Four days ago, November 19, 2012, I drove my mother from her home in Los Osos, California to Bakersfield, California. The drive is stunningly beautiful taking the traveler up over the coastal range, through gorgeous vineyards, over the Salinas River, the Temblor Range and into the San Joaquin Valley. The San Joaquin Valley is a huge breadbasket – almonds, pistachios, carrots, cotton, alfalfa, oranges, onions, grapes of all kinds, pomegranates, dairy farms, grazing cattle and sheep and plowed fields everywhere. This was just seen from along the highway, no side trips needed on the drive from Los Osos to Bakersfield. Wineries are all over the Paso Robles area and broad expanses of oilfields appear once on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. I found several dozen vistas that could have made stunning photos/images but I was not allowed to stop.
To start with, my 83-year-old mother was not happy that I picked her up rather than letting her drive the 2 + hours to Bakersfield by herself. She insists that she is not too old to drive and we do agree with her but try to convince her that we just trying to be helpful……it doesn’t make her very happy. The second item, probably the most important item – she always needs to be in control or in charge!!!!! She let me drive but on her timetable, her route and almost her speed! I tend to drive a littttttle slower than she would like…. and I drive slightly above the posted speed.
Now, at 83 she has to plan her trip, timing is critical as the distance between her pit stops are very important. She knows almost to the minute how long she can drive before the necessary stop. This planning limited the number of times I was allowed to stop for photo ops to exactly zero. My goodness….there were so many opportunities on the drive this particular morning. The skies were nice, the marine layer in the morning was absent, the foliage was beautiful and she wouldn’t let me stop! So, here is what I did…I noted the opportunities in my head and will share them with all y’all. The blog will also be a template for a reprise sometime in the future. Here is the list of photo ops I could have shared with you.
Just outside of Mom’s little community park is the Sweet Springs Reserve – Photo above is from a previous visit….this is the start marker, the rest of the trip’s images will be up to your imagination, some old photos and my descriptive talents.
We drove through Morro Bay up the coast past the little artist village of Harmony. A great photo would have been the turn out on the coastal side of Highway 46 looking back at Morro Rock and Bay….I couldn’t take a long look while driving…..Mom kept reminding me to keep my eyes on the road. I did spot a couple of vantage points that will be future stops. The views of Morro Rock and Bay from up here are stunning. The Oceano Dunes were visible 20 plus mile to the south and west. I wish I could have slowed down and taken in a few more vistas but Mom kept pushing the pace!
Next scenic opportunity that mom made me zip on by was on the warmer eastern slope of the Coastal Range, many, many small estate size wineries and vineyards. One image that I need to capture is a hillside planting with an interesting unplanted shape around a hillside tree. I love the lines and patterns the planted vineyards make in relation to the rolling hills. I would have liked to take a longer look but I was strongly reminded to keep the pace up in order to make the first rest stop!
After leaving the town of Paso Robles (also home to one of my favorite craft breweries, Firestone Walker) and driving east there are some great scenic vistas. I am reminded of an image I shot in 1968 or 67, looking east on Highway 46 toward an old farmhouse and large tree on the crest of a ridge. I made several 8X10 black and white prints in my HS photography class that I can’t locate…It could be worth a few bottles of wine – the farmhouse is now part of the Tobin James Cellars. The winery manager has collected and displays a few old photos of the old farmhouse, none of which is from the era of my photo. My photo was a winter image, that tree was bare, the sky was cloudless highlighting the old white, wood frame, farm house. http://www.tobinjames.com/our_wines.html
Just past mom’s rest stop is the widespot in the road called Cholame, the historic site of the James Dean crash that took the actor’s life. I do have an image of the monument taken several years ago ( took several dozen actually)….I have always wanted to take some additional shots of the site but no time available today as we were on a timetable to the next pit stop!
Over the Temblor range and down into the San Joaquin valley. In the Temblor range there are spring photo ops for wildflowers and bison. Two years ago I took a back road through the Temblor Range and found some beautiful scenery. More time is all I need!
There some interesting rock outcroppings that were looking really nice this morning. The sun was at a great angle to create incredibly great shadows……but, alas, not nearly enough time on this trip! Mom was navigator in charge so we turned onto Highway 33 and took a back road, Lerdo Highway, into town through some of the best farmland in California. Lerdo Highway took us through orange orchards that gave way to almonds and pistachios. A little ways down the road was a young pomegranate orchard! I was really wanting to stop, the trees were loaded down with fruit, the ground was littered with dropped fruit …… I wanted to grab a couple dozen or more and make some jelly at my sister’s house! Couldn’t stop!
Cotton fields were abundant now. Some chopped and plowed under, others having just been picked awaiting the mower before turning under, acres of covered mounds of cotton waiting to be ginned and thousands of bales waiting to be shipped. I think I could take some interesting shots here, patterns, shadows, diverging and converging lines…..better add that to my future “to do” list……no time to stop today.
Down Stockdale Highway into Bakersfield….we passed carrot fields stretching over two miles along side the highway. Only three choices, Grimway Farms, Bolthouse Farms or Yurosek (Bunny Love Brand) – they are all headquartered here in Bakersfield. We arrived at my sister’s house on schedule for her last pit stop. Two hours and 15 minutes since departing Los Osos. If I review the potential stops for me and my cameras it could be about a 5 hour drive….. I will have to plan a spring trip – maybe to coincide with the wildflower displays again…note; add another two hours to my trip! No worries…for me the pit stops aren’t that critical…. I love being a guy!