Four Wheeling in the High Sierra

Another New World

There are many worlds on this Earth and recently I discovered another one.

Now, when I say “worlds,” I could mean it in a more literal sense by referring to the newly discovered ultra-deep oceanic life thriving at the outlets of volcanic emissions, or to the various cultures of people distributed and re-distributing across the globe.

For now, though, I speak of the invisible cultures that are substrata to our everyday life that surrounds us all. For example, model and garden railway aficionados. By day, you might work alongside one of them and never know that at their homes are entire rooms dedicated to miniature railroads; some even have trains large enough to sit upon that can carry you on a completely authentic track—with rails, ties, and ballast—around a yard and house. And, with fully functional mini-steam locomotives!

Many other “sub-worlds” exist, of course, and there are often many cultures within each. For example there are amateur musicians, photographers, wind sailors, china painters, women’s improvement clubs, doll makers, motorcycle enthusiasts, pipe smokers, cigar smokers, bicycle enthusiasts, hikers and campers, mountain climbers, hobbyists in general, poem/writing societies, and sports fans, to list a scant few.

Some are highly defined by ritual and ceremony, such as the Masonic, Elk, I.O.O.F, and other fraternal groups—most of which have parallel or auxiliary women’s organizations, such as the Eastern Star to the Masons, and most have youth auxiliaries, as well.

They all are different, and they each have their own unique set of rules, conduct, language, terminology, hierarchy, and gizmos and gadgets.

The new world that I recently experienced (though I had heard of it before) is that of the “off-roaders” and “four-wheelers,” “all-terrain explorers,” the world of the ATV—All Terrain Vehicles. It, too has its own sub-culture, replete with unique vocabulary, etiquette, equipment, and special accessories such as cargo bags, dust masks, snubbers, trailer hitches, custom trailers, gun racks, mounting brackets, protective glasses, very creative helmets, saddlebags, and much more.

[In this particular Photo Journey I have, as usual, included a slideshow; this one draws from my photo collection acquired from and representing my four visits from last summer. Also, the soundtrack you’ll hear, “Rapidity,” is of my own composition. You’ll find the slideshow at the end of the full story after you click on the “Continue reading” link, just below.]

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Yolo — November 15, 2012

A Brief Look at Yolo

Engine 1233 at the Woodland Railroad Museum, northeast of Sacramento, California

Engine 1233 at the Woodland Railroad Museum, northeast of Sacramento, California. (Click on the photo for a larger view)

Yolo County, in California, is full of treasures. One might even say, “it’s full of surprises” to be found by simply exploring its countryside, small communities, and few densely populated small towns.

On my Photo Journey of November 15, 2012, I returned to one of those treasures that I stumbled upon (almost literally) a couple of years ago, one that was surely a surprise. Accompanying me on this trip was fellow Sacramento photographer Bob Redd, of PhiBetaPhoto. (Be sure to click on the link to “Continue Reading”)

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Barbershop at the Hof Brau

HARMONY FOR LUNCH BUNCH

Barbershop quartet singing on Third Thursday (Click on the photo for a larger view)

Barbershop quartet singing on Third Thursday (Click on the photo for a larger view)

It’s been happening every third Thursday for nearly 21 years—a special musical treat for the lunch time crowd at Sam’s Hof Brau on the corner of Watt and El Camino in Sacramento. The “Harmony for Lunch Bunch,” as they call themselves, line up for food service at Sam’s starting at about 11:30am, and are singing in the conference room in the back by high noon. They are barbershop singers from the greater Sacramento region singing classic barbershop arrangements of old songs, such as were popular at the turn of the 19th into the 20th century (and sometimes some newer ones). Though mostly men, there are usually enough women attending to form a quartet with a few left over, but all join in the communal singing. (Be sure to click on the link to “Continue Reading”)

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Dunsmuir Railroad Days — 2011

RAILROAD DAYS!
The name speaks for itself. If you are anywhere from the northern California area, it most likely evokes memories of fantasy, fiction, and vague facts from one’s youth.

Union Pacific northbound freight at the Dunsmuir depot. (Click on the photo for a larger view)

Union Pacific northbound freight at the Dunsmuir depot. (Click on the photo for a larger view)

“This is the town everyone wishes they had grown up in,” said Barbara Cross, a past president of the local Chamber of Commerce, and perennial volunteer. In many ways, she personifies both the old and the “new” of Dunsmuir: friendly, hospitable, not afraid to speak to strangers, and eager to share information about Dunsmuir’s legacy as a railroad town, fishing center, tourist attraction, and its own special brand of being, well, being “special.”(Be sure to click on the link to “Continue Reading”)

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Luigi’s Pizza in Sacramento

[Editor’s note: this is a much longer story than originally intended. I justify it because it covers two businesses and concepts, and has TWO slideshows, in addition to some individual photos.]

