K.L is a neuroscientist, educator, geocacher, Unitarian-Universalist, amateur violinist, and parent. She has always been fascinated by how people’s brains learn, and especially why this process is easier and more fun for some brains than others. This led her to get a PhD in Neuroscience, work in biotech, and then become a science educator and writer. She is from the San Francisco Bay Area.
Most people seem to know these houses because they were in a show that I never watched. I found out about them through geocaching. My family and I went into San Francisco for New Year’s Day and one of our first stops was this virtual geocache.
Virtual caches are a special kind of geocache that doesn’t involve finding an actual container. Instead, you go to the coordinates posted on the site and answer some questions about what you find there, and maybe post a picture of yourself at the location.
Virtual caches are often located next to famous landmarks, and can be useful in helping you get to know a new place, or when planning a sightseeing route while traveling.
In this case, the cache site was in Alamo Square Park, across from the houses but affording a good view (Alamo Square Park is also, I learned, the place where the family in the show I never watched had a picnic in the opening credits).
At that location, the doors were not particularly visible, so I had to get closer for this challenge. This meant I had to explain to my family about Thursday Doors. Fortunately, they’re used to weird mom things like that.
You think nothing happens in a small town? Think again! Living in a small town is amazing.
In addition to attending classes, playing in sports, home and church activities, these young women have taken time to learn new skills that qualify them to compete for the title of Miss Woodlake.
Ms. Vasquez was the first to wow the audience with her version of “Salt and Light.” She sounds like the next American Idol to me. What do you think?
“Salt & Light”
Oh the beauty of our King
You make righteous those who seek
You have written and redeemed my story
Let my eyes see Your kingdom shine all around
Let my heart overflow with passion for Your name
Let my life be a song, revealing who You are
For You are salt and light…
“Salt & Light” by Lauren Daigle
Our new queen and her partner danced a traditional Mexican folklorico dance for us on a very small stage.
Alexis Brogan, the first runner-up to Miss Woodlake recited a poem illustrating her faith in God. Would she be considered the First Princess?
The audience gasped as Odalis Arteaga threw her father to the floor several times displaying her Tiquando ability. She amazed us when she broke a piece of lumber with a kick and a mini-chalkboard with her arm.
Technical difficulties marred the filming of this next contestant. Unfortunately, after the technical difficulties, I forgot to press the record button again. I apologize to Woodlake High School senior, Crystal Zaragoza.
Sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, these five young women, mentored by Claudia Cabrera, will become an part of every aspect of the community. They ride in parades, take part in ribbon cutting ceremonies for new businesses and buildings, sell raffle tickets, and attend monthly Chamber of Commerce Board meetings.
All the service organizations in Woodlake sponsor events, and the court will help out with Lion’s Club and other organizations’ Rodeo Week activities, Kiwanis’ July Third Blast, and Woodlake Chamber’s July Car Show in the Park, to name a few.
Sometimes I felt badly for last year’s Queen because we worked her so hard, but when Sonni Hacobian crowned Lizette Castillo, she cried as she shared it was the best opportunity she had.
A beauty pageant displays and requires much more than beauty from its contestants.
Participants work hard, donate much time to the community, and work as team members.
They practice and hone their skills in addition to maintaining good grades in school.
They represent the town of Woodlake for a year in events across the county.
They attend meetings and assist in events doing whatever tasks are assigned to them.
They participate in sports, music, drama, leadership conferences, FFA, Key and Interact Clubs at school providing leadership there.
They are usually active in church or community work
Opportunities abound in a small town. Forgive me as I excuse myself to interview juniors who hope to attend the HOBY Leadership Conference in the spring.
Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce thanks Claudia Cabrera and all the Woodlake High School seniors who participated in this event. We are so proud of all of you.
If you loved this post, please share it as a thank you to the five talented young women who participated in the pageant, and their mentor, Claudia Cabrera.
How often do you get inside a cockpit? Even though this small Leer jet is about 40 years old, it still looks pretty complicated. It is not odd to think of flying as being complicated.
As Simple As This?
This cockpit seems like it is missing a few things. Well, maybe a roof to start. It does have a windshield. If you come to Woodlake to the Runway Cafe and you meet George Benson there, then maybe… You can go for private a tour of his hanger.
Can you guess this plane’s birth year?
The American Pickers would love this plane. It actually flies.
If you have any posts showing the cockpits, please post a link. It would be interesting to see how planes have changed over the years. Have you seen a less complicated cockpit than this one?
These two brave vets, Angelica Cabrera & Angel Gomez, came back to Woodlake to start their new franchise business, Goin’ Postal.
