After spending four days exploring California's coastal area, it was time to head inland for the high desert and ultimately my departure via Amtrak that evening. On Friday morning we got up and about around 8:00am. We went down to the Piedras Blancas beach area for one last visit to the elephant seal rookery. With our hotel room packed up, we were ready to hit the road for Apple Valley.
The drive took us along the Pacific Coast for about six miles along Hwy 1 before taking the exit that would head east and away from the ocean. On a mix of two and four lane roads, the views were beautiful, especially as we crossed over the first mountain pass through the vineyards of wine country. Rows and rows of grapevines could be seen across the rolling hillside. Some areas had newly planted immature vines, which will probably take a few years to produce grapes.
The drive south on Interstate 5 (towards LA) was unremarkable and rather boring. I was happy to take our next turn that would again take us further inland and towards the high desert. Through this next stretch of road, we saw several nut farms. We stopped at Blackwell's Corner Market in Lost Hills. This is a well known stop along the way, as it was also James Dean's final gas stop before he had his fatal accident in 1955. For us, it was an opportunity to stretch our legs, enjoy a Dreyer's ice cream cone and use the bathroom.
There is a full service cafe inside Blackwell's as well as a market featuring not only the typical convenience store items (sodas, snacks, candy, etc) but also locally grown and roasted pistachios and almonds. The East of Eden Fudge Shop also provided homemade fudge of several varieties.
Back on the road, we traversed across several oil fields, with numerous rigs for as far as the eye could see. Approaching Bakersfield, we also passed by a processing center and refinery. On the other side of Bakersfield, we came upon the Murray Family Farms' market, featuring delicious cherries and other locally grown fruit. As much as I would have loved to buy some to take back to Wisconsin with me, I feared they would not survive the trip by train over the coming two days.
I was reminded throughout my time driving through Southern California just how important agriculture is to their economy. While personally I do not think of rural farms, in the sense that we have them here in Wisconsin, clearly much of California's land is producing food for our country and no doubt, export to other countries as well.
This drive completed my stint as chauffeur, having logged nearly 1,000 miles in the four days since we left my sister's house earlier in the week. It was a grand time!