First Person: A Trip to Hanford

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Tuesday May 03, 2011 - 09:13:00 PM

Never let it be said that the Oakland Museum lacks imagination when planning trips for the year. Case in point: last week's delightful tour, "Hanford: San Joaquin's Prettiest and Best Preserved Downtown." Credit for the success of these programs rightfully goes to Helen Tryon, who for the past several decades has come up with innovative one-day, two-day, or longer trips, such as the recent "Return to Death Valley" and the "Hudson Valley" tour. 

On Tuesday, April 25th, twenty eight Museum members met at the Museum at 8 a.m., checked their luggage and then boarded the Sierra Pacific coach, with the always courteous assistance of the driver, Pete Mitchell, who must hold a record for the many trips he's taken, both for the Museum and the U.C. Retirees's Association. Sitting in front seats were Anne Curran, Mary Lou Ciranni, and Marlynn Dykstra, the latter being responsible for the tedious task of arranging hotel reservations, restaurants and counting noses. Driving up Interstate 5, not the most scenic highway in the country, we headed for Hanford, passing lush green farm lands, flowering trees and grazing cattle. 

Living up to its reputation, Hanford is indeed a pretty town, established in 1877, and named for its founder, James Madison Hanford, a man not given to great modesty, naming the town for himself. Our first stop after lunch was a visit to China Alley and Taoist Temple, once inhabited by the Chinese who labored for the railroad and then remained in the area to do farm work. We next visited the Carnegie Library, dating back to 1905. Riding around Courthouse Square on "Freddie the Friendly Firetruck" we were given a lengthy history of Hanford and the opportunity to admire its charming homes with neat white picket fences and beautiful flowers. 

Dinner that evening was at Harris Ranch. We were disappointed not to see (and smell) acres and acres of cattle which evidently has now have been moved to Texas for reasons unknown. Our rooms at the Ranch were quite elegant and dinner at the Harris Restaurant was, of course, superb -- fillets, rib eye steaks, pot roasts, etc. After our lengthy bus trip everyone was happy to hit the sack for a well deserved night's sleep. 

The next morning we were taken to the Clark Center for Japanese Art & Culture, where we saw the exquisite work of Fukami, the foremost Japanese artist of our time, in a show entitled "Purity of Form." In keeping with Japanese culture we were asked to take off our shoes. We then visited a large Bonsai Garden where a docent explained how the Bonsais are shaped into their unique forms. 

After lunch at Hanford's most popular restaurant, the Superior Dairy, famous for its obscene triple deck sundaes, we boarded the bus at 1:15 and headed for home, arriving at the Museum about 6:30, none the worse for the wear and all agreeing that this had been another fabulous Museum trip.