The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #581   Message #3326112
Posted By: Joe Offer
21-Mar-12 - 01:47 AM
Thread Name: Origins:Deportees-seeking original Woody recording
Subject: RE: Deportees - seeking original Woody recording
I had quite a day today. I visited Pinnacles National Monument in San Benito County, California - climbed through a cave and saw a California Condor. I took the back way out, heading south down California Highway 25 on a leisurely route toward Los Angeles, where I'm due to arrive Thursday. In the middle of nowhere, I noticed a turnoff to "Coalinga Road." I think I saw that turnoff last year when I was in the same area, but paid no attention to it then because I was headed in the opposite direction. This time, I looked at the map and found that the road became Los Gatos Canyon Road as it approached Coalinga.

The sign at the entrance warned me to expect 25 miles of winding road, so I figured it was going to be only 25 miles to Coalinga. I didn't note my mileage until I had gone what I thought was twenty miles, and I drove twenty-five miles after that. I didn't see another vehicle for the first hour, and the road was narrow and full of potholes, showing signs of recent landslides. In several places, the road forded small streams that flowed from the remainder of last week's rain and snow. There was still a dusting of snow on some of the higher mountains that lined the canyon. There were ranches in some places along the road, and even a couple of small communities; and there were other long stretches where there was no sign of human habitation at all.

Even where there were buildings, I didn't see any people. The daylight was fading, and it was getting a bit spooky - and then the road narrowed to one lane. After maybe thirty miles of very treacherous driving, I crossed into Fresno County and the road was pretty good.

Along the way, I saw California quail, and two big flocks of turkeys - maybe 25 turkeys in each flock. I saw a deer, and a long, slinky animal that looked like a weasel. Then I saw a herd of elk in a meadow alongside the road, so I stopped to take pictures. While I was there, I spotted two bald eagles in the trees near the elk.

In the evening sunlight, this forty-mile canyon was spectacular. It was very narrow in places, and the surrounding Coast Range mountains were often very rugged. There weren't too many wildflowers yet, but the grass was green and lush.

Just after I entered Fresno County, I came to "Los Gatos Creek Recreation Area," a facility that looked like a vacation camp with cabins. There was a small community around the recreation area - again, with no people in sight. At the other end of the road, a sign said the recreation area was 16 miles west of Coalinga, so I imagine the plane crash took place just west of the recreation area, in the most desolate area of the road. I didn't see any marker commemorating the crash - just a narrow road in a narrow canyon in a very rugged area. But it was beautiful, breathtakingly beautiful - and teeming with wildlife.

I've wanted to make this drive for years and years. Yes, today was a good day - it was touched with a sweet melancholy, thinking of those people who died in this beautiful, desolate place, just a few months before I was born.

May they rest in peace.


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