Today they cut the ribbon, and made the grand opening official.
The office is beautiful and clean inside, and they will offer a variety of useful services. Since Woodlake is 20 miles from the larger town, Visalia, it will save residents a lot of time if they want to use Fed X or other services.
The new business will also have computers available for people to use, if they need a place to do business.
Angie and Angel offer notary and immigration services as well.
With support of two Chambers of Commerce Angie and Angel hope business will be booming for the holiday season.
Chambers of Commerce welcome the new business.
And finally, they cut the ribbon. Goin Postal has gone public.
Week 45: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Entrances or Doors
I say “girl’s” rather loosely since last month I parked my car, and the attendant gave me a senior discount without asking. Yesterday was my official Medicare birthday. My health is now your business. 🙂 That’s the new door in my life.
We booked a home run-down beach cottage at the Tides Motel just a few steps from Pismo Beach. I should have taken pictures of the cottage doors, both front and rear. You could see out of them when they were closed, and they did not have windows!
One morning, two of us headed down to take a look at our beachfront property. Oops! The door was shut and padlocked. A clue?
Had someone SEEN us in bathing suits? Yikes!
It was like a horror film, or a bad dream, where you walk through the door into thin air. Only on the other side of this locked door were thin, rusted, metal stairs. We were glad there was NO access there when we saw the underpinnings of the path down to the beach. 🙂
What horrible entrances have you avoided? Unfortunately, you can’t avoid the entrance into Old Age, unless you don’t make it that far. So I prefer to think of it as Opportunity Age. 🙂
My neighbor’s grandfather, Mr. Haury, started the “modern” market in the “resort” town of Woodlake, CA in the early 1900s. In 1961 the Gongs were looking for a business they could manage with their family helping. They bought the market and the theater and hired contractors to begin the remodel.
Another of my neighbors reported that he used to swim in the basement of the theater, so it probably had some structural issues. The senior Gongs removed the deteriorating theater and turned that area into a much-needed parking lot.
What makes this photo fun is that the bench looks at the blank wall rather than at the street.
Gene Gong told me, “We are a neighborhood store.” The Woodlake Chamber of Commerce recognized Gene and Ray Gong, sons of the original owners, who now manage the store for their longevity serving this community with this full-service market and their community service.
Congratulations on your successful business, Ray and Gene Gong.
or a hubcap! Eighty degrees and sunny, a perfect day to walk through an artist’s market set up in downtown Visalia. Vince walked straight down the street, but I veered right immediately. Shirley Keller picked my favorite color for her art.
The least expensive horse in the West is right on this table, and you are welcome to him! or welcomed by him! 🙂
These critters must have been at a hoedown. They might have been down on their luck. They could have used a lucky horseshoe. I thought I saw a saw. I did see a saw!
So many talented artists, this was just a taste.
For more of Cee’s Oddball Photo players click here.
#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.
These beautification projects taking place in the City of Woodlake over the past two years have amazed and thrilled long-time residents. First, the city put in new sidewalks on Valencia, then constructed a round-about.
The Woodlake Plaza is the newest ribbon cutting in town.
The Woodlake Plaza sign went up early on Valencia Boulevard, Woodlake’s main downtown street, alerting the town that changes were coming.
By February that building had been razed. Construction began in shortly after that.
Work on the Plaza began in about April, or at least that was when I started taking pictures to document the work.
The winter of 2015-2016 was a particularly rainy year, so that slowed progress from time to time both on the round-about and the plaza. By August rain no longer plagued the project.
Woodlake event planners can now count on a well-shaded area to host many large community gatherings. Sidewalks and grassy areas are a vast improvement over weeds and puddles which preceded the plaza.
The last major overhaul of this magnitude was in 1961 when the 1911 Brick Block, just one block away from the current plaza, came down.
Ernie Garcia remembers skating at this location before 1940. Then the Lions built a building which became a community center used by Kiwanis, and the Seniors. In December 2015 the Toys for Joy program held a gift-shopping activity at the Lions Club building where parents could come in and shop for a nominal charge to find gifts for their children ages pre-school through high-school.
The building held many fond memories for those who met there regularly. Kiwanis struggled for a while to find another place as large to host its weekly meetings. But Kiwanians support growth and change and look forward to the new Community Center coming soon.
From September 23 to 25 Woodlake celebrated its 75 anniversary of being incorporated while the high school celebrated 100 years of existence. The City of Woodlake wanted to have the Plaza project completed by that event but the actual ribbon cutting took place on October 1, 2016.
