Los Banos to Firebaugh, California

24 marathons down, 111 to go

I’m so tired that I can barely drag myself out of bed this morning. I’m going to need to take a day off soon, but I don’t want to spend a day in Los Banos so that day will not be today.

Santa Fe Grade
Santa Fe Grade

I sure hope this dirt road doesn’t strand me in the middle of nowhere. Even though I’ve looked at satellite images to make sure the road looks like it will work, I flash back to dead ends every time I start down a road that looks like this.

Santa Fe Grade scenery
Santa Fe Grade scenery

This is the type of scenery I see a lot today. I’m very glad I’m on the flat today.

Santa Fe Grade pavement
Santa Fe Grade is paved!

Pavement! I love pavement!

As I get closer to Firebaugh, things get ugly. I look like one of those marathon runners you’ve seen at a finish line who’s flailing and tripping and makes you wonder if the person will finish or die. That’s me right now. Nine miles of looking like that. I pass some farm workers out laying irrigation pipes, and one of them asks where I’m headed. I think about it, realize I don’t know, and yell, “Somewhere that starts with an F.”

Firebaugh, California City Limit sign
I’ve made it to Firebaugh, CA

I’ve made it to the place that starts with an F. I’ve still got a ways to go, but this gives me hope I’ll get to today’s finish line before dying.

I arrive in Firebaugh to find Jenifer has gotten me a room at the Firebaugh Inn. This place is gorgeous. The only room available is on the second floor of a unit, and I don’t care. I gladly empty my trailer onto the ground and carry everything up the stairs, and then pull the trailer up behind me. The room is huge, it has a kitchen, it has lots of outlets and multiple places to sit down, and it has a balcony. There is cereal and coffee available. There is milk and orange juice in the refrigerator for breakfast. The orange juice didn’t make it to breakfast. The orange juice didn’t make it to the end of the owner pointing everything out to me.

Here’s the really scary thing. Remember how bad I looked and felt for the last nine miles of the run? The owner of the inn, while showing me around, says, “I’m winded from cleaning, and you’re not winded at all after lugging everything upstairs after having run a marathon.” This place is already rejuvenating me!

After I get unpacked — okay, after I lug everything into the room and toss it unceremoniously onto the floor — I head to a local Mexican restaurant. This is small-town Central California, so everyone in the place knows everyone else (except me), the servings are huge, and the prices are very reasonable. I have a huge meal and three very large Cokes. The waitress keeps asking me if I just want half a glass on the refill. Silly waitress!

You may have noticed there was no showering and changing between getting to the inn and going to dinner. If you noticed, you noticed correctly. I normally shower and change clothes before I go to dinner — unless I’m going to Denny’s — but I just couldn’t be bothered today. So now I’m in a wonderful bathtub of hot water with the water being kept in the tub by a drain plug. I don’t even have to jam my heel into the drain to keep the water in the tub! I’m truly in heaven.

So much of this journey is mental, much more mental than physical. Having had a large meal, sitting in a real tub, knowing I’ll have breakfast in my room tomorrow morning, having a room on the river that is more like a studio apartment, and knowing I’ll do some writing on the balcony tomorrow already has me recovering from the past two days.

Tomorrow, the article in the Patterson Irrigator comes out in the paper and online. I’m looking forward to seeing the article. Goodnight all, and I’ll leave you with two images from my room.

Firebaugh Inn, Firebaugh, CA
The view from my balcony at the Firebaugh Inn
Firebaugh Inn, Firebaugh, California
Sunset out my bathroom window, Firebaugh Inn