Sunday, July 15, 2012

Photo-of-the-Week #63 – Gateway to the Sierras, Clovis, California

Clovis is a smaller city adjacent to Fresno in the San Joaquin Valley of central California. This region of the state is (or at least was) primarily part of the California desert until it was reclaimed through irrigation and became a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables. Additionally the largest oil reserves in California are located in the Valley and livestock ranching, particularly dairy, is growing in the region.

Clovis touts itself as the Gateway to the Sierras, as indicated by the sign in the picture. The Sierras refers to the Sierra Nevada Mountains that range about 300 miles along the eastern side of the Valley. The Coastal Mountains form the western side of the Valley. Clovis dates back to the late 1800’s and has a current population just under 100,000. Compared to Fresno with just under 500,000, I guess that makes Clovis a “small (or, at least, smaller) town.” The “Old Town” section of Clovis has been nicely restored and renovated and appears to be a busy and robust business district with numerous restaurants including the 500 Club that I enjoyed one evening with family. However, Clovis is a fairly sprawling small city with numerous areas of modern strip malls, especially along Shaw Avenue. There you can find the Walmarts, Targets, chain fast food restaurants and most other things you’d want. But, there are also several satellite shopping areas that appear very modern, as well.

I mentioned “family” in the last paragraph and that’s because it’s the hometown where my former wife, Cynthia Stephanian grew up. Yes, that’s an Armenian name and there is a very large Armenian population in the Fresno/Clovis area. Cynthia currently lives in Palm Springs, California near her daughter, Sandy, and family. But, my former mother-in-law and still one of my best friends, BJ Gardner, lives in Clovis along with one of her six sons, Forrest Stephanian, and his family. Clovis has been the site of several family reunions, which, of course, is why I was there this past June. I’m fortunate to have great relations with all of my “outlaws” (former in-laws) and enjoy spending time with my “brothers,” “sister” and all the nieces and nephews ranging in age from 2 to 28. My son, Pete, who lives in Seattle, unfortunately couldn’t make it down this time due to breaking business involvements. However, he is the second oldest at 33 of BJ’s grandchildren, who regularly attend the family functions. I spent time with him in Seattle on this trip.

There are lots more photos of this region coming in the future. There is plenty of history and nature’s beauty in the San Joaquin Valley and the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains.

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