Woodlake, CA is the land within the magic circle, a protected valley surrounded by the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Running P Ranch in Elderwood hosts weddings in a setting of flowering amaryllis.
According to experts, amaryllis is the easiest of flowering bulbs to make bloom. Indoors or out, and they flower from late December until the end of June. In early May amaryllis plants flaunt their beauty.
My friend Katherine Traugar respects people who know the name of plants, so this tidbit is for you, my friend. The amaryllis bears the botanical name Hippeastrum. These flowers make showy Christmas gifts, but outside in a natural setting, they stand out among other spring beauties.
Nestled against the western fence in this wedding setting, they rival the bride’s glowing beauty. The flamboyant blooms make amaryllis popular and in demand worldwide. Besides various shades of red and salmon as seen in Elderwood, they also come in white, pink, and orange as well as striped and multicolored varieties.
Prepare to Plant
If you want to plant these South American flowers, first place the base and roots of the bulb in lukewarm water for a few hours. To store them keep the bulbs at a temperature between 40-50 degrees F if you can’t plant them right away. But keep them away from apples.
Plant the bulb up to its neck in a nutritious potting compost, taking care not to damage the roots. Firmly tamp down the soil after planting.
Amaryllis plants flower seven to ten weeks after planting. Plant bulbs every two weeks to achieve continuous bloom.
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.
Pretend that you’ve never been to Woodlake, CA. Never even heard of it.
But you want to fly somewhere and have a fantastic breakfast.
You go online. Search for airport cafes. And VOILÁ! There it is!
Frank Holbert from Corona, CA is just like you. He had never heard of Woodlake, CA. Decided to come.
That was in 2008 before it became “THE” pilot’s place to have breakfast and lunch.
I wish I could fly. I don’t.
On Sunday my husband and I drove to the Runway Cafe just south of Woodlake at the Airport right after church. We did not beat the crowd.
It did not matter. Charlotte caught my eye over the crowd milling around the cashier’s stand, “Just two today, Marsha? Gottcha!”
We headed outside and sat at one of the empty picnic tables. Normally we sit out there, but the temperature on Sunday headed towards 108, and HE wanted to sit inside. While we waited we chatted with another couple and pet their large golden retriever.
“I’ve got a Beggin’ Strip for Annie,” Charlotte told them. Annie sniffed around the wood floor for other treats while she waited and we talked.
We did not know the couple before we arrived. They lived in Visalia and came often out to the Runway on the weekends. Like us, they enjoyed the excitement of watching planes and helicopters land.
Runway Cafe is Woodlake City property. In 2014 when Butch Reed and Charlotte Scott decided to look into leasing it, they had six competitors.
But they got it, and the locals were thrilled. Let the good food roll!
One customer said, “It’s a shame! Such good food we pig out!”
Another laughed, “The food was great! Now, we’ve got to find a couch!”
So who comes here, you ask?
Charlotte said, “We get about 15 pilots on Fridays and Saturdays, 10-25 on Sundays, and a total of about 10 during the rest of the week.”
That’s it? Just pilots?
Butch chimes in, “I’m in the hot rod and bike business. I build bikes from scratch. Bikers know me. We get lots of bikers and hot rod guys. For example, the Five of Diamonds Motor Cycle Club of Tulare. They just had a Run and raised $15,000-$18,000. We like to help out.”
Charlotte’s eyes teared as she looked at me.
She said, “I just want everyone in Woodlake to know how much we appreciate them. We are just so grateful”
A large party at the two tables behind us got up to leave. Charlotte stopped our interview briefly to give each person a hug and thank them for coming in.
Butch had a larger vision of “locals” than just Woodlake.
“People drive in from Visalia, Hanford, Porterville, Bakersfield, Reedley – all over. There’s a picture over there in the corner of a couple from Germany. They’ve been here several times.”
I don’t think the German couple is local even if they’ve been here more than once!
Pictures line the walls. Most are of guests who come by plane. One morning when my husband and I came for breakfast Charlotte wanted her picture taken with the pilot and crew. Volunteering to hold the camera, I rushed out with the crew to take the pictures. Charlotte was so busy, she never made it to the picture.
The pilot offered to fly me to Visalia with them. Breakfast was waiting for me. Should I stay or should I go?
I hadn’t said anything to my husband about going. I would miss my great breakfast.
I wished them well and ran back to eat my delicious breakfast.
Butch is so grateful to have the Cafe and the opportunity to serve coffee that he drives to Runway Café at 4:30 AM and works until 7:00 AM. Then he goes back to his Transmission Shop in Visalia and works there. Retirement is not in his vocabulary. Workaholic is.
“I went into partnership with Charlotte because she is the hardest working woman I know. And she’s honest.”
She’s the friendliest person I know. Everyone else follows her example.
Runway Cafe started 40 years ago as Woodlake Outpost Cafe under the ownership of Velma Dearmore. Dora, who owns Dora’s restaurant in Woodlake, had it for a while then Sherry Foreman from the Exeter Whistle Shop ran it after that. It sat empty for a few months. Finally, Butch and Charlotte started running it December 20, 2014. Yelp has given them a 5-star rating, in case you are wondering.
Charlotte said, “We are a team. Owners in other places I’ve worked asked the workers to do things they wouldn’t do. We don’t do that here. I’ve cleaned the grease trap, bathrooms, mopped, swept,, washed dishes, cooked – not as good as Brandon Edmonds, Steve Ferris and Ricardo Bonilla, but I do it. And yes, they are all local.”
Kelly Mittel, one of the waitresses who used to work with Charlotte and her daughter, Charnae Edmonds, left there and came to work at the Runway Cafe. She never regretted her decision.
Kelly said, “You can be yourself here. No uniform. It’s like family here.”
