July and August: Exploring California

It’s been really nice to stay in California for a while, especially during our beautiful summer (at least near the Coast).

In July I went up to the Central Valley…remember that old TV show “The Big Valley” with Barbara Stanwick et al? Well, the “Big Valley” is California’s Central Valley, stretching from south of Bakersfield (Grapes of Wrath Country), to north of Redding. I was in the San Joaquin Valley, near Visalia, and let me tell you, I saw a lot of pistachio and almond trees (and walnuts) and tons of corn (for silage, to feed the dairy cows, milk is at record prices apparently) and very little cotton. Most of the row crops are gone, at least on any good pieces of land with decent soil and a water supply. The air there is some of the worst in the nation, but still  not as bad as it was, the Sierra Nevada range was visible in the dawn light.

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A couple of weeks later I was in the heart of Silicon Valley, attending the NorCal Tennis Hall of Fame ceremony at Stanford. It was hard to believe that the two places exist in the same state, only a 3-4 hour car ride apart. The demographics are completely different (in education level, income, ethnicity, you name it). I visited my cousins in Menlo Park and biked over to Stanford for the ceremony. Susan Wright was being inducted, along with four other former players or volunteers and it was emceed by Dick Gould and Ted Robinson. I ran into another cousin there and lots of people I know from NorCal. Sue Beatty Hites, who has been best friends with Susan since they were 8,  gave an excellent introduction of Susan and Susan gave a nice speech too, one she assiduously prepared for. Bill Maze and John Hubbell, who knew her from childhood, repeatedly referred to Susan Wright as Susie, who knew!


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The next day I played some tennis with my cousin’s daughter, Julia, who is 13 and a very nice player. She had a team tennis event the next day in Fresno, in that Central Valley (where it was 111 when she arrived around 5pm on Friday). My cousins and I had a very nice hike in the Los Altos Hills, then planned to go to San Francisco the next day.


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I hadn’t been to San Francisco for years. Since it was summer, it was chilly up there…we passed a temperature display around 1:30 reading 58 degrees…where as 25 or so miles to the south in Menlo Park it was in the 80s…that’s California for you. We walked along the embarcadero where the piers are, perused a farmers market (full of peaches, plums and nectarines from the Central Valley) and walked up to the bottom of Coit tower, past an interesting garden. We  could see the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Lombard Street (the crookedest street in the world) from there. Next stop was Chinatown, for some dim sum, and fortune cookies at the only factory remaining in China town where they are formed by hand. We all got scarves in another store, then it was back to San Diego.


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Next stop: US Open in NY, followed by the National Hard Courts. 

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