I awoke before dawn having barely slept the previous night in the dingy motel along the strip of civilization that is the Buttonwillow exit off I-5 that for all I know constitutes Buttonwillow itself.
My plan was to get to McKittrick early and explore, a vision of a Sierra gold rush town transfixed in my mind.
Heading west on CA-58, the endless valley eventually turned into rolling hills studded with pump jacks framed in the blue hour. As the sun rose, the silhouetted hilltops turned into barren and rocky promontories with nothing more to commend themselves.
As I drove on, I blinked and before I knew it, McKittrick was fading in my rear view mirror.
It was just as well. I had a long day ahead of myself chasing wildflowers.