Mission Possible 5K

Hundreds of people around Kern County participate in The Mission at Kern County Mission Possible 5K event to raise money each year.

On Saturday, April 20th, The Mission at Kern County had their sixth annual 5k run, Mission Possible. The event was held on the beautiful trails surrounding the California Living Museum. (10500 Alfred Harrell Hwy). The event offered cooked-to-order hot pancake and sausage breakfast for all who attended along with raffles and other great prizes. This event benefits the Mission by providing help for Kern County families in need. Over 400 people attended last year and this year they also had a pretty good turnout.

Participation medals were given out at the end of the 5K race to entrants who had high scores in select age group categories.

Participation medals were awarded to each participant who crossed the finish line by Jr Miss Kern County JoVi Mongold.  Placement medals were also given to the top males and females in each age category.

Jr Miss Kern County JoVi Mongold waits to place a participation medal on an entrant crossing the finish line.
Mission Coordinator Jamie Durham prepares medals for winning finalists in each age category.

Mission Possible 5K was open to participants of all ages and some entrants even brought their dogs who raced with them. Dogs bring great fun and energy to an event like this to adults and children of all ages. These pooches seem to enjoy the participation and the attention they get at the event.

Some of the participants really excelled during the 5K race which included a young teenager, Ashley Morgan, 15, who is no stranger to these 5K events. She participated in the CASA 5K event earlier this month. She took home a couple of medals in the Mission Possible 5K with her outstanding run times in different age group competitions.

Ashley Morgan crosses the finish line displaying her participation medal.
Ashley Morgan was a big winner showing off her  participation medals in 2 different age categories.

The Mission at Kern County dedicates their time serving the communities of Kern County by helping people and families in need. They provide quality shelter, food, and clothing while also providing services to help people get back on their feet. If you would like to know more about The Mission at Kern County, or would like to volunteer or donate, you can do so by calling the following number at (661) 325-0863, or visiting their website at https://www.themissionkc.org.

Meeting an iconic 1964 VW Bus at Hart Park.

This beautiful 1964 VW Bus is owned by Chris and Annette Mercado. They were nice enough to let me take photos of their bus after I explained to them my love for the VW Bus and that I was a collector.

Everyone who knows me well is aware of my love and fandom for anything and everything related to the Volkswagen Bus. I do not care what year the bus is, I do not have a preference of a favorite year. I just love the iconic classic regardless. Some people like them because it takes them back to a simplistic time in their lives of the 60’s when life was good. Things were cheaper. Times were simpler. TV and music was better. There wasn’t online streaming or Netflix. Cars at that time were built to last. The Volkswagen car company was more known for it’s popular Beetle. The Bus/Van models at the time were not sought after. They were considered slow and not very reliable. Today, the VW Bus is considered highly collectable.

On Saturday,  April 20th, I was out and about with my camera and I was shooting a local 5K run. After it was over I decided to take some landscape photos over at Hart Park. While I was getting ready to leave, this beautiful 1964 VW Bus went driving by. So I whipped out my camera and started clicking away.

Chris and Annette Mercado driving down a street at Hart Park in their 1964 VW Bus they are restoring.

While my husband Sean and I were pulling away to drive off, I noticed the VW Bus parked down the street. I wanted to take some photos up close instead of just driving by. I decided to get out of my car and ask the owners, Chris and Annette Mercado,  if I could take some close up photos of the bus and possibly take a closer look at some of the work they have done to it. They warmly obliged after I introduced myself and explained to them that I was a photographer, along with also an avid VW Bus collector. They didn’t notice me wearing a VW Bus shirt until later on during our conversation.

While I was snapping some photos, my husband and I started engaging in conversation with Chris and Annette wanting to know more about the bus, such as their interest, where they purchased it and so on. As many know, the VW Bus can become an awesome conversation piece which they even mentioned themselves. They told us how they get a lot of people stopping them just wanting to take a look or talk about it.

It has that rugged look. Which the Mercado’s like. They do not want to put too much restoration on the outside of the bus as they like and appreciate that it has some dings and minor rust on the outside. They want to keep the original vintage look as much as possible.

