Monday, March 10, 2008

On the road again...

DOWN HIGHWAY 5, then, in search of wildflowers. We didn't get away until 10:30 or so, what with one thing and another, and didn't see any flowers to speak of -- excepting mustard, of course, those invasive but attractive fields of yellow -- until we'd rounded Altamount Pass and were heading due south toward Westley.

Then, there they were, west of the highway looking into the sun: subtle but beautiful washes of the California colors, blue and gold, lupin and poppy. They washed up the hillsides like delicate washes of watercolor, lending depth to the green convolutions of the hillsides.

Down past Santa Nella, Harris Ranch, Kettleman City with its stockyards; across to Wasco, through Bakersfield on its freeways, and up the memorable grade to Tehachapi. I always remember the day the Mercedes lost a fan belt, and I had to trudge for help to the Forestry station, and a trucker gave me a lift back, and somehow I contrived to fix the belt, and find some water for the radiator. Those days fortunately are gone.

(There were others: water pump in Barstow; tire in Ludlow; brake cable in the Santa Cruz Mountains... such things don't seem to happen any more. I don't mind.)

I love that country up the grade from Bakersfield to Tehachapi, and always look forward to it. Alas, a dividing wall has been installed between the directions of traffic, and you can no longer see that fine open wooded countryside off to the north, not if you're traveling east, that is. I contented myself, since Lindsey was driving, with watching the railroad as it made its unbelievable circles and spirals uphill to the pass. There was even a freight train, a very long one, tracing the route for me as if I couldn't reconstruct it from memory...

The highway bypasses Mojave now, and Boron, but there's still that awkward stop at Four Corners: and here we turned right, south, to drive down past the eastern edge of the Marine base, finally finding Adelanto (The City of Unlimited Possibilites, its gatepost proudly proclaimed), and then surprising miles of tracts of high-density condos and apartments and bungalows cheek by jowl. So much room here, in the Mojave Desert; yet these ticktacks are jammed together as if they were agoraphobe.

There was an athlete's equipment bag on the floor in the motel office, and a couple of cricket-bats leaning against the all. Cricket, I said, cricket, those are cricket-bats, I can't believe anyone plays cricket here.

I do, said the slender Indian boy behind the desk; I do, and we have three teams here.

Victorville is a city of ninety thousand, he told me; most of them work right here, though some work "downhill," which turns out to be a manufacturing center to the south, just where I'm not sure. Ninety thousand souls, and, according to the World Wide Web, 78 restaurants. We chose the one with the best reviews -- well, review; there was only one -- Steak and Stein. I suppose I was thinking of Gertrude. It could have been better.

No photos: this traveling laptop lacks iPhoto. No Eating Every Day for a few days: it also lacks iWeb. I thought I'd prepared everything. I hadn't.

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