Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Tandems and Coalinga

Watching the fire news from California has been sobering. Having driven through much of the North of LA area that's now burning, and just a couple of weeks back, takes the news shows out of the category of cheap vicarious thrills. I have a daughter out there, but she lives in the Valley, well upwind of the fires, and her whole damn county is a firebreak. She's clinician but not likely to be pulled in on this. For one thing, her facility is upwind: the need is on the other side. For another, her place deals with some of the most grievously hurt people you can imagine. Chances are, casualties in their line will come to them.

Anyway, back to the road trip. Beforehand, my daughter had been entertaining us on the phone with stories about the convoys of tandem rigs cruising the Valley, hauling open trailers filled with carrots.

I though it was exaggeration, or perhaps aberration.

Wrong. It's everyday life in the valley. Carrots? Yes, also onions, garlic bulbs, tomatoes , apples, and citrus fruit by the many tons. (They are not on the same rig, mind: that would be the world's largest mobile salad bar.) What struck me was that the almond trucks were enclosed. How come 20 tons of nuts need a cover, and tomatoes do not?

On the way to San Francisco, after a few miles of this, I was about ready to swear off fruit and vegetables and become a meat-eater. Then we came to Coalinga. The link here cites the Chamber of Commerce figure of 17,000 and some-odd as the population. If true, that means there are two or more beef cattle per resident. These are not Happy Cows. These are feedlot cows, confined in narrow pens over a space that my Google Earth ruler says is over 500 acres, or about 1.5 square miles if you include the manure. One would gather that people are proud of this, because this spectacle sits right next to I-5 ("the Five," in Californian). You can smell it long before you see it. It is so large that you can pick it out on Google Earth from an altitude of 50 miles. That meets some definitions of outer space, so the Great Wall of China has to make room for the miserable cows of Coalinga.

Since at this point my diet was reduced to bread and beer, it was just as well we went to San Francisco. Stay tuned.


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