Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Driving The Central Valley

Leaving San Diego to drive home we got on I-5 ...or as the southern Californians would say "the 5". I can always tell someone newly arrived from the southern reaches of the state...every freeway begins with "the", I guess to differentiate it from imposters. And where does the "the" fall off? Maybe once you cross the Tehachapis and descend into the valley? I can tell you that the trip through the Tehachapis is cleansing in a different sense. As I said, we got on "the" 5 and headed north. The Pacific Ocean was to our left for a number of miles but soon we encountered heavier traffic and could see the cities crowding together. Passing Disneyland (there's the Matterhorn!) we headed toward the actual city of Los Angeles although it is difficult to say where LA begins and all the rest packed in around it ends. Reaching the beginning of the climb up into the mountains I could feel the mental weight falling off...trying to explain it to The Driver the best I could come up with was "the whole feng shui is awful". Does a freeway or city have feng shui? Anyway, up over the mountains, down the Grapevine and into the valley. This is much better! Everyone can use a little open space. Trying to pay attention to what I've seen too many times to count I decided to get a few photos of common sights on what I call I-5.
This is what miles and miles of the valley look like this time of year. No rain equals desert...dry soil, dry vegetation, tumbleweeds in the making.
Off in the distance you see swaths of green. Irrigated fields up next to desert are the norm here. Fields of cotton, grapes, lots of almonds and tomatoes...all growing here to feed and clothe the nation. Speaking of tomatoes...that truck up on top is one of many loaded with processing tomatoes and heading to canneries. Another common sight, one I see each summer less than a mile from home, is the tomato spill. You see this more often on corners but this spill must have been a truck stopping on the side of the freeway a little too quickly.

As we closed in on the last 200 miles we met up with the 444 mile long California Aqueduct...driving north as water flowed south. I think I'll refrain from commenting on the implications of all that Northern California water heading south...Garden Rant has already explained why they need it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah, good old I-5. I grew up in the central valley and now live in Oregon less than a mile from I-5. Needless to say, I've spent a significant chunk of my life going somewhere or other on I-5. I didn't realize that it was referred to as 'the 5' in southern CA though, that's pretty interesting. Thanks for the great post!