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Today was also focused on energy because of what the California landscape had to offer us. Driving along back-country roads through California’s central valleys, we passed through a town called Lost Hills, which seemed to be nothing other than one large oil field. Oil rigs littered the landscape as far as the eye could see, north and south across the pancake-flat valley floor. It was a harsh and uninviting landscape, but what seemed most odd about was its proximity to rich agricultural lands. The oil fields were surrounded by almond groves and dairy farms, which gave way in each direction to other crops such as cotton, leafy greens and vineyards full of wine grapes. In some areas, mounds of freshly harvested almonds seemed literally piled up alongside oil wells – something to think about next time you bite into a plate of almond-crusted halibut.As dramatic as the oil fields were, so was California’s next big display of energy. Just east of Bakersfield, on the mountain pass into the Mojave Desert, lies hills littered in wind turbines. Thousands of them dot the landscape, twirling away in the breeze while providing a hopefully cleaner alternative to the State’s energy needs. We were joined on Twitter at the time by Tom Gray, who informed us that the two distinct types of wind turbine we were seeing represented varying stages of technology. The smaller, meshed looking turbines have been in place since the 80′s, while the larger, more cost effective jumbo-size turbines are the industry standard today. Somewhat ironically, the contrast between these two forms of energy was reflected in the environmental health of the State’s ecosystems we passed through. Whereas the clear and sunny day on the Monterey Bay revealed forest-covered hills, rich marine life and unpolluted skies, the air above and around Bakersfield was the exact opposite. A thick smog hung over that city like an evil gloom, and the entire ride through smelled of fumes and toxins. And then in the end we escaped that foul air, into the crisp, dry and mystically beautiful wilderness expanses of the Mojave, where we sleep tonight. Resting peacefully, looking forward to more of Big America tomorrow.October 16thToday was a day of crossing deserts and state lines. Parched, dry landscapes and obscure Americana dominated our voyage east on this leg of our cross-country journey. Escaping California offered little relief in terms of change of barren landscapes, although the appearance of giant solar farms was a welcome first. From the Mojave to the Hoover Dam, and finally the Grand Canyon, some of the south-westernmost stretches of the United States are as filled with historic iconography as they are beautiful expanses of desert wilderness.
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Such a simple incident could have so much impact on us... It had so much impact on me... their simple conversation had made me think about so much.. And made the long walk so easy.And when I saw the time I was still far and I had 10 minutes left for my booking at the Alcatraz, I rushed my tired feet as hard as I could and reached just in time. As I serpented my way through to the big boat which was going to take me to the notorious Alcatraz, the island stood right in-front of me in complete isolation in the never ending sea with a promise of so many stories to be told. I recommend good walking shoes for Alcatraz, if you want to see all the parts and are curious to know of all the stories of the worst criminals and the escape attempts. What took me by surprise was that San Francisco looked glorious from the prison and I couldn't help but think... that for the criminals it must have been such a sore sight.. I mean.. the good life was right infront of them at all times.. almost within their reach except for no way to escape and a freezing sea between them and the straight lanes and lives of the good people. They even had a section for dogs who were trained to attack when told. Inside the prison walls and the individual prisons.. the likes of me.. 'tourists' were getting their pictures clicked behind bars with smiles... but when I asked someone to take a picture of me.. I couldn't help myself and feel ... ummmm .. BAD and BUCK... so I made the 'Criminal faces' and soon enough like a fad.. everyone was clicking pics behind bars with the appropriate expressions... hahahah... On my arrival back to land; my friend was already waiting to pick me up with his wonderful wife and son. Tushar is an IT professional and had lived here for over a decade. And even though we hadn't met in over 15 years.... Was kind enough to take me around and later even insist I stay over in his posh home with the cream carpets and a pool in the backyard. I did have a rough plan for that day but was meeting him after so long that I didn't feel comfortable making demands so I let him plan my day. It's good to let go and throw away the oars sometimes, I say. He drove me all around SF and showed me the much famed and beautiful crooked road... which was such a pretty sight with the flowers all along it and then took me for a long drive, over the Golden Gate Bridge to the 17 mile road. Again, I was meeting him after about 15 years, and he was a friend of my brother in law and we had met at my sister's wedding and yet he and his wife; also an IT professional went out of their way with their son who wasn't too well to show me the city. Now the 17 mile drive, I don't know if this place features in any lists of To-Sees but I sure loved it... Twas long and winding and had mountains on one side and sea on the other.. We drove through trees and multiple picturesque spots and then came across a spot where the trees had the weirdest shapes... One was called the Ghost Tree and I swear it did look like a ghost.When they had asked me what I wanted to eat I had requested Sambar rice, I was craving home cooked simple meals. But, we got home very late that night. The next morning; she had made it for me. I sat in the sunny backyard to soak up the sun and ate over two servings of rice before they dropped me to the airport and we exchanged promises to be in touch.San Francisco had been absolutely wonderful with amazing weather and so many gorgeous places to see... But I was going to the airport with thoughts of Mary and smiling about the kindness of Tushar and his family. And reminding myself of the lessons I had learnt and praying I would remember them when I became a mother.This trip was originally published on Travelling Boots.