Turned another corner
Jan 15, 2011
|Saturday, January 15, 2011
Hey Ya’ll. We made it! We finally made it. I was outside in a tee shirt today. The air is clean, the sky is blue. Aaaahhhhh, the desert. Now, I know that when we left Arizona last year I said I was sick of the desert and sick of cactus. Well I guess I was only partially sick of it. Looks pretty good to me right now.
We left our quaint CG near Coarsegold on Thursday morning in light overcast conditions. I drove the last of that miserable road that had no shoulders, too many curves and way too many people trying to drive on it. Good riddance. We trucked out to Hwy. 99 and headed south in the San Joaquin valley. Flat and stinky with ag smells and cattle feed lots. Then we hit some light fog. This valley has been plagued with fog the last few days. However what we thought was fog after while turned into just horrible, gross, smelly, awful, terrible and just plain yucky smog. It just hung in the air and it was like you wouldn’t be able to drive thru it. It became apparent the sun was shining up there but as you looked at the hills surrounding the valley you could just see all the slime in the air.
Back in 1971 when I was taking training I went on liberty to LA a number of times and the air back then had a putrid smell and feel to it. I thought that had all been cleared up, at least most of it. But boy not here. We camped outside of Bakersfield near the southern end of the San Joaquin valley and the blue haze was everywhere you looked. We debated about staying here but didn’t really want to truck further.
We were at an RV resort, at least that is what they called themselves, and if it says resort it is always more expensive. But we had a discount for here and figured it would be ok. We were there about 20 minutes, had the truck unhooked and were setting up everything else when the first train went by. Oh crap, the whole rig shook. Damn, didn’t see those tracks. A few minutes later another rumbled by and then another and another. Seemed like a dozen in the first hour. But at least they weren’t blowing their horns for a crossing. Until one did, double damn. Don’t know why but about 1 in 8 blew. Oh well, an ear plug nite.
The next day we went to the Kern County Historic Museum and Pioneer Village. A neat place and darned if I didn’t learn something. Now call me stupid but I didn’t know that there was a big oil boom right here around Bakersfield. Apparently about a kabillion barrels of oil have been taken out of the ground all around here. Part of the museum has the Black Gold Discovery Center. It was very interesting and well done. Turns out there were oil seeps in the San Joaquin valley and the Indians would use the tar where it oozed up. The first white boys to strike oil dug it up with a pick and shovel if you can believe that, and then refined it into kerosene. But the first drilled well didn’t happen until 1895. Then they punched those suckers down all over the southern end of the valley. They have photos where you can see 30 – 40 wooden oil derricks within a half mile radius. Towns were built right among the derricks. Boom time big time. But like all good things sooner or later it fizzles. Tho the last well they brought in was in 1985 so not that long ago. And some oil is still being pumped out.
It wasn’t a bad day, got to maybe 60. But breathing that air just really sucks. We were so happy to pack up this morning and head out. We are going east now. I was just thinking today that we left home on 10/21 heading west and took the turn south on the Pacific coast on 11/15. So now on 1/15 we begin heading east. We will be dropping a little more south but generally we are now on our way home. We also just went over the 5000 mile mark on the truck since we left but have actually pulled the trailer 3733 miles.
It was such a relief to be heading into the Tehachapi (tay ha cha pee) Mountains and watch the blue haze grow dimmer. We topped out at 4000’ and were looking at snow on the north sides of some slopes very nearby and a large snow capped peak in the distance. We dropped about a thousand feet gradually and entered the Mojave Desert. Cactus and blue sky and clean air, ya gotta love it. Went past Edwards Air Force Base where they drop the space shuttles once in a while. Then we dropped south again to a little town called Adelanto, with a cute sign. They bill themselves as the “city with unlimited possibilities.” Big talk for a little burg out in the desert. However we were only about 50 miles from downtown Los Angeles but sure didn’t feel like it. Tho the San Gabriel Mountains stand in the way. One thing they do have is the “Southern California Logistics Airport.” Now what the hey is that? Dunno, but there were an awful lot of big jets sitting around there. Maybe a maintenance base?
Finally we scooted under I-15 at Victorville (on old Route 66) and took a 2 lane across the desert to Yucca Valley and then to the little burg of Joshua Tree, just north of Joshua Tree National Park, and then a few miles north to the CG. Watched a beautiful sunset, BBQed some chicken and just enjoyed life.