A thousand miles of California, and the best is here at home 5-9-14

May 9, 2014
Author: Heather Hacking hhacking@chicoer.com @HeatherHacking on Twitter
For years we’ve been warned about global warming. This year we’re in a drought.

Perhaps during my lifetime spring as we know it will change. In the meantime, I hope to thoroughly enjoy each bloom, blossom and bee.

My neighborhood was looking really nice before my recent vacation.

I almost dreaded leaving the flowers and new growth behind. You see, our trip included a long, arduous drive through the Sonoran Desert. Even though the lifeless land has a decidedly stark beauty, I’ve traveled that road many times.

We almost didn’t make the trip this year because Lynda, my dad’s partner, fell off a brick and broke both of her feet. However, she selflessly decided she could be pushed in a wheelchair at home, or do the same with the occasional fish taco and view of teal-blue water.

Spring is more subtle in the desert

The nopales cacti, http://goo.gl/xuwMqh, near my Auntie Pat’s front porch had a single chartreuse/yellow bloom on the evening we arrived. The next day there were two and several more each day. Like the flowes in Mexico, the bees look nothing like those at home.

A bicolor bougainvillea I gifted to Auntie Pat last year was blooming nicely, and most places we traveled, cacti had bright, Mexican-colored flowers. Because I was looking for spring, even the weeds were wonderful, the color of sand with wispy blooms like ur that sheds from a dirty blonde dog.

But wait, there was more. With two chihuahuas in the van, we made a three day-trek back to Northern California.

It was my birthday, so Dad said I could make several key decisions: We stopped in Chino to visit my long-lost college chum, and returned via the Owens Valley along Highway 395.

Many of us who study water issues have heard about the Owens Valley, and how the water was stolen by Los Angeles, http://goo.gl/2JNyoV

I can only imagine how beautiful this land, with steep, jagged mountains covered in green/gray sage brush, must have been in its prime.

The first few hours of the journey north were dry and dismal, but sprung to life as we moved north.

Or perhaps just about anywhere would have looked great compared to Chino, where we saw an endless line of strip malls and were literally chased away by a blazing fire in the dry hills.

The Owens Valley, with its lost water and unpopulated towns, was quiet and quaint. We found Mt. Whitney by asking a landowner to point it out. We later learned that the horse pasture where we had parked, was on “Whitney Portal Road.”

The last day we hit snow in the Mammoth Lakes/ski area, and threw snowballs while wearing shorts and sandals.

Each of the 977, or so, miles we drove seemed to become more enchanting, most likely because we were getting closer to where we really wanted to be, which was home.

I’m so glad I had a chance to see this slice of California, but after three days, I was eager to no longer be traveling in a van with two chihuahuas.

Vacation lenses

You know when you go on vacation, how your eyes are wide open to see as much as you can and enjoy each view as if you may never see it again?

This feeling lingers for a while when you return home.

Back in the Sacramento Valley, the clouds were hanging low over the rice fields. As we traveled at dusk the bugs were hitting the windshield like an asteroid shower. This had a familiar comfort dying bugs seldom bring.

Then the weekend rolled around and it was time to get busy in my own yard, with a new appreciation for a little spot of ground and a climate where I know how to grow.

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