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I am nearing the end of my annual trip to California. I go to visit family and friends and because I love California. I am a New Yorker now, so much so that I personally know and am friends with someone who was, for awhile, one of the potential front runners in the race for NYC mayor. But at heart I will always be a Californian.

Usually our trips focus on Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, where I have family. But this year we also included a trip to the Bay Area where my step-daughter wanted to check out colleges and we wanted to visit friends...and my family just wanted to see more of California. And by the way, I am told that the downstairs neighbor of the folks we stayed with in Berkeley frequently have Markos himself over...don't know the truth about that, but apparently Markos and I have nearly overlapping sets of friends in Berkeley!

So far my family's favorite places have been the Exploratorium in San Francisco, the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City, and the pool and jacuzzi at my sister's place in Santa Barbara. And I have some new restaurant recommendations, including an obscure Thai restaurant called Saysetha in Oakland near the Berkeley border. Amazingly fresh and tasty food for cheap prices. Nothing amazing, but just right. And how about Cedar Hill, a great BBQ joint near the Exploratorium in San Francisco?

But today we drove back from Berkeley to Los Angeles. We drove up via Santa Barbara along highway 101. Coming back we took highway 5. It's fastest, but I always remembered not liking it. Now I remember why. It is the horrible desolate right wing blot on California called the Central Valley. And that long stretch got me thinking about road trips and the fast food and gasoline options along the way.

Best thing about living in NYC is the fact that you don't need a car. So we don't have one. Saves us lots of money and keeps our carbon footprint much lower than most American's. Another great thing about living in NYC are the restaurants...LOTS of choice in all price ranges, so not much need for fast food chains.

But when my family travels in California, we need a car and sometimes have to look for the best fast food chain to grab a meal at while on the road.

I am a firm believer in using my power as a consumer as a political tool. I boycott companies I don't like and go out of my way to patronize companies I do like. I have no one criterion for these choices but take into account quality, customer service, political stands, how they treat employees and suppliers, environmental concerns, and past experience. I was raised with Cesar Chavez's grape boycott and that shaped my choices as a consumer. But I am also practical, so I know you have to choose the best of what is available even if the "best" is still pretty bad.

We left Berkeley this morning after a light and late breakfast (almost lunch). Our first choice was where to gas up.

As a responsible consumer, where to buy gasoline is one of my hardest choices. We have sometimes rented alternative vehicles (an electric RAV4 we loved, an early and wonderful Prius, which was much better than the more recent Prius model, a biodiesel VW, etc). But often we just rent a car with reasonable gas mileage and try to find the best of a bad lot when it comes to gas stations.

Looking at one of my favorite resources, Responsible Shopper from Green America, there are NO GOOD GAS STATIONS among the big chains. But the worst are Chevron, BP, Exxon/Mobil, and Shell. I will NEVER buy from these stations. Ever. They are among the worst companies in the world and I refuse to give them my money. Citgo, Hess and Sunnoco are marginally better. I will use these companies by preference among the big gas station companies. But I prefer finding alternatives to these as well. And I don't find Citgo, Hess or Sunnoco in California, which is where we usually buy gas. So I have to dig deeper.

Our favorite gas station is a California company called Conserv Fuel. We first learned about it because it was (not any more, I think) one of the few places that sold nearly pure biodiesel fuel when we had our Bio-beetle rental (we rented the rabbit, I think). We were, in fact, one of Bio-beetle's last customers in Los Angeles. Now they only rent in Hawaii. But we loved them. And Conserv Fuel sold B95 fuel, so we sought out Conserv Fuel stations. We also learned they sell E85 (which we used when we rented a Flexfuel car) and was one of the cheapest stations for regular gasoline as well. So we mostly buy from Conserv Fuel.

Generally I find Conserv Fuel stations are 10-30 cents per gallon cheaper than stations in the same area for regular unleaded gasoline. They also are an independent company, so buying through them seems better than buying from any of the large, horrible chains I list above. So cheaper and independent is a big draw. Problem is there are only four Conserv Fuel stations in the whole country, all in California:

I think their flagship station is one in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles:
Conserv Fuel
11699 San Vicente Blvd
S Barrington Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90049-5105
Phone: 310-571-0039

This is the station we use the most to get gas.

Then there is one in Santa Barbara...and this is our second most commonly used gas station in California:

Conserv Fuel
150 S La Cumbre Rd
La Cumbre Ln
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
Phone: (805) 964-0938

Then there is one in San Luis Obispo:

Conserv Fuel
2211 Broad St
South St
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-5225
Phone: 805-541-2570

And there is one near the Bay Area:

Conserv Fuel
7920 Brentwood Blvd
at Village Dr
Brentwood, CA 94513-1004
Phone: 925-240-0285

But whether on highway 101 or highway 5, in the vast area between the LA/Santa Barbara area and Berkeley, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley, we had no Conserv Fuel stations. So I had to dig deeper.

Valero is our next default. I have no reason to think this is a "good" company. But it tends to be cheaper than other gas stations, it is NOT one of the awful big chains listed in Responsible shopper, and it is all over California. So if we can't use Conserv Fuel, we look for a Valero. Maybe Citgo, Hess or Sunnoco is better than Valero. I don't know. But they don't seem to overlap territory much in my experience.

As we drove along Hwy 5 in the Central Valley, we started getting hungry around 2 PM...and I was watching our gas gauge. We could probably make the whole trip on one tank (in the end we did, with an eighth of a tank to spare) but I was thinking we could fuel up (probably at Valero) somewhere where we could find a place to eat.

