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Day 16





Day 16; Modesto to Barstow, CA.
Today was 'get going back home' day, and we put the miles on with fewer stops. We're paying for our 'sins' of dawdling too much in the past. No regrets.
The difference between knowing central California is farm country and driving through miles of farms that extend to every horizon is staggering. The California valley beats the Napa valley hands down in grape vineyards. Napa just does it with style, i.e. wine tasting. The central valley just grows them. We passed through Selma which boasted, 'The raisin capital of the world.' And no wonder. They produce a bunch of them.
Our farming ignorance taunts us;
"What do you suppose those trees are?"
"I don't know. Almonds? Pistachio? Avocado?"
"Beats me."
We are still limited to corn and hay. Today however, we identified onions by the smell. Yes, we could smell them, as they were apparently ripe.
The corn looked to be about ready to harvest, the tops tassling and adding golden tint to the top of the fields. They are over seven feet tall. Amazing.
Adding to our ignorance is the equipment used for farming.
"What are those? Silos?"
"I guess."
"And what are silos for?"
"Storing grain, I guess."
"Why are they vertical cylinders?"
"No idea."
Another farm on the right was dotted with aluminum triangles. Upon closer inspection, they held up large pipes. Why did the pipes have to be sixty feet above the ground? Who knows? But one thing's for sure:
These people can grow stuff.
A sign reads, 'Food grows where the water flows.' Simple and poignant.
Sure enough, we climb out of the valley and the hills are yellow. Golden, I suppose is a better description, hence The Golden State. Again, the confusion; was this cleared and planted for cattle, or did it just grow?
The temperature climbs, so we stop at McDonald's for a dollar sundae and salad (one offsets the other, right?) and some cool air for a bit.
Another farms looms off to the right. A wind farm! God bless the marketing genius who came up with that name. Really. Technically, it should be a wind generation plant. But no, 'farm' is such a simple, and eco-friendly term. Good work!
We clear the mountains and hit the plains, and now rocket through the desert. There should be a sign here that reads, "Food don't grow where the water don't flow." Sage and short grasses abound, broken only by mines to the right, the largest one a giant borax mine.
To the left, at Mojave is an airfield crammed with planes and jets, commercial and military. It looks like a place where planes go to die. By chance I looked at the gas guage and it is pinned on empty. Fortunately, Mojave is a few miles off the highway. Sheesh!
Finally, Barstow, our destination. The motel has a pool. I know I sound like a weenie, but it was freezing! How can a pool be so cold in temperatures so hot? Forget it- back to the hotel room. An early finish to a day that boasted an early start. Good to get out of the heat. The Little Woman mused,"Remember just a few days ago when we were so cold?" Yes, but I'm a desert rat. I'd rather be hot than cold.

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