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Boys' basketball: Welcome to Bakersfield

BAKERSFIELD--We made it up the Gravevine and into the heart of Bakersfield less than two hours after leaving my condo in Westwood, surviving some, well, interesting driving manuevers by a certain someone.

I thought trusty colleague Eric Sondheimer and I were in for an authentic Bakersfield experience when we stopped at Dave's Famous Bar-B-Que for lunch on the way to the state basketball championships.

Then I went online and discovered that the place has 12 locations--in California alone. We could have gone to Simi Valley and eaten at one, for goodness' sake.

But it was still a tasty spot. The waitress made a big deal out of explaining the nuances of six Famous Dave's barbecue sauces--I preferred the super spicy Devil's Spit. Eric had the barbecued chicken and I went for the ribs and beef brisket. Think I might have left some on the plate the way Eric hurried me out the door so we could get to Rabobank Arena more than an hour before the tip-off of the first game.

The arena is fairly nice, though a little dark. It kind of reminds me of the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. But this appears to be a one-and-done arrangement for Rabobank Arena, with the state championships moving back to Arco Arena in Sacramento next year.

After tonight's games we plan to try Buck Owen's Crystal Palace. If I later learn that there is another Crystal Palace along, say, the Sunset Strip then I will be truly disappointed.

--Ben Bolch

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For an authentic, and unique to Bakersfield, Bakersfield experience you have to patronize one of the town's Basque restaurants. Woolgrowers is practically an historic landmark, but locals probably won't tell you where it is if you let on that you're from Los Angeles!


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