Buttonwillow to Bakersfield, California

30 marathons down, 105 to go

I spent yesterday in Buttonwillow because it’s much cheaper to stay and eat here than it will be in Bakersfield, and I’ve been running ultra-marathons instead of marathons. Hopefully, a little rest will help me.

Bakersfield mileage sign
Leaving I-5 for the last time, heading to Bakersfield

I’m on my way to Bakersfield. As I turn left onto CA-58, I leave I-5 for the last time. I’ve been paralleling I-5 for so long that this seems huge. Now I’m wondering if I can run on each state’s Hwy 58 as I pass through. I was on OR-58 back at the very beginning of this, and now I’m on CA-58. I need to see where AZ-58 is located.

The signs in the back of the photograph show what is still going on in Central California. Due to the drought, there were serious water wars across California as the different regions and interests fought for their share of a dwindling water supply. Farmers depend on water, and the local merchants depend on farmers. It is very sad to see the failed businesses and the farmers who have given up. It is one thing to see dirt where there would normally be row crops; it is another thing entirely to see entire orchards being abandoned.

I’m having an uneventful run when one of my tires goes completely flat as I approach Bakersfield. The nearest bicycle shop is three miles away and not on my course. I head to the bicycle shop, pumping up the tire every quarter mile. The first place I bought tubes, I was charged seven dollars. The second place wouldn’t accept any money. This place, right across from the university, charged me 23 dollars. And now I have another three miles to get back on route.

I’m close to my endpoint, but I decide to stop at McDonald’s to get a soda. While I’m there, someone makes the rounds of customers asking for money. The person asked for money from every single customer, except for me. What does that tell me about the way I look? This may be the first time I ever wanted to be approached by someone asking for money.

After what has turned into a long day, I arrive at my motel at the same time as a busload of tourists. I have a second floor room, no rooms are available on the ground floor, and there is no elevator. I have to empty my trailer to get everything upstairs. I didn’t mind that at the Firebaugh Inn; I mind it here.

It’s getting late and there aren’t a whole lot of food options around me. I decide to go to the local Chinese all-you-can-eat buffet. They’re open, they’re cheap, and I can eat lots of food. I don’t normally go to Chinese buffets, but what the heck. Now I know why I don’t normally do this. All of the food is one of two colors: beige or gray; and all of the food tastes the same. I don’t dare try the sushi.

After a very unsatisfactory meal, I decide to call it a night.