Now two things struck me as we drove. One was that the Central Valley was even more disgustingly right wing than I had remembered, at least going by what we could see along the highway. Anti-choice ads. Giant crosses (we are non-religious Jews and don't really like being surrounded by giant crosses everywhere we turn, though we don't care what people believe). And mile after mile were strange signs blaming the Democrats for the current drought, calling it a Congress Caused drought and specifically blaming Boxer, Costa and Pelosi for the drought. Which, of course, as a scientist married to a climate scientist, I find amazingly STUPID on the part of the people (I assume a large agribusiness lobbying group) who spent so much time and effort on those signs. The signs are blaming Democrats for something that was amply predictable from climate change models and funny thing is it has been mainly REPUBLICANS ignoring the warnings. I remember predictions of increasing frequency of fresh water shortages from some 20 years ago. I guess this is one of those "no one could have predicted" moments that the right wing is so infamous for. Of course the rest of us predicted it! But they can't face the fact that their blind adherence to an illogical ideology is biting them in the ass...so they have to blame Democrats. Of course Democrats have, in general, been advocating LISTENING to climate scientists and acting on their advice rather than ignoring it until it became a crisis. Had the idiot agribusiness stooges in the San Joaquin Valley listed to Al Gore instead of George "Mission Accomplished" Bush, they would be way ahead on handling these kinds of droughts by now.

My wife and I were repulsed by the obvious right wing fanaticism being advertised along highway 5. Consequently, though I had planned on stopping for food and gas somewhere in the Valley, in the end my wife and I decided not to spend our dollars in the territory of these idiotic right wing ads and so we didn't even consider stopping until we had topped the Grapevine (Tejon Pass). Only once we had left the right wing signs behind did we consider stopping and buying anything.

Now, I know full well there is a diversity of opinion in the San Joaquin Valley just as much as anywhere else. But if all I am faced with is right wing lies as I drive along a highway, I am going to boycott the whole area unless I see a sign specifically disagreeing with the right wing lies. So message to all those towns along highway 5: you lost my business today because agribusiness wants to put its collective head in the sand about climate change and falsely blame Democrats instead. Even if there was a misguided policy put forward by Democrats, it has to be seen in the context of right wing denial of climate change and a refusal of agribusiness to act to mitigate the effects of their copious water use and environmentally unsustainable practices.

By the way...next to many of those right wing lie signs I saw signs from real estate companies advertising property. Seems to me the signs predicting a dust bowl posted by the agribusiness liars is likely to scare away real estate customers. Why would anyone buy property that has signs posted nearby claiming that Congress is causing a dust bowl in the San Joaquin Valley??? More business ruined by right wing lies, perhaps.

But there was something else I noticed in our drives through California, including in the Central Valley: all along the way dining choices are becoming increasingly corporate. I saw far fewer family run, local restaurants and almost nothing but chain restaurants all along Hwy 101 and Hwy 5. I always preferred local to chain...but I was finding my choices were few on this trip. Corporate America has taken over the food choices on America's highways...at least 101 and 5.

I can't tell you how many times I have stopped along a long trip, often in the past after a long hiking trip with relatively short rations, at a local greasy spoon and had a huge, yummy meal. I almost never went to a chain.

Now all I saw was chain after chain after chain with only a handful of local joints struggling alongside. Now some communities were different (Kings City along 101 had a ton of cheap Mexican places, many seemingly very authentic). But along Hwy 5  in particular we saw almost nothing but chains. So my impression of the great Central Valley of California was chain restaurants and big agribusiness lies implying global warming denial. Leading me to write them off as a place I had no intention of spending my money. In the end I put Black Flag's "Who's Got the 10 1/2" on the stereo and my wife sped up and we got the hell out of the Central Valley.

Now, when faced with nothing but chains, and after topping the Tejon Pass that was still the bulk of our options, what do you do?

Well turning again to Responsible Shopper, I find that Yum Brands (including KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut) are up there with McDonald's as the rock bottom of companies with pretty much no redeeming features. I have no intention of giving them my money. Add to that the fact that the last time I ordered something at a McDonald's, the resulting slimy product had been fried in grease so old it might have come from the Jurassic, so tasted so bitter and nasty I gave up on it, and these chains are off my list for good. Also, can't say much for the healthiness of their disgusting products as well. And for those people who say McDonald's fries are good, well back in Brooklyn there is a local place (Bonnie's Grill) 2 blocks from me that has fries about a thousand times better, so why would I bother with McDonald's?

Looking back at Responsible Shopper, seems Wendy's, Burger King and Subway are a bit better than the rock bottom places listed above...but still pretty bad.

But there are some alternatives. First off, according to Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, there are really only two major chains that actually treat their workers well: Five Guys and In-N-Out.

Now I have no idea the politics of these two companies, though I do know In-N-Out is owned by right wing Christian fanatics. But I do know that every time I have been to one of these stores the workers seemed far more engaged and comparatively happy compared with most other restaurants I knew. So learning that they actually are known for treating their employees relatively well does not surprise me. They are also good on customer service and, as fast food goes, they taste pretty good. So Five Guys and In-N-Out rank higher on my list than the big chains listed above. But have to admit, we already have had too many burgers on this trip...and pastrami sandwiches (from Brent's Deli in the San Fernando Valley) and other unhealthy things. So my wife suggested something lighter.

So we landed at El Pollo Loco.

I had thought about this chain when the dirt hit about right wing fanatics at Chic-Fil-A. What better alternative to right wing, fired, unhealthy Chic-Fil-A than grilled, founded in Mexico, relatively healthy El Pollo Loco. I hadn't eaten there in years, but I remembered their chicken was always fresh, always moist, and tasted pretty good. And it wasn't fried. I also looked them up and found they always used chicken with no hormones or antibiotics, something that is very important to me. Now I don't always trust when a company makes those claims, but it is already better than most fast food chains which pile on the chemicals as fast as they can. So we stopped at El Pollo Loco.

And the chicken was as fresh and tasty as I remembered. Have to say the sides were mediocre. I remembered good corn on the cob there from years ago, but today the corn we got tasted so mediocre  my son, who is 7, turned it down. As did I! I feel like they cut corners on the sides but kept up the quality of the chicken and tortillas. And they still seem better than the alternatives.

So in the end, we try to go for the independent gas stations and restaurants, but when that isn't possible, we choose the best of a bad lot, with perhaps Citgo, Valero, Hess and Sunnoco our main choices for gas when Conserv Fuel isn't around, and Five Guys, In-N-Out or El Pollo Loco when a local, family run places isn't available.

