2014 Great Circle Tour travel blog

Today's route

Swedish Coffee Pot water tower in Kingsburg, CA

Swedish themed mural in Kingsburg

I never heard of Flick's Candy

Truck engine used for track repairs

Replacing Mail Pouch on barns?

'56 Chevy on CA99

Kyle there are still people driving cars like your old Saturn

Rodger and Eve, this one's for you. It's in Lodi, CA

Grape vines and wineries are are becoming more prevalent

CA 12 was one of the worst roads we've traveled on

Unusual double water tower near Rio Vista

The Delta area is covered with wind turbines

There is a battle going on in the Delta over water use...

Green hills begin to rise near Suison City

The green hills are higher in Napa County

This guy is brave or stupid lying on the shoulder of I80...

Winnie at Tradewinds RV Park of Vallejo

We are on the last leg of our trip to California today. Our first detour was to pull off CA 99 to get a picture of the water tower in Kingsburg. The Kingsburg water tower is unusual in that it is shaped like an antique Swedish coffee pot. Last year while in Iowa on the Wild West Tour, I visited Stanton that has a similar Swedish coffee pot water tower that is accompanied by a coffee cup water tower. Sapp Brothers truck stops in Wyoming and Nebraska use coffee pot water towers as their advertising icon.

Kingsburg was established as a railroad town in 1873. In the early 1870s, Swedish natives settled there when it was Kings River Switch. By 1921, ninety-four percent of the population within a three-mile radius of Kingsburg was Swedish-American, giving the community the nickname of "Little Sweden". To keep up with the town's Swedish history many of the downtown retail businesses are designed in Swedish architecture. They have an annual Swedish Festival in May.

After we left Kingsburg, we passed a giant piece of wrapped candy on the roof of a factory looking building. The sign and wrapper label had the name “Flick’s” on it. We had never heard of Flick’s candy so Sue checked on-line to see if she could find anything about it. It appears that Flicks Candy is a chocolate-flavored treat that has been around for over 100 years. It was originally developed by the Ghirardelli family in the late 1890’s, but wasn’t called “Flicks” until 1904. It was produced in San Francisco and then later in San Leandro until 1989. By that time, the machinery that produced Flicks had been continually operating for nearly 100 years had been damaged in its move to San Leandro. Since replacement parts were no longer available because the equipment’s manufacturer had been out of business since World War II, production of Flicks ceased in 1989.

In 1963, William Tjerrild, son of Danish and Swiss immigrants, went to work for Nestle’s Chocolate as a mechanical engineer and learned how to manufacture confections and chocolate. William worked for various candy companies until developing his own manufacturing company that specialized in fabricating chocolate and nut processing machinery. In 1988, William’s son, James went to work at the family business. As a boy James loved eating Flicks at the theater, and missed the product after production stopped. In 2004 the Tjerrild family acquired the Flicks trademark and recipe, and began producing Flicks Candy. In 2005, the Tjerrilds acquired the original decommissioned production equipment that had produced Flicks for nearly 100 years. The machinery was originally built in Racine, Wisconsin in the late 1890s or early 1900s. The equipment was dismantled, relocated, and reconstructed near Fresno where they now make the product. We are going to have to see if we can find out where they sell it now so we can taste it.

At Lodi, CA we headed west to cross the California Delta region. CA 12 traverses the Delta and was one of the worst that we have driven on since entering California. It was narrow and only two lanes with lots of broken pavement that dipped and dived making it hard to control Winnie. Cross winds made it even more difficult. I didn’t want to drive faster than about 40 mph so I wound up pulling over several times to let traffic pass that was backed up behind Winnie. This route was to avoid getting into the traffic in and around San Francisco. I’m not sure which was worse.

The Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta is an expansive inland river delta and estuary that is formed at the western edge of the Central Valley by the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and lies just east of where the rivers enter Suisun Bay. Much of the water supply for central and southern California comes from here via pumps located at the southern end of the Delta. They deliver water for irrigation to the San Joaquin Valley and municipal water supplies for southern California. There were signs in this area urging people to support projects for the reclamation of the Delta. The organization behind the signs in the Delta appears to be the other side of the water shortage argument that has led to the problems in the Central Valley that I mentioned yesterday. All of the tension between the users of the Delta water resources has arisen from the drought that has plagued California for the last 4 or 5 years and the interference of the Federal government’s Bureau of Reclamation. Like what has been going on in Nevada over the last week, it provides more evidence of the intrusiveness of the Federal government in local and state issues. Enough politics for now.

Once we crossed the Delta region, we were in wine country – Napa and Sonoma counties. Our reservations at River Bend Resort in Forestville don’t start until Sunday and there were no openings for tonight so we headed a little south to Vallejo to spend the night at Tradewinds RV Park of Vallejo. We’ll head up to Forestville tomorrow. I’m looking forward to getting to DDD country around Santa Rosa. We’re planning on visiting Guy Fieri’s first restaurant, Johnny Garlic, in Santa Rosa this week.

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