Paicines, California


“Nearly all the great civilizations were irrigated ones. That single act—irrigation—seems inextricably linked to their ascendance, as well as to their demise.”

—Mark Reisner, Cadillac Desert


This weekend I went to the land of the great wide open—a place where you find hidden valleys littered with shotgun shells,

open roads lined with barbed wire fences,

and sharp turns along property lines.


Paicines is among the driest places I have ever been. It is also among the quietest. Even the Panoche Inn (see map below), which was featured on KQED, was a quiet retreat with Coors on tap.

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It gives you a real sense of place to see that there is a local road called Jackass Grade.

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And just over the hills are a bunch of green squares (The Central Valley).

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It was not until we had reached the a little nook of a valley off New Indria Road where we hiked that I began to hear birds and, if I listened very intently in the right spot, running water. 


In a place so devoid of water, you could see where the water fed the plants with just enough to make them to flush green.


This life-giving stream muddied my shoes and the dog’s paws. It gave life to flashes of color (almost too sun-drenched to see).


I became an archaeologist, digging for bones.IMG_1019 IMG_1021

I discovered forms which reminded me of the futuristic works of Paolo Soleri or the ship in the movie The Abyss.

And then found an awesome new bird to check off my life bird list: the American Cliff Swallow (recognized by its nests) and the dozens of little silhouetted swallows which swooped and dove above our heads.

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All photos are subject to creative commons license. Thank you!

2 thoughts on “Paicines, California

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