But the main thing is, it really is possible and often rewarding and satisfying to take your values and spending your money in a way that matches your values. You don't have to settle for the awful corporations that stand for everything you hate. You can find the good alternatives or, at least, the not quite so bad alternatives.

Oh...and one more thing. I was happy to see that up in Berkeley one of the first brew pubs ever in the area, the Triple Rock Tavern, was still around and still serving amazing beer. It was founded by two brothers. I never knew them, but I did know a third brother who went to college with me. My friend's two brothers founded the tavern and named it Triple Rock after the big bad company (selling watery and nasty beer) Rolling Rock sued them when they wanted to call them selves Roaring Rock...and that was before anyone on the West Coast had heard of Rolling Rock. To this day I will never buy Rolling Rock because of that...though if handed to me free...

So if you are in Berkeley, stop at Triple Rock and give them a try. And I really HIGHLY recommend Saysetha Thai just over the border in Oakland.

And wherever you go, remember, YOUR consumer dollars matter. Spend wisely.

Originally posted to mole333 on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 09:38 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I used to make the drive from OC/SF fairly (21+ / 0-)

    frequently and used to take 1/101. I stayed away from the 5 at almost all costs, though the coastal route takes more time.

    Then, later, after weekly trips up to Kern County to their animal shelters, I began to realize I really WAS in a different world there. Utterly and totally different from the red world of OC... redder.

    I understand what you are saying and how hard it can be. But you are exactly right; we hold the purse string to the future.

    Spend wisely.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 09:55:45 PM PDT

    •  OC vs San Joaquin (6+ / 0-)

      I always view OC as one of the most conservative places in America, partly because I remember the Bob Dornan days. But it has been changing. I think the San Joaquin Valley has  stayed much the same while OC started electing folks like Loretta Sanchez, one of my favorites.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 10:02:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  BTW... Obama got 48% of the vote in 2008... (10+ / 0-)

        THAT was astounding. The demographics here are changing wildly, so by 2020, things may look different.

        202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

        by cany on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 10:25:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I live in NY where Nassau county... (7+ / 0-)

        was a GOP stronghold for decades.  It was among the most powerful political counties in the state and county leaders frequently ended up in key state positions.  Elections were regularly won by landslides.

        They had political patronage positions all over and even demanded that employed party employees contribute to the party.  

        That led to a court case, the mighty have fallen and a Democratic county leader was elected recently along with  Democratic majority in the legislature.

        Even stalwart partisans can, and DO, occasionally "throw the bums out."

        "The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously." -- Hubert H. Humphrey

        by Candide08 on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 06:21:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Indeed (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Candide08, Ckntfld, cpresley, PinHole

          NY State took a big shift towards the Dems recently. Not sure if that will last but it was nice to see.

          Now I have some issues with some of their Democrats, but my biggest target within the Dem Party, the Brooklyn Party Boss, just had a fall...funny thing was it wasn't because of his corruption, which has led to multiple criminal investigations over the years on all levels of government, but he is being brought down by of all things sexual harassment charges!

          But I am just glad he is on his way out. Need to talk with my connections in the party hierarchy to see if we can get someone better to replace him.

          FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

          by mole333 on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:14:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hope Vito Lopez (0+ / 0-)

            is banished out of public office and the official Democratic Party.  Not just because of the corruption in Brooklyn and the stupidity of his actions with local office workers.

            Unless you live north of Westchester Co you have no idea how much harm the ethically challenged NYC area pols do upstate.  They are constantly cited as reasons for the good, upstanding citizens from Albany to Malone (Canadian border) to Corning to Oswego to Syracuse to Batavia, to vote Republican and resist the evil influence of such wickedness.  So Lopez, Spitzer, Rangal, etc echo across the state and effect local politics much more than you might think.  Not saying it is right, but that's the way the sheep are led.

            Of course they forget about the Lees, Brunos.  
            ****
            It doesn't help that Shelly Silver is stonewalling on where the funds are coming from to pay the damages to the molested women.  As a state taxpayer, I don't like paying for the misdeeds of sexual predators or cheats of any party.  

      •  obama won almost every san joaquin county (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ybruti

        sacramento, san joaquin, stanislaus, merced, and fresno counties. mccain won tulare, kings and kern at the southernmost end of the valley by bakersfield.

        the wingers in the valley are off the charts conservative, but the valley as a whole is purple, not red, and in a decade it'll be much bluer, as young latinos age into the electorate.

  •  If I recall... (10+ / 0-)

    Vallero has also been listed as a 'good' employer for women at some time in the not too distant past, although I was unaware of the specific criteria used.  My impression is that they have decent benies having to do with maternal leave and education and that there's less of a glass ceiling compared to similar corporations.

    'Kiss my ass: This is a holy site for the Polish people, show some respect!' ~Rick Gorka, Romney spokesman

    by MsGrin on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 09:56:37 PM PDT

  •  I grew up in the Central Valley (13+ / 0-)

    but not near the I-5.  I now live in Los Angeles but still visit the Valley where two of my children and their families live. There are lots of local places to eat in both Visalia and Fresno. Visalia is still pretty red  but Fresno is turning blue.

    I have lived in several states and you can find good progressive  people in every state just like you can find wingers in every state.

    "It's like, duh. Just when you thought there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the two parties, the Republicans go and prove you're wrong" Molly Ivins

    by Lefty Ladig on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 10:08:26 PM PDT

    •  Agreed (7+ / 0-)

      I have known great progressives from just about any place in America. But some places are definitely scarier than others in that way.

      I have some issues with Visalia...got screwed by a company there, but that is all in legal limbo at the moment. I used to stop in Fresno greasy spoons coming out of the Sierras when back packing quite often when I was in college. Good to know it is turning blue.

      I am sure corporate chains focus on the big highways. So that is where the change will be most evident. But it used to be something like 70% local, 30% chain along the big highways. Now it is more like 90% chain, 10% local...MAYBE. Anywhere in the world you go you will see more corporate presence where the main flow of traffic from outside go. Which is fine. But when that becomes almost the only option when you are going from point A to point B, it is kind of depressing.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 10:15:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have plenty of issues with Visalia (6+ / 0-)

        myself - that's why I live in Los Angeles!

