Dec. 13 - 14
“Everyday was creative, because when you don’t have it handed out to you, you make your own.” – Elizabeth Payne McGhee, Allensworth resident.
We drove into the Central Valley and stayed to the little farm roads avoiding the interstate and major highway as much as possible. Many years ago in doing this, I discovered Allensworth State Park and thought a stop by to see it again would be nice.
Col. Allen Allensworth was born a slave and escaped from servitude in 1862 when he was 12 years old. He went north and joined the Union Army, which he eventually made a career out of achieving the highest ranking of any black at that time when he retired at the turn of the century. He came to California with his wife Josephine and had a dream to build a community, a colony as he called it, for other African Americans to help themselves create better lives. In 1908, in Tulare County, he found the Promised Land and put his plan to work. The little colony of Allensworth prospered for a short time but eventually faded away due to Allensworth’s untimely accidental death (he was struck down by a motorcyclist), declining water tables and the realignment of the railroad to a different town nearby. A couple dozen of the original homes remain, lovingly restored complete with furniture and artifacts from that time period. It is well worth a visit.
I was amazed to find a campground here for I did not remember one the 15 or so years ago when I was here last. I was even further amazed to find this campground had showers, but the amazement didn’t end there. The showers were FREE! One did not need a fistful of quarters in order to take a bath. I needed to tell the ranger girl in Arizona about this State Park.
Later that afternoon I noticed on the electronic read-out panel for all systems on board the Little BOX that the LP (propane) was down to its last indicator light – red - meaning “You better do something about this soon.” I went outside to check the gauge on the tank. The needle was resting on “E”. The refrigerator/freezer is powered by propane. I thought about this and figured if at sometime before morning the “check” light on the frig begins to flash, I could just as easily open the door for the air temperature is colder than your refrigerator is at home. Then I thought that might not be a good idea. I didn’t want my bag of salad to freeze, so I decided to leave the door shut if the propane fizzles out.
The next morning all systems were going strong. I looked outside the window and could see all of twenty feet. There was fog so thick you could chip away at it with an axe. Of the twenty feet I could see, the ground was a blanket of frost. Inside the temperature read 35 degrees and I had a pussycat that had no interest to come out from under the covers. Then I lay back in bed and thought about the residents of Allensworth 100 years ago.
We left camp at 9am and continued on the farm roads heading north. It was a bit of a challenge as I was armed only with a California road map. I plan to set up a little cardboard file cabinet in the Little BOX and keep all my maps in it for the future. We drove around the town of Hanford in search of a place that sold propane. Here for the first time I see Christmas decorations in all their glory. It is a nice feeling to not have been exposed to all of this for the 5 weeks previously. This has been the most nonsense Christmas season for me, ever. Like the song, Twelve Days Before Christmas, is just about right.
Finally by chance I located a mini-mart that sold propane. The proprietor was straight out of Afghanistan with his full rich thick black beard and mustache. I liked this guy. He was bundled up against the cold more so than I am wearing a heavy-duty army coat that further enhanced his image to me of a Mujaheddin rebel fighter. In spite of the red light and the needle being on “E” the tank took only 11.5 gallons. I had 2.5 gallons left in it.
We pulled off Hwy 99 early in the day to check out a sign denoting a State Park, with camping. It looked to be a small State Park by the map, but worth the 5-mile drive to check out. No one was there except the old ranger guy. They had showers (I should arrive home clean and fresh) and the ranger guy points out one spot that has electricity at no extra cost! How cool is that? We were in five star luxury with all the lights burning, the radio playing and unlimited time on the laptop to catch up on all my notes. There is no Internet connection but the laptop I feel pulls a lot of juice from the batteries in the RV so I need to be cautious otherwise, but not now!
I took a little walk around the campground and discovered a river slowly flowing by. It is the Merced River. I sat there on the banks for a long time thinking how this water had cascaded over Nevada and Vernal Falls then flowed through Yosemite Valley several days earlier.
Since I am only 3 hours from home I hung around for a while, tidied up the ship, and even broke out my new mini vacuum cleaner that I haven’t used yet. Hey, why not do cleaning and stuff in a nice setting rather than at home in the neighborhood ?
This afternoon I will be home but this is not the end. It is just the beginning. Distant roads are calling me.