The Cactus Patch
December 2015

One More to the North
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

On the 14th of October we set off for the North. We had intended to leave earlier, but delayed the trip when we were told the grandsons were busy puking. We reached Fresno to spend the night with Polly’s sister Nancy only to find Polly had left all her pills in Bakersfield. Next morning we returned to Bakersfield and then spent another night in Fresno. On the 16th we set off for Susanville via Sacramento and Reno. We arrived to find everyone recovered and we all had dinner at the Diamond Mountain Casino run by the Susanville Rancheria that James works for. We spent Saturday getting reacquainted. Alice Mae was almost five months and pushing up so her head and shoulders were lifted. She’ll be crawling soon.

After a relaxing Saturday we all went to Wemple’s Pumpkin Patch near Honey Lake on the road back towards Reno. We started with lunch and Michael tried out the hay bale maize (it was free, unlike the cornfield maize which we did not try). Next the boys posed on old tractors which were lined up. Then all of us went for a ride through the pumpkin field. I commented on some roadside weeds, “That’s a burdock, that’s a curly dock and that’s a ‘what’s up doc’. James immediately said ,”What!”, to which I answered , “Actually it’s a milkweed.” Michael was a little slower on the uptake and said, “What’s up Doc?” To which I replied from my own youth, “A rare plant from Mars.” We then bought a few pumpkins and headed back to Susanville.

We spent three more days hanging around Susanville and on the 22nd headed past Reno to Virginia City. We checked into the Silverland Hotel and had a large room with two double beds for the adults and a hide-a-bed for the boys. (Alice Mae slept with her mother.) After settling in we went for a swim in the indoor heated pool. Virginia City was colder than Susanville so the pool felt great. For dinner we went up to the main road for pizza at the Red Dog Saloon.

Next morning we had breakfast back up on the main drag and then went over to the train Depot for a special kids’ day. They have an old train which runs out to Gold Hill and back, but for this occasion they had a replica of the cartoon Thomas the Tank Engine attached. It had eyes which rolled and a mouth which opened and closed. While waiting Matthew road in small circles on a rather small version of Thomas. Michael was more interested in the giant soap bubbles which were being made. Finally we loaded onto the train and went for a ride through the scenic country of the Comstock Lode which once produced gold and silver. After the ride the kids posed with Sir Topham Hat, a character from the Thomas cartoons. Then there were bean bag throws, miniature golf etc. To me the best was the ride on a hand car. Finally we had a hobo lunch in the dining car. Leaving Virginia City, we then drove down to Carson City, the capitol of Nevada for snack at Jack in the Box.

We then drove over to Zephyr Cove on Lake Tahoe so Polly could see the Lake. It was quite low due to the drought, but thesteamboats were still running. Finally, we stopped at Circus- Circus in Reno and had dinner at a Mexican Restaurant which included Kokopelli’s Sushi! The food was good, but in general the noise and flashing lights made Circus Circus unbearable. We watched a bit of a dog act (no pony) but were not impressed. It was late when we arrived back in Susanville. Next day we went to Matthew’s preschool for Minion Madness. I thought the kids would be worn out from Virginia City, but they tore right into more games. Most people were in costume and we dined on hotdogs. Sunday was a restful day and on the 26th we drove to Sacramento by way of Chico. The north end of Lake Almanor was nothing but mudflats due to the drought. We stayed overnight with Marvin, husband of my late sister Karen. Next morning we had breakfast with him at Denny’s (where he is well known) and then headed down the road to Bakersfield.

On the 5th of November we were back in Fresno and went to the newly opened African Adventure at the Chaffee Zoo. Sitting eating lunch on the veranda of the restaurant we watched rhinos grazing beneath us with elephants, eland and zebra in the distance. It was almost like the real thing. They have planted a lot of plumbago, red top grass, aloes, etc. which are appropriate, but they did have some cacti, hesperaloes and other non-African plants. There was one stapeliad and a mesemb at an enclosure for a lizard and tortoise.

That evening we heard Duke Benadom speak on a trip to Mexico which included the late Charlie Glass. It was well done and quite nostalgic. We were also present for the Members Sale in Bakersfield on the 10th. It was quite surprising to see such a variety offered. We did not have a real brag table, but I presented the Nov. issue of Bradleya, the yearbook of the British Cactus and Succulent Society which includes an article on the tree form of Aloe arborescens which occurs only on Mount Mlanje in Malawi. I am one of the authors as I reported on this species based on our early experience in Malawi, our first home in Africa beginning in 1965.




Rail Car

Lake Tahoe

School Party

Lake Almanor

Chaffee Zoo

Duke Benedom

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