Category Image A Weekend Up North 


One of the advantages of unemployment is the ability for long weekends and meandering drives. Certainly I'm particularly happy to partake in the second of those two things. Since Rhonelle was attending an MLA conference in San Jose I took the opportunity to drive up there and pick her up (she took the ACE train in from Stockton that morning). Moreover, I took the opportunity to drive the length of CA 25 and finally visit San Benito County. I've now visited, in some form or other, every county in California, though I need to return to the north-central counties to properly acknowledge them (Cecilia knows what I mean...).

San Benito is a very rural county, partitioned from the eastern portion of Monterey county in 1874. Its county seat is Hollister and that city is by far the largest city in the county. CA 25 runs the length of the county (right through the middle), so driving the length of CA 25 gives you a good introduction to the sweeping treeless hills and abundance of cattle there. San Benito will also stand in my memory as the county of the Suicidal Squirrel Battalions. Several times on the route bunches of squirrels (or single suicidal squirrels) would race across the road in front of my car, dashing just out of reach of the wheels rolling along at around 70 mph. Most of the squirrels survived.

Yes, most of the squirrels survived. One poor soul didn't quite make it, as the distinctive thump and quivering rodent in the rearview mirror make cringingly clear. Yikes...

Rain in San Jose, but the library where I picked up Rhonelle was really stunning. The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library is brand new and serves both CSUSJ and the city of San Jose. It features several art installation-type things as well as housing the Beethoven Center. Within the Beethoven Center is a lock of Beethoven's hair. Yes, when the old man died in 1827 two locks of his hair were cut off for posterity and one of them wound up in San Jose of all places. Quite amazing to see actually, and considering that the AMS meeting was that same weekend in Houston I figured that viewing Beethoven's hair was as good of a musicological substitute as I was going to get. Strolled around downtown San Jose looking for someplace nice to eat but we ended up settling for Gordon Biersch, one of those casual and trendy brewpubs that have sprung up in the last ten years or so to accompany the popularity of microbreweries and "independent" beers. Decent food, but very loud restaurant.

Sunday Rhonelle and I drove up into the Sierra foothills to revisit the Marshall Gold Discovery SHP in Coloma. We had visited the park briefly in 2002 as part of our trip along the length of CA 49, but this time we had all day to wander around. Very nice place. James Marshall, the man who found the gold in 1848, is accorded a very prestigious place in the park obviously. Interestingly, he never really made any wealth from his discovery and actually died quite destitute (same for John Sutter, owner of the sawmill Marshall was working on when gold was found). More interestingly is the way Marshall is venerated as some sort of "discoverer," as some sort of hero, when his discovery really was an accident. In other words, Marshall wasn't prospecting, he was checking the progress of some work on the mill when his eye was caught by the gleam of what turned out to be gold. Heck, that could have happened to anyone. And yet it happened to James Marshall on January 27, 1848, and now he has a really big monument at a state park.

Driving back from Coloma we exited I-5 south of Sacramento and drove along CA 160, which winds its way along the Sacramento River. More than that, it winds its way across the top of several levees. Very picturesque to look out and see the mighty Sacramento River just feet away (23 feet below us). We got off the 160 at CA 12 in order to head back to I-5 and Stockton. Very pleasant drive though.

Pictures of this portion of the weekend.

The drive home to Los Angeles also included some impromptu diversions, in particular I cut across the valley along CA 152 to meet up with CA 99. With that diversion I've now driven the length of CA 152 (stretches from CA 99 to US 101 near Gilroy). Heading into Bakersfield I jumped on CA 58 to head east up over the Tehachapi Mountains. Extremely nice drive up to 4000 feet. Caught CA 14 south for the trip back down to L.A.

For those of you keeping score at home, here is the route I took from Los Angeles to Stockton:
(Los Angeles) I-405, I-5, CA 46, US 101, CA 198, CA 25, US 101, CA 85, CA 87 (San Jose), I-280, I-680, CA 84, I-580, I-205, I-5 (Stockton).

Coming back, the route was:
(Stockton) I-5, CA 152, CA 99, CA 58, CA 14, I-5, I-405 (Los Angeles)

Posted: Wednesday - November 19, 3 at 03:09 PM