After three nights of sitting in Kingman, we were ready to roll early yesterday. We were on the interstate at 7:00, which is some kind of personal record for us. An hour or so later we crossed into California. One second later the highway went to heck!
Oh, yes! How quickly we forget! Driving in California is all about potholes and crazy drivers. And, when you're driving across the desert you can add a healthy dose of wind to that mix. Have we missed it? Nope!
Our moose crossed the desert with ease and climbed up and over the Tehachapi Pass like a champ. Soon after we arrived in Bakersfield and rolled into the Orange Grove RV Park for a one night stay. The park is aptly named. Bullwinkle is surrounded by orange trees! Each winter the park encourages guests to pick all of the oranges they can eat. (I think we'll have to come back!)
One of the things we've always loved about the drive up I-5 from Bakersfield to the Bay Area is passing by miles and miles of fruit and nut orchards. (California really is the land of fruits and nuts!) For decades, much of the food that landed on family tables came from this part of the state. This lush Central Valley was one of the things that made me proud to be a Californian.
How quickly things can change.
As we headed north on I-5, we couldn't believe our eyes. Instead of rich green rows of trees and vineyards, we saw acres and acres of fallow land. Each barren farm sported yellow signs like this one, which read: "Congress Created Dust Bowl." Most of the few orchards that remain are in various stages of distress. Some were in the process of removing the trees and plowing up the ground.
Dismayed at this sad sight, I Googled the words on the yellow signs and started to piece things together. There are two sides to every story, and this is no exception. But, between drought, federal legislation to protect a two-inch fish in California's Delta and food prices, thousands of people are in the Central Valley are without work. The state's agricultural economy has literally dried up. Unemployment is up to 45% in some parts of the Central Valley. Instead of producing food for the world, California has quickly become a major importer of produce.
No matter which side you're on, this sucks.
With nothing but bone-dry land and tumbleweeds to look at, we turned our attention to the wind. We faced a pretty stiff headwind most of the day.
You know it's windy in the Bay Area when the windmills on the Altamont Pass are all cranking. Today was one of those days.
We timed our arrival to the Bay Area on Saturday, thinking traffic might not be too bad. We thought wrong. Interstate 580 was as nutty as we remember. And, see that safety zone Paul tried to keep in front of the moose? It was filled with at least two cars right after I snapped this photo. And, there's nothing like the feeling of having a lane-splitting motorcyclist squeeze between your motorhome and the car in the next lane while you're cruising down a busy freeway in the wind.