurbished cabooses, club cars and a locomotive engine! The inn is surrounded by cross country ski trails, a true winter wonderland. Just miles to the east is Marias Pass, pioneered by the railroad, And, just beyond, East glacier, continuing the national park’s winter majesty.

Lake McDonald, looking to the northeast, from the Apgar area on the park’s west side.

Cross country skiing options abound. At the Isaac Walton Hotel, a network of cross country trails found out, including several into the national park. On the Whitefish Lake Golf Course, 15 km of trails are laid out, including 4 km lighted for night skiing. A variety of other trails lie just outside of town, as well as in nearby Glacier Park. For those wanting to try snowmobiling, a number of local companies cater that activity.

Winter visitors to Glacier National Park can drive 11 miles into the park from West Glacier, to Lake McDonald Lodge on Going to the Sun Highway. There the road is closed in winter, but cross-country skiers or snowshoers continue along McDonald Creek for a true winter experience. Or, choose the North Fork Road, along the park’s western boundary, all the way to Polebridge. Other cross country trails head up the north side of Lake McDonald, as well.

The Izaak Walton Hotel, a former Great Northern Railway hotel.

For a memorable experience, consider a dogsled tour or a sleigh ride. Dog Sled Adventures (406) 881-2275, located 17 miles northwests of Whitefish in Olney, offers nearly 100 Alaskan huskies to pull sleds, catering daily to couples, families or groups. Winter horse-drawn sleigh rides are offered at Bar W Guest Ranch (406) 863-9099, just 4 miles west of Whitefish on Highway 93. For those seeking a winter experience in Yellowstone National Park, it’s about eight hours south of Whitefish.

Rent this Great Northern locomotive for an overnight stay; it’s been converted with kitchen, dining and living areas, bedroom – and the cab still retains all the engineer’s operating gear!

For more informationGlacier National Parknps.gov/glac/Whitefish, MT visitation, explorewhitefish.comWhitefish Mountain Resortskiwhitefish.com.

Contact Tim at tviall@msn.com or follow him at recordnet.com/travelblog. Happy travels in your world!

Posted in Mountain West (Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado) | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

New exhibit, “San Joaquin Votes: Exercise Your Right!” offers perfect time to visit San Joaquin Historical Museum

“San Joaquin Votes: Exercise Your Right!” makes for perfect time to visit San Joaquin Historical Museum

This year is a big year for local and national politics. Not only is the primary on March 3rd and the general election November 3rd, but it is also the centennial celebration of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave women the right to vote on a national level. In recognition, the San Joaquin Historical Museum recently opened its first of four exhibits for the year, San Joaquin Votes: Exercise Your Right!

Visitors to the exhibit will learn the history of various political parties, the election process, political districts, types of ballot measures, woman suffrage and historical political campaigns of San Joaquin County. Artifacts on display include one of San Joaquin County’s early ballot boxes, political cards and posters, political buttons and ribbons, voter registration books, precinct maps, and plenty of historical photographs.

A variety of historical campaign buttons, pins and memorabilia are on display.

Julie Blood, the museum’s collections and exhibits manager, notes “California was the swing state in the 1916 presidential election between incumbent Woodrow Wilson and Charles Hughes, with California being the swing state handing the victory to Wilson. The library‘s exhibit really sheds light on the importance of every vote counting. Details of who can vote, age limits, the impact of felony convictions which can disqualify voters are all highlighted.

While the exhibit reflects back on the 1920 constitutional amendment granting women suffrage; California women got the right to vote on local and California issues in 1910. Soon after, Lodi woman were key to approving a ballot measure to build Lodi Union High School, now converted to Hutchins Street Square. We believe the exhibit will help demonstrate the importance of exercising one’s right to vote on both local and national candidates and issues”.

This display offers detail on passage of the 19th Amendment, womens suffrage.

The exhibit sheds light on such historical fights to get the new San Joaquin County Courthouse built in 1964, including pictures of the former grand courthouse getting knocked down. The exhibit also gives visitors a chance to vote on the favorite dessert for the museum, making choices from such favorites as tiramisu, ice cream cake and other delectables. Visitors can participate in political surveys and vote to determine the best exhibit building.  

This exhibit traces the pros and cons of the new 1964 County Courthouse.

I am reminded of then US Congressman Richard Pombo addressing a large gathering from the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce back in the mid-1990s; he noted that what really should matter to voters is the election of local candidates; school board, city council, county supervisor elections, and tax measures. Pombo added that they’re the ones that most affect your schools, your city, your streets, your safety issues and more.

In the 2018 general election, a total of 196,635 ballots were cast out of 344,605 registered voters in San Joaquin County, a turnout of more than 57 percent. However, that’s 43% of registered voters who didn’t exercise their right to vote. A visit to the museum and harkening to the words of Blood and Pombo may help increase that voter turnout; the San Joaquin Votes exhibit closes on March 1.

Long a family favorite, the museum is deep in insight into the history and agricultural underpinnings of both Stockton and San Joaquin County. Exhibits at the museum offer hands-on activity and our grandkids have taken to the sense of history and mechanical inventiveness  almost immediately!

Innovations in Agriculture shares detail on the ingenious ag inventions that came out of local farmers and manufacturers throughout San Joaquin County.

The San Joaquin Historical Museum (along with Micke Grove Zoo) are the major attractions in Micke Grove Park, just south of Lodi. The museum offers marvelous exhibits on our Native American forebears and the early days of the county’s agricultural empire, including the tractor barn with 40 historic and huge tractors for up-close and personal inspection.

While touring the expansive grounds, take special note of the impressive Cortopassi-Avansino Building, featuring the “Innovators in Agriculture” exhibition. It illustrates the development of irrigated, intensive agriculture in San Joaquin County in the 20th century, focusing on six crops historically identified with the county: truck farming (small, diversified growing of vegetables and fruits), dry beans, asparagus, cherries, walnuts and canning tomatoes. In addition to large historic equipment and small historic artifacts, the exhibits feature large-screen videos, photo murals, and touch-screen videos. The simulated walnut shaker will make you feel like you are working this awesome machine deep in the county’s walnut orchards!

The Zoo is just blocks away, if you have energy to spare.

Author’s grandkids Jessica and Hunter always get a kick out of a tour of this remarkable museum, with plenty of “hands-on activities” for youth.

For more information: San Joaquin Historical Museum, sanjoaquinhistory.org, (209) 331-2055.

Contact Tim at tviall@msn.com, follow at recordnet.com/travelblogHappy travels in your world!

Posted in Central California, Northern California, Stockton/San Joaquin County | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment
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