        If I had the time I would take the 1 down to Morro Bay (great food there!) and then cross over to Visalia but I am usually short on time so wind up on the I-5.  I generally make a pit stop in a little place on top of the Grapevine - I try to avoid Bakersfield.  Once through Bakersfield I get on the old 99 and there are much better places to stop..

        My worst nightmare is a breakdown in Bakersfield but I do have kids to come rescue me.

        Fresno actually has more registered Democrats than Republicans now.

        "It's like, duh. Just when you thought there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the two parties, the Republicans go and prove you're wrong" Molly Ivins

        by Lefty Ladig on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 07:18:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  That's also because the highway.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wu ming, PinHole

        ....bids up land prices near the exits - and the oases on turnpikes are 100% chains, since they're the only ones with enough money to get the contracts there.

        9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

        by varro on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 12:06:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  What a great and interesting diary. I am enjoying (6+ / 0-)

    getting to know you, your politics, your value system, etc.  I am going to follow you so I can have access to all your diaries.  Re-read the Darwinone and looked up a bunch of evolution stuff on Google after you peaked my interest.  Also looked up Creationim.  Yuck.  Thankis for this diary.  rachel

    too often the tolerant aren't very committed and the committed aren't very tolerant.....unknown rabbi.

    by racheltracks on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 10:47:21 PM PDT

  •  I used to live in the central valley (13+ / 0-)

    And I still have family there and visit often, but it is still an awful place to live. The air chokes you, the heats fries you and the political climate is enough to make you want to move out and never come back. There are a lot of good people there, but so many others are blinded by their hate and poverty they can't see past tomorrow.

    The big farmers make all the money, and hates on  the federal government so much, but they still want their federally subsidized water rights. So when there is no water they hate on the Feds, and when they have enough water, they lobby for more free water.

    It's a Republican paradise in the central valley of CA.

    Most people East of the Rockies think CA is all Baywatch crossed with Beverley Hills. Not. Spend a summer in Fresno, and we'll exchange notes.

    Mitt's full of it / Ryan's lyin' -- "Your money and your life."

    by BusyinCA on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 11:25:46 PM PDT

    •  It's a pity... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BusyinCA, cpresley

      It is a longer lived, larger version of the wealthy Koch brothers controlling poor tea baggers for their own gain. Big business dominates and the poverty stricken farmers and workers buy into their lies. It was so obvious that the climate change denial signs all through the Valley had to be set up by a well financed, organized, big business campaign even though they looked like they were just some guy putting up a hand made sign on his own. But hundreds of identical "hand made" designs across a hundred miles of land isn't just some local guy.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:30:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Water in CA (16+ / 0-)

    I just did the exact same drive in reverse -- from the Bay Area to LA via I-5, then back on 101 through Santa Barbara.

    I can give you some insight on the "Congress-created dust bowl signs" -- at least that it has nothing to do with the drought.  It's an ongoing battle in CA on releasing water from Northern California (specifically the Sacramento Delta) to be shipped south and sold off to the Central Valley farms at very low prices.  For environmental reasons (to save certain fish in the delta, I believe) the amount of water sent south has been reduced from its peak, so some previously irrigated areas have been left dry.

    Of course, there's simply not enough water for everyone to use as much as they want (especially at the low prices given to big ag), but in California, water is power.

    By the way, we tend to stop at Denny's.  I don't know anything about their politics, but I like having a seat an having someone bring out food when I'm on a long drive.

    Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled. Richard Feynman

    by mwk on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 12:14:46 AM PDT

    •  Thank you for writing that so I didn't have to :-) (5+ / 0-)

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 07:29:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Long standing issue (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mwk, Odysseus, cpresley

      Of course water issues go WAAAAY back in California politics and I am aware of the older version of the issue, not so much up on the current.

      But it has always been clear that there isn't enough water to go around, climate change is predicted to produce more droughts and fresh water shortages, and agribusiness wants to have it all at a cheap price but never wants to conserve water. THat was the case 20 years ago too. But now the climate change aspect of it along with population growth means the predicted and ignored problems are actually happening.

      Thanks for the details.

      I remember liking Denny's at 2 AM after a movie in Hollywood. Then my family stopped at one on a long trip (to North Carolina I think from NYC). We found it pretty vile. I think I can only stomach them at 2 AM when very hungry.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:34:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The strange thing about authoritarians is (6+ / 0-)

    that they have no self-direction, but are always telling other people what to do.  I think it's a reflexive habit.  People tell them what to do and they pass it on.  They often don't do what they are told because they don't know how. They're incompetent.  But, people who can do things for them, so it all works out somehow.  Authoritarians conclude, rightly, that the way to get things done is to tell someone.
    People who like to do things and can don't mind being told. Problems arise when we assume that the people giving the orders know what they're talking about or even know what they want.
    "Reforming welfare" was a misbegotten exercise because what authoritarians want is to use the necessities of life to make others do their bidding. Human welfare is the last thing from their minds. If they have an objective and aren't just being reflexive, control is their objective. That starving people doesn't make them work simply doesn't register. In addition to being incompetent, they're dense.  Dense = deprived of sense.

    Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage". He's not into "catch and release."

    by hannah on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 12:29:12 AM PDT

  •  FWIW, valero is what they renamed exxon stations (5+ / 0-)

    after the Veldez, Alaska spill. For a few years after valeros first appeared in the Bay Area, I don't think they got much business at all.

    Aside from small green independents, pretty much all of the big companies are similarly evil. It's hopeless trying to find the least evil brand. I understand it's better not to use gas with ethanol in it, both for the car, and because of ethanol's carbon footprint and evil corn subsidies.

    Since I still use gas, I don't bother trying to find a green station, as they don't even sell gas. I try to find the cheapest chevron or 76 station, because I've been told by many car people including my mechanic that they sell the highest quality gas -- ask a car person to explain it, because I can't.

