Friday, June 1, 2012

My Cool Ride Home

A couple times per week business takes me from my Los Osos, CA home on the central coast to the San Joaquin Valley.  It's 2.5 hours but a whole world away.  The intensity and variety of agriculture in the valley never fails to amaze me (just add water).  But after a day standing in dusty fields talking to growers I'm always ready to hop in the truck and head home to the cool, foggy coast. 

Here is a summary of the latter part of my trip home yesterday, as it pertains to the native oaks of the area.

Passing through Shandon, CA 44 miles from home
97 degrees F
Native oaks are California white/valley oaks (Q. lobata) and California/coast live oak (Q. agrifolia), most growing as widely spaced medium sized trees on the grassy range land hillsides, growing bigger on the banks of the (mostly dry) creeks.

Passing through Atascadero, CA 22 miles from home
91 degrees F
Both California white and California live oaks, with the whites dominant.  As I have posted before this is where the combination of degree days and available water produce some real giants (that's my baseball cap against both trunks):

(Click to enlarge)

Hwy 41 at the top of the pass between Atascadero and Morro Bay
67 degrees F
This is almost precisely where the California white oaks disappear and the live oaks become the dominant - though increasingly stunted - species

Hwy 41
61 degrees F

Morro Bay, CA
58 degrees

6:10pm (and most importantly in time for the end of soccer season pizza party!)
Los Osos, CA
54 degrees w/fog
California live oaks dominate the coastal scrub.  Bonsai California live oaks.

Less than 1 hour, 44 miles, and a temperature drop of 43 degrees - right into my comfort zone (the farther it gets away from 60 degrees in either direction the crankier I get).

I'm not exactly breaking new ground here in pondering the effects of coast and topography on climate, but for someone recently transplanted from the Arctic tundra of Minnesota it's pretty darn fascinating.

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