Subject: Re: Fresno, California
Dear Ira, Gail, and Patricia,

None of you yet has mentioned Merced, Gateway to Yosemite, my home town, although I haven't lived there for a long long time. It was an excellent town to grow up in (graduated High School in 1950, pretty much the era of American Graffiti, and yes, we did drag the Main every night for hours). Merced is half-way between Modesto and hour each way.

Merced has changed a lot since then, and will change more, because there is due to be a University of California campus (in embryo) there by 2005. The shovel has not hit the ground yet, so I'm not holding any bets on that date.

The valley towns should be seen by car. There is really not much to do, other than eat, go to a movie, bowling, or sit somewhere and watch the people walk by. But if you drive out into the residential areas, there are lovely places, and the foothills are only an hour's drive away.

My husband's second teaching job was at Sierra High School, up in the foothills above Fresno, and I would drive down to Fresno State to go to College. You don't want to know about his first teaching was in Gustine, and there *really* is nothing to see there, and you can walk all over the need for a car.

The best seasons are springtime, when all the fields are green and the orchards are blooming, summer is hot (near 100 f all the time), and the autumn can be lovely. Winter...well, the sky goes overcast grey along in December, and the sun does not shine through the cloud cover until March. But if you drive up to the mountains in the winter, you drive up through the cloud cover into the sunshine at about 3,000 feet, right about where we lived when Brian was teaching there.

The Central Valley is home in a funny way. It's not glamorous, certainly is trashy along the highway, the downtown areas are never more than a block away from the other side of the tracks (literally...the railroad was lifeline for those towns when they were first developed.) In the summer there are miles and miles of vegetables, orchards of nuts and fruit, rice near the river, wild ducks and geese fly in autumn.

Go for the visit, and do rent a car, if possible.


Pat McKinney Orinda, CA