The plaza looks across to the new Woodlake Museum, which opened in February, and Miller Brown Park. Soon there will be a library next to the plaza making Magnolia Street the one stop location for researching about Woodlake. Next to the museum is a walk-through park with murals depicting the western lifestyle in Woodlake painted on existing buildings.
This tiny park provides a walk through to the main street through Woodlake, Valencia Boulevard. New street lights unify the look of the town.
In a town the size of Woodlake, about 7,000 residents, new construction attracts everyone’s attention. The people are so proud to see how these new additions have made the city more attractive. Visitors make positive comments as they stop by on their way to see the giant Sequoias at the National Park.
What’s new in your local area?
Check out the weekly photo challenge for more local ideas.
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.
When I was about age 10, my dad began to enjoy my presence. He loved to take pictures, so on Saturdays, he loaded up his equipment and me, his best view finder, into the old Buick in search of a perfect scenic spot. I loved his pictures of fall leaves. The love of fall colors makes me nostalgic and brings me joy.
We do not get the magnificent colors in all trees that Indiana does, but we still have some gorgeous fall plants. Several years ago on my own impromptu photo shoot, I found a grape field so beautiful I had to pull over, jump out of my car, and take pictures.
Hoosiers tout many varieties of maple trees but the foothill community of Woodlake, CA in Tulare County honors the humble white oak or valley oak.
Wikipedia has a list of various kinds of oaks along with where they are found which I found helpful in trying to figure out which kind of oak this is. Google lists images of oaks by type.
It takes hours to compare leaves to pictures to figure out what kinds of trees and plants we see along the roads. I never appreciated people who can spout off names like that until I started writing my blog. I don’t think this is an oak tree because the bark is too smooth. Kiwanis supports the blue signs we see along the highways in our areas that names the crop next to the highway. But most places do not have signs.
While I think this is pretty, it cannot compare to the eastern parts of the United States for color and brilliance. However, in the east, the mountains do not pop up over the tops of the trees. In Hockessin, Delaware even if the mountains were there, you wouldn’t be able to see them because forests line nearly every street and obscure everything but the nearest leaves.
When my first husband and I moved to California, we lived in the middle of a walnut grove. My understanding is that growers grafted English walnut trees to the hardy black walnut trees then painted the trunks to keep the bugs out.
Even though I did not like to eat walnuts, I loved gathering them after the shakers harvested the main crop. The ants and I got the rest of them. The ants did not like what I did next. But it served them right for biting me one day when I gathered walnuts by making a hammock of my t-shirt. I baked the walnuts in their shells at 250 degrees for an hour or so to cure them. My friends loved their presents. The ants – not so much!
I caught this vagrant red beauty leaving the nest and fluttering down to create the soft carpet below the vine for the winter.
Thursday’s 80-degree temperature in Woodlake could not have been more beautiful. My mood matched the weather as I drove downtown to General Food Store to meet with Gene Gong, one of the two directors.
Mr. Gene Gong works twelve-hour days, so it’s been hard to schedule a time to interview him. On this perfect day in Woodlake, he was waiting and ready to answer my questions about General Food Store and the grocery business.
What do you want us to know about General Food Store?
“We are a local store,” Gene Gong replied immediately
Next to Woodlake Hardware, General Food Store has been active in Woodlake in the same location longer than any other store. Congratulations to Woodlake Chamber members, directors Gene and Ray Gong, on celebrating the 55th year anniversary of their family-owned and operated General Food Store!
We met in their front office, which is actually open to the public at the front of the store. I work best in private quarters away from distractions. Not these two! They are right out front, nodding to merchants as they come and go, speaking to customers, answering questions – always accessible.
As a small town, Woodlake is fortunate to have two well-stocked grocery stores. Gene likened their store to a corner mom and pop operation. Yes, they know most of their customers, but I remember most corner markets as being dim, dusty, and cramped. General Food Store is none of these.
Shoppers today have lots of options when it comes to shopping, especially for groceries. It seems that everyone is in the grocery business – national grocery chain stores, gas stations, outdoor fruit stands, discount stores, trendy, and bulk stores. There might be an occasional corner market in a large city like the one my first husband’s parents owned in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, WA.
What does the small-town main street market sell most?
General Food sells time.And time is money! How many people in Woodlake have too much of either of those commodities? I don’t. But I act like I do.
It takes me 20-25 minutes at the most to drive into Woodlake and pick up grocery items and get back home. It takes me 25 minutes to drive to the nearest Save Mart in Visalia, and five minutes to find a parking place and walk into the store. I love Costco, but it takes about 30 minutes to drive there and 25 minutes to find a parking place and a vacant grocery cart, not to mention going through a line to get into and out of the store. Then I have to shop and get back home – 90 minutes at least!
