We are taking the slow route to Oregon.
It has been years since Janie or I traveled along Highway 101, which offers the most beautifully expansive valley views. Adding a little bit of Highway 1, we got to Cambria, our first goal, late Wednesday afternoon. It had been over 30 years since I’d been, and it was Janie’s first time. Cambria combines gravelly beaches with especially quaint shops. And, after our long hot summer, a blessed blanket of cool fog for much of the morning. We enjoyed ourselves, though of course everything was a bit more developed, and a lot more expensive than I remembered from roughly a lifetime ago.
After a leisurely morning and early afternoon, we started up Highway 46—another of my favorite California highways—towards Paso Robles. Spotting a sign for a honey farm, we doubled back, and looked over charming autumnal displays, and fun constructions for kids’ play. But it meant coming back into 90+ heat, so we retreated into their little store.
Checking out the fresh, organic produce and the many flavors of honey, we also found ourselves overhearing conversations about how the drought is impacting local farms. San Louis Obispo County has apparently been hit harder than most of California. Everywhere we’ve gone, the hills have not just been end-of-summer golden, but vacant and dusty. We’ve seen signs all around, reminding us of drought, and encouraging us to conserve water. And here on the farm, we spoke with a young woman about how difficult the last years have been. There has been less produce from the orchards and fields, and no wildflowers at all—and so with little for the bees to work with, a lot less honey. The woman we talked to is part of the fifth generation of her family to work this land, and she wants to pass it on to a sixth. She is still hopeful, but it will take rain in addition to hope.
Living as we do in an urban/suburban environment, it is sometimes too easy to think of drought as whether or not we can keep our lawns green, or get a glass of water in a restaurant without asking. Here on the land, it is a matter of livelihood. For the honey farm family, for many other families here, so much will change if they go much longer without enough water.
Today, Friday, we will cross the unmatched beauty of the Pacheco Pass (Highway 152), make our way through old haunts in Sacramento and elsewhere in Northern California, and probably spend the night somewhere in Southern Oregon. As we go, of course we continue to covet your prayers. But pray as well for the land, if you could, and for the people who draw their lives from it.