Sunday, 15 January 2012

More California Traveling.

Maybe this is due to my advancing years but something new - especially in the field of electronics - makes me nervous. I would rather wait until someone was here to coach me as  I progress - but that may not be at any time soon so I had better get on with it and see what happens! To what am I referring?  Blogspot has been taken over by 'Blogger' and, as the layout is different, I am confused.  
This blog is meant to be a continuation of the previous one.

I traveled to California and back many times during the 1970s and 1980s - mostly by driving there but, occasionally, by flying. When I flew to Los Angeles I would take a shuttle from LAX to Beverley Hills and Hollywood and the drivers used freeways to get us to our destinations.

On one trip, after the driver had loaded we passengers into the van - a mini-bus - and the luggage into the back, he announced that the 405 freeway - which passes on the east side of the airport - was blocked due to an accident so he would have to drive via regular streets. A woman passenger piped up, "That must be the same accident on that freeway that blocked us when we came to the airport to fly out last week while on our way to our vacation!" To this the driver responded, "I believe so, Madam!" A slower drive into Hollywood but the detour was past the La Brea Tar Pits where oil was found decades ago. They are still in operation and are an odd site in the suburbs of a metropolis.

All in all, the least interesting of the routes south from Vancouver is I-5 which extends from the border to Tijuana, Mexico.

The State of Oregon is crossed by a series of low mountain ranges. This made for one interesting and anxiety ridden drive while I was on my way home from San Francisco. It was evening and pouring rain.On every up slope there were huge trucks chugging along in the slow lane and throwing walls of spray over the passing lane.  I had my heart in my mouth every time I went to pass one of them.

The town of Yreka in Northern California - 'ranch country'. Again, my thanks to Michael W. for his permission to use this photo.

           About an hour of driving south of Yreka one passes Mt Shasta - California's volcano

As I indicated earlier, the drive along I-5 does have some scenic parts but it becomes markedly not so where the freeway enters the Sacramento Valley and then the San Fernando Valley. However, in the daylight, one can see many different crops from walnuts near the northern end to irrigated fields growing vegetables of all sorts to the south. One drive along that route was the only time that I have seen a cotton plantation -  that was just prior to the route climbing up over the hills on the north side of the Los Angeles Basin.

In the previous blog I mentioned Route 101 which was the original 'express highway' along the west coast. It passes through Santa Barbara - a pretty city -, San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach (famous as the home of one of the major golf tournaments). From Pismo Beach, California Route 1 continues along the coast while Route 101 moves inland. Instead of passing through Monterrey, it goes through Salinas - a place immortalized in a song - and then San Jose.

Farming around the various communities is often devoted to one type of agricultural product or another and the 'City Fathers' of any town in that vicinity have often erected a sign reading like "The Walnut Capital of the World". The town of Gilroy - just south of San Jose - boasts with the sign "The Garlic Capital of the World". And so on. One time I was being driven by friends to Hollister (just south of Gilroy) and the driver detoured through there - the entire town reeks of garlic.

Hollister is a pretty little farming town south of Gilroy and, if you have noticed one of those ubiquitous t-shirts with 'Hollister' emblazoned across the front - that is the place. It is the host of a famous motorcycle rally every July 4 weekend. I am sure that there are far more 'Hollister' t-shirts and tank tops out there than there are residents in that community. The town also has a small airport at which there is a 'Hang Glider' school and a Sky Diving school. My partner and his best buddy went there to learn how to sky dive. The buddy quit - or so I believe - once he got married while my partner, Ric, quit when he ran out of funds. Just before quitting he misjudged a landing and one of his feet went into a gopher hole breaking a bone. My reaction? "Poor gopher!" While you could not pay me enough to jump out of an aircraft, I do respect his love for that sport.

A friend who reads these blogs moved to the West Coast a couple of years ago. He has said that reading these has made him want to drive down to California. I hope that you do - and enjoy the trip as much as I have.    

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