The drive by cities in California's central valley
Get off the Highways....find your Routes
You know about the flyover states--Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa. What do you know about the drive by cities and places in California's central valley? You know, the signs you pass on the way to Yosemite, Sequoia, King's Canyon and, heaven forbid, Sacramento: Tulare, Visalia, Kingsburg, Exeter. Besides growing some of our favorite foods--the raisin and almond capitals of the world are here-- there are some very special experiences to be enjoyed by the entire family.
Do you remember when there were orange trees in Orange County? Well, they moved. And they took their magical fragrances to Orange Cove, Lemon Cove and the surrounding areas. You can take a deep breath of citrus scent from the miles of groves along Route 178. February and March are blossom months; a time when almond, plum, peach, apple and apricot trees gloriously flaunt their white, pink and fiery red petals. Find out about the Blossom Trail at goblossomtrail.com...more importantly, you can drive much of the marked trail in a few hours.
There is wonderful art in the form of murals that adorn the walls of historic and contemporary buildings in Exeter (home to more than twenty murals: exeterchamber.com), Lindsey, and Tulare. Many are painted by acclaimed artist Colleen Mitchell Venya (venyadesignstudio.com) and are dedicated to local heroes and history. The memorial commemorating September 11 in Lindsey is riveting and thought provoking.
If you happen to be in Three Rivers, a village of two thousand people and gateway to Sequoia National Park, you might be fortunate enough to attend a concert. The Salastina Music Society (salastinasociety.com), some of whom are members of the Pacific Symphony, taught an enthusiastic audience about Franz Schubert's life and music and then played his String Quintet for two violins, two cellos and viola--not your usual redwood forest music. You can check with Three Rivers Performing Arts Institute for scheduled concerts (threeriverspai.com).
For the amusement of the entire family, stop by one of the many dairies outside of Tulare on Route 137 Try not to smile when twenty or thirty friendly guernsey cows amble your way for a chat.
So, on your way to "somewhere," get off Route 99, 198, 178...you can smell the flowers, talk with the animals, get some world class culture and meet very friendly people.