Bakersfield to Arvin, California

31 marathons down, 104 to go

My first stop this morning is the breakfast room at the motel at which I’m staying. When I arrive, there are two other people in the room, then… Remember that busload of tourists that arrived at the motel at the same time I did yesterday? Well, they’re now trying to see how many can fit into a breakfast room at the same time. I can now safely report the tour group is German. I feel pretty safe doing this given that everyone is speaking German.

I’m sitting at a table of four because that’s the smallest table in the room. A member of the tour group approaches my table and asks if I mind if he joins me. I reply no, meaning, no, I don’t mind if he joins me. He repeats no, then walks away. I’m a little slow realizing he has misunderstood, and that he thinks I’ve said no, he can’t sit there, or he just didn’t hear me properly because IT IS SO DAMNED LOUD IN HERE. I’m sure he’s now telling stories about the Ugly American who hogged a table of four.

The tour leader now asks if I mind if some is his large group of German tourists (nailed that one!) can join me. I reply that of course they can join me, and I then ask why people from Germany would come all of this way to see Bakersfield. The leader laughs at the thought of anyone thinking Bakersfield could be a destination, and then points out that they are on their way to Yosemite. What a horrid way to see Yosemite! I understand if someone has a physical limitation, but seeing Yosemite through a bus window and getting out only a few times while driving through is awful. Germans, and all other visitors to Yosemite, there are places to stay in the park and there is so much to see. Spend a few days, and explore.

Now I’ll get off my soapbox, and I’ll drag the contents of my trailer down the steps, repack my trailer, check out, and hit the road to go from the big city of Bakersfield to the small town of Arvin.

Nope, back on my soapbox. The people who run Bakersfield should be ashamed. Yesterday, I took a very main road through a high-rent business district in order to get to my motel. The sidewalks are wide and continuous, and they all have cutouts at intersections. In other words, a person in a wheelchair would have absolutely no problem navigating these sidewalks. I’m on that exact same street leaving Bakersfield, except I’m going through a poor area. The sidewalks are narrow, they start and stop, and there may be a cutout on the other side of the intersection but not on this side of the intersection. Because the cutout on the other side of the intersection is easily visible as I approach, I don’t see any problem until I get very close and realize there is no cutoff into the crosswalk. I challenge all members of the city council of Bakersfield to get in wheelchairs and go cliff diving down California Street. Hopefully, this will be my last soapbox of the day.

On the road to Arvin, California
On the road to Arvin, CA

I started the day among tall buildings in Bakersfield, progressed through some poorer areas, and now I’m on this road. One thing I’ve discovered on this journey is how quickly things can change in 26.2 miles.

Somewhere around Arvin, CA
Somewhere around Arvin, California

I stop in Arvin to grab a bite to eat for dinner, then I hit the dirt road that I’ll take from Arvin to Tehachapi through the mountains. Tehachapi is at 4,000 feet, and it’s in a bowl, so I have a lot of elevation to gain on this road. I just hope I don’t discover any locked gates because I don’t have any alternative routes.

South of Arvin, California, headed to Tehachapi, California
South of Arvin, CA, headed to Tehachapi, CA

I head into the mountains planning on going as far as I can while I look for a good place to sleep.

Looking back from the hills south or Arvin, CA
Looking back from the hills south of Arvin, California

This is an interesting road. I’ve passed latex gloves, two pairs of panties, shotgun shells, and bullet shells. Lots of shells.

Looking back down the sand road, south of Arvin, California
Looking back down the sand road, south of Arvin, CA

I HATE SAND! This dirt road is covered in deep sand in spots. My trailer sinks into the sand. Going uphill over deep sand is a true joy. For those who don’t read sarcasm well, <sarcasm> going uphill over deep sand is a true joy </sarcasm>.

While going uphill on sand, I’m passed by a car. While there are tire tracks on this road, I really wasn’t expecting to see a car go by. I’ll have to remember this when I decide where to sleep.

Bakersfield on the horizon at dusk
Dusk, with Bakersfield way off on the horizon

That same car is approaching again, except this time coming in the opposite direction. This time, they stop. It’s two guys, probably in their 20s, and the passenger asks me if I want a ride. I ask where they’re going, and the passenger mentions that the driver doesn’t speak English. Yet the passenger also makes no effort to translate what I said into Spanish. I ask where they’re going, this time asking in Spanish. The driver goes, “Ohhhhhhhh,” which I note doesn’t answer my question at all. This repeats a couple of times with the passenger asking if I’d like a ride, me responding that it depends on where they’re going, and the driver giving me an odd feeling. Ultimately, I thank them for the offer but decline to get a ride. They’re probably just two young guys out joyriding, but there is no way I’m getting into that car. They don’t pass me again.

Bakersfield on the horizon at night
Bakersfield on the horizon at night, taken from the hills south of Arvin

Even with a headlamp, it’s getting a bit hard to navigate this rutted, sand road. I find a pulloff from the road that should be safe, and I decide this is the end of the line for me tonight. While I got a bit of rain earlier in the afternoon, it looks clear now so I just toss my sleeping bag on the ground and climb in. I have quite the trek into Tehachapi tomorrow, but I’m feeling pretty good, and there’s a chance I have a host in Tehachapi tomorrow night. However, I won’t know until I arrive there whether or not that pans out. Goodnight all.

Crap! It’s now 12:47 in the morning, and, given how wet I am, I’m assuming it started raining around midnight. I grab two tarps from the trailer, wrap one around the trailer, and wrap the other around my sleeping bag. Let’s try this again… Goodnight all.