Saturday, September 30, 2006

Saturday Work

I had to go into the office today and put together some materials for an upcoming in-house training class called "Fundamentals of Environmental Due Diligence." It's all about Phase I stuff and the new USEPA All Appropriate Inquiry rules and the corresponding revised ASTM E 1527-05 Standard Practice. I hate working Saturdays but I'm swamped and I couldn't put this off any longer.

Through the Salinas Valley - California Dreamin' Part II

I started to leave Paso Robles around 8 am Friday morning, with a quick stop at Starbucks. Did you ever step into a Starbucks that had an attitude about it? Kind of an uppity, not very friendly attitude? This one had it. It's the Starbucks at the south end of town in a brand new shopping center that has all the same stores I've seen in about 10 new shopping centers going up in Gilbert and Chandler, Arizona. I found a nice coffee place in town, Jax Coffee House, but I didn't want to go through downtown Paso again. Jax has great tasting coffee, but $4.10 for a venti nonfat latte is a bit steep.

I headed north into the Salinas Valley - Steinbeck Country. John Steinbeck and Wallace Stegner are two of my favorite authors.

I stopped in San Miguel and toured Mission San Miguel Arcangel, the Rios-Caledonia Adobe, and then photographed a little at an old feed mill on the north end of town. It was all old California and I savored every exposed adobe brick minute of it.

I took a slow drive through King City, following the trace of old 101 as it does a 90 degree turn through the town, just to try and conjure up memories of family camping trips to Oregon when we followed this same route.

Another mission, Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad, out in the middle of the lettuce fields. Blissfully silent in its isolation. No one else there to disturb my solitude.

Looking at the clock I realized I could make a 4:55 pm flight out of OAK instead of my later 8:30 pm. I took the slow River Road to Gonzales. There I phoned Southwest and booked the earlier flight. I drove straight and fast up to Oakland and made it in plenty of time to get a "B" group boarding pass. I can usually get an "A" group pass by going on-line the day before. I just hate the whole gamesmanship and lining up thing about Southwest's A-B-C boarding group B.S. I still snagged my favorite seat - 20E. It's way back but comfortably uncrowded if the flight is light. You know, everyone wants to crowd upfront. That's fine by me. Plus, 20E is behind the wing, offering good views and photography out the window.

Home in time for pizza and an X Files DVD with the family. Can't beat that.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

California Dreamin' - Part I

It's been a good long while since I've posted on this blog. I have promised myself that I'll work harder on this blog and post more often. Much has happened as DudeDiligence - Denver, San Francisco, Ontario (CA), Portland, a wonderful backpacking trip to the Olympic Coast with my oldest son and a wonderful walk on Dungeness Spit with my youngest son, more hikes, a family vacation to Coeur d'Alene, and on and on. I visited Chaco Canyon during a trip to Albuquerque for a meeting. Chaco Canyon is powerful in its beauty and mystery.

This week finds DudeDiligence in California, currently in Paso Robles on the tail end of a whirlwind tour of California beginning San Leandro at a cookie and muffin factory followed by mold assessments of medical office buildings in Los Gatos, Manteca (means lard in Spanish), and Templeton. Tomorrow I cruise slowly back up to Oakland to fly back home to Seattle.

On the way I have found tons of topics I want to explore further:

The rebuilding of New Orleans: met a Southwest flight attendant (an African American) who bought and is in the process of gutting and rebuilding eight houses in New Orleans. He gave me a lot of hope and inspiration.

Congressman Richard Pombo, Pombo Realty, and the Pombo family: I stayed in and traveled through Tracy, California - it's Pombo country and Richard Pombo is the man - rancher and congressman.

Coalinga, California: "Jesus is Lord of Coalinga" I kid you not.

Parkfield Grade: A scenic and remote drive through the heart of the California coast ranges oak savanna.

Parkfield, California: Earthquake headquarters - population 16.

James Dean: died in a car crash somewhere near Cholame.

Paso Robles: a boy and his wooly bear caterpillars.

Castoro Cellars 2005 Fume Blanc: tasty

I'll see if I can explore a mission or two on my way up to Oakland.