Southwest U.S. Adventure

Day 1, Sebastopol to Tehachapi

Day one of our longest planned excursion in Bessie, to date. This trip is a trial for Franny and I; to determine what it’ll be like to take longer adventures around the US. I’m excited and taking notes. I’m imaging there’ll be a pace that fits us; a few days of driving, in this case to Sedona, before a few day ‘rest’ of activities without Bessie.

We covered 375 miles today and need to cover 478 miles more over the next two days.  The drive is one many of us have taken over the years, down the 5.  The nut and fruit trees are bearing or past bearing now. Earlier this year as I drove the route the estuary of blossoms made wows’ jump from my lips.  These trees go on for hundreds of miles and feed millions of people all over the US and in pockets of the world. 

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Farmers want to plant as many fruit and nut trees as the market will accept. So they plant, plant, plant. They need, of course, more and more water. They plant first and demand later; expecting taxpayers to build dams and charge the farmers a fraction of the actual cost. And definitely not considering the impact to the natural world. It’s all about the capitalist urge to grow. We have no way to signal, the amount of nuts we have is enough. Let China buy them somewhere else. We don’t have enough water to grow the trees for their entire life of 30 plus years. These sorts of thoughts go nowhere, but the slogans breed frustration and divisiveness. Capitalism will surely wring the earth of all its life. Enough is hard to define, but all the rest of nature will have the last word. I am sure.

I’m learning about trees and how they communicate. Thinking about the Pando aspens in southern Utah and how it forms the largest organisms in the world. It’s a colony of 47,000 identical quaking aspens! Though an almond orchard, miles long, isn’t made up of identical trees, it does all have a common root stock. The roots of these trees must connect after some number of years. Many of them must be sharing stories and advice. I think about all this as I pass by signs set up by the nut and fruit farmers with slogans such as ‘is growing food wasting water?’ or ‘we’re running on empty. Build dams!’.

As I speed along, passing semi-trucks, moving over for speedy SUVs, my vision is long and sustained with only modest changes in landscape.  We finally turned east, heading to Techachapi. The landscape changed dramatically showcasing the start of the high deserts we’ll be driving through for some time.  The fruit and nut trees disappeared; replaced by rugged hills and transitional forests of oaks and pines & firs.  I enjoy long views of vistas and approaching mountains.

The road up to Tehachapi Mountain Park wound up a narrow mountain road. with a near deserted campground we had our pick of sights. we saved the best sights for folks who may choose to stay there for a few days or a week. we took the flatest one!

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We finished the night with a round of playing our Ukes. Lots of practice required to grow the simple skills required to remember songs, chords, rhythms and the bit of soul it takes to hit the high notes! 

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