A Convergence of Wonders is a chronicle of our recent journey through the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rocky Mountains. This the first day's story...
There is a lot of adrenaline in the first moment of a trip; it's all that we could think about over the last few months, and the moment of departure has arrived. Everyone looks wide awake and ready to go. Fortunately, there is a cure for this: California's Central Valley. For the first 200 miles we drive across the monotonous fields and plains, and I have a hard time finding much to say by way of commentary. Two hours brings us to a rest area for a short break, and another two hours gets us to the first gasoline stop in Anderson. The landscape has been shifting, and snowcapped peaks appear on the skyline.
Something had been worrying me in the last few weeks. One has to plan a trip like this a year in advance, and sometimes we make choices that looked good on paper at the time, but which are more questionable at the moment of truth. Late June is often a good time to explore the northwest, but a heavy snow year and a cool spring were unpredictable back in January. There was a lot of snow on the peak, and presumably on mountains all across the route ahead.
One very sad view was to the south. The alpine crags in the distance were the Castle Crags, one of the state parks slated to close soon because of the California budget crisis. It irritates me that Republicans consider it more important to protect their rich benefactors than to find the $22 million to keep 70 state parks open. The granite peaks are a dramatic sight for travelers on Interstate 5, and closing park will prevent access to a marvelous outdoor classroom.