#blogboost #Woodlakevalleychamber Day 26 Ultimate Blog Challenge
Do you belong to your Chamber of Commerce?
Local artist, Linda Hengst, joined the Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce in September 2015 and renewed this September.
The “so what” is that the Chambers of Commerce exist to get the word out about community businesses and support the community to make it better.
So today I’m going to brag about my friend, neighbor, Kiwanian, and Chamber member, Linda Hengst who paints and photographs this beautiful area in which we live. She gave me permission to share some of her work.
Linda’s art brags about our beautiful the foothill communities near the Sequoia National Park.
The Hengsts farm in the Woodlake area. Citrus and stone fruits grow well in this area. These are the views I drive by every day. She works primarily in oil pallet knife paintings as well as water colors, and pen and ink.
This looks like the drive my husband and I took up the Kaweah River. It looks calm here, but with a little snow and rain…
I don’t know where Linda found this rose, but it could be one of the beautiful 217 varieties of roses in the Woodlake Botanical Gardens.
She paints when she travels as well.
Linda’s husband, Robert Hengst, has lived in this area for generations. They often go to a cabin in the mountains and hike where she can paint her favorite views.
Kaweah Lake sometimes fills with life-giving water, and at other times you see the high water lines and the trees that grow under the water. Linda shares local stories as well as pictures of the area.
Most of the time when I visit Linda, I come away with something. Look what I found this time.
If you are interested in purchasing any of these (except #9), let me know. email@example.com
Vote for your favorite.
Want to learn about other businesses in the Woodlake area?
Come to the Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce Mixer on Thursday evening, October 28th at 6:00 at the Woodlake Museum 140 N. Magnolia, Woodlake.
Help us welcome new and returning members, and honor the owners of the General Food Store, operated continuously by the Gong family since 1961.
Visalia Taste of the Arts has grown to ten times the number of vendors it had three years ago from 10 to 100 under my friend’s daughter, Carolyn Koontz’s administration. She now moves to a new job at Tulare County Office of Education. Congratulations, Carolyn!
Here are some of the more interesting Taste of the Arts.
Anyone could participate. Kids dug out holes for eye placement, attached all types of hair, legs, and other body parts. Interesting that most shapes ended up being some kind of “animal.”
Green teeth – no problem. They’re bound to fall out anyway.
This gives all new meaning to “We’re having octopus for dinner!”
“Who’s coming for dinner?”
Steps to a Masterpiece
Grab a big veggie.
Grab a carving or poking tool.
Stick veggies on sticks.
Poke sticks into veggies.
Attach little veggies to bigger ones with a toothpick or by stuffing into holes.
Display your artwork at the front table when finished.
Mark your calendars for October 8th for an entertaining Woodlake Pride evening at the Woodlake Botanical Gardens. Starting at 4:00 pm.
That sounds fun!
Woodlake is a foothill town of about 7,000 nestled in the center a circle of foothills on the west side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Bravo Lake occupies a large chunk of the heart of the town. In 1912 when Gilbert Stevenson purchased the acres to build the city, he envisioned a beautiful tourist town. BUT Stevenson built a levee around the town’s primary landmark, obscuring it from view.
Whaaaa?? Was he shortsighted or something?
Maybe, but Olga and Manuel Jimenez had some great ideas to beautify the levees.
And the City of Woodlake agreed to it?
You bet. They bought the land.
What do you do with a big lake no one can see?
Worse than that, the area around it was vacant or worse – a weed haven. Manuel and Olga Jimenez change blight into bright and created Woodlake Pride, a service organization to perpetuate the beautiful park setting they created.
A student narrates the story of Manuel Jimenez’s vision for a student community service organization which he called Woodlake Pride in the video Woodlake Pride’s Wonderful World.
The real plan that Olga had was to “grow kids by planting gardens.” They started planting gardens in 1989, but eventually the city purchased 13 acres to turn into the beautiful gardens that we see today. The 1,700 rose bushes alone make this a wonderful world.
“It’s not like Disneyland,” Manuel Jimenez states.
Although it does not feature the number of varieties of roses found in famous gardens like the Boston Rose Garden, everyone marvels at the many varieties of plant life the Woodlake Botanical Garden on the way to the Sequoia National Park. It has become a major draw for sight-seeing.
It is that inspiring tale of what one person, or in this case a couple, can do in a community if they put their heart and soul into it.
“The legacy I want to leave Woodlake is just the beauty. It’s amazing what a seed can produce,” Olga shared.
No, Farrell’s not shy. Neither is Steven, his son. He IS a perfectionist, though, and lots of fun.
I did NOT say he was an oddball!
He just can’t stay out of the crawl spaces. Listen up.
“This is why this subfloor is bulging and spongy.”
“There’s no support. They just put it over a hole.”
I rushed over to take oddball pictures. Farrell ripped off the subfloor panel and ripped out the insulation. I could see that back in the “good ole days,” builders supported the house foundation with wire.
It looked like a fiberglass fish swimming in a sea of dust. Can you see the wire?
You can see where the 1940s house met up with the 1990s house. The fish’s support wire is a little harder to see.
“Look at this, Vince. They used scrap lumber.”
I tried to get a close-up of the scrappy wood. That’s pretty oddball, don’t you think?
