Thursday, August 7, 2014

On The Road Again! Historic Tehachapi! And Brains on the Tunnel!

This week we did Sister Night early, on Tuesday. We had a good reason and we did something a little different.

My sister Lisa happened to have a doctors appointment in Bakersfield. Since she was already in town it made sense to meet up for dinner. I happened to have a rental car courtesy of General Motors since they were fixing some recalls on my car. We figured, we're already both in Bakersfield and we have a rental car, why not head to the beach for dinner?

The reason we didn't go to the beach is that it's a couple hours away, so we thought we would head the opposite way and that's how we ended up in the beautiful historic City of Tehachapi.

I've been through Tehachapi dozens of times as that's the way we usually head when we visit Arizona or on the way to Las Vegas, but I had never actually stopped and visited. Glad that we did because we really had a good time and it's a beautiful little community.

Tehachapi is 35 miles East South East of Bakersfield. The drive up is beautiful. You barely get out of Bakersfield before you start climbing and pretty soon you are surrounded by beautiful rolling hills. The only sad thing was how dried out the hills were. I normally have always headed that way in the spring or autumn and was used to see rolling green hills, so this was quite a change. But even with the hills dry and yellow, it didn't take away from the natural beauty!

Lisa tried to capture some of the beauty as we drove along as you can see in this collage. The photo on the top right shows the rolling hills somewhat but it is hard to capture the depth of the mountains, especially in a moving car.

Lisa also took photos of one of the mountain tunnels which is part of the Historic Tehachapi Loop. Per Wikipedia, The Tehachapi Loop is a 0.73-mile (1.17 km) long 'spiral', or helix, on the Union Pacific Railroad line through Tehachapi Pass, of the Tehachapi Mountains in Kern County, south-central California. The line connects Bakersfield and the San Joaquin Valley to Mojave in the Mojave Desert. Seeing a daily average of almost 40 trains, the line is one of the busiest single-track mainlines in the world.

The reason I put a close up of the tunnel in the picture is because many years ago, when my son Jim was about 5 years old or so, we traveled to Arizona for a funeral. My brother Fred was driving and my son Jim was driving Fred crazy with questions and just generally chatting away without really saying anything. So Fred pointed out the dark spot at the top of the bridge and asked Jim if he knew what that was and why it was there? Jim had no clue. Fred told him that back in the day hobo's and bank robbers would ride on the top of the trains and that sometimes it was nighttime and they didn't realize the tunnel was coming up and the hobo's and bank robbers would clobber their heads on the top of the tunnels and that mark was the dried blood and brains left from their heads busting against the concrete!

I know the story is gory and scary and totally made up, but it got Jim to staring out the window and trying to see the bloody spot on the remaining tunnels. That kept him entertained for a couple of miles. Hey! When you're travelling with a boy as active and curious as my son was, you do what you have to do to keep him entertained!

Lisa and I finally got into Tehachapi and we spent a good half hour just driving around up and down their main street and turning into side streets when we would see something interesting. Tehachapi was about 10 degrees cooler than Bakersfield. It was 81 degrees and there was a nice breeze and the air....Oh my Goodness...the air was so clean and fresh compared to Bakersfield air! We loved it.

Most of the stores on the main street were closed, and we've made plans to return on a Saturday to walk around and take our mom to a cute little Mexican restaurant we went to. But we may just go to another cute little restaurant called The Apple Shed. Tehachapi is known for their Apple Festival and I have always wanted to go.

After a nice dinner we headed home and we felt like we'd had a weekend getaway. Sometimes just a change of scenery helps!



  1. I drove through Tehachapi several times back in the early 70s when I was stationed in the Mojave while in the Air Force. I can remember it being greener than the surrounding area and I recall particularly one ridge wooded with oak trees. It always made me a bit homesick.

    Great post Alicia. I like the photos of the tunnel. That hillside looks like something out of the old TV cowboy shows. Sounds like you and Lisa had a blast.

    1. Just a few years ago it was greener, but this drought is hitting California hard. It's still beautiful with it's golden rolling hills. The oak trees are beautiful. I've never really gotten a chance to enjoy it as I'm always the driver. One of these days though I'm going to pull over and take some time to soak it all in.

      There's a lot to see on the drive up and back. I believe they've filmed several movies there, and we have a claim to fame right here in Shafter. There's a little diner made from a PG&E trolley car that was used in the movie Thelma and Louise. A lot of history in Kern County. Here's an interesting link to the Red Wagon Cafe.

  2. You and your sister are a great pair when it comes to enjoy life. Kudos to you!
    The names Tehachapi and Mojave sound nicely to a stranger's ear; perhaps they also have a meaning of their own in spanish or some other language. Anyway, I understand Nature is at its best in these areas.

  3. Hi DUTA! Yes, Lisa and I do have great times together. We often wonder if we had had more sisters would we two be such good friends? I guess we will never know, but I'm grateful to have her in my life.

    Tehachapi is such a pretty word. Info on the name suggests Tehachapi comes from the Kawaiisu language, a Native American tribe that lived in the Tehachapi Valley. It may be derived from the word for "hard climb" and it is a hard climb to get there, even in a car. Bakersfield is 404 feet above sea level and Tehachapi is 3,970 feet above sea level. And yet they are only 40 miles apart from each other. That is why in the winter when it may be 65 degrees in Bakersfield, it may be snowing in Tehachapi. Thanks for stopping by DUTA!


Please leave a comment.I would love to know your thoughts!