Saturday, April 19, 2008

California Scenery

        For the past three days we have been traveling through the incredibly diverse landscape of California.  We started Thursday in Castaic (Santa Clarita in NW Los Angeles) and today ended on the north coast of California at Klamath. 


        In the Los Angeles area we had noticed the steep-sloped hillsides and many canyons, covered with green spring growth, poppies and numerous yellow and white-flowering bushes.  Very soon, driving north on I-5, we moved into smooth, rolling hills covered by soft green grass and little other vegetation.  It was a sudden change of topography and plants. 


        Next, we moved into the flat, open Central Valley of California with mile after mile of wheat field, hay field, vineyard, and orchards growing pecans, pistachios and almonds, with some olive orchards as well.  We have long thought each farm field should have a sign along the highway, telling city-dwelling motorists what is growing there.  It sure would help us to know what we are looking at.


        We spent the night at a very nice RV and golf resort in Chowchilla, on California Highway 99.  The town has lots of new construction.  The RV park is two years old and lovely.  Each night's stay includes a round of golf for two at the course next door.  As we walked around the next morning we saw some of the impact of the current housing and credit crisis.  A sign advertised an upcoming auction of 34 houses in the developments around the golf course.


        As we drove north from Chowchilla to Redding, we saw more farm fields.  Then the road began to climb toward Redding and we were among low hills, more dense vegetation and wild flowers.  Redding is an attractive city and we arrived for "Cool April Nights," a classic car show that has been held for 19 years.  We were glad we had called ahead for a reservation.  The weekend included cruising by the old cars, a drag race, pancake breakfasts and a concert.  Nearby, the town of Red Bluff had a rodeo over the weekend.


        The trip from Redding to the Pacific coast showed us another side of California's scenery.  We were in the mountains most of the way, even though we only went up to an elevation of 3,200 feet.  There were pine and spruce trees, heavy undergrowth and steep grades as we drove California 299 to Eureka, then US 101 north to Klamath.  Much of the first half of the trip we could see snow-topped Mt. Shasta.  It is beautiful.


        I've always know lupine as a cultivated garden flower.  We saw whole hillsides covered with it today.  Also numerous red bud bushes and trees, flowering crabapple and apple trees and many unknown yellow, purple and white flowers.  The beautiful drive included several 6% and 7% downhill grades, as well as one 8% grade.  But there wasn't a lot of traffic on the mainly two-lane road without much shoulder.


        For two or three nights, we are staying at Camper Corral in Klamath, at the mouth of the Klamath River, where it empties into the Pacific.  We are here to see Redwood National and State Parks and explore whatever there is to see.


        I wish I could share photos with you, but we carry our bikes on a rack on the front of our truck.  Most of the scenery we see includes bike handles and seats, so it isn't very photogenic. 


        We started this trip March 21 and were snowed on that weekend.  In Arizona and southern California we saw warm weather and even a little bit of summer—80s and 90s.  Today, between moving to the sea coast and encountering a Canadian cold wave, we are back into the 40s—for the high.  In less than a month, we've seen quite a change.


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