driving up highway 99

I’m headed north from Arcadia , on my way to Coos Bay , Oregon .  I’m on Highway 99 , which cuts through the Central Valley farm land ,  through Delano , Fresno , Sacramento .

Usually I take Interstate 5 , several miles west of the 99 . It more or less parallels 99 . It’s a newer road , fewer towns along it , fewer facilities .  The 5 is more desolate , thus more boring , but faster . If one is in a hurry , one should take the 5 . If one wants to ; purely one’s decision ; I don’t mean to tell one what one should do . One should think it over , perhaps , unless one doesn’t want to think it over . Whatever . One knows better what one should plan for oneself .

A much prettier drive north is the 101 . The 101 glides along , passing rolling hills , oak -strewn pastures , and golden  highlands , and more and more  grapevines these days , too . Much slower but even prettier is to travel Highway 1 along the California coast — mountains and ocean ; mountains and ocean .Preston Castle in Ione 010

Memory from long ago :  ” We never should have left Ohio . We have everything back in Ohio . All you’ve got in California is mountains and ocean , mountains and ocean . ”   I was working at a moving company storage warehouse in Santa Monica at the time . An older couple had moved out from their home in Ohio and had just finished the winding driving on Highway 1 all the way from Portland to Santa Monica .  The woman repeated her frustration-fueled complaint several times . I had to listen .  The refrain was ” We have everything back in Ohio . ” Preston Castle in Ione 007

” Except mountains and ocean , ”  I said , eventually .  Her husband may have caught my drift . He may have smiled a little back-bench smile , an unspoken declaration that he had enjoyed the drive .  It was so long ago I can’t remember how it all ended . They needed to arrange for their furniture to be delivered wherever they intended to land , or to pay for the movers , or whatever , once she caught her breath and calmed down . Someone should have informed her : You’re in the Golden State now , lady . It ain’t all mountains and ocean .Preston Castle in Ione 006

So I was thinking about that incident out behind  the warehouse back when I was a kid while I was driving up the flat dry valley , smelling cows , and listening to Sean Hannity . No mountains ; no ocean .  It was either Hannity or the preachers or the Spanish stations .  Last time I came up through the Central Valley it seems to me it was Rush Limbaugh . Or the preachers . Or Spanish .

Bueno , entonces  ! Radio XXXW de Pixley . Por que no ? Que te cuentas ?

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this , but Fox News doesn’t really care much for the President . If Obama said it must be Friday , they’d say no it isn’t , and why is Obama lying to the American people . Hannity , today , all across the Central Valley of California  , was bitching about The Government again ;   it’s evil ; it’s out to get us . Thomas Paine warned us way back in 1776 , Hannity said . He said he’s scared and  it’s getting worse ; government’s only out to screw the American people . He’s scared . He doesn’t know how anybody isn’t .

My dentist died . I liked him and I thought that he was a good dentist . He taught at the USC dental school . He had been a math teacher , too , before becoming a dentist . Teachers and ex-teachers  get a few extra points from me . He had a lively  sense of humor — always a good thing . He was a sports fanatic , too ; he knew every statistic , studied the coaches , had formed predictions for next season . It took him three or four years of sharing his sports knowledge with me , during checkups twice a year , to finally realize that I don’t follow sports , that I  couldn’t discuss the coaches’  approaches  to save my life , and ( I know ; it’s un-American ) that I don’t really care who wins the season ,this year or next ,  or what players we’ll trade to which teams , or  where the coaches learned their craft   , or where the scouts will find the newbies —  all the ins and outs of armchair quarterbacking and couch coaching . Choose from the most used tags

I talk about my dentist here because I had the greated respect for the man , a highly educated respecter of intelligence and education . And ( here it comes ) :   a Hannity- lover . A Bill What’s-his-name lover , too .  ” But don’t you think Obama should have ….?   And  ” Don’t you think the government …. ? ”     I waited three or four years ( two check-ups a year ) to answer . No use rushing things .

 ” I’m the wrong one to talk to , ”  I said  —  let him consider that , turn it over in his mind ,  ruminate ,  for another six-months,  ’til  my next appointment . Or maybe a year .

Hannity’s good for a little paranoia-spiced entertainment on a long drive , for a bit . But it’s not really nuanced reasoning he demonstrates  , is it ?   I switched , happily , to a Hank Williams CD   that I’d had the forethought to bring along . And then a bluegrass album . And then Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee . They all blended well with the windshield views of cotton fields and cow pens , railroad tracks and pickup trucks , crop pickers and nut orchards and tractor -raised dust clouds on hazy horizons .Preston Castle in Ione 215

I stopped for the night in a little town called Galt , at a comfortable Best Western motel . I ate a sandwich that Ada had lovingly packed for me , a slice of her delicious meatloaf with a hardboiled egg in the middle on good bread with chipotle sauce  ;    and then I sat in the jacuzzi out behind the motel for awhile , unwinding , and forgetting about how the government is out to get me .  Yeah , Obama !  If you can find me !  I already said I’m  in Galt . ( hint : it’s near Lodi , NSA , if you’re listening  ) .Preston Castle in Ione 205


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4 responses to “driving up highway 99

  1. I once drove down the coast as much as possible from the top of Oregon (I was coming from Seattle) all the way to the bottom of CA. I drove back up on 5. You are so right about 5 being boring. And that meatloaf sandwich sounds very good, now I’m hungry.

  2. Now, that was an adventure, right down to the loving meat loaf sandwich.

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