    In the Bay Area, the cheaper stations tend to be smaller ones, away from the freeway. I try to time my fill-ups so I can get gas at a relatively low price. However, if I'm on vacation, I don't want to waste my time and gas (and spew more carbon into the air) looking for a cheap and/or green station. If I find I need gas in an area where the prices are insane, I'll just get a few gallons to tide me over until I can find it cheaper.

    Pollo Loco is awesome for what it is. In and Out is perhaps less so. However, I find that there are so many Whole Foods with extensive prepared food departments in California, that I try to get meals there when I'm on the road. It's a bit more expensive, and whole foods is not the most progressive company in the world, but the quality is far better than most fast food joints, drug-free chicken or not. I find eating high quality food makes a huge difference in how I feel, which is very important when I'm away from home.

    As for Triple Rock, let's just say that this is a very "heady" time for beer on the Left Coast. :-)

    •  This is misleading, if true. Valero is an (6+ / 0-)

      independent company completely unrelated to Exxon-Mobil. They may have bought some Exxon stations from Exxon, but that is the sole connection.

      Valero, FWIW, is a pure refiner, not a producer, and is nowhere near super-major status, which in itself makes it a bit better. It has less opportunities to be and do wrong.

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

      by enhydra lutris on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:20:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  FYI (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Zinman, PinHole, ybruti

        You never know what gas you are buying. I used to work at a refinery and they trade gas back and forth all the time. When there are a number of refineries in an area they are all interconnected. Shell would call Arco and have them ship over what they were short. I've also seen a Chevron tanker filling the tanks at a Valero station. The reality is it doesn't matter much which brand you use.  

        •  yes and no and a very complicated topic. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jakedog42, mole333

          (ARCO stations do seem especially prone to using whatever they can get, at lest in CA.)

          At the refinery level, swapping and trading various crudes and intermediates is common all around, within reason. Valero, however, is a somewhat special case, having tailored their refineries to use heavier, sour crudes from Kazakhstan and such, so many refiners can't use too much of their crude stockpiles and vice-versa.

          A retailer with no product will do what he can to get product, and a refiner with excess product has no problem selling to a retailer with a competing brand name. Nonetheless, the majors, supermajors, regionals and others with a significant investment in their brand and goodwill greatly prefer that stations flagged with their brand use their product, for a variety of reasons and will enforce that whenever it isn't a shortage based problem.

          That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

          by enhydra lutris on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:02:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Got a few disagreements... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, cpresley

      But glad we agree on Triple Rock : -)

      Valero doesn't seem to be Exxon related from what I can find. I think they bought a bunch of Exxon property in 2000 but they are independent of Exxon/Mobil and always have been.

      They also have a wind power farm, have a good safety record at their refineries and good policies like a nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation (some of this from Wiki some from an article someone referenced above). Now they are also climate change deniers, but so are all the other companies.

      Can't take Chevron because they have been the worst of all oil companies fairly consistently. Don't know about 76...would have to do some research to track them down and I'm about to eat breakfast ; -)

      So I recommend avoiding Chevron if you can.

      As for Whole Foods I have always found them overpriced and over rated. I prefer Trader Joe's for both quality and price...and Trader Joe's is actually a good company while Whole Foods is right wing. But my view of Whole Foods is tainted not just by their politics, but also by the fact that I have bought the most expensive raspberries I have ever seen (on my young son's request on a trip so I felt I had to say yes) and they were the worst tasting raspberries I had ever had. Also I get sticker shock when I shop there. I am used to far cheaper places.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:44:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Taste Of India at the Buttonwillow exit of I-5 (6+ / 0-)

    Not the best Indian food by any means, but not the worst either. Especially for being in the middle of nowhere towards the south end of the Central Valley. And it's not a chain.

    •  Saw them... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cpresley

      And considered stopping but again, by then my wife and I just wanted to get the hell out of the Central Valley after being inundated by so many right wing lies. I also saw another Indian restaurant a bit South of Taste of India. I was happy to see them as a sign of both non-chain life and of some diversity.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:46:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think it's really hard for non-chain (12+ / 0-)

    restaurants to survive in an atmosphere of harried travelers with little information or time trying to decide where to stop. People on a trip down I-5 mostly want to make a choice that isn't awful; chains come with a known reputation and quality. It comes down to the fact that most people make their eating decision while speeding down the highway less than a mile away.

    The non chains that survive tend to be sit down places: Harris Ranch at about the halfway point near Coalinga, Pea Soup Andersens in Santa Nella, on the northern section, plus a couple of others that escape me right now.

    Surprisingly, one of the healthier lunch chain options these days might be Starbucks; they have pretty decent sandwiches.

    I haven't driven this stretch in a long time; I've been taking Amtrak instead.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 07:28:21 AM PDT

  •  I-5 doesn't really take you through where people (8+ / 0-)

    live in the Central Valley. It skips most of the major settlements, and most of the 'towns' are little more than truck stops. You have to take highway 99 to get the good restaurants & the diversity.

    Interesting about the Congress-caused dust bowl though. Quite odd.

  •  Wow. Snobbery? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333

    I get the bringing your values part, which I completely agree with and I understand  and agree with your overall post 100%.  

    But then there's this:

    (Kings City along 101 had a ton of cheap Mexican places, many seemingly very authentic)
    First, it's King City, but that's not really important.  Seemingly authentic?  Are all those cheap Mexican places in Hells Kitchen that Mexican migrants from the Puebla area opened "seemingly" authentic? In the area around King City they have roots in Jalisco and Guadalajara.

    I've done this drive more than a few times, but not in at least a decade.  It sounds like it's gotten worse.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 07:37:09 AM PDT

    •  I don't think it was meant that way, based on (4+ / 0-)

      what I know of the diarist. If you don't actually patronize a place, you can't tell, from the exterior, how authentic it is. It might be pure tacobell or "biggest burrito in town" as to the food, so you have to qualify appearance based statements.