The Mercado’s shared with us that they purchased the bus in Huntington Beach a couple of months ago. They have been doing some restoring to the inside. They mentioned that they do not want to do too much restoration to the outside as they want to keep it’s original look as much as possible. They purchased the vehicle for around $19,000. They recently installed a new sunroof. They have the headliner but have not installed it yet. The doors inside, the Mercado’s want to put some wood paneling as many of the 1964 models featured on the inside doors at that time. They also plan on adding their own style to it including a bed in the back. Annette informed me that they do not know if they will paint it the original white or another color with white on top.

The 50 horsepower original engine has been replaced with a new 100 horsepower engine.
My husband Sean takes a look at new 100 horsepower engine that Chris Mercado had installed.

Chris Mercado replaced the original fifty horsepower engine with a new one hundred horsepower engine that is small and easy to work on. It will give the bus more power than the original engine would have. Both engines would be much easier to work on and repair than an engine in any of the newer cars today. Which is why these classics are so highly sought after. The reliability and ease of repairs. Chris said that he liked the ability that he could do the repairs on the engine himself very easily if necessary.

We are hoping at some point to get together when Chris and Annette have completed their restore so I can take more photos of their finished product. In the meantime they explained they are going to take time with this journey as they are in no hurry to get the restore completed. The bus is in great running condition, outside of minor rust on the inside and out, it is in overall great cosmetic condition. It will give them plenty of fun and enjoyment while they take their time restoring it in their vision.

As a photographer, many aspects of my photography is enjoying what I shoot. This is without a doubt one of those times. I plan on printing up one of these photos and framing it in my living room. Who knows. Maybe Chris and Annette Mercado will do the same.

Street Photography in Downtown Bakersfield

This Thanksgiving weekend I decided to do a little street photography and one of the most interesting places to do that in Bakersfield is downtown. There are a lot of locally owned stores in downtown, and you find a lot of different and interesting people who hang out there. Sadly, it also houses a lot of homeless people as well. Although sad, photographing some homeless people, showing their signs of struggle and also survival is a photographic portrayal of impact.

This particular weekend was meant to support small local businesses in the area. Since there are so many in downtown, it brought out a lot of people shopping locally. Especially at a lot of the thrift stores that sell second hand merchandise. These types of stores are usually very cost friendly to a consumer who doesn’t have a lot to spend, especially during the holidays with Christmas right around the corner.

As a street photographer, I will find many interesting people to subject for my photography. I look for people who can tell a story. When you can tell stories through images, those are the best because it gives people a visual understanding of why the photo was taken, and what the meaning was behind it. It could just be a simple photo of a family walking together going shopping. Just every day people doing every day things.

This woman walks by, looking at me taking her photo and says..”Hello…Have a nice day!”… and I say, “You too!!”

The day was a Saturday on 11/25/18. It was rainy, wet, and cloudy. It was not very cold, considering it was a rainy winter day. I knew just by the setting that it would be a good day for some interesting street photography. Luckily, for me, it didn’t disappoint. I got to talk to some really nice people and also met a couple of folks who stopped and posed for a photo. : ) The first start of my day came with the photo above. This woman, finding a way to stay warm, notices me as she walks by. Warm coffee in hand, not sure how she would react, she smiled and walked by and said “Hello, have a nice day” and I said “You too!”. She could have just given me a dirty look or just didn’t say anything at all. Obvious she didn’t mind being photographed and was quite cordial in the process. : )

He stops to pose for a photo

This guy above was a lot of fun. I saw him with his funny festive headband and took a photo of him walking by. He stopped and smiled to pose for a photo when I recognized and commented on his interesting head attire. : )

While I walked around downtown Bakersfield, I decided to check out some of the local antique/thrift shops. They have quite a few of them in downtown. One in particular was inside the old Woolworths building and is called the Five and Dime Antique Mall. This place is HUGE. Upstairs, and downstairs filled with a lot of vintage second hand stuff. I could have spent a small fortune there if I had more time, and also more money. But that would be for another time and another day. However, while I was inside visiting this Mall, My husband and I ran into this older gentleman pictured above. We started talking to him and he shared with us stories about some of the stuff he was selling there and the history behind it.

