Today’s drive took us up the Sacramento Valley of northern California on I5. It’s the northern half of California’s Central Valley. The terrain changes from the flat valley floor with farm fields, fruit and nut orchards to rolling green hills with cattle, sheep, and goats grazing and then to the northern Sierra Nevada mountains. Nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, and rice, are major crops. Nearly 90% of the world’s almonds come from this area. The town of Corning produces olives for oil extraction and for consumption as fruit.
We stopped in Corning for lunch. It’s known as the Olive City and is home to the world's largest ripe olive cannery. Corning also has a significant agriculture industry centered on olives, olive oil, prunes including the "Sunsweet" label. We visited the The Olive Pit, a café and olive products store. We skipped the restaurant and went into the olive store and wound up buying a couple of different types of green olives, an olive tapenade, mustard, and olive oil dipping spices. We had the tapenade on crunchy bread for our end of the day snack. It was pretty good.
After lunch we went to the truck wash to get Winnie a much needed wash. The first full body wash since we left last month. She looks much better. We also drove past a giant green olive skewered with a red tooth pick. It was built by local olive growers in recognition of Corning as the “Olive City”. After the excitement of seeing the giant olive we got back on I5 and headed into the foothills north of Corning.
It’s interesting to look at the signs along the road as you drive. Besides the “Obama Must Go”, there was one that was pleading to “Save Lake Almanor, Stop the Thermal Curtain” and another welcomes you to Jefferson the 51st state. These were intriguing enough that I needed to know more. Lake Almenor is a reservoir used by PG&E to generate hydroelectric power. Apparently the license to operate the hydroelectric facility from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has been up for renewal and the State of California Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) is expected to require that PG&E selectively withdraw large amounts of the coldest water from Lake Almanor and send it downstream to the Rock Creek-Cresta Reach as a condition of the new license to benefit trout in those downstream waters, 40 miles away. The thermal curtain is the engineering design the will allow only cold water from the bottom of the reservoir to be drawn into the intake tower and be released down stream. The local resident feel that the loss of cold water from the lake will damage the cold water fishery in the lake so they have been advocating against the cold water releases since at least 2005. They continue to wait for the Environmental Impact Statement to be released. Their battle cry is “SAVE OUR COLD WATER!!”.
The other sign is even more interesting given some of the things in the news recently. Apparently the most northerly counties in California, Del Norte, Siskiyou, and Modoc, and four southeastern Oregon counties, Curry, Josephine, Jackson, and Klamath, joined together to create the 49th state in 1941. Every Thursday a group of young men brandishing hunting rifles stopped traffic on U.S. Route 99 south of Yreka and handed out copies of a “Proclamation of Independence”. It stated that the state of Jefferson was in "patriotic rebellion against the States of California and Oregon". The issue was again raised starting on September 3, 2013, when the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted 4–1 in favor of secession from California to form a proposed state named Jefferson. The proposal was joined by the Modoc County Board of Supervisors (September 24) and Glenn County Board of Supervisors (January 21, 2014). Based on a recent (4/22) local news report, Butte County Board has placed a vote of support on their June Agenda. The Jefferson Declaration Committee is reportedly aiming to get 12 counties in support. It appears the ball is rolling again.
We pulled into Mt. Shasta, CA late this afternoon and will be staying at the Mt. Shasta KOA here for the night. Mt. Shasta is visible from the KOA when the clouds part. It is snow covered even though this winter has been extremely dry with no skiing season. The lack of snow has resulted in Lake Shasta, a huge reservoir, to be about 40 or 50 feet lower than normal for this time of the year. It’s going to be a dry summer downstream. There may be a little relief on the way as it’s supposed to rain tonight and most of tomorrow, the first significant precipitation since we left in the snow on March 25.