We decided to drive right through in the day to allow us extra time in San Francisco. San Francisco is 502 miles (800 km) north of San Diego and we traveled on the Interstate 5 (I5) for the entire trip. Until we passed LA the traffic was a bit steady but not as slow as the M4 on a good morning. It was truly amazing how the countryside changed along the way there must have been at least 150 miles (maybe more) of nut trees and they had ripped a lot out due to irrigation restrictions.
Today we saw the most cattle any of us had ever seen before in one place, they were in a big feedlot that went on for miles and miles. They were all black cattle and I would hate to think of the volume of feed they would consume in a day. The feedlot (Harris Ranch) can process up to 250,000 head cattle annually. At any given time, seventy to 100 thousand head of cattle are present at the lot. Cattle typically spend twelve to sixteen months grazing before arriving at the feedlot at 650 to 750 pounds. Once there, the cows spend three to four months fattening up to an additional 400 pounds before they are slaughtered at Harris Ranch’s Selma plant. Now the largest cattle feeder on the West Coast, Harris Ranch produces nearly 200 million pounds of beef a year but is still considered a moderately sized operation. The nation’s largest operations located in the Midwest and Texas feed can feed over 400,000 head of cattle at one time. Mega-feedlot operations such as these pose significant human and environmental health threats including surface and groundwater contamination and air pollution including emission of greenhouse gases.
We arrived at our hotel a few minutes after 4pm and were settled into our room a short while later. Ian and I duck across the road to Panda Express to get some take away Chinese for dinner. It was a long drive but very interesting just the same. The little red ford focus ticked over the 2000th mile since we picked her up in LA.
The rain started about 200 miles out of San Francisco and it looks as though our visit to the bay area will be wet. According to weather reports, there is substantial rain on the way.