I’m waiting here at the base of Mt. Shasta for the sun to light the mountain before it sets. Waiting is hard for someone from the Silicon Valley. In the computer industry, waiting usually means that someone else will beat you to market. Folks here don’t take vacations. Sometimes they don’t sleep.
Yet here I am taking a month off, heading north to someplace near the arctic ocean. When folks ask me why I’m doing it, I usually stare at them without a good answer. Maybe by the time this trip is over, I’ll know.
Shasta is in the shade of clouds now, fluffy cumulonimbi hovering lower than the summit. As the sun sets, I can watch the light slowly climb the slopes of Shasta. It reddens as it approaches the top of this old volcano, and I wait for ‘the perfect moment.’
Earlier, near Arbuckle, I got off of the freeway to photograph. What I originally thought was an access road turned out to be the old route north, Highway 99. I stopped and spoke with the owners of an old filling station. The weathered guy who owned the place told me his folks opened it up in 1920. He closed down the place in the 60′s, within a few years of the opening of the freeway. Not enough business anymore on highway 99. I headed north on the old road for a while, through Artois (named Germantown until world war II…) I passed many closed old filling stations, motels, and restaurants. They looked more interesting than Denny’s, and I wished that they were still open.
The Central Valley of California is a horrible place, and I feel sorry for anyone forced to live there. Well, maybe not the folks who burn rice straw… they deserve their fate. The air is hazy and brown, and I passed one blackened field after another. In the distance, I could see grey mushroom clouds rising higher than the few natural clouds in the sky, signs of a burning field. The farmers burn the fields because the straw doesn’t decompose quickly when it is plowed under. There are other ways to deal with this, but burning is cheapest.
Leaving the central valley was the first step in shedding the stress of my day-to-day life. I climbed up into the mountains and forests. For a few wonderful seconds, it rained.
The sun is ready for me now. I’ll write more later…
Okay, it’s around 11pm, and I’m at a rest stop just across the Oregon border. After photographing Shasta, I continued north looking for a place to sleep. I found a great road heading up a mountain. It was dirt, but seemed solid. I drove for a while, getting higher and higher, when I noticed that the bus was sliding in a really funny way. Then I noticed the squishy noise… the road had turned to mud on me! Now, mud is something I don’t expect in California, but there it was. I slowly
turned around, and then drove/slid back down the mountain. Other than huge muddy boogers on my car, no damage done. I wish I had taken Tobin’s advice, however, and brought chains.
So now I’m going to catch some sleep and hope I don’t get woken at 3am by Oregon’s finest. I think it’s a good sign that I’m in a line of campers, all obviously spending the night. (It’s a bad sign that a train seems to pass by every half-hour, horn wailing.)