Sometimes the journey is about more than the destination, it's about the stops along the way. So the next time you're headed up Highway 99 from Bakersfield, be sure to make a stop at the Philip S. Raine Safety Roadside Rest Area.
This rest area is located just north of Tipton, on both the northbound and southbound sides of the highway, about 54 miles north of Bakersfield and 12 miles south of Tulare.
According to the State of California's Safety Roadside Rest Area Master Plan, prepared in April 2011, the average annual daily traffic along that stretch of the 99 is 45,000 cars and just under six percent of those vehicles stop at the rest area each day.
It's too bad more people don't stop as an $8.5 million renovation has turned the rest area named for a former chief of the state Division of Highways into a grand display of the history and culture of the San Joaquin Valley.
On each side of the highway the shade structure in front of the restrooms now boasts 24 panels that tell the story of the San Joaquin, from the native Yokuts to early and present-day agriculture, development of cities and the culture, including tributes to people of the valley including Buck Owens, William Saroyan and Cesar Chavez.
Surrounded by cornfields, with the Sierra Nevada to the east, the rest area doubles as an artful interpretive center. Shade trees and grass, covered picnic tables, restrooms and water fountains provide the traveler with the typical amenities, but the custom-made drain covers with a tule motif honoring the plant for which Tulare County was named and the names of fruits and vegetables grown in the valley stamped into concrete carry the theme well beyond what you would expect.
Exeter resident, historian and publisher Chris Brewer consulted on the project and provided images for the designers. Brewer is the great-grandson of Colonel Thomas Baker, for whom the city of Bakersfield is named.
So, the next time you're headed that way, make a stop at the Philip S. Raine rest area -- wherever you've been or are headed, this stop will enrich your journey through the San Joaquin Valley. Journey