Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Family Time in Hanford, California

Tuesday, Nov. 26th - Thursday, Dec. 26th

We arrived at John's sister Kathy's place just in time for Thanksgiving and her birthday which just happened to fall on Thanksgiving Day this year.  One day we went for a walk down to old China Alley near downtown.  We toured the Taoist Temple Museum, which is small, interesting and free, $2 donation suggested.  Hanford had the largest Chinese population between Los Angeles and San Francisco in the 1880s when they were building railroads.

Chinese silk squash, also known as the sponge squash, as it is what loofah (or luffa) sponges are made from.
When dried, the firm fibers in the fruit of a loofah plant become a loofah sponge. In water, a loofah works hard to exfoliate and massage, but because the fibers are natural, they feel soft and gentle. Using a natural loofah sponge increases circulation, giving your skin a healthy glow and putting you in a relaxed state of mind. Loofahs are gentle enough to be used every day. They are also an edible vegetable.  I never really knew what they were and I've never used one.  Might have to try it sometime.

Another day we were out walking and came by this place where there were at least 20 guinea pigs and a few guinea hens running around the yard and some out in the street.  When we were in Peru a few years ago, we learned that guinea pig was a national dish for them.  We actually tried one at a restaurant there.  It was a whole guinea pig deep fried and tasted okay, but was pretty greasy.

Just a few blocks from Kathy's house on a busy street corner, this guy feeds the ducks that come over from a pond in a nearby park.  There must be about 50 of them there everyday.  Notice all the oranges on the tree.  There are lots of orange trees, lemon trees, palm trees, pecans, pomegranates, grape vineyards for raisins, etc. in the San Joaquin Valley.  The air quality in the valley is supposed to be the worst in the country and the weather station sometimes has advisories to stay indoors as much as possible.

We took Kathy and a couple of her friends down to Bakersfield for one their famous Basque dinners.  The Basque people were a sheep herding people from the Basque region between France and Spain.  Bakersfield has the largest community of Basque people in the United States.  The meal is served in the back room of a bar that is very much like the one my folks ran when I was growing up.  They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week family style including a house wine, dessert, soup, salad, appetizer and a different entree every day.  They have some specialties, such as pickled tongue, which is very tasty.  It is really good and a unique cultural event.  Article about them above, if you would like to read more.

 Of course, we made our usual rounds of the casino buffets at Fresno and Lemoore while we were here.  That, plus all the holiday goodies, has set us back on our quest to trim down.  But it's soon time again for New Years resolutions and, hopefully, ours will last longer than the three days we made it last year.  As they say, "Hope springs eternal." or "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.".

On Christmas Day, our last evening here, we drove around town to look at Christmas lights.  I didn't get a picture, Dawn, but one of the houses we drove by had the leg lamp from the Christmas Story movie, in the window on the second floor landing.

This house had a radio station to tune into to listen to music timed to match the changing lights.  Their name "Loomis" is at the left side of the yard.  Very cool.

This place was just outside town and also had a radio station to tune into for music matching the timing of all the changing lights.  

Just a couple more views of the changing lights at the same place.

Great way to spend our last evening here on Christmas Day.  Thanks again Kathy for all the hospitality and entertainment.  Can't wait to come back next year, so try to enjoy the next 11 months without us, tick, tock, tick, tock, time flies! 

Thursday we head south and across Arizona toward Phoenix, where I catch a flight on January 8th to my niece's wedding in Jamaica.  Can't wait to see everybody again.

Happy New Year to all our family and friends,

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