23-Jan-2011 -- New year, new opportunity to visit southern California, and new confluence. I was feeling a bit antsy, as it had been 2 months since my last attempted confluence, and it had also been awhile since I had visited the desert. Plus, this was the kind of morning in January that makes one realize why so many millions of people moved from places like New York and Minnesota to California--blue skies, nice breezes, warm temperatures. I drove north from LAX airport over the mountains and into the Central Valley of California. As I descended, the air changed. It was as murky as I remembered it as a teenager, and just south of Bakersfield, it had condensed to extremely low visibility. It lifted a bit later but I realized that the photographs of the confluence would be hazy. Still, I was confident that I would make my destination, as this was surely to be one of the easiest confluence treks, being alongside a paved public roadway.
On the way into the valley I passed the turnoff to 35 North 119 West, where I a few years before had walked down a long lonely road and up the side of a mountain. I made a note to self that I needed to check on the country music connections to Bakersfield, as I crossed a Buck Owens street and a Merle Haggard Street. I had a lot of work left that I did not finish on the airplane, and so I couldn't afford to stop, but pressed onward, turning onto State Highway 99 and then north onto State Highway 65. It was here that I entered two zones that epitomized the reasons that the Central Valley is famous: Oil and Agriculture. First, I crossed an enormous oil field; I should have stopped, because the density of oil pumping stations was something I had never seen before. Rather abruptly, this ended, and gave way to rolling fields and citrus orchards. Quite a few highway patrol officers were out for some reason.
From Highway 65, I turned east onto Teapot Dome Avenue, and next, after a wrong turn onto South Main, came back to Teapot Dome, heading east again. I turned south onto Road 252. This road, following section lines, bent to the east and was called Avenue 116. At the intersection of Avenue 116 and Road 256, I stopped, gathered supplies, and set off. I always like to have a bit of a walk, even when I can literally drive to a confluence point.
In less than five minutes, I located the confluence point. It was indeed about 1 meter from the west shoulder of the road, adjacent to a citrus grove. The trees and crop were mature and a few fruits had dropped to the ground. The view was magnificent to the northeast, especially, despite the haze. The temperature was about 70 degrees F under sunny but hazy skies, just after noon at the end of January. I now had a very nice collection of southern California confluence points. I had stood on 36 north a number of times before, from California on the west to Oklahoma and North Carolina on the east. This was only my second time at 119 West--the first being the confluence one degree to the south. A few cars passed me. I saw no animals except for horses and cattle in the distance, and a few birds. I walked to the intersection and took some lovely fence photos. As I was leaving the area, I stopped at another orange orchard and filmed a "geography is all about agriculture" movie.
Driving South on Highway 65 again, I reached Highway 99, and then at Bakersfield, turned east onto State Highway 58, which I took to Kramer Junction. On the way, I passed within a mile of 35 North 118 West, where I had visited last year, but again, I had no time to revisit. I was feeling an attack of the "lonelies" but fortunately, the Green Bay Packers were playing in the NFC Championship football game that I was listening to on the radio, which cheered me. But then the mountain passes made me lose the station at a critical moment. Later, I found another station as I was passing Edwards Air Force Base, weeping for joy as they won the NFC title. At Kramer Junction, I took US Highway 395 south to San Bernardino and Redlands, arriving just as the sun was setting in a blaze of reds and oranges. A great time of getting out onto the landscape!