May 26, 2011

The Last Onion Load

Shasta Lake in northern California
Our Sunday drive through California was easy and short. We only went about 200 miles before stopping till Morning. Down out of the mountains and through the grain and rice fields of the plains north of Sacramento, and then we stopped at a rest area about 100 miles from San Francisco.

Malcolm finished in the morning and we delivered with no problems. The only difficulty was that it took several hours to get the barley unloaded, but on the bright side the length of time caused us to completely miss morning rush hour. We didn't pull out till nearly 10:00am and so traffic was a breeze, or as near to it as San Francisco traffic can get.

We were asked to do an empty bounce of more than 400 miles! That's a big bounce for us. At most we usually drive 200 miles empty. But these onion loads pay enough to justify it. Some guys are even driving all the way back to southern Cal from Oregon without a load!

Going south from San Francisco, we drove down US101. Its a lovely drive. When we were hauling a refer (refrigerated trailer) we were over in this area a lot. We used to pick up a lot of produce in the Salinas area.  

 They seem to grow just a little bit of everything here, from grain to grapes.

Raspberries, strawberries, lettuce, broccoli, artichokes, and the list goes on and on, and so does the line of roadside stands. Sometimes it seems everyone is running a produce stand in their yard.

Currently it is cherry season and the trees are laden with plump red fruits. Malcolm offered to stop and buy some for me. If I'd only known then what I know now I would have taken him up on the offer.

Just south of San Jose we turned east on highway 152. Its a beautiful drive across the hills and into the San Joaquinn valley. I love these hills for their grassy pastures dotted with these huge trees.

 When you come out the other side of the hills you are greeted by a huge reservoir, before dropping into the valley.

Our 450 miles bounce ended in the desert south of Barstow, CA where we picked up a load of ground limestone...
...which we then hauled the remaining 175 miles to Brawley, CA. The limestone went to a feedlot where they were mixing it with manure and fertilizing their hay fields.

Brawley is the town where we have been loading onions. This time the onion field we went to was across the road from a wheat field that was nearly ready for harvest. I think grain fields are so pretty!
In fact they were already harvesting a number of wheat fields, and when they have finished harvesting the wheat, and have gotten the straw off if they want it, they burn the stubble from the fields. The effect is quite dramatic and intense there for about 5 minutes, and then it disappears.
We loaded our onions and headed back north to Oregon. Just north of Brawley, out in the California desert, the road goes through a few miles of the Imperial Dunes Recreation Area. I pretend I'm driving through the Sahara Desert.

The sunrise in Oregon on Wednesday morning was lovely...
But you know the saying "red sky at morning, sailors take warning?" Maybe that's only for coastal areas, but I can tell you that by early afternoon it was raining and only in the 40's. It was a damp chilly day, and no one on this end of the country needs any more rain!

We delivered our onions that afternoon in Hermiston, OR and only then found out that that was one of the last loads to come out of Brawley. The harvest crew will be moving their equipment to Bakersfield, CA now, but in the mean time, we're off on other roads. Which is where the "if I'd only known" statement from earlier comes in.

We're loading sunflower seeds this morning in Alicel, OR.
These seeds go to Minnesota by way of our house! If I'd only know as we were driving past all those produce stands. I could have stocked up on fresh produce and gotten it in the freezer when we get home tonight! This has happened to me before and I always wish I'd known further ahead of time!

We'll be home tonight, and after a shower, a short sleep in our bed, and a check on the house to make sure all is in order, we're heading over to the ranch to visit for a day or two and check the flooding out over there. We're also making a quick trip to Kansas to pick up a cattle trailer we purchased. The sunflower seeds can't deliver till Tuesday because of the holiday, so we're planning a bit of a holiday for ourselves.

The flooding in most parts of Montana is starting to recede, but more rain is in the forecast for Friday and another storm system is due to come through early next week, so the break from the flooding might be short lived. Every time I log on to the internet, there is another story about another town in Montana that just got flooded. Today it was Roundup, just north of us that was having problems. Yesterday it was Joliet, just southwest of Billings, that had a wall of water running down main street because of a log jam on the river. It seems like all Montana's troubles have been over shadowed in the news by the horrible tornado damage in the mid-west, and I can understand, because that's more dramatic. But still, its a little insulting. I don't see anything on the national news sights about our flooding problems. And its not a minor issue! Its the whole darn state that's drowning! Has anyone seen anything about Montana on the news?


Kris Watson said...

Didja wave as you went by? LOL Thanks for spotlighting the beautiful SJV. Yes, we do grow a little bit of everything! And you can't get any better than the roadside stands! It was really glorious to see your take on our valley!!!

Debbie @ Swampbilly Ranch said...

I always I enjoyed the trip.

Shirley said...

California is so beautiful- but I wouldn't want to live there. The beauty of your job is you get to see the whole darn country, and there is beauty everywhere.
We are getting rained out right now, and the forecast is pretty soggy. Hope everything is ok when you get home.

texwisgirl said...

those are some beautiful photos, but i'd hate to be around that smoke when they burn off the remnants of the chaff. :)

texwisgirl said...

and no - the only news on montana has come thru bloggers...

Dreaming said...

Pretty pictures!
California's agriculture always surprises me. My mindset is that California is techie and crowded - so I am always excited to see the beautiful aspects of the state... just like your pictures depict!
Good luck at home! I hope everything is OK!

Michaele said...

Another awesome post. I so want your life, or just a ride or two or more. My sister in MT has been posting videos on email and facebook. Nature is so freaking powerful!

Valerie said...

Oh, I wish I'd read this BEFORE I blogged. I blogged about cherries! Also, when Dad and I were out there, didn't we go to Roundup for lunch? I hate to think of all those folks struggling with all that rain.

Vintage West said...

It's amazing what is ready to harvest already down there. I would never get to my destination driving through there. I would be stopping at every produce stand available!

Janice said...

Pretty scenery, I envy you that trip.It's hard to believe stuff there is ready to harvest and we just got grass and leaves here....never mind crops.