All of the big cities in California are in the southern part of the state. When I first started to travel, I wondered why. Of course the weather is better in Los Angeles and San Diego than it is in Redding and Chico, but why didn’t Chico or Susanville develop into a big city? People in Chico get far more moisture in the form of rain, but lack of water plagues places like LA. This has been a lure to living there until recently. Over the years Ruth and I have explored the Golden State from bottom to top, but in truth we have spent far more time in California’s cities than we have in the area north of Sacramento. Living in the state of Washington has tended to change our perspective.
We recently spent almost a week exploring Northern California to celebrate more widespread vaccinations. We experienced mega-rain in Sacramento and barely made it past Mount Shasta because of snow. We had planned to head home on Highway 395 on this trip, but then we noticed that it passed very close to Mount Whitney, the highest point in California. We feared getting stuck in bad weather so returned home another way. Highway 395 is marked as scenic for long stretches. I regret never having seen this highway even though we have explored Yosemite, Mono Lake, Death Valley, and the Reno-Tahoe-Sparks area. To make up for that, we are having another week in California soon.
We will head for Susanville, a town we fondly remember for several reasons, very soon. We plan to spend another night there and explore its historical connection to the Nobles Emigrants Trail, a popular way to California after gold was discovered near Yuba City and a trail ending in Susanville provided a chance to bypass the often snow packed and dangerous Donner Pass. Susanville is in ranching country, and I look forward to seeing Oregon’s fabled and empty Malheur County, Manzanar, and other attractions before we head back on 395 to spend time in Reno, Bend, and desolate Southern Oregon.
I have a cousin connection via Ruth. I have never been especially close to my blood cousins, but we have traveled widely with Ruth’s family over the years and especially enjoy the company of her cousins. We will see them in August, 2021 hopefully. COVID has made visits and close contact impossible for many months now. Ruth’s cousin Judy, who was as close to Ruth as any sister, married a man named Bob. Bob had a sister who lived in California for many years, so he and Judy made frequent trips to visit his sister and travel around her new state. One of his favorite towns was Bishop. I have always wanted to see what he liked about it, so now I will have that chance.
Ruth and I have become fond of the Sonoran Desert. Most of Southern Arizona is in it, and American deserts extend into California in the form of the Mojave, which we also appreciate now. We love to explore Joshua Tree National Park and the growing cities of the Mojave. Ridgecrest, CA, which is northwest of Barstow for example, is one of the fastest growing communities in the USA. Ten years ago it was not in travel literature. Its population since its incorporation in 1963 has exploded. In the year 2000 there were fewer than 25,000 people living in Ridgecrest. Now there are close to 30,000 living there. Palmdale, Lancaster, Victorville, and towns like Coachella are growing larger as people flee Southern California cities. Water and fire are destined to become big problems in these communities and others soon. A similar occurrence is making a big town out of Arizona’s Maricopa. The towns of Mojave and Ridgecrest are our turn around and head for home objectives this time.