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

      by enhydra lutris on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:30:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not snobbery...more uncertainty (4+ / 0-)

      They seemed authentic to me but I only ate at one and probably not the best choice of the lot. So was merely trying to express my uncertainty.

      THanks for confirming that they ARE authentic.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:51:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  For some of us (0+ / 0-)

      another consideration is the quality of food.

      Post gall bladder operation, I have to be careful not to eat hot/spicy, fatty or greasy food.  Am also diabetic.  At Wendy's I can get a salad with chicken. Also an Arby's plain beef sandwich is OK.  Subway has choices.  

      No KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Chick anything, Churches, Long John Silver, fried food, unknown Oriental; or even some Immodium won't help for the next 2 hours on the road.  Another consideration is food safety.  All too often it is the chicken, oriental & Mexican places which are on state food inspectors naughty lists.  

      Grocery stores are a viable alternative.  With cell phones & the Internet it is a lot easier to locate them.  One can even buy a foam cooler & bagged ice to bring your own food.  In trips originating from home, we have a plug in cooler, that runs off the car lighter ports.  

      •  Sounds like (0+ / 0-)

        Sounds like El Pollo Loco is made for you. Grilled chicken. The chicken is marinated in a citrus/garlic sauce but I would by no means call it spicy. If you judge it not spicy, it would be a far better option than Wendy's or Arby's. And their chicken has always been hormone and antibiotic free and it is always made fresh.

        OR you can just bring your own food! If we are organized we stock up from Trader Joe's. But often we just rely on what is along the way. I think we almost like the uncertainty of roadside places.

        FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

        by mole333 on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 10:09:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Culvers (6+ / 0-)

    While they may not yet have infected California, I have to pimp a Wisconsin chain that is spreading slowly throughout the midwest. The fries are inediby hot when they are served because they are made fresh for every order, and the double cheeseburger basket is a cultural phenomenon. You can haz cheezeburger!

  •  Fast food gives me gas on road trips (11+ / 0-)

    I commute often Phoenix to L.A. for my L.A. gigs, and that's a long, brutal drive too - not QUITE as bad as that I-5 Highway through Hell, but pretty vicious. There's not much choice I have as to buying gas on the way (only need to tank up once) but as for food, I picnic. I either make my own sammiches, or make a stop at my local deli and stock up before I go. Put them in my cooler with my drinks, a blanket to chillax on, and I'm in control of when and where I'll stop and eat.

    The food is always good, non-corporate, and the view is my choice. I recommend it highly.

    (romney)/RYAN 2012 - I could never eat as much as I'd like to vomit.

    by Fordmandalay on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 07:59:31 AM PDT

  •  The no-name family owned & run places are (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, leema, mole333, cpresley, Zinman, PinHole

    in the towns, the real towns, and there are pretty much none of those on HWY 5.  Even the couple of places where there was a pre-Hwy 5 town, the current locale has replaced and transformed it, and any remnants will only be found by slowly prowling the outskirts and back streets.  You have to get off 5 and take the laterals toward 99 that still have older towns on them to find "local" food.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:09:26 AM PDT

  •  Thanks.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, mole333, cpresley

    Great recommendations.
    I used to live in the Bay area, and go back to visit.
    On one visit, I had to get from LA to SF in record time and did travel I-5 (which I always try to avoid), but it was my introduction to In-N-Out (YUM!).
    As far as quick bites to eat 'on the road', I LOVE In-N-Out burgers (as I wrote), everything is always fresh and the people who work there have always seemed really nice and happy to be there.  I do love 5 Guys, but it's available near me here in the East (hmmmm, dinner tonight perhaps!), so it's not a 'can't get it here' treat.
    I agree about McD, but if nothing else is available, will go to BurgerKing.  Will keep El Pollo Loco on my to-do list, next visit.  And Saysetha Thai, and a good brew pub is always welcome!  (did go to one in Palo Alto, years ago that was pretty good, but don't remember the name).
    Also, 'Rudy's Can't Fail' cafe in Emeryville has a Mac'n cheese to die for (I love a good Mac'n cheese), I think there's another 'can't fail cafe' in Oakland.

    I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose....AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

    by Lilyvt on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:12:43 AM PDT

  •  Total respect for your ability to live your (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333

    beliefs.  

    Unfortunately, some folks do not have the financial resources that enable you to do this - they have the will but not the way.

    "I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization." - United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (Republican) -8.12, -5.18

    by ncarolinagirl on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:26:10 AM PDT

    •  Often costs less... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cpresley

      We are middle class according to the statistics. What we find is that if we plan it carefully (which in itself is sometimes a luxury) we can live our values AND save money. Or at least break even. For example we found Conserv Fuel and Valero to be cheaper than any of the nearby stations...though possibly we could have done better by looking for stations in other parts of town. Also for our normal grocery shopping we shop at our local food co-op...better food, healthier food and it winds up costing the same or less than the crap at the supermarket.

      But that isn't always the case. And it does take some effort to work it out.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:44:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for taking the effort to be a responsible (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333, cpresley

    shopper, we try to be also, and appreciate how trying of an experience it can be at times. We also fudge in a coouple of areas, but there is a long-story reason behind those.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:36:41 AM PDT

  •  I drive a lot (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333

    and If I have a choice, I only use stations that have fresh windshield wiper accommodations (clean fluid and squeegee with plenty of paper towels), and free air to fill tires.

    The windshield wiper thing is usually a pretty good indicator of the quality of people working there (regardless of chain), and bathroom cleanliness.

    If I go into a fast food place and FOX is on the TV I leave immediately. And if there is gum and dirty sidewalks/oil stains everywhere that, too, is a good indicator of the quality of people and overall cleanliness.

    No Jesus, Know Peace

    by plok on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:03:39 AM PDT

  •  I try to avoid chains myself, due to (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333, cpresley, mightymouse, ybruti, PinHole

    having a fructose sensitivity. Migraines are no fun when traveling.

    Most of the time we picnic in the car, also, and it works very well.

