July 17, 2017
There is nothing like breakfast on the deck at the OD Ranch. Miss Lois, ranch matron, rustled up some grub for us greenhorns and Jerry, ranch foreman, served us outside where the breeze was light, the temperature was perfect… and the smoke from the wildfire in the distance was clearly visible.
The wild fire started yesterday and was about 15 miles (24 km) away. The updraft that the flames generated created a white cloud billow that extended upward beyond the gray smoke. By the afternoon today, the fire had consumed 11,000 acres (44.5 sq km) and was not yet contained. It is another glimpse of Mother Nature’s dark side.
Pius and I left at about 9:15 am for our drive to visit with our cousin, Pat Hillman, in Tulare, California. It was a warm day even in the car as we drove into the sun for over 3 hours. Pat greeted us with lunch and then a tour of the J. D. Heiskell Feed Mill in Pixley, California.
It is an incredible operation and is one of the largest facilities of its kind. J. D. Heiskell Feeds is number 4 on the Forbes list of privately owned companies as they operate 18 plants in 11 states.
We returned to Pat’s home and she and Pius had a long conversation about Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Jr. and the destroyer named after him. Admiral Zumwalt went to school with Pat’s husband Dale Hillman (now deceased) and the Hillman and the Zumwalt families have been very good and close friends through the years. Pat had previously done her research and had many questions for Pius about his Swiss upbringing, family, career, and interests. It was such a wonderful afternoon!
Later, on our drive north to our destination of Fresno, California, the outside temperature reached its “high water mark” for this trip of 110 degrees (43.3 C). Surprising to me is the fact that there is quite a difference from 100 degrees (37.8 C) and 110 degrees (43.3 C) on the body.
We have adjusted our itinerary for tomorrow to skip the portion of our trip to San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, and to Muir Woods. Pius used to work in Silicon Valley and has been across the bridge before, so we decided that we need a break from our intense driving schedule. Our destination will be back to Redding, California… about a 5 hour drive from Fresno.