West-Central Valley : Pretty in New Ways

New feature! I will post a map link of the trip on the top of each post:

http://goo.gl/maps/Q4bC0

I recently went mining for the state gemstone, Benitoite, in western Fresno/eastern San Benito county. On the way through the valley, there were immense contrasts from the valley into the mountains.

The west side of the central valley south of Stockton lies in the rain-shadow of the nearby coastal range of mountains

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Some farmers resent the water politics, having to let orchards die

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And some communities are getting lost in the sand

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A tumbleweed, one of many

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But the nearby aqueduct provides water to farmers for miles of greenery in this otherwise-desert

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Beautiful. Fresh. Water

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And some had water rights that gave them confidence to plant these new almonds, a big crop in this part of the state

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This is what an almond fruit looks like, a long summer away from harvest

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I also saw a pomegranate

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A solar installation was on the way into the mountains

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It was an ominous day, but nothing more than light sprinkles

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Rolling oak hills gave way to

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More interesting terrain shaped by local faulting

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This area has been mined for a long, long time

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The drive back was lovely

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Sunset the day before, going

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Going

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Gone

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But a light guided my way home

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I got a great gem/crystal of Benitoite, and other specimens, will post pic soon.

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