The John Shinnick 58 California Counties 58 County Pledge
49) SAN LUIS OBISPO
I'd spent the night before at the Madonna Inn, a worthy stop in its own right, but on November 10, 2011 I was at Pismo State Beach not far from the city of San Luis Obispo. Between November and February, this place is home to an amazing sight. Tens of thousands of monarch butterflies congregate in the eucalyptus trees. Those things that look like pinecones? They're clumps of butterflies! They're huddling together for warmth and safety. People should get along so well.
51) SANTA BARBARA
Several years ago, I got a speeding ticket driving through Carpinteria. It's in Santa Barbara County. To give it a second chance, I found Seaside Gardens on the Santa Barbara County website! Part retail nursery and part botanical garden, I was interested in the latter. Scenes like this one made it a pleasant stroll. There are more spectacular gardens, but probably not in Carpinteria. It's small and a half hour really does it.
I got my first radio for Christmas when I was 12. The first station I could bring in was WEXL out of Detroit. It was the local country-western station and the first song was a kickin' instrumental, "Buckaroo" by Buck Owens and his Buckaroos. Sadly, the rest of CW failed to measure up and WKNR and CKLW were introducing the Beatles. Still, I always had a soft spot in my heart for Buck, especially when he did Hee-Haw with all the Hee-Haw babes! Hubba-hubba-hubba! He played Telecasters (which made the opening of Buckaroo so great) and as the attached note relates, the very last guitar Leo Fender ever made was this one he made for Buck. I found it (as well as a ton of other Buck Owens memorabelia) at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace in Bakersfield. I went there on 11-16-10 and had a wonderful time. I missed the live entertainment because it started too late, and I wanted to head back to Fresno for an early start on the Tulare County parks the following morning. FUN PLACE!
My friend Michael recommended I take a side trip up California Highway 33 from Ventura to Taft (my next stop which was a dismal failure). It cuts through Los Padres National Forest, mostly in Ventura County. It's really scenic and I enjoyed the two hour trek through the previously unseen (at least by me) part of California. (4-18-10)
53) LOS ANGELES
LA County has great stuff, and yet I picked a pit to represent it. Yes, this is the famed LaBrea Tar Pit. Between it and the adjoining Page Museum, I was totally surprised at this geologic wonder. Its formation makes for very complete fossils, and the pit itself just exudes charm, wonder and more gas than me after a meal at Taco Bell! That's what those bubbles are, methane gas.