The Burwell's 2018 Road Trip, Part 2

Note -  We had to expand this posting into parts, because the website program couldn't hold all the pictures within one single page.

Part 1 now covers the journey to California, which was pretty much half-way through our road-trip.

This is Part 2, which takes us through California, and then starts the journey back home.

Click or tap on the smaller pictures and they will expand into larger ones.

Sunday – 7/29

We began our day with a Sunday worship service for the two of us, and then set out from Barstow for the Sequoia National Park. We’ve now been from the Gulf Stream waters (Charleston has the Gulf Stream) to the redwood forests.  This land was made for me and you. The park is about 4 hours from Barstow, and then after the park we’ll have to travel another 3.5 to get closer to the main reason we came to California.

There were really only two reasons for coming to California – first, so that we could say we drove all the way to California, and secondly, the main reason was that I wanted to tale Sylvia to the Kendall-Jackson Winery in Sonoma County. K-J is her preferred “brand” for Cabernet Sauvignon, which is her favorite wine. We’ll go there tomorrow.

The ride to the park was a long ride; slow in places. This is California, after all, and there are more automobiles and trucks and motorized this and thats than anywhere else in the United States. Hal David said it best: "[California] is a great big freeway. Put a hundred down and buy a car. In a week, maybe two, they'll make you'll a star. Weeks turn into years, how quick they past. And all the stars who never were are parking cars or pumping gas."  (words from "Do you know the way to San Jose")


Interesting countryside – again looking nothing like back home. Temperature outside was above 100 the whole way there.

We passed a roadside sign saying "Boron, exit 1/2 miles." 

Boron... Sounds familiar... Oh yeah! That's Borax! Or actually, Borax is the brand name for boron, which is mined right here. Sure enough - There's the Twenty Mule-Team mine on the mountain over there.

Yes, it's hazy - Don't know whether it is smoke from the many forest fires, or smog.


We're in the Mohave desert, by the way.  Just passed a full military convoy on maneuvers. This area looks so much like a mid-eastern desert that it makes sense they'd practice out here. If it wasn't for the white SUV, you might think you're in Iraq for somewhere like that.


Here - let me fix that for you!

Edwards Air Force Base is out here - that's where the space shuttle used to land when the weather at Cape Canaveral was too bad for them to land there. And the airplane graveyard is also out here. When the airlines take a plane out of service, they often bring them here and store the plane without the engines. In this climate there is zero chance for rust or corrosion.  Or mildew on the inside, for that matter

Coming up on the hills that are before the valley that contains Bakersfield, the boyhood home of Bishop Lawrence. These days the hills serve one purpose - windmills. I don't know if you can see all the windmills in the haze of the picture above that has the airplane graveyard, but there are literally hundreds of them. Here's another shot of a section of windmills as we passed them.

The little brown\black poles you see in the middle of the picture that look kind of like fence posts are actually power poles with power lines on top of them. That's how giant each of these windmills is.

I had Sylvia google it - Each windmill this size costs around 350,000 to 500,000. Apiece. There are 20 in this picture. There are 350 of these monsters on the hills.  Do the math - a whole lot of money is being spent to bring wind-powered electricity!  More on the Mohave desert wind site can be found by clicking or tapping here.


Like many Oklahoman's did during the 1930's Dustbowl, Bishop Lawrence's family resettled in Bakersfield. I can only imagine the dry, dusty trip through the desert and then over these very desert hills.

I can only imagine what they must have though when they finally crested the hills and saw this:

It's a whole different world. Amazing.

Bakersfield is farm country, make no mistake about it. Anywhere there is water, there are plants and trees.


And where there is no water, there's oil. Black Gold. Texas Tea.

And It's also Buck Owens hometown, the home of the "Bakersfield Sound".

What, you ask is the Bakersfield Sound? It sounds like a Buck Owens record. 

We're in the hills (mountains), now within a hour of the park. Totally different landscape.

We finally got to the entrance of the park. I tried my senior pass and sure enough, it was free admission for the both of us. Would have been 25.00 per person. The card already saved us 30 dollars at the Petrified Forest, and now 50.00 here.  Thank you, Park Service Ranger at the Petrified Forest.

Once inside the park, the journey to had just begun. We wanted to see the General Sherman giant sequoia, the largest tree in the world. To get there, we’d have to go about 17 miles. So we did. Turns out the road was a winding mountain road going up and around several mountains and we never got over 15 miles per hour. And to top it off, they were doing road construction inside the park so we got stopped for an additional 20 minutes. It took about an hour and a half.  That’s after four hours getting to the park.  Mercy!  But the scenery getting there was beautiful. Take a look. (Don't forget, if you click on a picture it expands to a larger size.)

