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The Drive

On Friday, November 4, The Woodworking Shows opened the doors to start the third show of the season in Sacramento, California. In addition to the show next week in Portland, Oregon, this is the furthest west the show will travel during its current run. Getting here was more than typical for me though.  My normal routine is to fly in on Thursday each week. This trip was made by car from Costa Mesa beginning last Monday. I drove up the coast on Highway 1 to some of the most amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding countryside. Following a stop in San Luis Obispo to see a couple of old friends, it was off to the vineyards of Paso Robles. I was given instructions by my wife, who did not make the trip, to pick up a variety of wines at each stop. One of those wineries found a great use for the spent white oak barrels in the crafted doors of the tasting room.

 The drive through San Simeon to Hearst Castle passes some of the largest waves and roughest surf I’ve seen in a while.

In a quiet bay I watched elephant seals warming on the shore and dozens in the roiling waters just off the beach. One of the more iconic sights on this highway is the Bixby Bridge just outside of Big Sur. Built in 1932 it must have been an engineering nightmare.

 After driving through Pancheco Pass I was on to Lodi and the last of my wine seeking stops. Playing a little golf at a couple of scenic courses also helped make this trip a real pleasure.

The Sacramento venue was at the fairgrounds which also houses a horse racetrack. Each morning I watched the trainers working their charges in harnesses as they passed close to the roadway.

 The show hall was well filled with vendors this week. In fact, this was the most heavy iron I’ve seen at the shows in quite a while. Table saws, drill presses, jointers and planers took up an entire aisle on both sides. Add to that the presence of bench and power tools and you’ve got something for everyone.

 All of the educational offerings were filled throughout the weekend. My router presentations drew some nice crowds they stayed between sessions to play with the tools and ask questions. The router bit cabinet that we will be raffling off at the end of the season also drew at lot of attention. It seemed that many of the attendees had bags in their hands.

Most vendors said that sales met their expectations but had hoped that they would be more robust. It seems that the somewhat lackluster economy in the area still has a pretty tight hold on the local community. Overall, attendance was strong although a very heavy rain Sunday morning delayed some of those who chose to come out.

The winner of this week’s first prize in the Show Off Showcase area was an Intarsia project by Kathy Braun. She made this for a charitable auction and hoped that a good showing would increase its value at the event she would be attending. In addition to the accolades it got at the show it is sure to bring a pretty penny for the cause. The very intricate tractor grader and the beautiful salt and pepper shakers rounded out the top three entries.

Ten days away from home is a bit much so I took a red eye home Sunday night. Not much turn around time though as my flight to Portland leaves early Thursday morning. The weather won’t be as nice as it had been out west but my own bed will be. I look forward to these shows though because of the great people I meet each week. This makes all the travel worthwhile. If you’re in the area and stop in at the shows, you’ll make my day.

‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.

Jim Heavey

WOOD Magazine’s Traveling Ambassador

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