California along Interstate 5

Well, we pulled out of the bay area on a hot 4th of July, and headed north on I5 -- right through the heat of the Central Valley. Anybody that has driven up I5 knows that it's flat, straight, and somewhat boring (except maybe to Aggies!)

Castle Crags
Castle Crags
Once we got to the northern end of the state, though, the flat expanses of olive, almond and other orchard trees gave way to oaks, then pines, and eventually the terrain grew more mountainous. Here, we see Castle Crags, a 4000-foot outcropping of granite looming over the headwaters of the Sacramento river.

Shortly thereafter, the snow-capped peaks of Mount Shasta come clearly into view. On a clear day, its snow capped, 14,100-foot peak can be seen as far south as Redding, but the best views don't come until you get north of Lake Shasta, and you're surrounded by conifer-clad mountains. Mount Shasta
Mount Shasta

That night -- after a long, hot day of travel -- we pulled into Ashland, Oregon, for an evening of Independence-day fireworks, and a welcome night's rest. Tomorrow we'd have to be on the road again....