From Paso Robles, I drive through austere, western landscapes as I make a circuitous route over two-lane highways and small hilly passes through the Kettleman Hills. I pass through lovely, high, inland valleys tucked in the rain shadows and protected from coastal storms. More years than not, there is insufficient rain and earth is seared by sun and wind and has a flinty quality about it.
The bones of the land are visible beneath the scant ground cover and earthen strata and tell the story of eons of climate change.
Finally, I drop down into the Big Valley and leave behind my paleo-history.
The San Joaquin lives in the present. It confronts the “now”. Don’t confuse it with geology.