Hung lots of laundry this morning. My shoulders are aching. A big yellow dog named Simba has been accompanying me on my rounds. There are lots of dogs here: Maxie, Sugar, Rocky, Luna, and a few others whose names I don’t know.
Before noon I started making raisin boards, which involves using a chop stick to stuff raisins into holes that have been drilled into blocks of plastic lumber. The secret is to have a bowl of water handy to keep your fingers wet so you don’t end up with raisins stuck to your hands instead of the block. If you get good at it, you can stuff a raisin board in less time than it takes a chimp to empty it out.
I decided I should take a break today, get away for lunch or something. Hey, I could visit the Eagle Ranch Pistachio Grove. I’d been there on a previous trip to Alamogordo but missed the tour, which is at 1:30. Today I got there in plenty of time to sample the goodies before the tour started. The pistachio-cranberry biscotti are especially good. Oh, and the dark chocolate pistachio bark.
The tour lasts 45 minutes and is very informative. I learned about male and female pistachio trees, which are really bushes, and how pistachio shells crack naturally as part of the growth process, not as a result of roasting. There are only a few places that have the kind of climate where pistachios can grow. Almost all pistachios in the world (99%) are grown in Iran (I’d heard something like that before) and most pistachios grown in the US are from California.
We visited the building where the nuts are sorted – initially by machine but also by humans, multiple times. We also visited the roasting building where the crew was preparing green chili nut meats. We also saw the room where the nuts are measured and packaged.
There were bins and bins -- massive bins -- of pistachios. I’ve never seen so many pistachios. I couldn’t help thinking how much my dad would have enjoyed the tour. He loved pistachios and liked learning how things are made. He would have been repeating pistachio factoids for years afterwards.
Back at Save the Chimps I took down laundry, but now (4PM) it looks like work is done. Not sure what I’ll do tonight. TV? Read? I do need to start plotting the drive west, and I need to decide where I’ll go in California: to San Luis Obispo and up the coast or stop to see family in Orange County and then to the coast.
Oh, and nice surprise. I checked my home voice mail and learned that I’d won a getaway to the Oregon coast. It was one of just a few prizes in the Oregon Zoo volunteer annual fundraiser. So as I drive up the Oregon coast on the last day(s) of this trip, I can feel good knowing that I will be back in a few months.