Throw Back Travel Notes (Spring Break 2017)

Travel Notes – Day 1:

“Gas Point Road”
Either (a) the place where pompous windbags hang out and drink bad wine. Or (b) the spot where strong farts drift on the wind.

(Location: I5 South – just past Redding)

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Travel Notes – Day 1:
(Entry Two – Still heading South)

From my beloved father, the cultural geographer, I inherited a deep respect and curiosity for why people chose to live where they do….. why we invest our souls, security, dreams and purpose into “A Spot,” and how that relationship gives everyone a story that is uniquely their own.

Place names and hand-lettered signs along highways fascinate me:
Broken Box Ranch
“Farmers Feed America”
Yolo County Line
Zamora
Crows Landing
“Is Growing Food Wasting Water?”

We are flanked by life. This is a Northern and Central California I’ve not seen in years: deep carpets of bright green grass, olive and almond trees bushy and succulent with leaves, rows and rows of freshly plowed fields – the soil so wet, rich, black-brown, thick and complete, one can smell its fullness even in passing at 70 mph. There is standing water everywhere – at the ends of the tree lanes, covering entire pastures, pooled at the base of nearly every fence post and sign.

The Sacramento Delta was picturesque – with no traces of the bog it has been in recent seasons, and from my vantage on the bridge crossing it felt like I had happened upon a deep bayou in some other part of the country. A mile later, we were over the river herself, and she was positively buxom – pushing against the shoreline with depth and authority.

And now? Where are we now?
Rolling along the sweeping miles of farmland that Steinbeck loved and where his characters suffered, struggled and celebrated their common lives. Rolling along and pondering the beauty of it all. Rolling along…

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Travel Notes – Day 1 Postscript
(Entry Three – nearing the entry to another world called Southern California)

Buttonwillow.
Does a place-name get any better than than that?
But don’t blink, you might not see in your haste to conquer the famed Grapevine.

I pulled off to get lunch before the final haul. My passenger was whining that there might not be decent food there. Blood sugars were low and patience was a real commodity of value.

“House of India? Popeyes Pizza? Subway?”
“Ew no! No! And no!!”
It was a itty bitty menu of fast food places attached to gas stations. (What’s that design feature about anyways? Guzzle gas and guzzle crap?)

“There. Go to the Willow Ranch. It looks local!”
“You sure?” I asked, “The parking lot looks like it’s being demolished…”

But then we saw them…..
As if emerging from some sacred special place (or just a well worn work rig): three firefighters.

(Right. Side note. Anyone who knows me knows that if I see firefighters, all I see is firefighters. They’re kinda my weakness. No shame. It’s the truth.)

So as I parked, my buddy jumped out of the car and ran to them. (Smart husband. He knew if he could get the firefighters’ endorsement of Willow Ranch Restaurant, I would proceed.

Long silly story short. They did. We did. And the eats were delicious. See posted pic of the Plow Boy Sandwich -smothered in bacon, pulled pork, pastrami, brisket and onion rings with freak potato salad on the side and my brisket taco salad. Homemade. Sweet service. Affordable. Firemen.
Yup!

And then we painlessly drive up and through the mountains and down into the San Fernando Valley. 70 degrees and the promise of wrapping our arms around two people we love.

P.P.S. Starting at 4:30 am is brutal, but worth having a whole ‘nother day after eleven hours of travel is kinda worth it.

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