The Joys Of A Drive To Fresno

From my little corner of California to Fresno, where I have work for a couple of days and where I may well have to try a long-cause jury trial in December, is a four-and-a-half hour drive up the Central Valley on either Highway 99 or Interstate 5, pretty much a dealer’s choice as to time. So let’s review the good things about this particular drive.

That’s about what I’m looking forward to. It’s going to be Las Uvas De La Ira out there. For this, I get to be away from my wife for the night. The things I do for my clients.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. It’s times like this that I wish I had a personal driver. Think of all the things I could get done.

  2. I’m from Bakersfield and went to undergrad in L.A., so I’m pretty familiar with this drive. If I were you I would take a break around Tejon Pass and marvel at the natural beauty of the mountains. Usually the foothills of the Tehachapis (as you exit the mountains into the valley) are pretty drab, but if it’s rained recently (or the air is exceptionally clear for other reason) then the view of the valley and foothills and mountains can be glorious.

    There isn’t a whole lot to the I-5 route except truck stops and fast-food chains. I used to work in a construction shop in the oil fields right off I-5 and Lerdo Highway 30 miles due west of Bakersfield, and the foothilly back end of the coastal range is the best part of this drive, but unless it’s been wet out there this season it’ll be kinda brown and ugly. There’s also slimmer pickings for food on this route unless you happen across one of the food trucks that services the oil workers out there.

    The 99 route doesn’t have much going for it either, except that it goes through more populated areas like my hometown, so it’ll be much easier to dip into a local Mexican place than if you took the 5. But to my mind the superiority of taking the 99 is that you’re much more likely to get a good view of the Sierra Nevada for most of your drive. On the 5 you’ll get oil fields and a few sporadic farm plots and some mountains. On the 99 you’ll get more verdant farms (orange, apple, almond, and olive groves), similar oil field infrastructure just north of Bakersfield, more populated areas, and a view of a more majestic mountain range. So while I may be biased, I think the 99 route is better.

    Have you been to the Sequoias near Fresno, Burt?

    • Thanks for the tips, Robert! I took 58 to 99 to go north. The 58 I usually enjoy although I confess a bad attitude on this trip that was part of my own baggage and not the fault of the scenery. But man was the air quality bad. Didn’t see any mountains at all north of Bakersfield. Just a drab gray haze. Didn’t see any mountains in Fresno, either. I’m presently stopped for lunch at Kettleman City where the 41 meets the 5. Not much to recommend here, either although it seems to be going faster.

      • Yeah, I was hoping the summer haze would have cleared by now. Guess not. But at least if you have to go back it should be pretty nice after the rain clears out all the gunk from the air.

      • Dude, if you saw mountains _in_ Fresno, it’d be time to get off the drugs.

        I like the drive on the 58 from Baketown to the AV. I also like the drive between the AV and the 5 along 138. Hate the drive up the San Juaquin Valley, though. I have a cousin in Fresno, and there’s nothing great about that drive. Nothing great about Fresno, either, last I knew. It’s like a dying midwest industrial town with palm trees.

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