Saturday, March 23, 2013

California Dreamin' - Driving to the OC

Lush vegetation in the farmlands of the San Joaquin valley.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
Harry and I have been threatening to visit our friend Dave and his lovely wife, Reggie, in Southern California for years. We decided to just do it!

We left early, early in the morning from our Bay Area home in order to avoid the rush hour traffic, which we mostly did. Breakfast was "on the run" at McDonald's. I know.

San Joaquin Valley, California
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
We didn't realize how many years it had been since we'd driven down the I-5 corridor southward. It used to be a barren wasteland, but now there are orchards and fields and things to look at. So, the drive wasn't nearly as tedious as we remembered.
As it turned out, this price was not
the highest we would pay.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.

Gas was pretty expensive, though. We figured it was the timing of our trip, because it had gone up about 50 cents a gallon since the previous week.

"Dust bowl" country.
Photo by Chris.
All rights reserved.
Around Kettleman City, we started seeing signs that said something like, "This dust bowl brought to you by Congress." (Click on the link to see a news video about the situation.) Apparently, the farmers are unable to access the water they need for the crops, to the land is lying fallow. When the wind blows, the dust billows, causing low visibility and major pile-ups on the road. Happily, this particular day was spectacular. But I felt sad for the farmers who have lost their crops and their livelihood. It isn't like you can just go get a job somewhere. Farming is risky business.

Yes, please!
Photo by Chris.
Speaking of Kettleman City, the last time we drove by there on our way back up from Los Angeles, there was a bright flash of blue light in the sky, and then traffic absolutely stopped for hours. A small plane had hit the electric lines and crashed. Sometimes when you're driving by a place, memories come rushing back. They aren't always pleasant ones.

We gassed up, had lunch at In-N-Out Burger, and headed on down. There was very little traffic. It was a lovely and relaxing drive. So far.

Citrus groves with snowy mountain backdrops.
Much prettier in person!
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
Suddenly, we were at the Grapevine and heading over the pass to the Los Angeles basin. It always surprises me that, this time of year, there's snow in the mountains down there. I think of the area as balmy and warm, full of sunshine and beaches and surfers.

You might be wondering why most of the pictures I'm posting are blurry in the front and just fine in the distance. They're being taken from a vehicle that's moving at freeway speeds. Harry offered to stop, but if you stop every time you want to take a picture during a 450-or-so-mile drive, you'll never get to your destination.
Six Flags Magic Mountain. I used to love these rides!
Photo by Chris. 

As we drove by Six Flags Magic Mountain (amusement park), I thought to myself, "Hooray! We're almost there!" But, of course, we weren't. I always think that when I get to Magic Mountain, and then it's always at least another hour to where I'm actually going. We hadn't yet hit Los Angeles traffic, and we thought we would be lucky and miss it entirely. There we go, thinking again! But it only bottlenecked for a short distance, and then traffic cleared again. It was a good day to drive to LA.

When we arrived at Dave and Reggie's absolutely gorgeous home in Orange County in the middle of the afternoon, Dave was already busy cooking the most delicious ribs for us, and we sat at the bar under the pergola in the back yard, catching up and talking about old times. Friendship is a great gift.

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