Coalinga to Kettleman City, California

27 marathons down, 108 to go

I don’t get far this morning before I see someone selling bonsai alongside the road where I might normally see someone selling produce.

Roadside bonsai vendor
Selling bonsai alongside the road

This is a semi-permanent setup, and this guy is not selling cut-rate bonsai. He has some very nice specimens and some run-of-the-mill trees, but none are priced on the low end. This initially looks crazy. Middle to top prices alongside a highway outside of Coalinga. Then it starts to make some sense. He’s across the street from an expensive resort. People that stay at the resort and eat at the resort can’t be poor. So he’s really advertising his bonsai to people who can afford them. I don’t know how successful he is, but his approach makes more sense to me as I continue to run on than it did when I first saw this setup from the road.

Dirt orchard road
I know a shortcut

Every time I see a road like this, I flash back to the Great Cascades Debacle from my first week. I run a lot on roads like these, but each one gives me pause. In addition, I almost always have alternatives mapped out should I find conditions aren’t as represented. However, in this case, I have no reasonable alternatives. Here I go!

Dirt road crossing I-5
Dirt road crossing I-5

And here I have a problem. I need to continue on the other side of that highway in front of me. Yes, this road turns to the left, but that won’t do me any good because I need to continue on straight ahead. Oh, and that highway in front of me? That would be I-5. Two fences, multiple lanes of traffic in both directions… this gives me a sinking feeling as I approach this thinking I’m not going to have any option but to somehow cross I-5. If you’ve ever seen the signs on I-5 down toward San Diego that show people crossing I-5, then you know what I feel like I’m going to look like as I try to get across.

As I get closer to I-5, I see there is a very small path that goes under I-5 to the right of this road. Under I-5 I go, come out the other side, and then I go along I-5 for a bit.

Dirt road along I-5
Dirt road along I-5

I should only be on this dirt road for another mile or two, then I’ll head away from I-5 on pavement, to only head back to I-5. I do a lot of this east-west running in order to go south. It drives me a little bit crazy to run 15 miles in order to advance 10 miles down I-5.

Pistachio trees
Pistachio trees

I’m passing a lot of pistachio trees today. I take a lunch break at an I-5 rest area that has a lovely water fountain, then I continue to the California Aqueduct.

California Aqueduct
California Aqueduct

Now I have a choice to make. I have access to the aqueduct here, but will gates be open further on? I could keep going until I got to a highway and run on the highway, but I choose the aqueduct. And, yeah. After a couple of miles, I come to a locked gate that kicks me off of this road onto someone’s private property. I really avoid private property, but I don’t have any options so I’m just lucky I’m not going through someone’s orchard for very long before I’m back on a road.

34 miles today gets me to Kettleman City at around 7:30 pm. Time for dinner and a good night’s sleep. It’s getting warmer, and I had a couple of issues today with potential roadblocks on my path, but I’ve made it. Time for Denny’s, yet again.