We've been out to the eastern edges of Bakersfield before, hiking along the Kern River. Today, we've found a new place to visit.
Past the biker bar and honky tonk known as Ethel's Old Corral and the police department's shooting range, along Alfred Harrell Highway, you'll find a green patch among the dirt brown hills with a large parking lot. If you're in the right place, you'll be at the California Living Museum, also known as CALM.
Basically, this is Bakersfield's zoo. This particular facility's mission is to care for only California native animals that can't take care of themselves. They may have been injured, raised as a pet or any number of other reasons that they can't make it in the wild.
We're talking black bears, longhorn sheep, eagles, hawks, and a host of other creatures.
It's a Friday morning. The parking lot is pretty much empty. I think we might be the only people here other than staff and volunteers.
Looking at the map, there's a crooked path that makes a loop around the zoo. It's well marked with what is and is not accessible. We'll follow that.
First up are the cats of California, the mountain lion and bobcat, but they're not on display today as the crews clean out their enclosures. Beyond that is a large hillside with a group of longhorn sheep that are feeding.
For the most part, they're content with relaxing and chewing although the big ram of the group butts heads whenever he thinks one of the other family members is taking too much of the meal.
Tim rolls gingerly down into a small ravine where a bridge allows him access to cross the creek at the bottom. On the other side, it's birds of prey. Eagles, osprey, and various hawks make up the population of this aviary.
Mustering up a brave face, he rolls into the reptile house to come face-to-face with the six species of rattlesnakes along with the many other non-venomous snakes from our state.
A pair of hyperactive chipmunks tumble non-stop in their cage in the middle of the room.
On to the mammals, which include mule deer, racoons, badgers, and a very sleepy black bear napping under a sprinkler.
It's on to the pond for waterfowl, a barnyard with domestic farm animals, then my wife's favorite spot.
The desert exhibit...half underground and half above...features tortoises, vultures, and my wife's newest friend, the barn owls.
She's specifically taken with one little owl the staff has told us is named Mr. Fuzzywiggles. He follows her around the entire enclosure, maybe mistaking her for a former caretaker or something.
Cleary, they form a connection but, although you can take many souvenirs home from the gift shop, Mr. Fuzzywiggles will have to stay behind.
One final outstanding plate of tacos and sopes from Los Tacos de Huicho, another night at the Springhill Suites, then it's just a quick drive over the Grapevine back home.
Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved
Pictures by Letty
Copyright 2014 - Letty Musick
All Rights Reserved