Sunday, June 17, 2012

It's summer in California

School is out, the days are long, and summer has finally arrived in California.

Yesterday was nice and warm, with triple-digit temperatures in many locations. We found ourselves down in beautiful Santa Cruz, where the ocean air kept things delightful, warm but not too hot.

Lest you think that yesterday's heat was unusual, read these wonderful passages from William Brewer's logbook of his travels in California's Central Valley during the summer of 1862, 150 years ago, re-created at Tom Hilton's marvelous Whitney Survey website:

  • June 14, 1862: Orestimba Canyon
    You cannot imagine how tedious it is to ride on this plain. The soil and herbage is dry and brown, few green things cheer the eye, no trees (save in the distance) vary that great expanse. Tens of thousands of cattle are feeding, but they are but specks save when they cluster in great herds near the water—often for miles we see nothing living but ourselves, except birds or insects, reptiles, and ground squirrels.
  • June 16, 1862: Orestimba Canyon
    we climbed some hills about 2,200 feet high, a few miles from camp. It was intensely hot. I know not how hot, but over 90° all day in camp where there was wind, and vastly hotter in some of the canyons we had to cross. It was 81° long after sunset.

Orestimba Canyon, I believe, is west of the town of Newman, California, and east of Henry Coe State park. Here's a nice picture of the area. And here's a nice article about the Orestimba Indian Rocks at the foot of the canyon: Orestimba Indian Rocks Reveal a Way of Life.

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