With excitement but slightly less fervor than Captain Ahab’s quest for the great white whale, I took a short but satisfying road trip on peaceful Highway 32. Besides being a nice drive, I’m a pushover for interesting art and wanted to see a very large catfish sculpture from Chico State that’s on the route.
Much less traveled than Highway 99 or I-5, Highway 32 goes east to west from Orland all the way to Lassen National Forest. My trip was much shorter- from Chico to Hamilton City.
What impressed me about this route is how it’s a snapshot of our valley. As I drove through Chico, there were nut orchards next to suburbia. After exiting the city, farming took center stage. I also observed a lot of natural beauty, including old barns and a good view of the Sacramento River.
I missed the catfish on the way up, but found some interesting sites including:
- The historic site honoring the Gianella Bridge, a cooperative project of Butte and Glenn Counties.
- Wild elderberries, which a local informed me, are fantastic and a natural cold remedy when made into tea.
- One of my favorite murals – a scene from the Titanic in Hamilton City.
On my return loop, I caught a glimpse of the subject of my quest from the corner of my eye. Yes, it’s a mighty fish but the adjacent walnut orchard has grown around it.
I recommend Highway 32 for a weekend trip, or any of the other great road trips in our valley like Highway 45, Chico to Red Bluff via Highway 99 and the Midway in Butte County just to name a few. You may not find a giant catfish, but your blood pressure will likely drop. The tranquility is something to savor!