Geography Lesson

This past week Paula and I took a little trip up the road to the thriving metropolis of Fresno, California. We were there to attend the Grand Chapter session of the Order of the Eastern Star ( henceforth in this post called OES) for the state of California.

The session is held every year at this time. Typically held in central California for a couple of reasons. First, it levels the pain everyone feels for traveling to the session (after all regular unleaded is running at about $4.75/gallon).
Here’s a map of the route.

Second, prices of hotels, convention centers and restaurants tend to be a tad bit lower than in LA or SF.

So the trip is about 250 miles give or take. The first part of the trip is through downtown LA on the 110 freeway (I110 for you easterners). As we head north, we go through the San Fernando Valley. The San Fernando Valley is pretty much ugly urban sprawl.

Once you get to the town of Castaic, we enter a section of road known as the Grapevine. The Grapevine is about a 40 mile stretch of road through the Los Padres National Forest. We begin a climb from about sea level to about 3ooo’ ASL. The road snakes back and forth. Trucks are expected to stay to the right (They do mostly). The Grapevine is pretty much uninhabited. On the way south, we stopped for gas at a gas station in Castaic. This was the first gas station that I have seen in our travels across the county with pay toilets. ($.25 please). Actually, if you bought gas, they will give you a token, but still. The Grapevine can be pretty nasty in the winter with rain and icing roads.

Once we got through the Grapevine, we enter California’s Central Valley. First we get to Bakerfield on I5. Farms as far as the eye can see. There is a lot of Railroad traffic. It is not uncommon to see freight trains with over a 100 cars heading down the track. I saw several bulk haulers filled to the brim with carrots. We see orchards, vineyards and farmland. The central valley is where much of America’s food comes from.

We pulled into Fresno after about six hours of driving. We stayed at a La Quinta Inn for about $65 per night. Pretty mediocre hotel. The rug in the room was filthy. The WiFi was slow. The breakfast room was crowded. On the good side there was an El Torito Mexican restaurant on one side and an IHOP on the other.

We had a great time. We met up with some of our OES friends from Massachusetts and of course our OES friends from San Pedro.


Explore posts in the same categories: California, Travel

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