What Shakes in Bakes


One of my favorites from my visit to the Bakersfield Museum of Art yesterday. This is an untitled piece by Samuel Hyde Harris. He came from England and painted in California quite a bit.

The Bakersfield Art Museum has such interestingly curated exhibits. Sometimes you learn about the community as much as anything else. This was part of an exhibit of works collected by locals, Local Visions,  which included stories of how the owners found the art. One painting (not this one) was bought just across the Texas/Mexico border in 1957. The couple had crossed to buy $35 worth of booze, but came back with art work instead.

One of the most interesting exhibits was of art collected by East Bakersfield High School. Decades ago, a principal at the high school began a tradition that the senior class would donate 1-3 works of art to the high school as a parting gift. How amazing is that?!  They don’t say that the tradition continues today, unfortunately, but the school collected some wonderful work for a while.


Sweet display of vintage kids’ clothing in the window at the old Woolworth’s building which is now an antiques mall.


The shop across the street from the Woolworths featured some fun murals on the walls, including this one in the basement. There was also a mock theater display in one hall, with a set of silk curtains that led only to a wall inscribed with, “What made you look?”


Hydra indulging in 100 year old ice cream at Dewar’s. One of the places we found years ago thanks to Huell Howser.


The drive there and back was breathtakingly gorgeous!  Green hills, blue sky, even some rain. It was all good.


Woolies Lives!


We drove out to Bakersfield a couple of weekends ago, for Basque food and to poke around the junk shops. There are a couple of areas of 19th Street that have clusters of antiques shops. We hadn’t been to this one before. Nice to see them celebrating the old place!

It’s now officially called Five & Dime Antiques Mall.


There’s a working diner inside. Looks like they serve classic diner food at the Woolworth Diner. But, as I said, we were on our way to The Wool Growers for lunch. Still Wooly!

I just get the set up, which is very filling. Family style cabbage soup, beans, salsa, lettuce salad, tomato salad, bread. All very simple and delicious!


Three floors of old stuff at the Five & Dime. I neglected to take a photo of the terrazo stairs. They really reminded us of what it must have been like to pass from floor to floor when this place was in its hey day.




Learning the Kern

A peaceful spot on the lower Kern River.   California has been like this for thousands of years.

On our other visits to Bakersfield, we had no idea the Kern River was just ten minutes outside of the city.  We’ve been here for a drag race, to try Basque food and to wander through the various antique shops downtown, but we hadn’t explored outside the city limits at all.

We used a Groupon for River’s End Rafting to go white water rafting a few miles below this spot.  It was perfect.  Several rapids to go through, nothing life-threatening, and when we were given the opportunity to swim in a calm part, I got out and paddled along in the river.  That was a highlight for me.  Just letting the river pull me (in my required life jacket) along.  When I swam against the current I stayed in about the same place on the river.  Wonderful.

The water is a bit lower than usual this year, but I heard that they closed the upper Kern to rafting already this summer, so we were glad to get a good ride.  One of the reasons we didn’t know about the river is that it’s all diverted for human and agricultural use before it gets to the city.  Our guide, Jen, told us that they sell tee shirts at the airport that say, “Bakersfield, A Riverbed Runs Through It,” in reference to the dry riverbed than spans the town.

Yeah, I’m getting a little bit of a tan.  I’m taking the advice to get about 15 minutes of sun a day rather than taking vitamin D supplements to avoid the deficiency that’s becoming prevalent in our  sun-blocked lives.

Video taken from the perspective of the photo above.

The beginning of the daily special meal of Basque food at The Wool Growers restaurant.  Yep, this is just the set up of cabbage soup, beans, salsa and bread (which would honestly make a great meal by itself.)  It also comes with a lovely salad, an entree–in this case chicken breast in mushroom sauce–and oxtail stew.  Lots of very tasty food.  We were hungry, but we still couldn’t eat nearly all of it.

Fanciful ceiling decorations at Dewar’s, Bakersfield.

Finally made it to Dewar’s candy and soda shop this time around.  We heard about this place on Huell Howser’s California Gold.  For those of you outside of California, this guy is a state treasure.  Mr. Enthusiasm with a microphone and cameraman, he travels the state getting the stories behind all kinds of wonderful places and sharing them with us.  Here’s a link to his story about Dewar’s.

Just bought a few pieces of taffy.  Thought about bringing some back for my co-workers, but none of us really needs to sit around munching sugar.  The vanilla was pretty great, though, I have to say.  Sofffft and not cloying.

We left the house at 7:00 a.m. and were back by 5:00 p.m.   Two hours of drive time each way.   All in all a wonderful day-long mini-vacation.  Lucky us!

p.s. The photos I took with a disposable water proof camera while on the river may follow, if I can figure out where to get them developed!  Sheesh.