Sep 22, 2022
Here’s a topographic map of California (source):
You might notice it has a big valley in the center. This is called “The Central Valley”. Sometimes it also gets called the San Joaquin Valley in the south, or the the Sacramento Valley in the north.
The Central Valley is mostly farms - a little piece of the Midwest in the middle of California. If the Midwest is flyover country, the Central Valley is drive-through country, with most Californians experiencing it only on their way between LA and SF.
Most, myself included, drive through as fast as possible. With a few provisional exceptions - Sacramento, Davis, some areas further north - the Central Valley is terrible. It’s not just the temperatures, which can reach 110°F (43°C) in the summer. Or the air pollution, which by all accounts is at crisis level. Or the smell, which I assume is fertilizer or cattle-related. It’s the cities and people and the whole situation. A short drive through is enough to notice poverty, decay, and homeless camps worse even than the rest of California.