We made it as far as Coalinga, CA, formerly known as Coaling Station A, before dark. This is where we’ll be spending two nights here before we continue on through Bakersfield to the edges of Death Valley. As one journeys to Death Valley you have to suspend your traditional views of the world, and no better place to do that than amongst the almond and orange orchards looking out across Interstate 5 outside of Coalinga, CA.
Coalinga is a place I’ve only known as the place you drive by on Interstate 5 that smells like cow poop. In my older age and during my RVing journeys I am all about leaving my past assumptions about any person, place, or thing, and I am looking to experience Coalinga with a fresh and open mind. While I am not staying in Coalinga proper, the RV park we are in, provides a nice slice of what it is like to live in the agriculturally dominated area. I did a little historical search on our area, learning that the area was originally a coaling station for the Southern Pacific Railroad, and according to the Wikipedia page, “the city’s main industries are agriculture, oil, Cannabis, education and incarceration”. Which seems like a nice diverse set of investments if you ask me. After a leisurely drive through the town, I can concur, that seems to be the leading industries in the area. It’s hard around here. Trucks. People with hard looks on their face. People who have been hard done by. Combined with the cold spelling we are experiencing, it doesn’t leave much to explore and get to know. It is a truck area, so you have to drive to see anything and everything. It really isn’t cold. Just California cold. Keeping everyone indoors, or at least parked with your car running, while you wait for who knows what. I’ve driven by the Interstate 5 Freeway sign for Coalinga probably over 100 times. Always hitting the accelerator. This time I stopped and stayed for no real reason, other than it was the halfway point between home and my Death Valley destination. That was enough to make me stop this time. I can’t say that I will be coming back and staying the area, but I am thankful for stopping and strolling through the Orange and Almond orchards, and visiting the old town. We will pack up in the morning, hitch up the trailer, and head for the lower Sierras, and make our way up to where the desert meets the mountains. It is here where our next adventure will begin. Coaling Station A was just a pit stop at the beginning of this journey, a cold, evenly rowed, isolated place. I am sure I will travel near Coalinga many more times in my life, and each time I can think about this one time when I stopped and took it in for just a moment.