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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
               Friday, November 22 2002 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster On the road again - 4

I'm writing this last entry for the week from Willows, which I'm visiting until Friday (when you should receive this), when I'll try to beat the weekend traffic back to San Jose. On an earlier visit I described the bucolic life to be found in Willows and the region, so this time I'll try to be more specific about some other attractions of this part of California and the world.

Wednesday's temperatures were record-setting highs for the area (mid to high 70s) for a November 20. The days on this visit have been bright and sunny, the nights blessed with full or nearly full moons and the farm landscapes of the area have shone both day and night. Seldom is it possible to see from one side of the great valley of California to the other, but this time it's almost possible. Usually, fog, smoke, low clouds, haze, or a combination of all these impede long views across the valley. This time, I've been regularly seeing Mount Shasta, thrusting its snow-capped peak up to the sky more than 100 miles north of Willows, close to the Oregon border. You get an approximation of the sight of that beautiful mount on any can of Shasta softdrink, if you've ever noticed it.

California's "big valley," as a 1960s TV series called it, is the San Joaquin Valley south of the city of Sacramento for about 300 miles (where the valley ends at the mountain barrier between Bakersfield and the Los Angeles basin, known as "the Grapevine"). North of Sacramento the valley is the Sacramento Valley, named after the Sacramento River, California's greatest river (the Colorado is also a world-class river, but unlike the Sacramento it's not "all" California's). The Sacramento has its source in Lake Shasta, which is formed by the runoff from Mount Shasta and its neighboring peaks, and its mouth is the San Francisco Bay, which extends for a hundred miles, roughly, from just west of Sacramento city to San Francisco and Oakland to the west, and to Stockton and San Jose on separate southerly branches.

There are a half dozen reservoirs, called lakes, within probably 50 miles of Willows, including Oroville Dam, which is one of the world's largest manmade lakes, and which is what brought my brother to Willows originally, as a driver of earth-moving trucks on that dam's construction in the mid-1960s. He, wife Katie, and I visited another of the dams, Black Butte Lake, on Wednesday, and also stopped at Stony Gorge Reservoir at Elk Creek. Both Black Butte Lake and Stony Gorge are on California's Stony Creek, which is not to be confused with Pennsylvania's Stony Creek (which you know meets the Little Connemaugh to form the Connemaugh River at Johnstown).

En route back to Willows we visited the area's newest attraction, a raceway for automobiles called Thunder Hill Park, about five miles west of town. There was no event, but there were dozens of cars ranging from formula sports cars to Porsches to BMWs and high-performance sedans racing around the tracks. Though I haven't been to Sears Point, which is about 90 minutes south of San Jose, I assume this must be much like it. It has many hills and turns, with many tracks that can be configured in various ways. Though there was a sign saying "closed" at the main entrance, Bob had been there before and felt sure there was no problem in our going in and even walking to the top of an observation platform to watch the action. No one took any notice of us, though the place, that must involve many millions dollars worth of development, was quite busy for a mid-week late-fall afternoon.

The "city" for this area is Chico, a college town on the Sacramento River approximately 30 miles northeast of Willows via secondary roads. Willows has its own Wal-Mart, but for Sears, Penney's, Best Buy, Circuit City, Home Depot, Costco, or a mall, or even Safeway, Albertson's, or Starbucks, it's off to Chico. Bob and I went there on Tuesday to send that day's Jonal entry to the list using Starbucks' T-Mobile radiowave Internet access. Later, however, I've been able to use Bob's computer to access the Home Page and Xnmp servers, and send these dispatches (hence the strange "return address" on these posts for the past few days).

Hope to see you on Tuesday, and I hope you enjoyed today's geography lesson!

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Signs across America



 No young painters need apply.



—Sent by Sallie Covolo

Thought for today

There is something in humility that strangely exalts the heart.

—Saint Augustine, Third Century
Sent by Bud Macfarlane

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