He shared these two Geisha dolls with us. He talked about how old they were and how much they meant to him and his wife. He explained how tough it was to get rid of these two dolls and the other items he was parting with. But he mentioned that it was time to downsize. Due to their age, and the amount of stuff they had, he mentioned that it doesn’t go with you. Which he is right. It doesn’t. It just keeps building up throughout the years and he didn’t want to leave it all into the hands of his son whenever it is time for him and his wife to pass on. We ran into him again later when we were sitting outside for a rest. He stopped and smiled for a photo and talked to us some more. Such a sweet man. He was definitely the highlight of our day.

I wanted to get some photos of The Fox Theater before we ventured off to another thrift store. Walking by was a local public figure, politician and city councilman Andrae Gonzales. He stopped and smiled as soon as he noticed me. Then he shook my hand and my husbands hand. He asked me for my name and where he could find this picture. I said Instagram and he asked for my Instagram and sent me a follow. Nice, handsome guy with a great smile. : )

Mr. and Mrs. Claus pose for a photo

Our next stop during our antique shopping was a place called the Merry Go Round Antique Mall. It was right across the street from the Five and Dime Antique mall. Merry Go Round was not quite as large, but still had a lot of great stuff inside. Especially if you are a collector. All decked out in holiday décor, they featured for one day only, an opportunity to get pictures taken with Santa Claus. During a time when they weren’t being surrounded by kids, Santa and Mrs. Claus asked me if I would take a photo of the 2 of them together. How could I say no? : )

This man was standing in front of a business that was closed and greeting people as they passed by. He had some interesting reading material that he was handing out about how to cope with, and handle grief. He was a Jehovah’s Witness. He handed us one of his booklets on the subject of grief. Since I lost my dad I was interested in reading what it had to say even though I was not a Jehovah’s Witness myself. But I related to the grief subject he was discussing. Which he did with us briefly.

A homeless person keeping warm in front of a closed business.

Street Photography also gives me an opportunity to capture the not so pleasant part of downtown Bakersfield. The homeless which is rampant around downtown. As sad as it is, it is impactful photography. It is reality and it showcases struggle and also survival. It is a reminder for us not to forget about these people and to help them when we can. It also can remind us to feel grateful for everything we have when these people have nothing and are grateful for everything they do have and get. I wish there were more places for these people so they have shelter to stay in without having to rely on the streets and enduring brutal weather in the summer and winter months. Especially during rainy days like this.

These photos show why I love street photography and why I continue to do it. I am strongly introverted and not real good with approaching people. This gives me an opportunity to by anonymous with my camera and also meet some interesting people like the ones I met this holiday weekend. It teaches me that not everyone is opposed to having their photos taken and that some actually like it. This particular day actually allowed me to be a little more open and creative. It was more than just shooting interesting people from a distance. It was also about talking to people who had stories behind the images. That is what street photography is about and what makes it unique.

East Hills Mall-A look back at a dying and abandoned Mall

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Main Entrance

Back in the 1980’s a new mall opened in Bakersfield on the east side of town. That is when East Hills Mall was oficially born. Located at 3000 Mall View Road, East Hills Mall became the quieter, and smaller Mall than the much larger Valley Plaza Mall which was located in the southwest on Wible Rd. East Hills used to be a thriving mall with unique shops and a more modern 80’s style look which to this present time, upon it’s closure, never changed.  As you view the photos, you will see not only how it has been abandoned, but that it has that run down look that never seemed to truly want to leave the 80’s generation behind.

