January 25, 2010

Crossing the Tehachapi

Last week...what can I say. We ran almost 4300 miles, which is good, but the two trips we've run since Wednesday morning had abundant time on them. So even with the good miles, we've just about gone batty with the slow pace. Its one of those situations where we complain b/c we're run ragged, and then we get a break, and we complain b/c we're bored. You just can't make people happy can you?

So the mood in the truck has been a bit glum. Malcolm and I are ready for some serious home time, but we're already scheduled for the next week. So the two of us are kind of crabby. Ella's crabby too. Its reached that time of year again when she has to wear panties. The situation put her in a great mood, and then I went and put her in panties and so you can imagine how cheerful she is lately.

Her bad mood has put Carlie Jean in a snit because Ella won't play with her, and also because she just picks up on the bad vibes. So she's been snarly at everyone for the past week, which is oh so pleasant to listen to. She seems to be taking most of it out on Paris for some reason.

And speaking of sweet Paris...she is, for once, the only one of us that is happy. In fact, she seems happier than she's been in a long time. I think its the warm weather.

She's also been very snuggly lately which I'm loving. She spends a good amount of time in my lap, or laying in the heat and looking out "her window" which is actually supposed to be used to see cars driving next to us on the passenger side of the truck, but has always just been assumed to be the girls window.This last trip was a long treck, 1800 miles, from Mount Pleasant, TX to Helm, CA, across some highways and byways of Texas to Amarillo and then I-40 into California.Reaching Barstow, we hop off the 40 and take CA58 across the desert and into the Tehachapi Mountains, dropping down into the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley. Here we jump onto CA99 and head north, almost to Frenso, then cut cross country to Helm.

Crossing the Tehachapi is a pretty drive. I enjoy watching the geography change so dramatically. It can also be an adventure as you often come up out of the desert and encounter thick fog, rain, even snow and ice. In fact this past weeks storms dumped some snow on the passes and made it tricky going for a while. Fortunately by the time we left Texas, the storms were over and by the time we got to the affected areas, the roads had been cleaned and dried. Lucky we are, for there were drivers in Flagstaff with tales of being stuck for 3-4 days! So perhaps our slow going week was a blessing. Slow though it was, we were at least going!

Approaching the Tehachapi Mtns, as you cross the desert. They are only about 6000 feet, but when you consider the rest of California is near sea level, that makes them pretty tall! And you wouldn't guess, looking around at the surroundings, but this pass is only about 30-40 miles south of the Sequoia National Forest. One day I might get to go there...maybe. Its on my list.

As you begin to climb, the landscape begins to change drastically. Here, the desert plant life goes right up to the snow line.

There are often high winds in this area and wind generators are a prominent sight on the eastern slopes of these mountains.

Eventually the larger desert plants thin out, and small shrubs and grasses begin to fill in.

In the summer time, when the trees are leafed out, its a beautiful scene. For now its green, but in a couple months all this grass will turn golden brown. It makes the green trees very dramatic looking. The further in you go, the more dramatic the vistas.

CA58 and the railroad crisscross paths a number of times through the mountains.

As you reach the western side of the mountains and begin the decent into Bakersfield, the trees begin to thin, and eventually give out all together.

And then you round a curve, and the San Joaquin Valley is spread out before you. Normally you can't see much because of the haze, but on lucky days when there has been rain or wind, you get a good view of the patchwork of fields that fill the valley.

Here is the cornucopia of America. At the southern end of the valley citrus groves abound. Also grown here are almonds and other nuts, grapes, carrots, and much more. There are also a number of dairy's. You see names such as Sunmaid, Blue Diamond, Kraft, Bolthouse, and more.

Looking south, more mountains. I-5 crosses these and drops down into the Los Angelas area.

Moving up the valley through Fresno and north, every square inch of space is planted. Orchards, groves, and vineyards go clear up to nearly the front door of houses. Yards are kept to a minimum, because farmland is a premium commodity here. Further north they grow cherries, apples, pears, and pomegranates, and north of Sacramento the land is used in wheat and rice fields.

As the sun begins to set, we are nearing our stopping point, Traver. Looking east you see fields that run up to the western slopes of the mountains.

A night of rest, a restless night. Neither of us slept good and Malcolm even gave up around midnight and got up to chat with Brandon who was driving all night through Missiouri. We delivered this morning. What did we bring from Texas? A trailer load of feather meal. This is the truck that unloaded the same product while we waited our turn. This is ground up and cooked chicken feathers. Commonly used in....cattle feed....but also a good fertilizer, which is what I believe its being used for here.

Obviously after all the rain, this place has turned into a soup hole. We were lucky enough to unload in the warehouse located at the end of the pavement they are installing. But just beyond, everyone was driving in about 4 inches of soupy mud.

We're heading back to Traver. The broker called and informed us that our reload doesn't pickup till tomorrow morning. Lovely. One whole day to go 74 miles. Looks like more unneeded rest. It goes in cycles you know? When it rains it pours, but its never evenly distributed. We're headed back to Texas, on the same route, and when there we'll reload at the same place in Mount Pleasant, more feather meal, and come back here to Helm, along the same route. But there is much more of that driveworth sharing , than just crossing the Tehapachi, so I'll be back with more to share. After all, I have two more rounds or opportunities to photograph things worth seeing.


Meagan said...

You are such a talented writer and photographer! I feel like I have been on a trip with you through those mountains! You get to see such wonderful things, all unique in their own way! ;-)

Love you sister! And love your blog!

frugalmom said...

I love those pics of all the mountains and hills. So very pretty.
I had never even heard of feather meal until I read your post. Interesting.
And I have to say...my little pup, she is part chinese crested and I can see such a resemblance in her face to your pups. Altho, my pup has quite a bit of hair all over her body...but she does have that unique little poof on her head..its very sweet. :-)

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Amazing photos! I was struck the most by the photos of the desert ending at the snowy mountains. wow!

Sounds like the poochies have a touch of cabin fever. Love the cute panties. Will you ever have her spayed, or are you planning on breeding her?

Another huge winter storm is supposed to be barreling through New Mexico Wednesday and Thursday. They say that we should get significant snow.

Be careful out there,

Horses Are Our Lives said...

my goodness, you are putting on miles! I hope you get your home time soon! I loved all the pics and your story! The mountains are gorgeous! I can't believe cactus grow almost to the snow! lol safe travels!

Janice said...

Beautiful pics Sarah, I felt like I was travelling along with you.You guys sure get around. I'm glad you came to visit my blog or I may not have found yours. I'm a home body and go nowhwere so thanks to you I get to travel around the country and I don't have to get those road weary blues.Have a great time off.

Willow Witch said...

Loved the trip... All your photos take us, right along with you. Thank you also for your sweet comments and your prayer request for us, so touching... Thank you.

Farmgirl_dk: said...

I loved this post - like other commenters, I feel like I was practically taking this trip with you! I especially enjoy seeing life from inside the cab of your truck - seeing how you as a "trucker couple" make your small space cozy. You do a great job just by bringing those adorable, if grouchy, pups along. Of course that's *their* side window - LOL
Beautiful scenery shots - I know you're both feeling out of sorts lately and ready to be wheel-less for a while, but you have some readers who are really enjoying your travel log. Thanks for sharing your life. -danni in oregon

Rambling Girl said...

Amazing again! I can't wait to see the mountains in the summer...I do hope you share those. The beauty is just amazing. Thanks for sharing your trip.