The economy in these towns seemed weak. One normally doesn't think of California as an oil-producing state, but oil is the main economy in Lost Hills, Taft, etc. The gas stations I saw in these cities were not brand name stations. The convenience stores looked like they were from the 1970s. What will happen to these forgotten towns as we transition to a world of non-oil based energy?
There is something otherworldly about this detour. It's worth taking if you have the time and you can make the trip around sunset.