Friday, November 9, 2012

Day 61: Barstow to Sunnyvale

We left Barstow at 8:00, very early for us. We arrived home at 4:15, the longest driving day of the trip. There was a cold wind the whole day, and light rain for a short while. We saw wind-turbines fringing the mountains around Tehachapi. On I-5 we observed that agriculture in California is even more intense and diverse than other states, but quite a lot of cropland in the central valley has been abandoned because of water restrictions; signs posted by farmers along the road protest the "Congress-created Dust Bowl." We discussed the competing needs of agriculture and wild Pacific salmon.

Everything is fine at our house. One of our dear neighbors has moved, but the "anchor" of the neighborhood, who knows all the news, happened to be out for his walk and he greeted us.

We have a tremendous sense of accomplishment. We covered 8,700 miles and visited 39 museums. Of 60 nights in motels, Dan negotiated 8 freebees. We saw three national memorials: Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania, 9/11 Memorial in Manhattan, and the Oklahoma City National Memorial. We had pleasant visits with 5 friends.

Dan did almost all the driving. Twice drowsiness forced him to let me drive for an hour. Nothing wakes Dan up like my driving. (It's not like I get a lot of practice.) His driving was virtually flawless, rarely frightening me. The only accident we saw was a big rig on its side across the highway; no emergency vehicles, the big excitement was over. Tow trucks were working on getting the truck upright. In our travels we have twice seen those big trucks turned over on the opposite side of the road. Trucks are the big danger on the road: there are so many of them and they are so competitive; the drivers are pushing themselves and liable to make a mis-step. It's scary to be on an old-fashioned two-way road with no divider. Highway construction was extensive all around the nation; this is good.

It's shocking how divided the nation is. In this last election Colorado legalized the recreational use of marijuana; while we were in Oklahoma, an 'open-carry' law went into effect enabling registered gun owners to carry their weapon openly. In Texas we drove through town after town with no activity or prominent institution except a church; and as we were driving on Sunday, the parking lots were all full.

We saw a phenomenal amount of poverty. Along the state routes you see people living in very remote places in shacks and single-wide motor homes and combinations of the two, surrounded by decades of detritus. Small towns that look largely abandoned. That's another big division in this country: poverty vs. luxury. We felt very lucky to be skimming by it all in our climate-controlled chariot.

All during this trip we enjoyed the largesse of rich people. We saw many museums that were originally founded by individual art collectors who wanted to share their collections; we benefitted from their spirit of philanthropy.

Dan loves the new mini-van. It gave him all the support he needed and enhanced the trip a lot. There is almost too much space; our stuff sort of sloshed around in a semi-organized fashion. We were able to take clothes for all the weather changes and to bring back whatever we wanted.

This is the fourth time we have traveled coast to coast looking at art museums. This was the most successful trip. We had a very detailed plan and stuck to it. We had to skip one museum when we both had a cold, but we crammed in a few places that weren't on the plan.

We got healthier and stronger on the trip. We did not come home all broken down and worn out. In fact, Dan didn't pause for breath after we got home before he went to the Post Office and Safeway.

The next phase of the trip is to process the data we gathered, meaning we have to edit our photos and figure out how we want to share them. It's going to be a busy winter.

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