Spring Busted Out Revealing a Great Drive

Irving, Texas 

Welcome to my Blog. This is my first entry as a blog. I’ve been writing about our  truck driving adventure for two years in email letters to our mothers, the email list slowly expanded to include friends, who encouraged me to create a blog.

I viewed the email letters and now postings as chapters rather than daily updates. Bumping along in the truck – America’s roads are ailing – it’s hard to write, we are a team, moving expedited freight, so we stop for short periods of time unlike solo drivers who much shut down ten hours a day. 

Fittingly this new kid on the blog arrived with Spring when everything is new and fresh and clean and green and simply uplifting.

I said it last year and it’s still true – Spring is the BEST season. It brings a spiritual lift, really. I feel lighter, more alive watching the world come to life. Minute by minute the days grow longer. The first hint of light in the sky is between 0500 and 0600 in most places. The fuzz on the trees is developing blossoms, followed by leaves, first a pale yellow green becoming more vibrant as the weeks pass. The blossoms, first yellow, then white, then purple and finally pink. The sun climbs higher in the sky, the light is warmer, more vibrant. There is less grey in the colors and more gold.

Last year Spring was a slow awakening starting in Laredo, Texas in January, moving through to Minneapolis, Minnesota by June. This year Spring exploded.  

Winter hung on and is still hanging on in the high mountain passes. Cold weather, lots of snow. The roads are in terrible condition making it hard to sleep. Construction workers are rolling out mile upon mile of Schneider eggs – that’s what truckers call the big orange construction barrels because Schneider tractors and trailers are orange.

Slabs of asphalt worn away, chunks out of concrete. The entrance ramp onto the Van Wyck Expressway in New York City had so many potholes a few days ago that we could see the rebar in the concrete. The truck bumps and bangs along the roadways.

For the longest time, the landscape was gray-brown and brown-gray. I ached everyday to see the soft green or red fuzz on the trees, the first sign that spring is coming. One day nothing. The next day, the roadsides are awash in white and pink blossoms and baby yellow and green leaves.

The Pacific Northwest and Northern and Central California leads the Spring sweepstakes each year. 

One of my favorite drives is California 152 from Gilroy to Santa Nella. We’ve driven the San Francisco-to-Dallas route twice now, the first time last November. I knew then it would be a special drive any time of the year.  South on US 101 from San Francisco to CA 152 and the Pacheco Pass Highways, which I call garlic alley.

The road winds through farms, mostly strawberries and garlic. Last November, I thought I was losing my mind, I smelled Italian food. Crazy. My nose kept curling up, sniffing, first little sniffs, then a deep inhale, the kind that you feel up to your eyeballs – definitely Italian food. Sumptuous, fragrant. What is that?

Garlic? It’s GARLIC. These are garlic farms!

A few days ago, on the same route, the rich deep brown earth has been tamed into miles of neat rows, covered with black plastic, waiting for planting. The hillsides are green, a soft carpet of green dotted with black, cows. Momma cows and baby cows grazing on the hillsides. The trees bearing pale yellow green leaves. The road winds through the farmlands, there are strawberries under there, along garlic alley, the fragrance not as soul stirring but the more than a hint of minced garlic, hitting crackling olive oil in a hot sautee pan. Again my nose, sniffing, inhaling, ah yes, garlic. Spaghetti. I must eat spaghetti soon.

Past the farms, there are fruit stands along the way with enough room to squeeze a big truck first thing in the morning. Next time, I promised myself I will stop. There is the much larger Casa des Frutas, which has real big truck parking. Past the farms, up the hill and into the mountains, almost a rain forest, lush with thick trees, green grasses, shrubs and bushes. There is a pull out that neatly fits a car. The top of the mountain, the San Luis Reservoir State Park with a viewing and educational center and down the hill, steeper than it appears and out to the grasslands on I-5 at Santa Nella.

We call the hills of Central California – the Chenille hills. Golden grass, they have the look of a soft, warm throw, the kind that you curl up under with a book on a cold and rainy day. In the spring, they were emerald green. So green I didn’t think it was possible, convinced it was some kind of high-tech colorization.

By April the green is fading, the golden grass is appearing, but we had one last stunning view in the last afternoon driving south of US99 from Bakersfield, while the green hillsides were giving way to gold, the painter’s canvas had been dabbed and dotted with intense purples and pinks and oranges. The spring wild flowers poking their way to sun.

Fantastic.

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