Trip Start Apr 12, 1992
65Trip End Jun 15, 1992
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On my map US-190, which runs east and west out of Panamint Springs, looks like a straight shot across desert flats. Not so. The west side especially is a roller coaster ride with numerous sharp turns and switchbacks. Elevations vary from 1000 to 3000 feet. While climbing the eastern slope of the mountain range i anticipated a view of snow capped Mount Whitney rising from behind the ridge. It didn't happen. The Panamint Valley area is very scenic but Mount Whitney never came into view, at least until I approached it from the south several days later
I grew tired of cereal for breakfast, so this morning I tried 'nilla wafers and peanut butter, and coffee. Not bad.
Near Olancha the elevation reached 5000' The weather was cool and clear, a beautiful day in a beautiful place. I was beginning to learn you cannot describe California, no location is indicative of the entire state. The changes in landscape and weather, plant growth, or lack of it, are frequent for the traveler. US-395 led me to Coso (bullring) Junction and Little Lake, where I turned south on CA-58. I stopped long enough in Tehachapi to call the Bear.
It was good to hear her, to confirm that she really exists, that I have a home to return to. Reassured, I rolled on past Keene and Caliente (hot) to Bakersfield. Balersfield is an ugly town, populated by Black and Hispanic laborers and farmhands fighting to hold back poverty. The city sprawls amidst rolling, rounded hills and grasslands, with many oil wells and wide level fields lush with irrigated crops. Forest-like clusters of windmills spin out clean electric power.
The disparity between the townspeople and the surrounding wealth is obvious. There is something wrong when our greatest wealth producing areas, in terms of real wealth, harbor the poorest populations. By real wealth I mean the product of agriculture and manufacturing, of goods and services that help provide comfortable, healthy, pleasant life. Many of our people never get to enjoy the benefits of the advantages they produce.
I had intended to stay overnight in Bakersfield. Surely the large Mexican population would guarantee I could dine at an authentic Mexican cantina-restaurant. But the radio news regarding the Los Angeles riots revealed lawlessness and rioting was spreading to other cities. Also, people on the streets didn't appear to be very friendly, so I moved on. About ten miles north of town I got permission to park outside a well lit twenty four hour convenience store. And as added security I placed my sawed-off twelve gauge pump shotgun on the floor beside my bunk.
Later in the evening radio stations reported a demonstration was underway at that moment in Bakersfield. It was pretty nasty. I'm glad I decided not to stay in town. I pride self on being able to blend in and get along with most any group of people, but I don't care to deal with an angry mob that is violent just for the sake of violence. There were also reports of rioting in Fresno and San Francisco, both places on my schedule for next week. I decided if the riot activity did not stop I would choose alternate destinations.
Several military convoys passed during the evening, headed south toward Los Angeles. Reports indicated about 10,000 federal military, border patrol, U.S. Marshals, etc. were now on the scene or en route to Los Angeles. I had no opportunity to see any TV pictures of the riot scenes. It must have been horrible.