Around Dunnigan, California
August 2-10, 2012
Above is our dawn view from the Hacienda Motel in Dunnigan, California on August 4. It is farming country, and you can see the sprays of the irrigation rigs across the railroad that serves this farming community. Wanda and Charles lived in this community since his last retirement - was that the third retirement, or the fourth? Wanda lives in their comfortable house about a block from this location.
Mary and John Kilpatrick lived in Woodland, but have recently purchased a house in Vacaville. Mary worked at the Univ of California in Davis, but has recently received a promotion to a position in Hematology and Oncology with the University's medical center in Sacramento. Bob and Sheree also have lived in this area, so the area shown in the map has been a kind of orbit for a substantial fraction of the family. Now Becky is in the process of buying a house in Vacaville and Wanda anticipates moving down there with her.
On one of my walkabouts, this view across the railroad track gives an idea of the scale of irrigation here. Wanda says it doesn't rain all summer, but that means lots of sunshine to grow things if you can take water from the Sacramento River or from deep wells.
In this field two big diesel pumps were running to supply the water to the system.
Another major crop in the area was sunflowers. The irrigation has been stopped to allow these to dry for harvest.
One of the fields of these large sunflowers was just across the road and railroad track from the neat housing area where Wanda lives. These sunflowers were short, but the heads were very large, presumably bred to maximize the output of sunflower seeds.
To the west of I5 at Dunnigan you could see the signature California golden grassy hills in the distance, but green irrigated crops in the valley and up on the slopes.
In places you could see the green dotted pattern of fruit and nut trees stretching up on the slopes, but I presumed that further up it became impractical to irrigate.
On Monday, August 6, we had breakfast with Wanda and then headed out toward Yosemite. We proceeded south on I5 and then branched eastward into the land of golden grassy hills. About two hours into the journey we were traveling through hills like these which had trees dotting the grassy hills.
It was wide open range country.
Further into the hills was this nice reservoir with lots of development and recreation on it.
As we got into the more mountainous area closer to Yosemite, this is the kind of road we were dealing with.