The stay in Marin County, California is over on Monday, June 29 when I return to Santa Fe, the base of my operations as a painter. I have been at our second home in Woodacre, CA since before Easter. During this time I have enjoyed our church community at the San Geronimo Community Presbyterian Church, where partner, Reverend Dr. John G. Scott, is the Pastor. I've also created a few new paintings, finished others that I had started last year, participated in the annual Marin Arts Council Studio Tour (my second year), and , finally, worked on computer skills under the tutoring of Amanda Smith.
I will get on Interstate 580 in San Rafael, cross the Richmond Bridge over San Pablo Bay and continue southeast through the urban sprawl of the Bay Area until Interstate 589 meets Interstate 5, coming from the south. Interstate 5, one of the busiest in the nation, goes through rolling golden hills flecked with dairy cattle; orchards of apricot, almonds, and citrus; vineyards for table grapes, and an occasional feed lot, whose smell will announce itself long before and after I pass it.
I usually stop at every rest stop just to stretch my legs and walk Leicester and Rowena, our Jack Russell Terriers, who are a delight to travel with.
Just southeast of the roads to Bakersfield, I turn onto California 223 to cross over to California 58 which goes westward. This takes me directly through crops growing along the road side to the farming town of Arvin, where I get a take out lunch at a fine, homeowned burger joint. Here the French fries are the best: cut from actual potatoes (not frozen) and fried at very high temperatures to create a proper crisp fried potato. With the lunch in tow, I drive out of town, gain elevation, and find a pull-out just at the base of Tehachapi Mountain's Bear Mountain. Here I can chow down on the burger and fries in peace and quiet, look down and across the sweeping Central Valley, and Leicester and Rowena can traipse around for some much needed exercise.
Now I must prepare for the next leg of the journey: traversing the Mojave. But, first, I have to cross the rest of the Tehachapi Mountains, past the wind generators into Mojave Town. It will be a grueling drive as the temperatures are predicted to be hovering around 105 all the way past Boron and Barstow, where I pick up Interstate 40. Just as I get onto the Interstate, there is a sign that says, "Wilmington, NC 2659 Miles." I am reminded that I have driven Interstate 40, probably 10 or so times in the past 5 years. And this stretch from Barstow to Needles is always an exciting part of the journey.
Going through so much stark beauty with the expected monotony of Interstate 40 does not impede my appreciation of one of America's great and vast deserts. Maroon hills, distant bluish mountains, an occasional Joshua tree along with the variety of desert plants make this leg of the journey a delight. But, always, in the back of my mind, is the thought: do not be seduced by the beauty as it can be a very dangerous place should the car break down. I have plenty of water, food, a way to create some shade, and some necessary items for repairing a flat or leaky hose. I only hope and pray that the 1998 Isuzu Trooper I am driving will not break down but continue its steady climb toward the 275,000 marker of miles travelled!
The day will end in Kingman at the Best Western Wayfarer's Inn. It is always a welcoming place for me and Leicester and Rowena, who have become accustomed to their room and the dog walking area. There will be dinner ordered from Lo's Chinese Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge to complete this log of the journey.
Needles is not a seducer even though it is located in a wonderful setting, near the Colorado River.