23 September 2011

Always Take The Road Less Traveled Pt 2

California has unmatched physical beauty. Drastic coastlines and mountains contrast with rolling hills and fertile valleys to produce a land rich with the possibility of adventure. In my previous post I began to review the scenic drive from the Bay Area to Santa Barbara. In today's post, I will take you down Interstate  5 the junction with Highway 33. 

Let's pick up where we left off last time, at I-580 as it snakes up and over the Altamont Pass near Livermore, CA. Once 'the 580' hits the floor of the Central Valley,it merges with the westbound I-205 from Tracy, and then turns south/south-east to follow the hills along the western side of the Central Valley. There is not much to see out here besides a huge Safeway packing plant, and high voltage power lines carrying electricity to the distant coastal metropolises.

Up and Over the Altamont Pass (looking East)

580/205 Split

I-580 joins with I-5 and heads south

Interstate 5 is straight as an arrow and as excited as remedial arithmetic. The name of the game is speed; traffic flows around 70-80 mp/h, with even tractor-trailers going close to 70 mp/h!

View from I-5

And finally after many miles of dead straight freeway I see this:
Here is where the fun begins!

I got off the Interstate at the Hwy 33 turnoff and pulled over to take in the scenery. When I opened my door, an unholy stench assaulted my nostrils. It turns out that Hwy 33 intersects I-5 near Harris Farms Cattle Feed Lot. This feed lots is comprised of acres of cows standing in their own filth. Stream is often visible above the lot as it bakes in the hot California sun, and the smell itself is a land mark well known by travelers on this section of interstate.

... The Horrific Smell only allowed me to stay for a few minutes. I pity these cows who are trapped here, and feel momentarily ashamed of my membership in the Human Race. 'Good Luck, Cows,' I think to myself as I get back into my car, the virtues of vegetarianism dancing through my mind.

The feed lot is the brown patch nestled inbetween Hwy 33 and Hwy 145
View of feed lot from across the Interstate.

All stinky feed lots aside, I now was face to face with Hwy 33: 100 miles of curvy blacktop stretching into the most remote reaches of Santa Barbara, Kern, Fresno, and San Luis Obispo counties.

Finally getting off I-5, and heading west towards Coalinga
Looking West down Hwy 33. Interstate 5 is directly behind me.

We have reached as far as the interstate will take up on this journey. Join me next time for a taste of Central California's break-taking highland landscape.

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