July 6 – Patterson to Blistering Hot Simi Valley

Today was one of our longer days on the road.  Leaving Patterson

We encountered what appears to be a plowed area or the remnants a roadside wildfire.

Passing through Santa Nella, we saw a windmill,

Mission de Oro,

a hotel modeled after an old mission, including an ancient Spanish bell tower.

and, unfortunately, the handiwork of some people who have access to spray paint and too much time on their hands.

Continuing on there was actual evidence of roadside fire

and one of several large herds of sheep

To our right (west) the landscape remained barren

while to our left (east), there we agricultural crops as far as the eye could see.

Since entering northern California, we have seen evidence of protests in the form of signs advocating the State of Jefferson … the 51st state …

Did you know there is a “ghost” 51st state in America? There is, and there has been since 1941. Located in the rural areas of northern California and southern Oregon, the state is called Jefferson, after the famous author of the Declaration of Independence and 3rd president of the United States. Jefferson comprises four counties from Oregon and three counties from California, and encompasses an area just slightly smaller than the state of West VIrginia. Lest you think Jefferson isn’t real just because it hasn’t been officially declared a state yet, it is important to know this ghost state already has its own flag and seal, and once even had its own governor. The people who live in the area of Jefferson are serious about it.

The idea for the state of Jefferson shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. California and Oregon are both large states, and people in the rural areas of these states have long felt like their interests weren’t taken seriously or given enough representation in the state governments. Because the counties of Jefferson border each other across the California and Oregon state lines, these counties have much in common with each other, and the residents believe they would create a state that gave its residents what they need in a much better way than they are currently being served.

Back in 1941, the idea for Jefferson had so much support that young men from the counties that comprised the proposed state would gather weapons and patrol the “state’s” borders on a weekly basis. They would stop anyone attempting to drive into Jefferson and hand out literature, while declaring their intent to secede from Oregon and California as an independent state every Thursday until Jefferson was made a reality. The movement to make Jefferson a state had support in both the California and Oregon state governments, and a governor was elected in preparation for Jefferson being given official state status.

However, just as the vote on making Jefferson a state was about to take place, the assault on Pearl Harbor happened, and plans for Jefferson were scrapped so residents of all states in the United States could focus on the nation’s participation in WWII. This does not mean the idea for Jefferson was forgotten, though.

After the war, many attempts were made to garner interest in forming the state again. These efforts are still ongoing, with the most serious movement so far beginning in 2013. This time, the movement is almost entirely based in the northern counties of California, since they feel disenfranchised by the rest of the state. The original southern counties of Oregon that were originally part of the proposed state have not expressed interest in joining the movement this time. However, 11 counties (as opposed to the original 4) in northern California have sent their declarations of intent to secede to the California state legislature, and to form the state of Jefferson.

We may see a state of Jefferson yet. With 11 counties declaring for Jefferson, supporters only need one more county to declare to get it on the next California ballot. Supporters are confident they will get that one more state they need, and currently have plans to put the secession of the northern counties of California on the ballot during the presidential election of 2016. There may be one more star on our nation’s flag

and others involved in a more focused campaign, protesting State and Congressional actions and advocating for farmer’s water rights (although we’ve been unable to find out the background about the current disputes).

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The further south we traveled, the more agricultural crops we saw  … left and right,

Meanwhile, the threat of gusty winds was omnipresent.

There were vast orchards of pistachios and almonds

and grapes.

One area of roadwork

   turned on to be simple lawn mowing.

A crop duster flew less than 50’ over our car.

There were dry campers … or perhaps folks with no other home

and dust devils.

There were things we didn’t understand

Then, there's a lot we don't know much about!

Then, we got our first glimpses of oil pumpers.

Mid-day we reached the Grapevine … a steep, curvy, busy, big-rig filled section of mountain road that runs through the Angeles National Forest and holds central and southern California together starting just south of the town of Grapevine.

The temperature was "north" of 100o

We reached the height of land at 4,144 feet before gradually descending,

Passing beautiful Pyramid Lake,

and into the Santa Clara area.

We were eventually routed, along with all truck traffic away from I-5

and ended up in a traffic jam; which we quickly discovered was caused by rubberneckers gawking at a fire

On our last 15 miles of the day, our GPS then decided to play havoc with us … directing us down several narrow roads

through several residential districts of Simi Valley

before it finally directed us to Tapo Canyon Road

where only a few remote and very high-end homes are to be found.

By the time we reached our regional park campground,

the temperature had reached.

Hotter than our 1980s trip to Israel and Egypt where the mercury climbed to only 114o

Our immediate neighbors seemed less bothered by the temperature than Debbie and I

although we missed one local.

After dinner, when the temperature moderated to just over 90o, we took a walk around the park and were captivated by the late sun painting a nearby hillside in a red-orange glow

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