The cool temperatures and foggy conditions began to subside as I approached Hollister, CA. Heeding the warning sign that read "No Services Next 80 mi", I fueled up and reset my odometer. Stretching southeasterly before me was the picturesque pastureland of the Hwy25 corridor. Expansive ranches and weathered barns dotted the sparse landscape. Travelling through this area made the realities of the California drought tangible.
Aged windmills still spin in the breeze, though this one has lost its rudder. Much of the environment here has been overgrazed and with the ongoing dry conditions, few plants grow freely across the terrain.
Once in the San Juaquin Valley, the landscape changes rapidly from ranches to arid spaces without irrigation and massive orchards stretching as far as the eye can see. Newly planted orange groves are symmetrical in nature and their rows continue for acres. The white support poles create an optical illusion if you look to the side, a recurring vanishing point of pattern stretching into the distance, a geometric dream.
Arriving at my cousin's house, I am welcomed by her and her husband into their large and modern home. The garage is full of a lifted rock-crawler JK Jeep that he is repairing, among other projects. A flat screen TV and computer affixed to the wall lend the ultimate air of "Man Cave" to the area, though my cousin also loves tinkering and spending time in this space as well. A dusty old XJ Cafe Racer sits unused in the corner, a memory of times stationed in Florida. We eat a delicious home-cooked meal and relax in front of the TV to watch "Gold Rush". It just so happens I have visited many of the Alaskan locations in this TV show. I wonder how long it will be until I find myself crossing back into the 49th state...
In May 2014 I quit my job to ride a Honda Ruckus over 69'000 mi and counting. Wild camping most nights and cooking most of my own meals, I keep the costs low and the landscape changing.