Valley Life » Touring Tehachapi, our Southern neighbors

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Photo by Eleanore Fahey
One of the sights visitors can enjoy in our neighboring town of Tehachapi is the "Adorable Alpacas," available from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Have you ever petted an alpaca, seen a railroad track that loops around itself, or soared in a sailplane? These experiences, and a whole lot more, are available for your enjoyment and education in Tehachapi.

Getting there from the KRV is about a 90 minute drive, with three different ways to go, depending on proximity and preference. This author took the scenic, windy Bodfish-Caliente Road, and then headed to the 58 East.
The turnoff for the famous Tehachapi railroad track Loop is a few miles up the 58. Take that, and you may be lucky enough to see a long line of railroad cars wending and winding their way around the world famous engineering achievement, which is now about 120 years old. You will know you are at the viewing area by the stone-mounted plaques overlooking the tracks.

Though there is no sign pointing the way, you can continue on that mountain road and come in the back way on the Woodford-Tehachapi Road into an area called Old Town Center, which is filled with necessary goods and services, fast food, gas, building supplies, auto repair shops, etc.

Just east of the Old Town Center area (take route 202, which becomes Valley Blvd.) is the downtown area. Turn left on Curry St. and drive to Tehachapi Blvd. Park, put on your strolling shoes and enjoy the ambience.
Lining the boulevard are several browsing and buying opportunities, if you are inclined towards antiques and collectibles. Auntie Em's features country-style furnishings. Also, visit Sheridan's Boutique Home Consignment for high-end décor and Oak Tree Antiques with 23 booths filled with furnishings and fun stuff.
If pawing through used stuff at a thrift shop is more your bailiwick, downtown has them too, including the St. Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army, and several independent shops. In close proximity are three worthy museums, all with free admission. The railroad depot, open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Tuesday and Wednesday) further chronicles the engineering feat of the Loop, and houses antique railroad maintenance tools, signs and dinnerware. Though the train does not stop there any more, you can hear it coming and going many times a day.

A few blocks away at 311 S. Green St. is the Errea House, which offers a look into family life in the early 1900s. It is easy to imagine living comfortably there. Built in the 1870s, it is the oldest home in Tehachapi, and was moved on log rollers about four miles from the Old Town area to its present site in about 1900, a feat in itself. A guide will escort you and fill in fascinating facts about the life, times and items that fill the home, especially the early labor-saving kitchen devices. Linger a while in the abundant floral garden.

Across the street is the museum, which showcases the history of the area, including the devastating earthquake in 1952. A highlight is the well-designed display on the history and culture of the indigenous Kawaiisu Native Americans, who lived here for thousands of years before the coming of the white settlers. A charming treasure there is a collection of miniature Coca-cola trucks, cars, buses and wagons on loan by a local resident. The building itself is a fine example of 1930s Art Deco style and was formerly the public library. Both the museum and the Errea House are open noon to 4 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

A spot worth closer perusal is Fiddlers Crossing, which bills itself as an acoustic music venue. It's also downtown, at 206 E. F St. at S. Robertson. A few descriptive phrases about the performers include: Harmonic alternative folk, good-time blues and rags, and blues-influenced singer-songwriter.

An unusual attraction is at the Mountain Valley Airport and features sailplane (glider) rides. Costs range from $75 for the Granny Sleigh Ride to $170 in a high performance sailplane. They fly every day but Tuesday. And they also have hook-ups for trailers right beside the landing strip. Call (661) 822-5267 for more information.

Among the more delightful encounters is with what are lovingly called the Adorable Alpacas. You will be welcomed by Trudy and given a brief history and the opportunity to ask questions about these friendly, furry relatives of the llama, camel and vicuna. Visiting hours are from noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The gift shop offers yarn from their animals and alpaca products. To get there, take the 202 west from downtown until you get to a flashing red stop sign. Turn right, and the alpacas are on the right. The address is 24815 Cummings Valley Road.

While you're in the area, you can also drop by the Tehachapi prison (a.k.a. correctional institution.) It is not a tourist stop, but you are not prohibited from entering the visitors center. Park in the lot before you get to the main gate and walk past the cactus garden to the entrance. It is plainly marked. Once inside, you will see an area for checking purses, etc., and rows of chairs. Take a look at the bulletin boards about prohibited attire (no orange jumpsuits, no camo, no tan shirt/olive green pants), various inmate educational programs (high school, GED, college, vocational, the arts), and coping skills (anger management, substance abuse, parenting, and assertive communications). A program called Friends Outside focuses on reentry planning for the family. Consider this rare opportunity as part of your education. The visiting schedule is unknown.

If sampling the locally-grown wine is your pleasure, you have two vineyards to choose from, the Souza Family and the Triassic Vineyards. Both have tasting rooms that are open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and both are located on Cummings Valley Road. Follow the signs.

Brite Lake is the town's reservoir and is not open for swimming, but that doesn't mean you can't fish it. Camping is also available with a variety of fees depending on amenities.

Upcoming is the 54th Annual Tehachapi Mountain Festival and PRCA Rodeo, August 18 - 20. It features a parade, car show, carnival, a dance, food and numerous vendors. For more information, call (661) 822-4180.
For more help planning your trip, visit your app store and get the Visit Tehachapi app. Also, go to the Visitors Center at 200 W. Tehachapi Blvd., Thursday through Monday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.. They will tell you about local events, farmers' market, concerts and films in the park, and all sorts of fun.
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