From Stockton, CA

No problems with the RV today, but there were a couple things that kept the day from being routine.  First of all, we had to give Tucson a trazodone pill to calm her down.  It worked.  She was fairly quiet all day after it kicked in!

Birds on a wire as we left Roseburg

Getting into the Siskiyous in southern Oregon

The agricultural inspection station after we entered California

When we stopped at the agricultural inspection station, they asked us if we had any fruit.  Mark said, “No.”  Shortly after we left the station behind, I pulled out a baggy of fruit and said, “We’d better get rid of the evidence!”

I believe this is Mt. Shasta near the northern border of California.

Evidence of burned trees near the I-5 highway

Lake Shasta: The water level looked lower to me, but Mark says it’s been this low for years.

A mobile home park

Mark set his GPS to try to find the nearest rest stop.  The GPS took us off the highway and down a road that didn’t look too promising.  Then it had us turn down a street and it said, “You have arrived at your destination!”  This mobile home park was the only thing we saw, and because it was on a dead end road, we had to drive through the park in order to get turned around and back to the highway.  Mark was pretty mad!

Mark thinks these are rice paddies.

As the sun was setting, my camera was on a longer shutter speed so thing came out a bit soft, but I wanted to show what the sky looked like.

According to the GPS, the Walmart in Stockton (south of Sacramento) is supposed to allow overnight parking.  We pulled in amongst a bunch of semis and went in to ask the manager if we could stay.  He told us that according to city statutes, it is illegal to park overnight at this Walmart and the police might come and give us a citation.  Mark has been driving all day and is tired, so he said we will take our chances.  I’ll let you know how this goes.

(PS – We slept through the night without any police coming to our door! – 1/4/19)

All day, I’ve been reading a book to Mark called The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman, went into Johns Hopkins hospital complaining of a lump that hurt inside her.  Her doctor did a biopsy of a piece of it and discovered that it was a malignant tumor.  The doctor had also cut out a dime-sized piece of it and sent it to a biologist who was trying to figure out how to grow cells outside the body.  Biologists around the world had been working on this problem unsuccessfully, but Henrietta’s tumor cells grew rapidly and have been used to cure diseases and make scientific breakthroughs ever since.  Her cells have even gone into space.

Problem is, the doctor never asked her permission to take the cells and use them in research.  They dubbed the cells HELA (the first two letter of her first and last name) to try to keep them anonymous.  Henrietta had a husband and five children.  The doctors got her husband’s consent to do an autopsy after she died but never really explained why.  They wanted to see if the tumors that had spread through her entire body would grow as well as the ones they took when she was sick, but since they had given her an early form of radiation treatment, the post-treatment cells died outside her body.  Her family didn’t find out about her immortal cells and the many uses they’d been put to until more than twenty years later.  As the family struggled in poverty, Henrietta’s cells made many scientists wealthy.

The author had a lifelong obsession about Henrietta Lacks ever since she first heard about her as a teenager.  Rebecca Skloot was a young white woman who tried to find the family and then tried to convince them to tell her about Henrietta.  This book is interesting on so many levels.  We’re not even halfway through it yet, but there has not been a dull page to this point.  Parts can be disturbing, but I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history, biography, and science.

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