Elk Grove to Thornton, California

19 marathons down, 116 to go

You might think that only traveling approximately 26.2 miles a day would mean that an individual day wouldn’t have much in the way of diversity. Sometimes that is true. Sometimes the scenery is all very similar from the beginning of the run to the end of the run. That was often true in Oregon and Northern California when I was running through the Cascade Range, running in Eastern Oregon, or running across the Northern Sierras. This is not one of those days.

Early today, I run through a very racially diverse neighborhood. In other words, the only time I see a white person is when I look down at my own legs. Then I run alongside a wildlife preserve (there is no running through this one allowed). Then I run through a very white, yuppy area. Then I run through farmland. Now that I’m in more populated areas, the scenery can change very quickly.

Egrets in a tree
Egret tree

Early on my run this morning, I come across this tree as I round a corner. The tree contains a colony of nesting egrets. I can see the frills on some of the birds that egrets only get during mating season, but they can’t be seen in the photograph. The egrets appear to just be starting to colonize this tree, as many of the birds flying to the tree have nesting material in their beaks. This is what egrets do. When it comes time to breed, a colony of egrets will build nests in the same tree. I have no idea why they chose this particular tree. Why this tree and not some other tree? It’s not the tallest tree, shortest tree, best camouflage, worst camouflage, only tree of its particular kind, etc. The only thing I can find online is that the tree has to be near a water source. The Laguna Creek is nearby so there is water near, but that still doesn’t explain why this particular tree. I guess it shall remain a mystery unless I find an ornithologist knowledgeable about the tree selecting behavior of egrets.

Laguna Creek
Laguna Creek

This looks like I’m in the middle of nowhere, but I’m not. This portion of the Laguna Creek Wildlife Refuge runs right through a populated area. In fact, the neighborhood that contains the egret tree is just around the corner.

Shortly after getting through Elkton, I come across The Delta.

The Delta
The Delta

See where those communication towers are and that line of trees in the background? That’s I-5, but if you’re driving down I-5 at 70 miles an hour, you might completely miss this area. I slowed down through here. Yes, I slowed down to really enjoy the experience. I’m going through these areas assuming I won’t ever see them again.

I then come upon lots of vineyards. There’s something I can’t figure out, and there’s no one around to ask unless I actually go into a tasting room to ask, and I’m not exactly looking very appropriate for that. I’m seeing rows of grapes with tilled dirt between them, and then the next gap between rows contains tallish grass. This every-other tilled gap goes all the way across the vineyard. At first, I assumed the turning radius of the equipment made it easier to do every-other row, then go back and do the remaining every-other rows. The only problem is that I’m seeing this in lots of vineyards. I’m also seeing vineyards where ever gap is tilled, and lots where every gap contains grasses of some kind. I have no idea what’s up with this, but I’m very curious.

After my enjoyment of The Delta and the vineyards, I head to Thornton. Once there, I text my friend Paula who is going to pick me up. I’m at the Thornton Market on Thornton Road in Thornton. Thornton is a few blocks long. However, it turns out there are two Thornton Markets on Thornton Road, and they’re about ten miles apart. Paula and I are texting map pictures back and forth getting straight on which market I’m at. We get that straightened out, and in a few minutes, Paula and her daughter, Emma, show up to pick me up.

I’ve known Paula since she was 17, yet it’s been a while since I last saw her. Thinking it over, I realize the last time I saw her she was pregnant with her son, Nick, and he is now in the 8th grade. Paula and Emma drive about 1.5 hours round-trip to pick me up and take me to their house. This is the same day they got back from their spring break vacation. Then Paula’s concerned lasagna, bread, and salad won’t be enough for me. Please, I’ve eaten potato chips for dinner. I’m very grateful for what people are doing for me the same day they’ve returned from vacation.

I get to meet Nick, and Paula’s husband, Tom. I have an advantage in that Paula often posts things about her family on social media, and what Paula posts turns out to be very accurate. Emma is a pistol, and Nick is in the 8th grade going on about 35. I feel like I know them before I ever meet them. Tom is very nice, and he and I talk a bit about what his company is up to, and we gang up on Paula a bit.

After dinner, Paula and I catch up a bit over bowls of ice cream Nick has prepared. Everyone is starting to fade so it’s time to call it a night.