Californians and others often refer to their beloved state as “Shake, Bake, & Burn.” We didn't feel any earthquakes during our recent two week visit, but a flurry of small earthquakes rumbling near the Mammoth Mountain Volcano was categorized by the Geological Survey as volcanic unrest. However, we couldn't ignore the evidences of a long-standing drought and the resulting wildfires in every corner of the state. Everything was brown-grass, hillsides, and trees-that were already shedding their brown leaves. Because water for irrigation is in such short supply, the only green we saw was in the Sacramento Valley where fields of fruit trees and vegetables were abundant. We visited a local farmer’s market and took delight at the colorful display of produce grown by small farmers who struggle to stay afloat. I wanted to take all the veggies home and cook up a big pot of vegetable soup. Since I couldn't do that very well in a hotel room, the soup was put on the back burner-so to speak.
We visited Sacramento, the state capitol, Sutter’s Fort, and the spot where gold was discovered. Sutter’s Fort depicted the life of the early settlers that came to California while it was still a part of Mexico. It was in a creek on Sutter’s property that gold nuggets were found. The gold rush literally transformed California overnight and it wasn't long before the former Mexican territory became the 31st state in 1850. We kicked up lots of dust during our visit to Sutter’s property, but none of it was gold.
The sunny blue skies of Sacramento were marred by white billowing clouds of smoke from a massive wildfire close to the California-Nevada border. The tinder dry conditions and no rain since April make it hard to stop a fire once it starts. I remember the drought conditions we had in Georgia three years back, and this is so much worse. The fire was far away, and we were not in any danger, but I thought about the people who live in the fire zone who were losing their homes and businesses. In the future, I will be more appreciative of Georgia’s humidity and abundant rain.
We were glad it didn't rain when we took our bus tour through San Francisco since we were on the top deck of a double-decker. The highlight of the tour was crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and visiting Sausalito. We enjoyed a delightful lunch and visiting the local shops before heading back over the GGB and stopping for a great photo op of the San Francisco skyline, Alcatraz, and Angel Islands.
We finished our trip in the Silicon Valley where Charles was involved in a wind tunnel test of his drag reduction devices. His successful test means there will be a flight test next summer back at Edwards Air Force Base in the California Desert. More Shake, Bake, and Burn is on the horizon. We pray for strong minds and bodies and the ability to meet whatever challenges lie ahead.