SUMMARY: Random thoughts and notes from the trip home. Demonstrating the "point snapshot camera out the window with one hand without looking at it because your eyes are on the road" technique of photography.
Driving along 152 westward from 99, across I-5, and then through Pacheco Pass alongside the gigantic San Luis Reservoir to 101 at the south end of the Santa Clara Valley, for some reason I noted a lot of the cultural and agricultural aspects. First, my van hit 100,000 miles just 10 miles out of the trial site on 99 north, right before this rural roadside stand (I did pull over for these momentous photos):
It's so flat in the central valley; drive for an hour west on 152 with the mountains in the background but the land as flat as a steamrolled pancake. Plowed or planted fields mile after mile, with older rural houses, buildings, and enclaves scattered everywhere. Interspersed with "New single family homes!" "New homes starting at $126, 000!" "Coming soon: New homes!" We've already covered all the lovely fertile soil in Santa Clara county with houses, pavement, and shopping centers, and now we're working on the central valley, one of the most fertile stretches of land on earth--
From signs along the road advertising "Cutting horses" or "farm animals for sale" to a sudden behemoth of a shopping center slashed into the landscape. From a field with long-horned cattle (!) to double MacDonalds in Los Banos, a sleepy little town in the middle of nowhere just a decade or so ago, now starting to sprawl enthusiastically outward, consuming the middle of nowhere until someday there will no longer be any nowhere--
I was interested to note fairly new signs for the "SJ Valley National Cemetery" (for "San Juaquin Valley"--the lower half of the central valley) and "Korean War Memorial" along the stretch of 152 below the San Luis Reservoir. I don't recall seeing those signs before. Wonder whether these are really new? Oh--yup, pretty new (follow the link).
I'm always a little awed by the San Luis Dam. It's not the engineering marvel of Boulder Dam, but it's a dark imposing monolithic earthen structure that speads across your entire visual foreground as you approach it from the east, rising well over 300 feet from the valley floor.
And off to the right is the O'Neal Forebay and recreational area.
This whole shebang is interesting. This dam, rather than containing a creek and backing up its water, is instead a holding area for water pumped from other areas of the state via the California Aqueduct, splooshed into the forebay at ground level and then pumped again up into the reservoir for use during the summer months. It is the "largest offstream reservoir in the united states", covering roughly 45 square miles.
Just before 152 hits 101, they've cleverly built two gigantonormous shopping centers, one on either side of the road, and put a stop light in. So what used to be not such a horrid intersection is now a disaster. And there are no current plans for a replacement highway out of the Bay Area over the hills. The stoplight was letting about 6 cars through per green, and even I--usually calm in my car--was starting to squeeze indentations in my steering wheel. So I was intrigued to notice the license plate of the car that merged in ahead of me (shot through my VERY dusty/windshield-wiped windshield--which was clean on Friday night--):
So I tried to chill, but by the time I was back on the freeway, the ordeal had been such that I just had to pull off briefly at the next exit for my favorite rest stop:
When I got home, my copy of the January/February issue of Dog Sport magazine had arrived, with a photo of mine that they bought of an agility acquaintance at Scottsdale. Photo is here, but you'll have to buy the magazine to read the article (wink/grin).