Luigi’s!
Considered by many to be among the best pizzerias in Sacramento, and by me to be the best, Luigi’s Pizza on Stockton Boulevard has been a landmark and tradition since 1953. But that is just the beginning of the story.

Greg & Linda Brida of Luigi's Slice on 20th at J Street (Click on the photo for a larger view)

Greg & Linda Brida of Luigi's Slice on 20th at J Street (Click on the photo for a larger view)

Sacramento is a town founded on people and deeds of legendary proportions. They were (and are) real people and their deeds have been verified. Some are famous on the world barometer while others quietly assume their rankings at home in Sacramento with time and consistency.

One such family has become a legacy in its own right. Sergio (Frank) Brida with his father, Dario, and his uncle Enrico, immigrated from Tres, Italy in 1959. Coming from a family of bakers, they crossed the Atlantic in 11 days and found their way to the Fair Oaks area east of Sacramento. Their hometown of Tres is a tiny municipality of about 700 people (today) in the northern province of Trento. It is in the mountainous region just about 100 miles south of Switzerland and Austria, and its neighbors are Verona, Padua, Venice, and Modena—Shakespeare and olive oil. In the old country, everything was within walking distance in their tiny village and so, after a short while, the Brida’s moved into the East Sacramento area where everything was close by, and where they found a small neighborhood of fellow Italians. They had been sponsored by another uncle, Father Brida of St. Mary’s church which is near the heart of that neighborhood.
(Be sure to click on the link to “Continue Reading”)

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Stand Alone #007: Highway 45

Grimes Community Church

Grimes Community Church (Click on the photo for a larger view)

Grimes Community Church (Click on the photo for a larger view)

During my early railroad years on the Southern Pacific Railroad (1965-1983), I worked local freights throughout much of the central valley between highways 99E and 99W (now replaced by Interstate 5). Knights Landing, College City, Hamilton City, Yolo, Woodland, and Grimes were in a world isolated. For the most part, during those years, there was only one local freight train daily taking cars in, and switching cars out and bringing home produce (mostly) from this rich farming area. Today, Grimes, as then, appears to be home mostly to farmers and farm workers. It’s a quaint little place, and more than just a spot on the road. The church sits right on Highway 45 on the north exit.
[Click on the photo for a larger view]

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Stand Alone #006: Highway 45

55 on Highway 45

55 on Highway 45 (Click on the photo for a larger view)

55 on Highway 45 (Click on the photo for a larger view)

For the southern half, betwixt Knights Landing and Colusa, Highway 45 does very little wending and winding; rather it moves mostly in straight lines and right angle turns. For the better part of a President’s Day afternoon, I saw almost no other vehicle except on the close outskirts of the small towns. On clear days, the Sutter Buttes, which hold the title of being the world’s smallest mountain range, can be seen from nearly every vantage point in the Sacramento Valley. The mountains are about 10 miles (16 km) from north to south and east to west.
[Click on the photo for a larger view]

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Stand Alone #005: Highway 45

Bend in the road at Wilkins Slough off of Highway 45

Bend in the road at Wilkins Slough off of Highway 45 (Click on the photo for a larger view)

Bend in the road at Wilkins Slough off of Highway 45 (Click on the photo for a larger view)

I took a little side trip off of Highway 45 and followed Wilson Bend Road for its brief length. Along the way, I passed through were Wilkins Slough finds the Sacramento River. There’s not much at Wilkins Slough, but it does sport the “Reclamation District No. 108, Sacramento River West Side Levee District and Knights Landing Ridge Drainage District.” There’s an updated irrigation intake “plant” dating from 1918 that is centered in an attractive little park with two horseshoe pits.

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Stand Alone #004: Highway 45

Truck 909 along Highway 45

Truck 909 along Hwy 45. (Click on the photo for a larger view)

Truck 909 along Hwy 45. (Click on the photo for a larger view)

Farmland has a plethora of relics. Some farmers let them rust and rot on back lots or seemingly abandoned them in the fields; others preserve them to some degree or even restore them. This remnant sits alongside relics that have been given new life and meaning in the hands of artists. Farmers? Perhaps a little of both.
[Click on the photo for a larger view]

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Stand Alone #003: Highway 45

Water control on irrigation canal along Highway 45

Water control on irrigation canal along Highway 45. (Click on the photo for a larger view)

Water control on irrigation canal along Highway 45. (Click on the photo for a larger view)

Someone has to walk the plank! Irrigation canals are in abundance throughout the farmland, and control valves like this one are key to delivering the life blood of water to the crops. As in any large arterial system, valves control the flow and direction of water. This “valve” raises and lowers a wooden gate, connecting this canal to another. Fully manual, no batteries required.
[Click on the photo for a larger view]

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