I’m awake early and Yazhi lazes on my chest. I think he knows. I don my familiar hiking clothes, dump my pack and resupply box in the car. My mom clutches the oh shit handle as we bounce down the rough road into town.
Amtrak bus departure is 40 minutes late but I get a seat to myself so it’s all good. Driver Steve spews some version of Ukiah Valley pear history to a couple ladies who may or may not be listening to him. It must be before my Hopland Weigh Master days when I got to “lord over” all things pear. A woman carrying plums gets on at Coverdale and immediately asks me “How do you make antifreeze?” She informs me that “Ya yank the blanket off er.” Ha Ha Ha.
I barely make the bus to train transfer and California’s central valley soon spreads before me. There might even be a few snowy mountains to my East. Hard to tell through all the haze. Passengers get on and I sense their hesitation as they pass by looking for a seat. Seats fill around me. I don’t even smell yet so maybe it’s my hairy legs? I gave up shaving nearly a decade ago when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. It was just too much work. Think of all the time, money and water I’ve saved!
The central valley feels very dry and bleak. Lifeless. And yet there are agricultural crops and hacked nut trees as far as the eye can see. The air is thick so maybe it’s not as far as I think. I know it’s fertile soil but damn. I roll off in Bakersfield and get slapped in the face by the blistering heat. Grateful to be using my legs, I quickly walk to my hotel. Grab some beer, chips and bean dip and I’m set for a relaxing night in my hotel room. As a little goodnight present, it looks like the town (Lake Isabella) I was going to go through tomorrow is on fire. 50-60 structures already lost. Time for plan B.