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Stories from the valley

Pandemic Therapy – Serene Highway 45

Contributed by Jim Morris

We all have been bruised by 2020. Hopefully, 2021 marks a return to a more normal, livable state. Until then, how can we stay as positive as possible? 

For me, a drive in the Sacramento Valley countryside does the trick, and there’s no better thoroughfare than Highway 45, the only state route fully contained within the Sacramento Valley. 

I travel Highway 45 on a pretty regular basis, usually taking it from Colusa to Knights Landing, a serene 38-mile stretch. Heading north from Colusa, you can meander all the way to Hamilton City, another highly-recommended 38 miles. While on the highway, you may go minutes without seeing another vehicle. This time of the year, you’ll likely see birds getting food and rest in shallow-flooded rice fields, like these at Erdman Farms.

geese swimming in flooded rice fields

There’s almost always farm activity in the orchards, rice fields and myriad of other crops that grow in abundance.  The Sacramento Valley is where the nation’s sushi rice is grown, as well as many seed crops. 

The only community you’ll see along this way is Grimes, which is home to one of my favorite murals in the valley. 

mural of a boat on the river

This art is a beautiful nod to the nearby Sacramento River, a dominant feature of our region. 

Throughout your travel, you can get a good view of the Sutter Buttes, the world’s smallest mountain range. 

If you want to dig deeper into the communities and history of the area, here’s an excellent blog from Steve Beckley, who has spent much of his lifetime traveling along this highway.

For a bird’s eye view of the area, here’s an outstanding aerial video over the area, carried out by John Hannon.

Everyone has their own best way to deal with life’s stresses. Considering what this year has brought, I suggest a peaceful road trip.  It won’t solve everything, but, for me, it provides a chance to exhale and recharge.