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November 01, 2009

California Notebook

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

I'm in California and will be on the road for another eight or so days and post when possible. Below are short shots about what I've noticed so far.

* Despite a nice dose of rain a couple of weeks ago, it's still very dry here. Interstate 5 passes by the start of the lake behind Shasta Dam. Every other time I've passed through the Lakehead area (and I've done it dozens of times over the last 40 years) there has been lake water. Sometimes it's been up to the brim. Mostly the level has been down to a greater or lesser extent.

But this trip there was no lake at all there. Just a lot of red soil in sloping banks with a narrow cut at the bottom created by the Sacramento River. Closer to the dam there was a lake surface, so it's not totally dry -- by drier than I've ever seen it. I hope California gets a rainy winter because it needs it badly.

* San Francisco's tourist zones are holding up pretty well. One sign of slackness was that we were able to ride cables cars without much delay. (Sometimes, the wait is prohibitively long unless one is at a terminus; at intermediate stops you can't get on unless someone gets off in a full-car situation.)

The Post Street - Union Square area looked good and there were few empty storefronts. Nancy's impression was that the square didn't have visible deralects, though there were panhandlers on corners a few blocks away. One clever fellow down by Fisherman's Wharf crouched on a sidewalk disguised as a bush. A happy fellow and surrounding crowd, especially when he confused dogs seeking a rest room.

* I suspect most tourists regard the Bay Area as highly urban. And it is -- mostly. Yet there are places only a few miles from heavily built up areas that are home to horse and beef cattle farms. I'm thinking of valleys and canyons along the hills separating Oakland, Hayward and other East Bay cities from cities such as San Ramon and Danville in the next valley to the east.

For the record, the horsey stuff I saw (along with rural dog kennels) was along Crow's Canyon and the cattle were in the Orinda-Moraga area.



posted by Donald at November 1, 2009


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