Runway Café supports the community in many ways. Of course, they donate to many causes. Since there is so much foot traffic, it is a favorite place to hang banners and flyers for community activities. They sell the book I wrote, Images of America Woodlake, the proceeds of which go to the Woodlake High School Foundation.
But mostly, they serve good food in huge portions for about $9.00 on average.
“It makes me happy to know that I’ve done something for Woodlake. I’ve helped it to become better known.” Butch said.
In addition to the regular German couple, people from as far away as New Zealand, and Australia have found their way to Runway Cafe for their delicious specials: fish and chips on Fridays, taco salad on Wednesday, and chile verde on Sundays. Other customer favorites include chicken fried steak, sausage patties, and omelets. I like their peach cobbler. Go figure!
I photograph buildings all over the country, but so do you. You even live in some of the places I’ve traveled, and probably have much better pictures of the buildings than I have.
But I bet most of you do not photograph Woodlake, CA. Gotcha, didn’t I?
A Little History of Woodlake
Woodlake began in 1912 as a tourist town nestled away from the beaten path surrounded by the Sierra Nevada foothills. If you head east from Woodlake, you will reach Sequoia National Park. Going through Woodlake is one of the beautiful back ways to get there.
A few of the original 1900s buildings still stand downtown.
This year Woodlake celebrates 75 years of incorporation. Not many of the small towns in Tulare County are incorporated, so it’s a big deal for us. We are having a huge We-R-Woodlake celebration September 23-25th, so things R changin’ round-about Woodlake.
Main Street Woodlake
Woodlake has one north-south main street called Valencia Boulevard, named after a type of orange, which is one of Woodlake’s main crop. The east-west main street which intersects Valencia in the 2016 round-about, is named Naranjo Boulevard (pronounced na rawn’ ho). Some Woodlakers pronounce it (na raw’ no). Naranjos are a different species of oranges.
Three years ago I snapped these pictures before Woodlake underwent a major remodel. One day when the sky is not muddy I’ll go back and do a more thorough job of documenting our buildings and streets as they look now.
In 2015 Morris and his children wanted to retire but hung in there until the building and business sold. Oral E. Micham, Inc. thrilled city and surrounding residents when he bought the business. Morris still comes to work. He started in 1940 the year he graduated from Woodlake High School. 🙂
Those are not all the buildings along our main street, Valencia Boulevard, but they are the some of the bigger ones. Several new businesses have come to Woodlake since I took these pictures. Time changes even the small sleepy town of Woodlake, the Western Mayberry.
For more entries in Cee’s B & W Challenge, click on her image.
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Would you expect an artist’s studio to be spotless on a visitation tour? Please don’t! Would you expect their display areas to look like an art museum? Read on to find out for yourselves.
The day was magic, perfect temperature, warm sunshine bathing the mountains highlighting the California poppies, a few wispy clouds against the clear blue sky. A drive to Three Rivers, CA at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains never disappoints, but some days thrill more than others. This was one of those days.
We visited five artist’s studios, signed up for art classes, made design notes, and met some incredibly talented individuals. This studio sits atop a mountain overlooking the Kaweah River as it flows from the mountains on one side, and Highway 198, which is pictured above.
Art students pounded and molded clay projects this studio, even on tour day. One student had to thin her brick when she found out that thick pieces explode when put in the kiln.
We met two of the three artists, Christine Sell-Porter and Bill “Hopper” Sullivan. To take us on the tour, Christine stopped working on her orchid pot that has holes throughout to let the orchid roots breathe.
My husband chatted with Hopper, and signed up to take a class. Christine displayed her paintings and her new experiments with clay, including the ones that did not work. You can get an idea of the beauty of the spring wildflowers from her paintings. She points out another pot she made with the orchid starting to grow.
We also visited a popular painter and photographer across the highway named Nadi Spencer. You can tell artsy people by the fact that the junk in their front yards looks impressive and not like the country dump. My eyes went immediately to the bike, but my husband, who is artsier than I am, noticed the paint cans with matching flowers, and the chairs with matching sweaters draped across the back. You can see the aqua one in this picture after you quit focusing on the bike.
Nadi sells most of her paintings on Facebook by joining groups that love the kinds of things she paints. She paints a lot of dog portraits. Her realistic paintings look like photographs for a high-quality restaurant or brochures with just enough artistic touches to make them fun. She sold both cards and paintings at the show. You can see her self-portrait on the top right.
People came and went the entire time we visited her gallery. One woman came in to pick up some 40 year-old teddy bears she had advertised online. Only a half-door and a huge dog separated her studio from the gallery.
It was getting near closing time for the artists so we headed back home to Elderwood to visit our two neighbors. Not that the Sundstroms and I are unfriendly, but I have walked by this studio several hundred times in the last 15 years, walked with John Sundstrom’s wife, and never met John nor seen the inside of his work area.
John may well have been the most prolific and diverse of any of the artists we visited. He taught for 25 years or so at the Creative Center in Visalia for disabled adults. He said that having the same students for years pushed him to explore many artistic mediums.
The front and center of the studio featured his sculptures out of stone. He showed us the hand chisels and files he used to carve. Being a former dental assistant, I had visualized a power tool like a dentist’s drill that he might have used on these hard rock. He told us that only the company that sold the stones used a power tool to cut the rocks into flat-bottomed chunks. My favorite sculpture glowed from the inside out when illuminated.
Reluctantly we headed upstairs away from the sculptures, but the diversity of his fabulous drawings and paintings quickly captured our interest. He accented this Japanese kimono with gold leaf.
After visiting until after closing time, we left for home, saving the tour of our friend, Linda Hengst’s studio for the next day, and our Visalia artists for Sunday.