Bakersfield and Fresno

I was coming down from the Tehachapi Pass through golden grass with snowy mountains in the horizons. Mostly sunny skies was warming the temperature to around 80. Sweat no longer splotching the contour of my butt onto the driver’s seat, I was taking in the scenery.

I’d been here before. I’d made this drive to explore Sequoia national park, southeast of Fresno, in April of ’17. Today I’d be heading northeast of Fresno for the Yosemite.

I also remembered how quickly the golden beauty fades as grass gives way to the concrete of Bakersfield’s urban sprawl. Blue skies yielded to smoggy, brown haze that obscured the mountains on the far west side of the southern Central Valley. This metropolitan area of over 800,000 looks like so many cities. It was hot and filled with traffic. Endless rows of houses and buildings stretched to the horizons. Dirty grease stained concrete on roads, parking lots and buildings. Litter was abundant.

The oil pumpjacks were curious though. I used to work on these in South Texas. Around Bakersfield is the heart of California’s oil and gas production, which has been greatly reduced by commie filth in Sacramento. In Bakersfield I’m sure there are lots of good and level-headed conservative types, and I don’t want to be too disparaging of Buck Owen’s home. I’d probably rather live here than most other American cities, because of the proximity to the Sierras. But, still, it didn’t seem to uphold aesthetics as its highest priority, and I imagine that has more to do with blue people than red people.

After getting on California 99, and leaving Bakersfield, I passed through fields of almonds, pistachios, grapes and other fruits and vegetables for the 100 miles to Fresno. Bugambilias grew their purple flowers between the northbound and southbound lanes. The roads and bridges seemed like they’re not far from decrepitating rapidly. Thirty miles to the east you could see the snow-capped Sierras, barely. Smog was thick.

Then, lo, Fresno. It has well over over a million people. It’s bigger than Bakersfield. It can have a nasty reputation, and you can see some of this from the highway. But, certainly, there are nice parts, and I’d rather live there too than many other places across America. I imagine before Fresno got dirtied up, that part of the Central Valley would have felt something like a paradise.

Mr. Tummy was giving me the stink-eye. I’d neglected him wanting to gain ground. So, after getting on CH 41, I got off on Shaw Road, and ate a cobb salad and drank a beer at BJ’s. Thereafter I took a quick drive east to see the Fresno State campus because why not?

However, twilight was coming. Before dark I wanted to make it at least to Oakhurst which was back in the oak-and-pine-studded foothill country. I did, and got a room at the Rosepine Inn before crashing like a baby.

Day one was done. Buenos noches.