 

East Hills used to include some of the most popular retail stores at the time. Mervyns and Gottschalks. Mervyns had another location in the Southwest which is now a Hobby Lobby. There was also a Gottschalks in the Valley Plaza which also closed down. East Hills hours differed from the Valley Plaza as they opened a couple of hours later, and closed an hour earlier. The East Hills Mall sign in the front of the mall looks somewhat beat up. But it is nice to see that the area around it, for the most part, had been kept up. It wasn’t covered in weeds like most abandoned places. The front entrance doors were not in the greatest of shape either. You can tell they were not updated or replaced. They were the same original doors. They didn’t open and close very well. You had to really pull them to get them open and sometimes you felt like they were going to slam right on you.

Several years later they built a movie theater inside. That, and also a clothing store called Sarah, was pretty much what kept East Hills Mall afloat for many years before it’s closure in 2017-2018. Most stores inside had generic signs made up that looked to be temporary than permanent. I think a lot of these businesses expected that they would not be able to survive in a mall that hasn’t done much business.

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Sarah was one of the few stores inside East Hills Mall that did enough business to keep the Mall afloat.

 

As you can see in these photos from inside the mall, it has that nostalgic 80’s appeal to it that it really never grew out of. If you have ever been inside this mall, you would agree that East Hills, in time, just went out of style. It never changed it’s look, on the outside, or inside. It had the same look as when it first opened. Which is possibly one of many reasons why many people lost interest in it. If you do not make changes to a place and keep it up to date, people just end up ignoring it. Which unfortunately many people did with East Hills Mall. It is a shame because my husband Sean and I used to prefer hanging out at East Hills Mall when we were teenagers more than Valley Plaza. Mainly because it was safer, not as big, and much quieter. We also liked the uniqueness which appealed to us at the time as well.

 

Another store that flourished within East Hills Mall was Touchdown Sports. When they officially closed the Mall, Touchdown Sports moved it’s East Hills location to Mount Vernon Ave. They also had a smaller location in The Marketplace on Ming Avenue. Touchdown Sports sold mostly Football apparel and collectables. But you could find most of the major sports, such as NBA basketball, NHL, MLB, soccer, and also some college football. Both Touchdown Sports locations have recently closed down. Which is such a shame because it was one of my favorite sports stores to shop.

 

Also inside the mall were stores that ended up closing down due to poor sales. Even more popular retail stores such as Footlocker and Game Stor didn’t last inside East Hills Mall as they did in other locations, especially Valley Plaza. You could take a look at an old map inside the mall that showed all of the stores that were still active. The list grew smaller as years went on. We went back a year later from when these photos were taken and they had even less stores than they did when I took these pictures which was back in 2015. Even the little clown bus was vacant.

 

The outside looks the worst. Some parts boarded up and condemned. Other parts where signs were missing and dilapidated. Payphones still existed by the front entrance. Even with old telephone books attached to them. I took a photo of one that has seen better days. When you drive by East Hills Mall and you see how it looks outside, plus the empty parking lot during business hours, you wonder how it possibly could have stayed open as long as it did. It survived like that for longer than I actually expected that it would. Walking through the mall made me sad because I remember the days when it thrived. It was never as popular or as busy as the Valley Plaza was. But it had stores inside that kept it unique and offered stuff that Valley Plaza didn’t. However,  when Walmart and Target opened up nearby, East Hills Mall started becoming more and more obsolete. It went through different ownership that promised to revive the mall. However, it never did.

East Hills Mall is now a part of the past in Bakersfield. Eventually it will become a distant memory to many. To me, I will never forget East Hills Mall as it was one of my favorite places to go. It will always hold a special place in my heart and I will always remember it’s unique style and desire to be different. But in the end, it was that desire to be different that ultimately caused it’s demise.

 

 

A Visit To Downtown Tehachapi

If you have lived in Bakersfield California for awhile then you have more than likely visited the small town of Tehachapi or at least have driven by it.

Tehachapi is known as the land of 4 seasons. For those of us who live in Bakersfield, such as myself, you know that Bakersfield is mostly brutally hot and humid, especially during the summer time. Springtime and wintertime is usually very small. Tehachapi is naturally about 10 degrees cooler than Bakersfield during the summer time. Plus, it is usually windy there so there is always some kind of breeze going on. Being surrounded by beautiful mountains and nature, Tehachapi has a lot to offer if you are someone who likes a small quaint and quiet town.

