On the 5 south, just after the 580 junction, you can pull off to a “Vista Point.” They’ve basically sanded off the top of a hill, and the off ramp leads to a circular parking lot on top. A little garbage, a few informational plaques, and a stunning view of the Central Valley, California Aqueduct and the interstate.
The Coastal Range beyond the Aqueduct, below. It’s the lifeline of California’s agricultural industry and much of the population, bringing drinking water for 20 million people in Southern California, and irrigating 660,000 acres of crops in the Central Valley. It travels around 700 miles from the Sierra Nevadas to Southern California and costs hundreds of millions of dollars to operate every year. And in this state, you probably know, water rights are extremely fraught with politics and emotion. (Along the freeway there are numerous signs that proclaim “Another Congress Created Dustbowl.” It has to do with endangered smelt and Sean Hannity. I swear.)
There is something strange about seeing this artery so exposed. It’s like catching someone with his pants down. Their is a vulnerability, sure, but also a level of absurdity. I am incredulous, I guess: oh, so this is how we’re all surviving? Off this fragile stream of water? And how long were we planning for this to last?