Travel Tip: What Your GPS Doesn’t Know

Highway 99 traverses the Pacific Coast from the Canadian border, at Blaine Washington, to Mexico, at Calexico California. Upon completion of Interstate 5 in 1972, 99 lost its designation as a “U.S.” highway. Much of it is now labeled State Route 99 in California, Oregon Route 99 – splits into 99E and 99W from Junction City, near Eugene, to Portland – and SR-99 in Washington. (It continues as Highway 99 in British Columbia.)

With decertification came loss of identifying signage. There never really was any definitive identifier informing a motorist when crossing the unofficial border between northern and southern California. As you travel the highway, keep an eye out for the pine tree and palm tree adjacent to each other in the median between northbound and southbound lanes. It’s a few miles north of Fresno, at about milepost 150. The fir represents the northern sector of the state; the palm tells you are in southern California. Your GPS won’t tell you this.

If you feel the urge to travel historic 99, you’ll want That Ribbon of Highway guidebooks.

Back to the Future?


High-speed rail is coming to California. The $68.4 billion project – most expensive public-works in U.S. history – will transport passengers at speeds up to 220 miles per hour between Los Angeles and San Francisco, making the 500-mile trip in 2 hours and 40 minutes. California voters in 2008 approved a ballot measure authorizing $9.95 billion general obligation bonds. At that time the estimated cost was $40 billion.

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Water Fight

California’s San Joaquin Valley produces 25% of our nation’s table food using 1% of the nation’s land. Grapes – table, raisin and wine – cotton, nuts – especially almonds and pistachios – lettuce, citrus, tomatoes are among the more than 250 crops grown in the area. Pretty impressive for what is basically a desert. But it’s using up what water it has available.

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