A 2-day trip from the Stockton area seemed like a good idea, so my Toad was put to use rather than driving the diesel pusher northward. Although a 2009 summer trip up the CA coast had included a visit to the Sacramento area this trip north along I-5 would be a new experience. What might one expect to see in the Sacramento Valley and toward the Oregon border? Are there destinations enroute? What are the outstanding features of the central northern Valley?
Beginning in the California Delta region the migratory fowl, i.e.,including the snow geese, Canada geese and RV snowbirds are moving southward.. With abundant snow on the northern California and southern Oregon peaks and along I-5 the birds are headed south in a scurry-hurry fashion. In the CA delta the first thing to notice are the flocks of geese. Thousands fly overhead, honking in their V formations, daily. There are, of course, other migratory birds that have passed through and remained in the Delta, but the geese are the most abundant, easily seen and identified. Further, the early morning shotgun blasts that echo across the canals and farmland indicate that the hunting season is open.
While driving along I-5 the diversity of agriculture is the next most evident image. In my native midwest there is little diversity as corn and soybeans are the overwhelmingly dominant crops. As a farm kid in northern Indiana more than 60 yrs ago we had diverse farm crops. Now the annual ritual of alternating corn and beans is about all there is to farming. Not so in the great Valley north of Sacramento.
Orchards of citrus, almonds, olives, plums and other fruits are abundant. According to Wikipedia more than 400 growers form an organization that produces nearly 50% of the world’s prunes. Various berries grow in the rich soils. Vineyards and wineries abound. Abundant irrigation water enables the growth of vast rice fields. The rice fields seemed to surpass those observed in Louisiana. Crayfish are grown in the rice fields as in Louisiana, where they are a delicacy in the diet of Cajuns and others.
Large dairy farms are located near the interstate and beef feeding operations are observed. Of course, the feedlots and dairies were all located within view of the highway and there are likely others out of view in the wide valley.
National Parks, Ski areas, Scenic wonderlands. Just south of the Delta area CA 120 leads directly to Yosemite National Park. Yosemite holds a special place in my memory because it was the first National Park that I ever saw or visited. In 1951-52 while serving as a youth in the Brethren Volunteer Service in Fresno we camped in Yosemite with some of our migrant camp kids. What fun to join the other kids playing in the streams, hiking up Half Dome, seeing the mammoth redwoods. Memories are made of this!!
Further north roads lead to Mt. Lassen Volcano NP and later to Mt. Shasta, the second largest volcano in the chain. These mountains are destinations for hiking, camping, skiing and many types of recreational activities. They are now on my list for spring and summer destinations.
On this short trip my actual destination was the small, college town of Ashland, OR, home of the annual Shakesphere Festival. More about Ashland at another time.