Saturday, June 2, 2012

Down the Mountain ~ Into the Smog

On Thursday, I had to go to Bakersfield to see my diabetes doctor. My husband drove, so I brought the camera along to entertain myself, taking pictures out of the open side window. 

After I got home, I discovered that Picasa can straighten out pictures gone sideways. I wasn't very successful, but it's going to be fun to delve a deeper into the tools available for digital photography and learn some new things.

Bakersfield has the dubious distinction of having the worst air quality of any city in the United States (Los Angeles is number 2).  I became a bit obsessed with trying to capture the smog on camera. You can see the haze in the background, but these pictures look so much better than real life, where you couldn't see a speck of blue skies through the smog.

As you approach the San Joaquin Valley, the landscape takes on moonscape quality. It is strangely beautiful. 

This is Murray Farms, where we see the first palm trees after arriving in the valley. We also get hit by a heatwave, with 90 plus degrees in the shade.

We stop here to pick up walnuts to balance my oatmeal breakfasts. Since I have diabetes, I have to add protein to my carbs to help balance my bloodsugars. I don't eat much meat, so I use nuts, beans, and fish as my protein sources. And Greek yogurt! It's the best if you ever want a quick meal with lots of protein.

We check out a few farm animals. "No thank you, no picture for me, I'm a pretty shy little goat," this one seemed to say.

And some bougainvillea, which always reminds me of our Los Angeles house where our seven-foot fence is covered by them in every color possible.

The valley is surrounded by mountains. This, combined with a continuous stream of tens of thousands of trucks coming through and pollution related to agriculture, results in the really bad air here. A beautiful place, it's such a shame.

My doctor's visit went well and I'm doing better with my diabetes management. Getting well after this winters travails, I'm on the right track again. Difficult to believe, but in April, this field was green and covered in wild flowers.

On the way home, after we pass the sign for the Tehachapi Loop, the famous invention of a 19th century engineer, who figured out a way to get trains up the steep grade of the mountain. The front end of a train actually passes over its rear end here in a loop of a tunnel with tracks continuing  above it. Check it out online if you are interested, it is pretty fabulous to see.

Anyway, after we passed the sign, I wanted to capture the entrance to one of the tunnels with my camera. There are about 18 railroad tunnels, built into the mountain in the 1800s by some 3,000 Chinese workers. Capturing a tunnel entrance was easier said than done, but maybe you can see the one here. Going up the steep mountain in a car, with all the trucks, some driving at practically stand-still speed, with their red rear lights flashing warnings, you must be very careful so you don't drive into one. Therefore, I couldn't ask hubby to slow down or distract him in any way with my photography. It is a seriously dangerous uphill if you're not careful.

We made it home safely, the smog lifted, and here we're greeted by the still green and fresh Tehachapi Mountains. All in all a very nice morning.


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