    When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

    by Alexandra Lynch on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:12:45 AM PDT

  •  Wonderful diary! (5+ / 0-)

    We have made the I5 drive from the bay area up to WA state.  Again when we moved from redneck area of Northern Calif. to my beloved Portland Suburb.

    Chains.  Slaves eat there.  Slaves work there. That's why they are called "Chains".

    We, too, are a family that has to work hard at making the daily choices.  Our family mantra is, "What did you do once you knew?"  

    Now with the the Monsanto Bill which attacks food labeling, we are finding out that many of the organic, local, sustainable products we normally supported are now owned by Kraft or Pepsi or have sold out and are lobbying on the side of GMO assholes.

    One of my favorites, Santa Cruz Organics... no more.   Alexia Foods,  no more.  Kashi, no more.  

    One of the harder parts of being a Liberal/Progressive is my consumerism.  There's really very little in this country that isn't polluted, made by economic slavery or by actual slaves themselves or by children.  

    We are actually saving some money because there's not a lot of stuff one can purchase in America that's isn't stained.  

    From my family to yours, THANK YOU!  If only more progressives were as aware as you are.  

    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." ~Jimi Hendrix

    by Damnit Janet on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:35:35 AM PDT

    •  Co-ops (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Damnit Janet, cpresley

      We mostly shop at our local food co-op in Brooklyn. we resisted for a long time because of the somewhat cultish image it had...but in the end we get better food cheaper that way...and they have policies that avoid many of the worst companies.

      It isn't easy for a lot of people to find the time and effort to live their values while not spending too much more money. And too many people think that it is impossible to do, so there is this mantra among many progressives that it is an elitist thing to do because it takes more money. What it takes is some planning and effort, and then you can even save money. But in a busy lifestyle planning and effort can be hard to do.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:50:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm on my way to committing to The Compact (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Damnit Janet, mole333, cpresley

        My husband and are are, statistically, relatively well off. But even though we bought a very modest home and drive older cars, we still have to scrape for home repairs.

        [ http://groups.yahoo.com/... The Compact] is a commitment to not buy new. I like being able to save money, buy when I need instead of when I want, and learn how to fix, sew, and make do.

        I think it is doable. I'm excited to try.

        "Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose." ―Yoda to Anakin Skywalker

        by Auntie Neo Kawn on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 11:10:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  We can't "afford" not to eat good food (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        a2nite, mole333, cpresley, PinHole

        or shop locally.  "Cheap" has a price.  The cost is loss of jobs and more people going hungry.  The cost is the loss of our soul.

        Thank you for repeating what many progressives need to hear.  

        I cringe when I hear progressives support "King of Beers" or that they "must" buy single bottled water in plastic bottles.

        IF we eat shit, from people who work for shitty companies, whose practices are shit and makes it hard for positive companies, doing positive work.  Because it's hard for some reason in this "free" country to compete with SHIT. :)

        People will wake up when they can no longer afford to be a part of the WASTE, GREED and HATE.  

        Eating simply, living simply is NOT an elitist movement.  

        That's like hearing people say, "Peace is not profitable".  They give up.  When actually peace is VERY profitable.  Every one, every child, every plant, every school, neighborhood, nation PROFITS from Peace.  The 1% is the only thing that doesn't profit from peace.  Same thing with living simply and eating well.  It can be accomplished.  It's just very hard to do.

        "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." ~Jimi Hendrix

        by Damnit Janet on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 12:53:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Burgerville. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Damnit Janet, cpresley

      Just Burgerville.

      And you can get packages of discount hockey tickets with a gift card!

      In the meantime, I've become more disenchanted with New Seasons - the prices have gone up to Whole Foods levels, and the Arbor Lodge store is a wretched hive of hipsters.

      9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

      by varro on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 01:22:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Burgeville has to bring back the Timbers Shake :) (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cpresley

        I will say this though...  it seems that the more money a company makes, the more rules it makes and the less it becomes what it once was all about.

        I have never set foot in Whole Foods.  Never will.  

        But sadly I can't speak about the other place because now it has money to spend surfing the net searching to see if anyone says anything about them at all.  I'm not that brave...  apparently.  

        But I do hope to see you at the Winterhawks games again this season.  We went and bought season tickets.  

        Not sure if my son will be working there this season as the school budget cut that program.  Winterhawks said they'd keep him on but they haven't called yet.  We'll breathe easier once his school program starts in Sept.  I'll text ya during games to see if you're around

        (((Varro))))

        "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." ~Jimi Hendrix

        by Damnit Janet on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 01:51:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Heads & Tails of California (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333, cpresley, jakedog42, mightymouse

    HEADS: The coastal regions are liberal - coincidentally, those are the regions that have good jobs, high real estate prices, excellent restaurants, clean air.

    TAILS: The inland regions are conservative - coincidentally, those are the regions that have few jobs and those jobs are terrible low-skills no-benefits jobs, high foreclosure rates, chain restaurants, and horrible air quality.

    Conservatives love to say how "California is turning into Greece" by pointing out the high unemployment & foreclosure rates, state budget problems, and cities going bankrupt. Well, the unemployment rate in liberal SF is way BELOW the national average, but the enormously high rates  inland due to their unemployable knuckle-dragging fundie populace yanks up the state average. It's exactly the same for foreclosure rates - low coastal, high inland. The state has a budget problem b/c you need a 2/3 majority to raise taxes and although only 1/3 of Cal is GOP, that's enough to halt realistic taxation in its tracks. And ALL the cities that have declared bankruptcy are conservative!

    An exception that proves the rule: Vallejo, a bedroom community about 50 miles from SF, declared bankruptcy a few years ago. It's a conservative enclave in a liberal area. Historically. it's where SF firefighters and police moved to b/c they refused to live near people of color. A huge building boom during the real estate bubble brought in more minorities, but ensured a awful hangover when the market crashed and all those homes got foreclosed on. OH, and the conserva-nut city government was inept and corrupt. Hence the bankruptcy.