And when we finally did get there, wow, was it worth it!  

Pictures do not do justice to the size and majesty of the giant sequoias, and there were so many of them!

And the General Sherman was indeed the grandest of them all.  It is the largest tree in the world.

Well worth the long ride in!

Too bad the tree was named for that general – the one who came through Barnwell and Orangeburg and then wiped Columbia off the face of the map. But I don’t hold that against the tree. None of us get to choose our names.  Another 50 miles up the road in the park they have another tree named after a general. The General Grant tree.  Hey – the South lost. Remember?

We chose to travel north instead of going back the way we came in, and after about another 4 hours, we finally got to the motel for the night, in Turlock, Ca.

Monday - 7/30

Wine Country! But first, we have to get there. Which means going almost through San Francisco, and then up from there.  The road all the way up was not all that scenic and basically one city after another all the way there. It pretty much looked like I-20 through Columbia, or even more realistically, Like I-77 through Charlotte.


The pictures don't really show it but it was mostly moderately congested interstate traffic for about four hours, moving nicely except for the inevitable delays here and there. Like here.


We didn’t go into San Francisco.  Might have been nice to see the Golden Gate Bridge, but that would have been a five-hour drive out of the way. We did get to see San Quinton Prison. It’s right there on the San Francisco Bay.  For the benefit of our former prison warden and now Deacon Mike, we also drove in the vicinity of Folsom prison, but the route we took didn’t go past it. I did say “hi’ for Former Warden and now Deacon Mike as we passed by.

It’s cooler up here in central California. 83 on the highway. And this “dry heat” feels like about 75-78 at home. Very comfortable.

We had lunch at a California burger place we don’t have back home – the In And Out. Due to the strict weight-loss diet I’ve been on, that was the first hamburger and fries I’ve had from a fast-food place in almost a year. It was really good.  If I’m going to sin, at least I should enjoy it, I suppose. I did.

After lunch, back on the [very crowded] road, heading to wine country.

I had envisioned the Kendall Jackson Winery to be out in the country, far down some country road. Nope. Two blocks off the interstate in Santa Rosa.
But the estate is simply gorgeous. Amazingly beautiful!

The yellow on the light is pollen. From honey bees.

And may I say that we got blessed while we were there. The main door opens into to the tasting room, and the person who greeted us as we walked in turned out to be a delightful and insightful 77 year-old gentleman whom everyone there called “Uncle Frank.” He was so nice and such fun to be around!

He guided us through the tasting of many super-premium wines (not the kind we can buy in South Carolina) and then took us for a tour of the grounds. That isn’t normally done, the grounds are self-toured, but we had our own personal guide in “Uncle Frank.” When he found out I was a priest, he told us all about himself – he’s a deep believer – a Catholic who never misses a Sunday and says his Rosary every day.  He really made the tour a special time for Sylvia and me.  This may have been the best stop so far on this whole trip.  Here's a slideshow of the grounds:


After Kendall-Jackson, we set out for Reno, where we’ll stay for two nights. Not because we want to hang around Reno so much, but because I need to download all the pictures and set up these pages on the website to get the link in our newsletter before it goes out on Tuesday. I’m already at a disadvantage because we are three hours behind you. 8:00 am here is 11:00 there. The newsletter gets sent about 4:00 on Tuesday. That’s 1:00 out here.  I have my work cut out.  That’s why two days in Reno.


The trip here was the slowest and most congested traffic we’ve run into the whole trip. The first 100 miles were two-lane road. And then, four lanes of even more traffic. You’ve seen pictures of traffic on the California freeways? We’ve now lived it. Mercy!  It took us about five hours to get from Santa Rosa to Reno.


About an hour out of Reno (while still in California, on the way there) the traffic lightened as we began to climb back into the mountains. Got up above 7,000 feet. Temperature down to 72.  There are places to stop on the side of the road to put chains on your car wheels. I guess it really snows up here in the winter.

Welcome to Reno. Not all that exciting from first glance, compared to Las Vegas.  Looks like a North Charleston attempt to create Charleston. But it’s home for tonight. Tomorrow, we explore.

John & Sylvia's 2018 Road-Trip continues in part three.

Click or tap here to go to part Three.