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.


  1. OMG I am so excited to come into your neck of the woods, I can't wait to see all this in person. I love your pictures...thanks for sharing.

  2. Haha ... I LOVE this post Inger - I do this type of drive-by shooting all the time ...

    ... I'm glad I'm not the only one with 'pictures gone sideways' - I was beginning to think I have something wrong with my ears ... :)

    Lovely to take a look into your world


  3. loved the terrain - moonscape is a great description. glad you live out of the smog. :)

  4. I always thought LA was the worst smoggy city I had seen. We get the same effect in our valley area where the mountains surround the flat farming land.

    The only thing I know about Bakersfield is the song by Dwight Y. and Buck Owens. (I like that song, although country music isn't my first choice of listening music.)

    I missed that photo on Friday. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I read somewhere that when the first white men came to the area that would be the future Los Angeles they saw smoke lingering in the air from the Native American's fires. Because of the geological formation of the valley, smog JUST IS!!

  6. Beautiful landscape photos, Inger! Wish I could visit but the air would kill me I suppose. Very pleasing to look at though.

  7. Such beautiful scenery. Too bad that we mess up the air quality. Denver used to be one of the worst areas for bad air, but they've worked at cleaning up their act over the last decade.

    Tucker wants to tell Samson thanks for the comment. He says, "Yeah, it still hurts a bit, but I don't mind running around. So what if I limp a bit!"

  8. thanks for my arm chair vacation to your city in CA. I only know what I see on TV and movies and never seen anything like this. when i think CA i think beaches or LA or San Francisco. thanks for sharing.

  9. Va kul och se lite av landskapet du bor i nu. LIte annorlunda än Sverige.
    Jättefina bilder du tog ifrån bilen vad jag ser.
    Din fråga, jag mailar. INget bra att offentliggöra det på nätet.
    Kram från mig!!

  10. Now THAT was a great morning drive Inger! The landscape is so different for my eyes/brain to see. It is really beautiful and your photos reflect this very well.
    You are going to have so much fun 'working' your photos!
    Canada 'used' the Chinese as well to build our railway all the way to the west coast....that is another story for another day.

  11. Thanks for taking us along, Inger. That was a fun trip.

  12. How nice to take the trip via your photos and not have to breathe in one smidgen of smog.
    Don't think I could live there. Where you live--yes. In that foul
    air--never. Such a shame.

  13. Hello Inger!! I loved the glimpse into your world!! I love seeing the pictures of the dessert because it's such a contrast to my view, and just as beautiful!

    THANK YOU for the kind words for Sam!! I so appreciate your support and words of comfort that mean more than you may know!! Take care, and I hope you're having an enjoyable weekend!!

  14. You survived both the smog and the doctor. This is good news!

    Thanks for the photos and running dialogue.

    Pls. take care of yourself. And your critters.

    Blessings and Bear hugs.

  15. Lovely pictures of the mountains :)
    Have a lovely Sunday!


  16. Your pictures are always so beautiful. Seriously. You always do such great justice to your subjects.

  17. I don't think we've ever driven down this freeway but always flew over looking down at the trains. Amazing what the Chinese did there in CA.

  18. I drive into Phoenix to work every morning. I hate the brown cloud that hangs in the air. I am always so excited to get home and away from it at the end of the day.

  19. New follower from Wanna Buy a Duck blog. I used to live in Bakersfield, Hansford and Visalia managing Village Inn Restaurants before moving to AZ. I love the area where you live!
    Huge green hugs,


Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger


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