Farm Sanctuary provided me with the opportunity to go to northern California in September 2012. Not having been to California since I was five years old, I was incredibly excited to see the legendary land.
My colleagues and I boarded a plane at the tiny airport in Elmira, New York. Two extremely bumpy connections later, we were in Sacramento, California. From there, it was a further two-hour car ride to our destination, Orland.
Leading up to the trip, I had constantly mistyped “Orland” as “Orlando.” This turned out to be rather appropriate as I found northern California to be just as desolate as central Florida.
The early autumn is “fire season” in Orland–the water dries up, the crops wither away, the temperatures soar, and the area becomes one carelessly-tossed-cigarette away from total disaster.
I am told that it is a bountiful, beautiful land in the winter and spring after the rains fall, but it was difficult to picture such a scene while there.
Although I found the heat suffocating, the animals at our sister sanctuary didn’t seem to mind. They pranced around, smiling for the camera and photobombing when appropriate. It was certainly worth the trip just to see them so happy.
Even the local wildlife was out in force despite the temperature.
Luckily I never ran into one of California’s most-famous critters, the black widow. (Side note: I just Googled “black widow” to find a picture and won’t be able to sleep for days.)
I suppose in the end I was disappointed with northern CA (the rural areas, anyway–I never saw the cities). The remoteness, the desolate surroundings, the run-down towns and long stretches of unpunctuated highway…I couldn’t fathom why anyone would choose to be there.
Perhaps it really does perk up in other seasons, but as it stands I never need to visit there again.
Have you been to northern California? What’d you think?