After driving for miles through the San Joaquin Valley, and passing nothing but farm fields and immigrant-worker communities, my expectations weren’t very high for Visalia. Much to my surprise, I found a nice city with a beautiful downtown that seemed clean, comfortable, and very much alive.
Visalia’s centerpiece is the Visalia Fox Theater, on Main Street.
Visalia’s Main Street makes for a nice walk, and it gave me a good excuse to put off the 300 more miles I had to drive on Day 7. Flowers were already blooming in flowerbeds along the street…
… and businesses seemed busy. Look closely at the horizon, and you can see Visalia has a good view of the Sierra Nevada mountains to the east.
A trip down the 99 freeway is a stressful drive. It’s mostly 4-lanes (just two in each direction), which is puny by today’s freeway standards. And, since the central valley is dominated by agriculture and industry, there is a lot of truck traffic, crowding onto those tiny four lanes.
All of that traffic came to a grinding halt, just as I approached an exit (though I don’t remember which one). I decided my odds were better on the back roads, even though I had no clue where I was going. So, I exited, and headed west, until I ran into CA Rte. 43.
Almond Tree Fields
Along the way during my detour through the central valley, I passed dozens of groves, with trees in full bloom. The white blossoms that fell from the trees covered the ground, making it look like a blanket of snow had fallen. I’m not certain, but I think these are almond trees.
Highway 43 eventually took me into the town of Wasco. It’s a small town hiding in plain sight, in the middle of the “V” formed by I-5 and the 99 freeway. I’m sure almost everyone rushes right by Wasco, on their way to somewhere bigger and more exciting.
There ‘s a clock in the middle of Wasco’s main intersection downtown, making it almost a roundabout, but not quite.
Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive on Hwy. 63 south into Visalia:
… and from Visalia south on Hwy. 99, 43, through Wasco, Shafter, to Hwy. 58.