Additional Amenities of Shopping at General Food Store
Wal-Mart sells cheap merchandise but has long lines, a dirty store, filthy parking lot, and crowded rows. Who knows, we might end up being featured on the People of Wal-Mart website, or be standing next to someone who is. Yikes!
Look how spotless everything is at General Food Store in Woodlake. Do you see the reflection of the meat department in the floor? There is plenty of room to push a full-sized cart around without having to pick it up and squeeze past another customer. Yet, there was a steady stream of customers while I was in the store.
It is so simple to shop here. Park right next to the door. Customers walk in, get a friendly greeting, pick up their cart and find things they need. There is no long check-out line. General Food Store customers are back home after shopping and visiting with neighbors in less time than it would take them to drive to Visalia and park their car.
So what if I save $2.00 on a bag of chips at the $300 store?
Items are easy to find.
I’m not a huge drinker, but I enjoy a glass of sweet wine with my husband once in a while. My favorite brand is Barefoot. It’s inexpensive and tastes delicious to me. When I pick up a bottle in Visalia, I have to walk up and down two aisles to find my brand. There it is in the red wines, and again in the white and pink wine areas.
Time elapsed? Five minutes!
All my favorites are together, and they are on special for the same price as I can get them in Visalia. How much time did I just save? About 60 minutes, on one item.
I love to shop for fresh vegetables. There are only two of us at home. Neither of us eats huge amounts of anything. You would not think that to look at my shopping habits.
In Visalia, I go to Costco, walk into that freezing cold room, practically run my cart around the perimeter, and grab a big plastic container of lettuce, one bag of broccoli and one of carrots. The lettuce sits in my refrigerator until half or more of it rots. Ewwwww!
When three-quarters of the bag of broccoli turns yellow, I throw it out. The peeled baby carrots get slimy before we can eat them all. I wash them off, but feel guilty because I don’t want to serve slimy carrots, so I throw them out. Then if I’m fixing dinner for company, I don’t have any carrots to serve. I either have to grab a can of something or send Vince to Woodlake to pick up some fresh vegetables at the last minute.
Vince hates the way I shop. I think I am saving so much money. What do you think?
Mr. Gong said that he stocks things people in Woodlake buy. Customers might not find the newest craze here. Yet, he keeps up on the newest nutrition and food buying trends.
“About six years ago people started using plain yogurt to make fruit smoothies. Woodlake people did not pick up on it right away.”
“Do you stock plain yogurt now? I started eating it about six years ago because a doctor recommended it to help me with weight loss.”
“Yes, now customers are buying enough of it to pay stocking it. But kale is in now, and you might not find that here.”
I bought a huge bag of cut kale from Save Mart in my refrigerator. After talking to Mr. Gong, guilt overwhelmed me and I ate a bowl of kale for breakfast this morning. I fixed it three days ago and stuck the leftovers in the refrigerator because I don’t like to be wasteful. I still have a half bag of uncooked kale in the refrigerator. It is about 2 weeks old. I think I need to rethink my shopping habits.
My husband drinks Lactaid. We go through a lot of it, most of the time. Then we don’t. I won’t tell you what happens to some of our milk. More often we just run out – just before Vince has breakfast at 4:30 am. We did not want to run into Visalia to get a half-gallon of Lactaid. After what Mr. Gong said about trends, I did not think they would have Lactaid, but I was WRONG!
I admit that we eat like gringos. I fix burritos and other Mexican dishes, but I do it the gringa way. However, 80 percent of our town is Hispanic. True Mexicans cook with spices that I have never heard of. My Mexican friends would be ashamed to eat my monster quesadillas. Vince goes to Super Taco if he wants authentic Mexican food. But the Gongs stock for their customers. I could buy eucalyptus leaves if I wanted them. Does anyone have a recipe for them?
Speaking of tacos, unless you are vegetarian, meat is the most expensive item on the grocery list. I eat chicken, chicken and, oh yes, chicken with an occasional filet of salmon and hamburger thrown in. I fix Italian meatballs for my Italian husband, and I do it the Italian way. I forgot to check out the sausage situation at General Food Store. There aren’t many Italians in Woodlake.
There are lots of fresh meat choices. Packages do not come in $30.00 sizes, which reminds me, I need to put my hamburger I bought at Costco in the freezer today or I’ll have to throw it out.
Apparently many customers like baby-back ribs. My husband does.
I believe in supporting Woodlake Chamber members. Mr. Gong has not been a member for several years and he renewed his membership during our visit. He is the first Woodlake grocery store to do so. You all know what this means, don’t you?