    Democracy - Not Plutocracy!

    by vulcangrrl on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 11:02:53 AM PDT

    •  vallejo isn't a white exurb, it's an old port town (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Zinman, ybruti

      2010 census numbers on ethnicity: 25% non-hispanic white, 22% black, 25% asian, 23% latino, 8% multiracial.

      a whole lot of inland california elects democrats, and it's far more diverse in many ways than bay area democrats assume. we're not all barbarians, east of the carquinez. if we were, democrats wouldn't have near 2/3 majorities in the state leg. the majority of seats in the central valley are held by democrats, actually.

      •  I think she's confusing Vallejo with Stockton (0+ / 0-)

        Both bankruptcy cities, but Stockton was indeed a boom-town, but certainly not a whites only club.

        I think vulcangrrl needs to spend some time learning more about the terrain out here in CA before she makes another mess of it in public.

        Eradicate magical thinking

        by Zinman on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 11:31:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Vallejo is NOT a "conservative enclave" (0+ / 0-)

      Vallejo is a racially mixed, heavily Democratic city. See the political breakdown:

      Registered Voters  53,619

      Democrats    62.01%   
      Republicans    15.33%   
      Green Party    0.46%   
      Libertarians    0.3%   
      Decline to state    19.36%

      Eradicate magical thinking

      by Zinman on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:53:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Compared to my last big road trip... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333, cpresley

    ....Miami-Philly-Pittsburgh-Portland, OR in 1996, it should be easier to find local places to eat with the help of a smartphone.

    I'll admit to eating in a lot of fast-food places on my trips, although I've found interesting places you'd never expect - the best naan I've had was in Birmingham, AL near the UAB campus; some of the best Thai food was in Punta Gorda, FL.  

    Then again, even authenticity doesn't mean good food - I had Mexican food in a little hole-in-the-wall in Kearney, NE that was blander than Taco Bell.  

    Regarding gas stations - most of the stations just brand their station with a recognizable oil or convenience store logo; the gas comes from independent distributors who buy from whatever company.  And Costco usually has gas; if you have a Costco card, you can support a pretty good company and get gas that's usually cheaper than most other stations.

    (In my neck of the woods, Fred Meyer - a union grocery/general goods store - has gas at some locations.)

    9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

    by varro on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 12:04:21 PM PDT

  •  I'm sure there are exceptions to this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333, cpresley

    but it has seemed to us traveling around the U.S. that the real shit hole places are the Republican ones, while the really beautiful places with great restaurants, etc., have more Democrats living in them.

    Colorado Springs is one exception: great natural beauty nearby, but full of rightwing nuts.

  •  I like local restuarants (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333, cpresley, mightymouse, PinHole

    But have often found that they only have things with beef and pork in them - even the veggies have strips of bacon, or bacon bits, or some other kind of beef or pork in them. I can't eat either, because of a severe allergy to them. I have to be careful about the cooking implements they use too, because they can cross contaminate the food.

    So, I find myself having to settle on a chain, because they have what I can eat. It's very frustrating.

    Women create the entire labor force.

    by splashy on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 03:46:13 PM PDT

  •  Tipped and recc'd (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333, cpresley

    for stepping where markos stepped. Almost!

    If voting made any difference it would be illegal- Philip Berrigan

    by Mighty Ike on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 05:08:54 PM PDT

  •  Nice diary, thank you! FYI, though, Valero (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cpresley, ybruti, PinHole

    Was, along with the Koch brothers and Tesoro oil, one of the big sponsors of Prop 23, which sought to postpone California's greenhouse emissions standards: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/... .  I have also read that Valero is 40% owned by the Kochs, but I can't confirm that.  Personally, I stay away from Valero because of their Prop 23 support alone.  

    •  Yes... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cpresley

      As I said they are major climate change deniers. But so are almost all other oil companies. Not sure about ownership by Kochs, but Valero is better than Exxon/Mobil and Chevron by a lot. They have nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation, they run a large wind farm, and their refineries have much better safety records than any other oil refining company. I agree with the prop 23 thing, but they were by no means alone in that. Gotta pick the best of a bad lot.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 05:52:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oops, I guess I missed the part where you mention (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mole333

        the climate change denial, sorry.  It's true, in most cases, if you buy gas you are stuck giving your money to a company that is likely doing something unsavory.  There's an independant gas station near my home, but I still don't know from whom they buy their gas.  It's likely one of the major companies.  Luckily, now that I have a Volt, buying gas is a rare occurrence.  

        Thanks again for the diary, and I am glad to hear you enjoyed your trip to CA.

  •  If you go on I-5 again (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333, mightymouse

    I strongly recommend Tita's Pupuseria in Buttonwillow. This is excellent Salvadorean food in a family restaurant.

    It's probably best that you don't stop there right at a standard mealtime because the word is getting out about this place and it can get kind of crowded.

    It's rather humble, but the food was quite good (rather heavy as is its nature, but very good).

  •  Before I finish reading (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333
    I guess this is one of those "no one could have predicted" moments that the right wing is so infamous for. Of course the rest of us predicted it!
    Reminds me of the diatribe I wrote on a legal pad in a bar across the street from the unemployment office in Boston in 2002 that predicted the obvious sectarian strife an invasion of Iraq would create and the flimsy WMD arguments presented to invade. Man did I nail it. I was off on a few details, but I basically got it right

    There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

    by slothlax on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:36:39 PM PDT

    •  I remember... (0+ / 0-)

      I remember when Reagan and the elected Bush were giving arms to the anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan. I remember thinking to myself that one day those weapons would be turned on us and thought they were being stupid.

      I had forgotten that I had predicted it by the time I was at work in Manhattan on 9/11. But I remembered it later that day.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:26:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  something to remember about highway billboards (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti

    the people in the county don't collectively vote to decide who puts 'em up, or what message they broadcast, the landowners do. the central valley is a swing area, but represented mostly by democrats (in contrast to the foothills which are far more reliably republican). the signs along 5 are in no way representative of popular opinion, even in the san joaquin valley, which does have some pretty reactionary communities in it.

    driving on the highway all over the west, you might think democrats are doomed, but those big-assed signs count for a whole lot fewer votes than you might think

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