Farrell already had it out the door and into the trash. I had to chase it down to prove to you that things weren’t all they were cracked up to be back in the good ole days.
Then Farrell began building a new support for the subfloor.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“They didn’t support the wood floor either,” Vince told me.
Yep, the wire is still there.
Cutting into Farrell’s back.
Whew! Now he could go back and reattach the frame he started in the first place.
He told us about the billionaire who straightened and reused all the old nails he pulled out of one floor.
That’s just one small story. I haven’t even told you all the oddball stories Farrell told us while he worked.
For example, he reminded us not to walk on the new floor. To help us remember he left us this mental picture – the 300-pound woman who walked on the newly glued floor 30 seconds after he told her not to walk on it for 24 hours.
So that’s it for today’s oddball stories.
If you liked this post or Farrell, PLEASE share it with your friends.
If you like Farrell you have to use my name or he won’t call you back. He’s REALLY busy!
This post has all the clickable links to get back to Cee and see other odd pictures or enter for yourself.
Guy Fieri made diners and dives famous across the United States but does he know about the Woodlake Drive Inn? It’s thriving in the tiny town of Woodlake, CA.
How is that possible? What’s the secret of their success?
Ali credits his success to extending a helping hand and giving back 200% to the community.
Owner, Ali Mohamed impressed me with his devotion to Woodlake.
“Whatever you do for the community, it comes back. If you’re stingy it doesn’t work.”
It was about a half hour before our scheduled interview when I drove down Valencia Boulevard in Woodlake, CA. Hungry from my morning workout, and not able to cook while our kitchen is being remodeled, I looked forward to this interview for more than one reason.
Chicken Strips & Fries!
It was about 12:15 when I arrived, and there was a long line in front of me. I knew from experience it would go fast. However, I was not counting on Ali coming out to greet me. He asked what I wanted and put my order in for me. While I waited for my food, I took pictures for my blog and talked to customers. Everyone in one family liked the same thing I did – chicken.
Out of over 100 items, that was not the consensus. Other top ranking meals were #8, the BIG MEAL, the hamburger special, the pastrami sandwich, grilled cheese, and, of course, sodas.
Waiting on a constant stream of walk-up customers and answering the phone kept the window clerk busy. Several men bustled in the back filling the orders. Guests sat down under the cover of an awning visiting with each other across picnic tables while they waited for their food.
Just like any fast food, it came in a styrofoam container, but it was hot! The fries may be the tastiest I’ve ever had, with just the right amount of seasoning and the perfect crispness. The woman in blue informed me before my meal arrived, that Woodlake DriveInn has the best fries. They visit frequently, and she was right.
When I finished eating, Ali came out to join me at the table.
Curiosity bubbled out of me. “How did you end up in Woodlake, CA of all places?”
Twenty years ago Ali and his brother moved from Yemen to Dearborn, MI and went to work in a factory in Angola, IN, 20 miles south of Dearborn. In their spare time, they worked in restaurants as they picked up English.
Ali’s cousin, Sam, had moved from Fresno to Farmersville and told the brothers that CA was the land of opportunity. They bought the Drive Inn from an Arabian in 2001 and settled in with a plan to succeed.
“This country is amazing. You can be who you are in a free country. In the United States, if you believe you will succeed, you will.”
“We just noticed what people liked and that’s what we served. People order lots of sodas and soft-serve ice cream. And we were friendly. We came out and shook hands with everyone that came.”
The Drive Inn was old in 1961 when it was Floyd’s Drive Inn. He did not know the history of the business, but Ali told me that he had an 80-year-old customer who had worked at the Drive Inn when she was in high school.
When we started, it was just my brother and I and one girl. We worked hard. Now we have six or seven employees.
“My brother wanted to enclose the font, and air-condition a seating area. I wanted to keep it old-fashioned. The community needs something original. We added the awning.”
One customer said, Ali is very friendly. He’s got a great personality.
Her husband added, “And the food is GOOD.”
Ali believes in being generous. A Chamber of Commerce member, he donated a large amount to the Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum, run by the Chamber. His generosity reaches to other organizations as well. He has a soft spot in his heart for lending a helping hand, especially for the schools. He doesn’t always know why the kids are collecting money, though.
“You can never go wrong giving. It always comes back to you.”
It pays off. A few years ago I did a civics exercise in a high school class. Kids had to list ten things they liked about Woodlake, and ten things they would change. Woodlake Drive Inn was always at the top of their list of things they like about their town.
Ali paid for my lunch and then offered me some soft-serve ice cream for desert. It was so tempting. Even the pictures looked good.
Are you proud of my self-control? I may go back tomorrow, but I’m not telling.
Woodlake is friendly. Woodlake Drive Inn is the place to network.
Yesterday I made a new Facebook friend while I waited for my food.
Today Vince insisted on trying Woodlake Drive Inn after I told him about the food. A cool breeze blew through the shaded area. A couple sat down across from me at the picnic table while we waited for our lunch. They looked vaguely familiar. After talking to figure out why we knew each other, she gave me her card.
Ali left me with this quote before he got back to work.
“If I didn’t work here. I’d still live here. I walk down the street and people don’t turn away. They say hi. I love Woodlake.”
So next time you come to Woodlake head for the old-fashioned burger shack, Woodlake Drive Inn. Guy Fieri would be proud.
What is the favorite local restaurant in your town?
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