Paicines, California

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“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

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This weekend I went to the land of the great wide open—a place where you find hidden valleys littered with shotgun shells,
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open roads lined with barbed wire fences,
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and sharp turns along property lines.

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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. 

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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.

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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).

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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.
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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!
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