Watching Northern Cal

My preferred route back to the Peninsula is US-101, and it’s a preferred place to hang out in the Spring. After watching the winds and fires for a week I’m waiting for the media to turn their attention to the impacts.

Two Sonoma wineries were destroyed, half of the others had no damage, the other half only minor losses. Vines don’t usually burn easily, so it’s the man-made stuff that gets hit. It is harvest season, though.

It’s also harvest for cannabis in Sonoma. Given that the illegal:legal ratio of cannabis farms is about 5:1, we won’t likely hear much from them for quite a while.

One of the basic Econ 101 principles is that free markets can be depended upon for important innovations, and the new cannabis industry is a text-book example of that. One of those ideas is “fresh frozen” cannabis. The normal harvest routine for marijuana is pick it, hang it up to dry 2 weeks, cure it 2 weeks, trim and package for a week. About 6-8 weeks before it sells. When freezing, the pick is immediately put inside a freezer at -38F degrees. Then it goes directly to an extractor, for payment in days after picking.

The unlicensed farmers wouldn’t do this, but the licensed growers only need to acquire the freezing equipment, but not a trivial thing at all. These are barn-sized freezers. And they eat up a lot of power.

Power which suddenly disappeared when PG&E did their thing. When fresh frozen thaws, it turns into mush and is simply organic waste. Well, it’s only the second year this trick has been tried at scale.

I realize the season isn’t over yet, but I’m optimistic there won’t be refugees to the extent of the 2017 fires. That means I’ll be able to find a parking place along the way.

Fires

I spend a lot of time on US101 and in the communities that are burning now in Northern California. Following this disaster is very, very disturbing because I know the highways and roads and the terrain so well.

I watched all night when the Kincade fire started and was shocked, but that was nothing compared to the last several hours. Seeing what 70mph winds do to a fire is downright scary.

For 24-hour live coverage, try http://www.kronon.tv .

Now, overlaid on the fire are the pre-emptive power outages. They really aren’t that bad considering they are done to prevent the fires, but in this case that justification is fairly meaningless. Consider that where the fires are burning ( a lot of area) the lines are burning, too. Getting those repaired will be a long project, so the entire region is going to be powerless for many weeks.

PG&E is being beat to a pulp after already filing for bankruptcy, and their stock price will be tanking very soon. Yet they are the only outfit that will be expected to restore their system. I wonder if they aren’t considering handing the front door keys to the governor and walking away from it all. I would.

Yuma

I’m in Yuma now, at the VFW/BLM spot. I intend to get a few errands done, and find someone to do some RV work. It remains to be seen whether I can succeed at everything I want. But I figure I’ll be here about a week before deciding on my next step.

A Quartzsite Pot Shop?

Not in Quartzsite, but in Blythe, California. I’ve been waiting since CA legalized to see where the nearest store to Q would be, as it would get a lot of business in December and January. The Prime Leaf opened 2 months ago, just behind the Albertson’s on 7th. It’s the first fully-legal shop on I-10 when traveling eastbound, and has easy on and off freeway access, plus adequate parking.

Arizona is a medical state, a very weak medical state, but with a huge market operating with few rules. One rule, though, says the stores can sell to residents only, so it’s basically an illegal state to non-residents. So for those on I-10, Blythe will be the first legal store encountered. Snowbirds heading to Q and Yuma likely come from illegal states in the north and east, so this might be the first legal store for them.

At the Intake Blvd exit Have a Heart (a Seattle name) has broken ground and will build a store, complete with a tall freeway-obvious sign at the first exit in CA. They’re a few months away at least.

Taking cannabis across state borders is illegal federally. This is a non-issue between Q and Blythe as long as you have common sense: Keep your purchase out of sight in your car, do not consume in your car.

The Prime Leaf is listed on leafly. com, has a large and varied assortment, and the prices are surprisingly reasonable for CA. They should do well.

Sunset at Q

How many thousands of sunsets have I seen at Q? A few. I miss these a lot when I’m on the coast, but I get a good one tonight which I’ll interpret as “Welcome Back”.

Wha?

Columbus Day, the holiday, has always baffled me. At one time I got the day off from work.

Now I see that according to Google maps Interstate 10 is the Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway. It completely escapes me how Columbus has anything to do with that road.

Quartzsite Again

I’m tired of desert-driving and will hole up in Quartzsite (at Hi Jolly) for several days. Clear and warm.

Baker, CA

Baker is along I-15, halfway between Las Vegas and Barstow. It’s a great entrance to the Mojave National Preserve, a large piece of desert. I’ve never set foot on this preserve, and don’t know much about what a preserve even is. Presumably any protection or conservation of the area is at risk in favor of oil and gas extraction, so I’m looking forward to seeing it now.

Vaping

At this point we don’t know what is causing the illnesses “associated” with vaping. We don’t know if it’s e-juice for nicotine devices, nicotine cartridges or pods, marijuana cartridges or pods, or whether it’s the oils or flavorings.

It’s not very comforting to see our elected leaders jump on banning vaping or flavors or anything without knowing one iota about the facts.

Worse is those leaders completely neglected the ramifications and unintended consequences of their actions. Without knowing anything, it’s very possible that these mindless reactions could have much worse results than the original problem.

And keep in mind that a few governors (OR, WA, MA) have robust regulatory systems available to them to address issues like this. Ignoring their own systems is silly.

Life in Death Valley

The expected storm did come through, but not as bad as was forecast. I got dusted, but just a bit. Tomorrow I go “topside”.

I’ve observed there are about 5 times as many rental RVs as owned units here. That portends a lot of Euro and Asian tourists in the Southwest parks this year.

The park doesn’t officially start operating until next week. Meanwhile there are limited human resources, notably park rangers. I haven’t seen a single one since I’ve been here.

From here I’ll head up to Death Valley Junction, the easy way out of this hole. Turn south and head for Baker at I-15 looking for a crappy truck stop to park in for the night.