Since I plan to move to Tehachapi in the near future, I have been visiting the town at least one weekend a month. During those times I like to bring my camera so I can capture as much of the area as I can to give people a visual view of what the town looks like and some of the awesome places to visit and also eat.

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Downtown Tehachapi Welcome sign.

One of the most historic areas of Tehachapi is Downtown. Most of the photos I will be displaying in this blog post was during my visit of the downtown Tehachapi area. Which is where you will see a lot of rich Train history, and a lot of locally own stores and antique shops. When you are driving through Tehachapi, you will see the Downtown Tehachapi sign that points to the direction of Downtown. If you ever take a trip to Tehachapi, I recommend checking out downtown. It is the heart of Tehachapi, and driving through it, you will see why.

These pictures above are from the Tehachapi Depot. This is where you will visit the history of trains. If you like trains like I do, then this will be a place you will enjoy. It offers a Train Museum.  There is also a restaurant within the Depot where you can catch a bite to eat. During Christmas, they have a tree lighting in front of the Depot.

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Tehachapi clock that is in front of the Depot.

The Depot Clock is what I call the photo above. It is in front of the Depot and it says it was established in 1909. Not sure if that is when the clock was established or the Depot itself.

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Boutique in downtown where you can find some nice dresses.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, the Depot also offers some shops right close by where you can shop while you are checking out the Depot and catching a little train history. This is one of the small clothing stores within the Depot location. I didn’t go inside and check it out, but I liked the sign as it was pretty unique. I am sure if you live there and you ever needed a nice dress or a special occasion, they would probably have one in your size : )

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One of the best places to eat downtown.

If you ever visit Tehachapi, I really recommend this place to eat. It is also in downtown. Sean and I will always grab a nice meal here when we visit. The food is great and also so is the service. They are always friendly and helpful. It has a rustic feel inside although they have remodeled about a year or so ago. Every time we go there it is always clean and well kept. There is a little curio cabinet inside where you can purchase some jewelry. And when you sit at one of the booths, they will supply you with some interesting and often humorous reading material. If you read it, and like it, you can also purchase it in front of the restaurant like you can with the jewelry.

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Gallery N Gifts is pictured in this slideshow along with some other small shops in the downtown area. Gallery N Gifts is a small little local owned shop where you can buy things that people have made themselves. Anything from jewelry, stuff for your pets, your yard, and also  candles and soaps. In the back of the store is a gallery of art which consists of paintings and photography from local photographers and artists. It is a must see if you ever visit downtown Tehachapi. The Tehachapi water Tower is a great thing to see too. It is across the street from Gallery N Gifts. It looks really cool lit up at night. : )

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The Tehachapi Loop.

Last and definitely not least is The Tehachapi Loop. The Loop is not located in downtown, but it is still a must see if you ever decide to visit Tehachapi. You can see it when you are driving by Tehachapi. But it is even more spectacular when you actually go where you can see the loop. It shows a huge stone plaque that tells the history of the loop. A train doesn’t always pass through every time you visit…I got lucky on this day. But the train does frequent the Loop quite often. Sometimes you just need to hang out for a little while to catch it passing through. : ) It is well worth the wait. : )

Well, that is all for my little downtown tour for now…Until I visit in the winter time. I will be posting up more photos from our Tehachapi visits that will showcase other parts of the town. Tehachapi is also known for its wine tasting and it’s apples. Thanks for visiting this little piece of Tehachapi downtown. Leave a comment and share the post if you would like. : ) It is very much appreciated. : )

 

 

If you would like to visit some of the places I mentioned in this blog posts you can do so at the addresses listed below:

Gallery N Gifts

100 W Tehachapi Blvd, Tehachapi, CA 93561

Village Grill

410 E Tehachapi Blvd, Tehachapi, CA 93561

Tehachapi Train Museum and Depot

101 W Tehachapi Blvd, Tehachapi, CA 93561