Monday, June 7, 2010

A New Home--Part 2

They told me it was a fixer-upper, but this is ridiculous. OK, I'm just kidding. The photo is one of a number of shacks and houses built at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries along the trails leading into what was then known alternatively as Allen's Camp or Agua Caliente. Both areas by whatever name are located in Walker Basin.

Allen's camp didn't stick, and there was already an Agua Caliente in Sonoma County, so the locals just dropped the "agua," and started calling the township Caliente. Walker Basin describes the general area, but that is also the name of a township that shares the same telephone area code. The terrain opened up originally in the 1850s as a cattle ranch owned by a settler named Gabriel Allen. In 1875, both the railroad and the Post Office arrived in the area, and for consistency's sake, the name Caliente was settled on once and for all.

Although the township does not have much of a reputation outside of those who happily reside here, there are a few historical sites and attractions that bring others to or through the area. Many are traveling through on their way to the Sequoia National Forest, which is nearby but another 1,000 feet higher in elevation. I live in rolling foothills but the forest is much more mountainous and far more heavily laced with forest-type trees. The township itself has a Cowboy Museum and Cowboy Memorial, as well as a dude ranch where city folks can stay in a real bunkhouse, ride horses, and participate in the activities of the actual working Rankin Ranch.

People like me are among the basic three types of residents. I fit into the retired, leave me alone category. There are also the vacation homes which are largely unoccupied during most of the year. And finally, there are those who wanted property and space, but still commute into Bakersfield to work each day. The area remains sufficiently isolated to allow for reasonable land prices (if such a thing as "reasonable" exists in California).

So I'm getting settled in, but it took four weeks to pack, and it's going to take a couple of weeks just to unpack, sort, place, and discard. One of the joys of the outlands and retirement, is that I have no need for all those phones and phone lines that I lived with for most of my adult life. I could start my own used phone store, since cell phones don't work here or anywhere nearby.

For those of you who have made a major move recently, you may remember that it's easy to think that you're done once the furniture is in place. How wrong that is. That's the quick part. Then you spend the rest of your time opening boxes and deciding what goes with, on, around or next to the furniture that only took you half a day to place. Then there's arranging all the paintings and large framed photographs that you've been collecting much of your life. At this point, I have "finished" the major rooms (which means the furniture's in place), and all the boxes are in the guest bedroom, waiting for that glorious moment when I open them and distribute them to the rest of the house.

My first encounter with a local came at the post office on Sunday last. It was supposed to be our meeting point with my younger daughter who lives in the area and my older daughter who lives in Simi Valley. There was a small series of "missed connections," among the family members assembling at the post office. To start with, my younger daughter made the near-disastrous mistake of knowing where things are and assuming the same of strangers to the area. She had given my son, who was driving the moving van with me, instructions on where to get on the highway out of Bakersfield and on to Caliente. She also gave him instructions on where the last gas station is located, since we had enough gas to get to the property, but not enough to get back.

Unfortunately, she assumed that we knew that the street we left Bakersfield on to get to the highway was the same street that had the last gas station. We kept looking for the street name she had give us, thinking it was a turnoff from the highway rather than the very road we had taken to get to the highway. We finally decided we must have somehow missed the exit, and pulled over to wait at the Caliente post office.

When the meeting time came and went without the appearance of either daughter, I decided to walk across the railroad tracks and talk to the guy who was just pulling out of his property. It was classic comedy. He made me look like a teenager, and his car was one step from a Model T. When I asked him where the closest gas station was, he responded with something that sounded like the old joke "you can't get there from here." After much prodding, I finally get him to commit to it being closer to go to Tehachapi for gas than to go back to Bakersfield.

Since both the moving van and my son's SUV being driven by my daughter-in-law needed gas, we decided that I would remain behind to meet with the other two at the post office while they went for gas fill-ups. Might as well use the time constructively, since they were going to have to go for gas in any event. They headed out to Tehachapi, and no more than five minutes later, my younger daughter arrived with two of her kids. The post office is about fifty feet from the road, and it was the only shade in the area by that time of day, so we went over to sit on the steps and chat while we waited for my older daughter to arrive. Just as we sat down, a very familiar looking car roared past. It was my daughter and her son, who were headed straight up to the property (they knew the area from past visits). We waved and shouted, to no avail.

Needless to say, my younger daughter had failed to tell my older daughter that we were going to meet at the post office before forming a caravan to the property. And since there are no cell phone towers anywhere in the area, all three of our "smart" phones were useless to try to call her back to the rendezvous point. Finally, my son and his wife arrived back at the post office with full gas tanks, and we were off to the new house to unload.

We managed to completely offload everything, family-style, in about two hours. It's not that we were better than the professionals in San Francisco who took two and a half hours to load, it's just that house, drive and vehicles are all on one level, rather than up three flights of winding stairs. With in another couple of hours, we had everything in the house or garage, and most of the furniture where it was going to stay.

And that brings me back to the piles of boxes in the guest bedroom. I won't give you the blow-by-blow on that part of the job, since it will take at least another week, and isn't exactly National Geographic material. Suffice it to say, with some minor setbacks, the big job is done. Which is to say, the computer armoire and desk are up and running, and at 3 PM last Friday, the satellite installer had me on the internet. I'm excited and happy to be in my new home, but I'm equally excited and happy about being able to get back to enlightening all of my readers with my dazzling brilliance and deep humility. LOL


StanH said...

Lawhawks great adventure, even with the unexpected insanity, it sounds like a blast.

How is Kitty Kelly acclimating to your new abode?

Unknown said...

Stan: For while, I thought Kelly was practicing to be a wildcat. She was determined not to leave The City, and just as determined that she would not come out of hiding once she got here--except to snarl, hiss and flatten her ears. It took almost a week before she decided we weren't going back, so she might as well adapt. Now she's back to normal (as normal as she's ever been).

Tennessee Jed said...

Best of luck with it all, Hawk. RFD, indeed!!

Unknown said...

Tennessee: I figured I might as well make a complete transition, and though we're really not RFD in my area, I do have to walk a little over a half-mile to get to my mailbox. That's close enough to RFD for this city boy. LOL

Joel Farnham said...


Welcome back!!!

Remember that if it still is in a box a year from now, you never needed it.

Good luck in your new surroundings.

Unknown said...

Joel: That sounds like very good advice. I'm down to five boxes in the guest bedroom, and I decided I can't stand the sight of them anymore. So that's it for today.

Tomorrow is my first day of babysitting for my younger daughter's kids (only three of the six, thank goodness). I hope they're strong enough to carry me to my bedroom if I collapse. LOL

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk: Welcome back. Sounds like it was quite an adventure. Looking forward to your reports from the hinterlands. I doubt they'll be nearly as freaky, but who knows what evil lurks in the country?

Unknown said...

HamiltonsGhost: I'm not quite sure what I'll be writing about, but I doubt it will be as regular a feature as SF Diary. The most excitement I've had since I've been here is the cow that wandered across the lower portion of my property. I'm told I have to watch them, because they like to lie down next to the smallest trees, then relax by rolling onto the tree and crushing it. I'm still waiting to hear a coyote.

I have heard that clickety-clack sound and the train whistle on the freight trains that move through here about twice a day. My daughter corrected an earlier comment I made by pointing out that we are not on a spur of the Southern Pacific, but a major line of the Union Pacific.

Notawonk said...

so when's the housewarming party? we could do it via the internets and you could set up google view for each room and the property.

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