Posted by: GeekHiker | June 13, 2007

My state is disappearing

This wasn’t the post I was going to do tonight.  The post I was going to do tonight was going to be lighthearted, something to cheer my own spirits as much as anyone elses.  But this has been nagging me, so a-posting I will go.

Growing up in California, I’m certainly no stranger to urban sprawl.  I remember as a kid traveling to see my Great Aunt in San Francsico.  We would leave Sacramento, pass UC Davis, farmland, The Nut Tree, more farmland and river delta, and then hit Vallejo.

By the time I was in college, driving back and forth, huge swaths of that farmland were starting to be turned into subdivisons.  And factory outlet stores.

This last weekend, I decided to go for a drive.  I’ve had a lot on my mindmore and more of late, and needed to get out.

I decided to drive State Route 126.  Now, the last time I was out there was about four years ago.  It’s an area called the Heritage Valley, and it was mostly orchards and a couple of small towns.  I think it was all two lane highway, and I know the speed limit was arond 55.  And you could take a cool train trip from Fillmore.

Well, that’s what it was.

In five years, the highway is four lanes traveling at 75 all the way through.  Huge (and I do mean huge) subdivisions filled with McMansions are being built over the orhards.

The town of Fillmore lies on the north side of the highway.  To the south was farmland.  Not anymore.  Now it’s The Bridges, or some silly name like that; a giant housing development, filled with giant houses.  And two large, tacky, completely fake and utterly useless steel bridges forming the entryway.

And all the houses start at a half million.

All in four years.

While I know part of this is just getting older, and seeing the world change at an ever-quickening pace, the absolute speed of it is killing me.

Before long, Tejon Ranch will be filled with homes.  Eventually, LA will start in San Diego and end in Bakersfield.

I’ve always loved my native state.  But I don’t know that I can stay here.  I can’t afford a house.  I can’t afford the cost of living.  More and more people are streaming in and paving over, well everything.

In fact, that’s what will be the final chapter, I’m starting to think.  It won’t be fires, earthquakes, floods, riots, or any other disaster that ends it all.  The state will just be slowly paved over into parking lots and single family homes.

When you can take a day trip and drive a hundred miles out of the city to visit a small town, and end up never really leaving the city?  May be time to go…



  1. NO! LA will never start in San Diego!! 🙂 I so agree with your thoughts, it bothers me ALL the time and makes me so sad. I’ve been entertaining thoughts of moving to a less crowded area once I’m done with school. Monterey, Santa Cruz, or maybe completely out of state, Colorado!? 🙂 Have a great day!!

  2. Urban sprawl makes me so sad…the suburb I live in was one giant farm like fifty years ago….the orginal farmhouse I believe is still standing and the farmer’s widow lives there.
    Canada has lots of open space by the way, you should consider hiking it. We also have great coffee, donuts and poutine!

  3. *kb* – On second thought, that’s true, and who would have thought that we’d have to thank but the military for picking up such a large swath of land. Between the Camp Pendleton and Vandenberg, it’s surprising how much native soil is actually preserved.

    Ruby – I haven’t been to Canada since I was a kid, camping in BC and over in Banff. I’ve been yearning to return at some point. I had to look up poutine to remember what it was, but I do remember reading an article about a place in Pasadena where you can actually get it… if you know of any good trails, feel free to let me know…

  4. In regards to the military comment– up in Northern Virginia/DC Area there is sprawl and McMansions galore. And then right off I-95 there are suddenly rolling fields and surviving forests. How did they manage to survive the building frenzy? It’s land that once belonged to a maximum security prison! Never would have guessed a prison would be a greenery provider.

    P.S. Southwestern Virginia where I live is quite different than the DC area.

    P.S.S. That prison land now belongs to Fairfax County and luckily they are planning on keeping most of it as park land.

  5. Unfortunately, I don’t know that you could escape the “sprawl” no matter where you go. I live in a fairly rural state in a city with a population of about 85,000. To my knowledge, the city isn’t growing that much, yet there is a new subdivision born each day it seems! I’ve only lived in this state for 10 years, and I’ve witnessed so much growth. I find myself marveling at all the “newness” and wondering who on earth is moving into all of these new subdivisions? You may be onto something…maybe the end really will be the devouring of society as we knew it with endless new subdivisions with homes “starting in the $180’s”…

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