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Lunch boxes attract visitors on the I-5

Monday, August 10th, 2009


Lunch boxes fill the shelves in the dining area of the Apricot Tree Restaurant near Firebaugh, California.

APRICOT TREE RESTAURANT, Firebaugh, CA – Speeding north or south on the Interstate 5 at 80 miles per hour, the off ramps become a blur as I sail on by. But there’s one off ramp I try not to miss when I travel to northern California or Oregon. The Panoche Road exit near Firebaugh and located between Fresno and Los Banos.

Panoche Road leads to the Apricot Tree Restaurant. And for me a step back into my childhood days.

For lined up in neat rows high on the restaurant’s walls in the dining area are about 400 vintage lunch boxes. Now the story goes – according to our talkative waiter – that the value of these little mettle boxes soars well into the six-figure range.

An Internet search confirms that these vintage and retro lunch boxes in which many kids carried their peanut butter sandwiches, carrot sticks, and thermos filled with milk to school in the 1950s, 60s’ and 70s’ indeed command premium prices.

As a little kid of the 1950s I was fascinated with cowboys and horses. So my wife Nanette and I took a table in the western theme section of the restaurant. My favorite TV show in the ‘50s was the Lone Ranger featuring the masked man and his sidekick, Tonto. And up above me on a shelf next to Little House on the Prairie sat the Lone Ranger lunch box.

(“A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty “Hi-yo, Silver!” The Lone Ranger!”… “Who was that masked man? He’s the Lone Ranger!”)

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Northern California trip

Friday, August 7th, 2009

REDDING, CALIFORNIA – A week ago on the spur of the moment we packed the car with a few clothes, dropped Tassie (our dog) off with our son, Brian, and headed north to Redding and then on to Ashland, Oregon, one of the most beautiful cities on the west coast.

Former Yucaipa friends, Karen and Mike Barnes, live in Cottonwood, about 20 miles south of Redding. We’ve had a good time staying and visiting with them.

So here’s some quick photos of our trip. Sorry, got things to do, gotta run.

An aspiring Snowbird

Monday, July 6th, 2009

CANNON FALLS, MN – Summer vacations to my native land of Minnesota always end in a clash of colors and temperatures. My latest trip home to California was no different. From the runway at Minneapolis / St. Paul Airport, my US Airways airbus jettisoned quickly to 30,000 feet.

And as I gazed down at the gently rolling Minnesota landscape below me, the earth appeared as a geometric pattern of squares and rectangles. These patterns – signifying vast acres of farms and ranches – were covered with alfalfa, corn, soybeans and trees. Lots of trees. And all this lush vegetation, watered from a summer of plentiful rainfall, shone a dark, vibrant green.

That’s the green of my vacation. A green that vanished when I landed four hours later in Palm Springs. At this city known for its hellish summer heat, the view is uninspiring. For as far as the eye can see the landscape is covered with sickly looking shrubbery, dead grass and weeds, colored a pitifully dull yellowish-brown. It’s a most lifeless view for someone fresh from Minnesota.

Oh, Minnesota how I already miss your green and temperate beauty.

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Washington DC

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Washington DC was an amazing place to visit in winter. It being home to so much history in itsellf is awinspiring. The crisp winter chill in the air gave a sense of a resolutionary atmosphere of times past. The muesums and sites were numberous, a person had to accepct not seeing and really taking in most of the sites. But, all in all we were able to see most everything that the city had to offer.

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