A beautiful day, a tragic day…


For the first time in almost three weeks, we woke Friday in Sacramento to a gloriously sunny day. An early walk in the soft morning air, and return to our room for breakfast and email…

Shocked to learn of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan while we slept, I began watching local news programming as it detailed not just the tragedy in Japan, but the imminent threat of tsunami on the US Pacific coast from Washington and Oregon south through California.

Scenes from Japan were heartbreaking:  huge debris-filled waves sweeping ashore, destroying everything in their path, one scene with fire burning in the center of the wave as it plowed through a whole town. Other scenes taken in an office and a supermarket as the earthquake was happening showed the tremendous power of the quake.

I was so wrapped up in the coverage from Japan, and the breaking news from coastal towns like Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and Crescent City, CA (one place I stopped on my way north to play with Max on the beach…) that I forgot to feed Max his breakfast for an hour. In the meantime, my daughter called me from Maine and we spent almost a half hour on the phone.

With a heavy heart, I pulled myself away from TV, and packed up the car to continue our journey south again on I-5. Our end-of-day goal was Bakersfield, and we had 4-1/2 hours of driving ahead of us. Before getting in the car, I gave Max some ball playing time in the parking lot – which I’m sure he appreciated.

As we drove south, the landscape of the Central Valley was beautiful under a bright blue sky. Clouds held off over the mountains surrounding us – much like yesterday – and the miles of fruit and nut trees were in full, riotous bloom. Pinks, whites, bright fuchsia blossoms on both sides of the road, as far as the eye could see. Occasional grazing cattle and sheep, but mostly huge commercial agricultural swaths of what I find hard to call orchards.

I think of orchards like the ones back home – usually family owned, small five, ten, or twenty acres of apples, maybe some peaches. Certainly not these mega-farms I’ve seen here. Just where did I think all those apples, almonds, apricots, and so forth in the grocery store come from anyway?

The hills were so beautiful; picture softly rounded mounds of earth that someone has draped in the most velvety spring green velvet, and you have a sense of just how beautiful they looked this morning.

Achingly blue skies and velvety hills helped to ease today’s sadness over Japan’s terrible earthquake and tsunami.


As I drove I kept going back to thoughts of Japan… Here we were in the midst of all this beauty, while they were digging out, searching for loved ones, and in some cases finding them dead. Here we were surrounded by the promise of new life (fruits), and abundance, sunshine, health and vitality. And there… sorrow, devastation, struggle.

We pulled in at a rest stop where it was warm and sunny, but quite windy. In the ladies room, a woman greeted me with “This wind sure does things for our hairdos, doesn’t it?” My response, was “I’m alive, and the sun is shining, so it’s OK with me.” Walking around outside with Max, I was surprised by a warning sign for rattlesnakes, so kept to the main area and didn’t wander off as I had been intending.

Max, posing once again for me, at a rest stop south of Stockton, CA.


Further on, I drove to a “Vista Point” and took a couple of pictures of the valley:

Those black dots down there are a herd of cattle…


If you look closely, you might notice the pink blossomed trees in the center of this photo.


Later, I stopped for gas and lunch and spotted this bumper sticker. I think it says it all.

Cupcakes rule!


Bakersfield, California is not what I would consider a world-class destination… For us, tonight, it’s a good bed, a cozy room, and TV to catch up on the news. A man swept away in Brookings, OR; four other people swept out to sea and rescued; Crescent City dock washed away; boats set adrift and damaged in Santa Cruz… I was surprised to learn that just yesterday afternoon, Bakersfield experienced a 2.5 quake of its own. My shoes and purse are by the door…

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About Maureen Farr

I am a graphic and web designer – and the publisher of the print version of Arts Guide, a free guide highlighting the arts, dining, events, and more on the coast of Maine. In addition, I am a visual artist working in mixed media and encaustic, as well as creating found object jewelry. I am currently at work revising a short novel that I wrote as a participant in the 32nd Annual 3-Day Novel Contest.
This entry was posted in California, California Coast, Musings, Random thoughts, San Francisco, Traveling with a dog, Traveling wth a poodle and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to A beautiful day, a tragic day…

  1. hank says:

    in just a few short weeks all that green turns to straw, burnt brown. still some of the best tillable soil on the planet…

    no tv, but intertubes telling the story. the pacific rim is experiencing scary intense activity. less than two weeks from new zealand to japan to bakersfield.

    i like when you refer to this here region as home. com’on back, momo. there’s lots of bare ground now that we’ve had two days in the 40s and lots and lots of rain. peepers by april 10th is my prediction

    • Maureen Farr says:

      Hank, you remind me of Rufus – he would have predicted peepers right around that same time! I’ll definitely be back before then

  2. Nice, emotional post this morning, Momo–I spent a lot of time “checking in” with Japan and the West Coast yesterday too–just horrifying and saddening. . . And so scary how the tectonic plates seem to readjust after major activity in one area–it is almost like a woman smoothing out her skirt after standing up–everything needs to be level, even. . . Stay safe in CA–beautiful pictures–I think I know the area where Microsoft Windows 95 got that beautiful logo image of the rounded, green hills and blue sky that was the desktop for so long! lol! xoxo, Cin

    • Maureen Farr says:

      Cin, I like your description of a woman adjusting her skirt. cloudy this morning, but we are making that left turn and heading east!

      • Yeah, that’s just what hit me at the moment that I read about the 2.5 quake in your area–everything just being smoothed out, leveled. . . Amazing, the system of checks and balances Mother Nature has going on every day. Sad, tragic sometimes, but amazing nonetheless. . . They’re really suffering over in Japan–there’s been a big explosion at one of the nuclear power plants that lost its cooling ability in the tsunami. . . 😦

        Well, drive safely and keep up the great posts! love ya, cin

  3. Ellie Adams says:

    Thanks for your sensitivity in expressing your thoughts regarding the destruction in Japan. Nicely done and it brought tears! Stay safe!! Good pictures. Max is a delight!!

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