I came back home on Sunday. It took ten hours. There was a time when the trip to my sister’s took about six hours. It was just awful. A great deal of the trip was bumper to bumper. Part of it doubtless was that it was the end of the big holiday weekend. But that isn’t all. In the middle of California — where the only signs of civilization are little encampments that exist to serve I-5 — there was quite a lot of road work going on. I don’t know what it is for. Maybe they plan to run the train along it. The train itself strikes me as far too hopeful. California is dying.
For those of us on the northern coast of California, it is easy to forget that the state is pretty much a desert. As usual on the drive, we passed the turnoff for highway 14, which takes people to Lancaster and Palmdale. I know them both very well because I used to manage the IT for a real estate investment company that did all its work there. And though the names sound pleasant, they are two of the worst places on Earth. The only reason they aren’t dead last is because there is no active war going on. But that’s about the only thing you can say about them.
You’ve probably seen Lancaster. You definitely have if you’ve seen, Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Remember the scene where they are at this roadside hamburger joint. It’s incredibly dusty. It’s probably where they got the visual idea for hell in Constantine. It’s just awful. That was shot in Lancaster. I assume that they did it because it didn’t require any art direction. William Wisher wrote in the script, “EXT. ROADSIDE BURGER JOINT – HELL ON EARTH.” And location manager Steve Dawson said, “No problem! Lancaster!”
When I was down in southern California, my sister introduced me to a very nice couple. I started the conversation by noting that California was dying. They are both very liberal, but they seemed quite disturbed by this. And skeptical. How can you be skeptical about that? I think we might be making a mistake in calling our changing climate “global warming.” That is not at all the worst of it. The bigger problem is the global drying. That’s not true everywhere. Obviously, in a warmer world, there will be more rain. It is just that the vast majority of it will be over the oceans, which is useless to us.
But the main thing is that California is going to be like the vast majority of the earth’s land area: it’s going to get drier — a lot drier. And what this trip really brought home to me is just how dry California already is. And it isn’t just that we are in the middle of a drought. (Although you have to wonder if in ten years we won’t be looking back on the good years like 2014!) The whole idea of Los Angeles is a joke. Who ever thought that was a good idea?
But I was wondering about all the building in central California. No one thinks long term, I guess. We live in a nation where next quarter’s profits are all that matters. And I do get it: we still have maintain I-5 while it’s still in use. But what I saw was more than fixing potholes. (Which they ought to be doing more of, by the way.) They are moving the whole road around. I don’t know what’s up. But if I had the money, I’d be investing in Canada and Siberia. That’s where our futures will be centered.