Our trip today took us from the maritime climate of the northern coast of California, across the Coastal Mountain Range and into the Central Valley of California with temperatures rising into the mid 90’s. We have the A/C on for the first time since we left Portland.
The 100-mile drive from the coast to the central valley was not easy as approximately 90% was mountainous. Our luck was not much better when we reached I-5. We traveled 20 miles south of Redding on I-5 when we hit a traffic jam. The back up stretched as far as we could see and several emergency vehicles passed. Since we were at an exit, we got off and consulted our map. Unfortunately, the road we had exited onto was not on the map although we did find a road appearing to be 15 - 20 southeast that appeared to reconnect with I-5.
Along with us, four more vehicles followed perhaps thinking we knew where we were going. We used the compass on the truck to maintain our heading, making several turns on connecting roads. After about 10 miles, the pavement ended so we stopped and plugged our position into our GPS, which gave us new directions to where we wanted to go and avoiding I-5. We continued on the unpaved road, which turned back into a paved road after 5 -6 miles and then led us back to I-5. Not sure if we saved any time, but it was interesting and we had avoided sitting in a backup.
The rest of our travels took us through America’s Garden as the Central Valley has been called. It is estimated 25% of the food consumed in the US comes from the Central Valley. The valley stretches for 400 miles between the Coastal and Sierra Nevada Mountain Ranges. Crops produced include almonds, pistachios, pecans, grapes, apricots, fresh vegetables of all types and dairy products. It appeared grape harvesting was in full swing and it was amazing to see the number of people working in the vineyard and the size of the vineyards. In one area, it appears most of the grapes become raisins, as it is the home of Sun Maid. We made a stop at the Sun Maid store and purchased a sampling of their products.
We have made a long day and will overnight in Stockton and begin again tomorrow morning with our push back east. Norma has a commitment back home that will require us to travel an average of 300 miles per day return in time.