Somehow, California looms large in my imagination as a semi-mythical place, a sort of blank slate upon which one’s preconceptions and prejudices about the place can be projected. For example: California! Land of gun-grabbing liberals who have unprotected anal sex with transgendered furries while smoking marijuana (medically, of course)! Or: California! Land of epic environmental disaster that will, in the next decade, suffer a catastrophic earthquake that will send the entire state hurtling into the Pacific, just before the earth melts in the carbon dioxide-choked atmosphere and then hurricane-force winds send the melted chunks of the Golden State flying into space!

So, as our plane crossed the line of mountains near Lake Tahoe and descended into Sacramento, I didn’t know what to expect, figuring most of my strange ideas would be wrong. My first impression was green – as if spring was already gone, where have you been? – jarring because in Minneapolis it was basically still snowing. The land was flat, too, which was unexpected – a vast mottled green plain, broken by irrigation canals and roads and power lines.

The vegetation here seems to me almost post-post-apocalyptic in nature, kind of what things would look like after the earth had overgrown man’s civilization in the wake of some disaster. Plants and weeds intrude on every wall, every sidewalk and road, and grow in unruly clumps even along the interstate. I guess without six months of fatal freeze every year, the growth continues unchecked year-round.

I feel like a hopelessly naive tourist, even though I’d consider myself fairly well-traveled – as I drive along in my rental car, I goggle at everything, from road signs to plants to strange birds to 20″ wheels on Escalades. I want to photograph everything, but having a car makes me the most popular guy on the base, since apparently other states aren’t so generous with the government-funded transportation, meaning most others don’t have a vehicle.

More pictures and text to follow. It feels like I’ve been here a long time, but it’s only day 2!