Friday, February 2, 2018

Back to the Streets of Bakersfield - Part 2

See Part 1 of this report here.

It's morning and, after having breakfast at the dining room of the Homewood Suites,we are heading out to do some thrift shop shopping. Bakersfield is loaded with second hand shops, pawn shops, and antique stores.

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Before we get out of the parking lot, however, we notice a crowd of cars at the Kaiser Permanente medical clinic next door which is closed for the weekend. We head over to see what the commotion is all about.

The commotion is the Haggin Oaks Farmers Market, which sets up shop here each weekend. 

It's huge, full of organic produce, crafts, food booths, musicians, and even a couple of vendors for your pets.  There are so many free samples of food here we are wondering why we ate at the hotel.

While Letty ponders a few crafts vendors, Tim and I nibble our way through the fruit and food vendors.  We end up with a nice size bag of citrus, some summer stone fruit, fresh squeezed apple/cherry/pomegranate juice (will come in handy later for cocktails), and some craft items my wife picked up.

Luckily, it's next door to the hotel and we've got a kitchen in our room. I stash the food in the fridge to retard the ripening until we go home. 

I drop Letty off at a Goodwill store on Coffee Road while Tim and I run the van through the car wash next door.

The afternoon is spent back at the hotel where we make good use of the pool lift and go for a swim. We meet a couple where the woman grew up here and her boyfriend was visiting from West Virginia. 

We talk and gossip about all the Bakersfield history and characters while having some rum and farmers market juice punches before taking a nap to get ready for the night.

Years ago, Bakersfield had one of the premiere small race tracks in the country, Mesa Marin, with a high banked, paved, 1/2 mile oval.  The relentless march of urbanization doomed the track, which is now a park for a new housing development.

About 15 miles east of where it was, a replacement was built far from the sprawl of Bakersfield in the oil fields off of Interstate 5 on the west side of the valley.  Kern County Raceway Park has opened this year to take the place of Mesa Marin.

Our choices tonight were honky tonking at Trout's...a nightclub in nearby Oildale...or the races. Since we're kind of early birds and the music would take us late into the night, races won over music today.

The facility at Kern County Raceway is brand, spanking new and spiffy. Handicap parking at the gate, liberal use of ramps and elevators, and perfectly placed wheelchair seating in the shade makes this a wonderfully accessible track. 

Letty notices that the initials, put on 5 foot lighted red letters on the top of the stands, are KCRP or K-Crap as she calls it. The track is not crap but the beer selection sure is...Bud, Bud Lite, Bud Lite Lime, and Michelob Ultra are the only choices here.

I told Letty you'd have a better experience if you drank water and hyperventilated.

The evening's festivities start off with a monster truck demonstration where a huge truck smashed three junk cars over and over again, getting flung higher and higher in the air with each pass.

The top class of the night, super stocks, run their main even next (I guess qualifying and heat races are held earlier in the day), followed by mini legends cars whose 8-12 year old drivers race on a small 1/8 mile track.

The kids are treated exactly the same as the adult drivers and get to take a picture with the leggy trophy girl and an interview with the on-track announcer.

Next come super cross motorcycles, basically Motocross bikes with street tires who race around a make-do road course and jump set up on the front straight. I found this race to be my favorite of the evening.

After all that, the open wheel modifieds take the track for their 30-lap main event which provides the only crash...a minor one...of the evening. 

It's a lot of fun and we call it a night after that. It's a very dark ride back into town.

In the morning, we head over to do some shopping. Over in downtown, we hit up a few pawn shops and a jewelry store and even find some things we want to buy but no one's in a mood to make a deal today. 

Next, we head over to J & E Restaurant Supply in Old Kern (the old downtown) where Letty scores with some kitchen items.

Tim and I again abandon Letty but leave her the van this time and we walk the sometimes rough streets of east downtown. A quick jump over to the next block along Mill Creek (a canal spiffed up into a nice little riverwalk) to 18th Street.

It's time to stop in with our friends at Mexicali for one of their wonderful margaritas in their friendly little dark bar. (see our video "Southern California's Top Three Margaritas" for more on Mexicali's version)

Eventually, Letty joins us where we walk nearby to Los Tacos de Huicho to have another plate of sopes and tacos to bookend this weekend.

What a fun place this is. Can't wait to come back to our friendly "home away from home."

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2015 - All Rights Reserved.

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