And one other thing. Putting pictures in this blog has given me a lot of trouble, so will have a text blog page and a picture blog page. The text pages will be "A" pages, and the picture pages will be the "B" pages.
The San Joaquin Valley is not so much a place to visit as it is a place to endure on your way to get someplace else. It is a very broad valley with the Sierras on the east and various coast-range mountains on the west. On this trip—and I suspect most trips—the Sierras were invisible. They are quite distant—well over 50 miles most of the time, more of the rest of the time—but, for those of us who love mountains and have spent a lot of time in them, they have a strong presence even when not seen. On the west of the valley are various smaller mountain ranges, and on this day (Friday 20 May) they were a visible but the thick valley air rendered them a dirty blue and obliterated most of their details.
At the southern end of the valley, I-5 rapidly ascends into the mountains which form a wall on the north of Los Angeles. The pass was 4,000 ft., plus, and was the most interesting part of the day's trip. The hills seem largely untouched and seem to have only native species growing on their slopes. This a significant contrast with both the San Joaquin Valley which lies south of Sacramento, and the Sacramento Valley which lies on the north of Sacramento.
The remainder of the trip was exciting, also, but not in a pleasant sense. The traffic got increasingly dense and increasingly slower, and, from Hollywood to Long beach, it was stop-and-go with the emphasis on “stop.” My line, which was repeated many time in this stretch of I-5 was, “Why would anyone chose to live here?” South of Los Angeles is much better. Lovey weather and more tolerable traffic.
My brother Bob and his wife Debbie welcomed us with a tidal wave of love and food. Debbie's family comes from Italy and brings with it food, more food, and, just in case, more food—all of it delicious! Another Italian trait is love, big open-hearted love, with lots of hugs. We could not have felt more welcomed.
Bob and Debbie arranged for a reunion on Sunday (22 May). This was a reunion of people on my mother's side of the family: my uncle Dave (my mother's baby brother) and his wife Diane, Dave's children (my cousins) Diedre and Lori, and Lori's husband KC. Uncle Dave, approaching his 84th birthday, is the last of my mother's siblings. I don't know Dave's children well—we grew up on opposite ends of the country—they in California and I in Vermont. I will always treasure this opportunity to get to know them a little bit better. A grand time was had by all, and there was food, more food, and, mama mia, piu mangiare!
We will be meeting more relations on my mother's side later on this trip. The next will be Pamela Edwards Hoffman, my 2nd cousin in South Carolina, and her children, my 2nd cousins, once removed. Later in the trip in Michigan we will be meeting Walter Edwards, Pamela's uncle—my 1st cousin 1 once removed. More on these folks later.
Monday, 23 May, we went into Laguna Beach to meet with Sandra Shrader. This will give you an idea of just how crazy I am. She and I are not related—at least not in the usual way; I did not go to school with her; in fact, we had never met. She found me on line because of my work preserving my parents' business, the Vermont Copper Crafters. And herein lies the relationship: my father worked for her grandfather. That makes me her uncle in the copper business. Whatever the relationship, she turned out to be an absolutely delightful person. Her grandfather was a long-time owner of Craftsmen Inc., one of the most important manufacturers of copper giftware (bookends, bowls, pitchers, ashtrays, etc) in the country. It was with Craftsmen that my father learned the trade. Sandra has been researching the history of Craftsmen with the intention of publishing a book on the company. It promises to be The Word on the subject. She is the right person for the job. Not only is she related to the business, but she is a tireless researcher and a professional writer. I can't wait for it to roll off the presses.
Tuesday, 24 May, we will head to Kingman. AZ. There we will meet with Gloria Chase Dukeshire. Gloria and I are both descended from Thomas Purves, She is the 3rd generation, I the fourth. More on this when I post the next blog.