Thornton to French Camp, California

20 marathons down, 115 to go

I lie in bed for a bit until I hear someone downstairs, then I head down to the kitchen. Tom has already left for a day-long business trip, and Paula is making breakfast. Emma wanted to make me breakfast, but Emma is not a morning person. Paula tells me Emma has been telling her friends about what I’m doing. That’s pretty cool!

Paula offers me a place to stay another night so I’m going to run today without my trailer for the first time on this journey. With breakfast over and the trailer staying in the garage, it’s back to Thornton. Paula drops me off at the market, and it’s time to start my trailer-less run.

I quickly realize I forgot to bring anything with me. I forgot my sunglasses, and I forgot to put on sunscreen. I intentionally didn’t bring any food or water because I’m running through very populated areas most of the day, but I didn’t mean to leave other things behind. Oh well, nothing I can do about it now.

Running south from Thornton, I’m in wine country most of the time until I get to Stockton.

I-5 south of Thornton
South of Thornton, I-5 is to the east of me

For this leg of the trip, I-5 is immediately to my right, and vineyards are immediately to my left.

Vineyards south of Thornton, CA
South of Thornton, vineyards are to the west of me

I must not go down this road; I must not go down this road…

Lodi wineries sign
Lodi wineries

I really want to head down this road and check out the Lodi wineries, but I resist and continue on toward Stockton.

I can tell I’m approaching Stockton because I’m running toward a wall of houses. When I get to the border of Stockton, growing grapes are replaced by growing houses.

Northern edge of Stockton, California
At the northern end of Stockton, CA, vineyards turn into houses

I was warned that Stockton is sketchy. I run through residential neighborhoods like the one in the photograph, above, and I run through the standard retail areas that most any large city contains. I run past two colleges. The first feels like a junior college, and the neighborhood surrounding the second contains that university vibe with cafes and outdoor seating and businesses that cater to university students. At this point, I’m about 2/3 of the way through Stockton, and I’m thinking I must have picked just the right route because I haven’t seen anything sketchy at all.

Park in Stockton, CA
Park in Stockton, California

The parking lot adjacent to this park has a rather odd sign. It explains the parking lot is for event parking only and that you shouldn’t leave your car unattended. How exactly do they expect you to go to an event without leaving your car unattended? That might work at a drive-in theater, but it seems a little odd in this setting.

Just past this park is the main Stockton police station, then things turn sketchy in a hurry. I’m definitely now in the bad part of Stockton. I’m not really concerned, but I am very much aware of my surroundings.

I realize I haven’t mentioned my right ankle or left knee in a bit. My ankle has been fine, and my left knee just has to be kept in a straight line moving forward. As I’m running past one building, a homeless man with everything stacked in a grocery cart is sitting up against a wall, and he calls out to me. I started to ignore him and act like I didn’t hear him. All he had asked me was how many miles I had run today, and I reminded myself that I wasn’t doing what I’m doing in order to ignore people, so I twisted around to answer his question, and there goes my knee.

So now I’m in the bad part of Stockton, and I’m a bit hobbled. Great.

The bad part of Stockton turns worse, and I find myself running through homeless camps. After this area, I return to the simply-bad part of Stockton. The rest of my run is primarily industrial down to French Camp.

Paula and Emma pull up as I get to the meeting place in French Camp, and my running day is over. My knee is fine, and I’m a bit sunburned. There were multiple times today when I felt odd not having my trailer, but it was also nice to run unencumbered for a day.

We return to the homestead, pick up Nick, and head to dinner. We have dinner in a pub-style of restaurant in Tracy. There is live music, very eclectic decor, a good Reuben sandwich and Arrogant Bastard ale, but those garlic fries. I could have skipped the sandwich and just had ten pounds of garlic fries. Nick is a bit distracted and distant. I think he’s worried about tomorrow’s soccer games. Nick is a goalie, and he hasn’t played for three weeks. We work Nick over a bit until he returns to the group.

After dinner, it’s time to sit outside and eat ice cream from the shop next door. The ice cream is excellent. While eating ice cream, Emma starts laughing uncontrollably. Nick and I don’t help because if she starts to stop, we both look at her oddly. At one point, I turn to Paula and say, “I think this one is defective.” Based on the comments made the rest of the night, I think “Emma” and “defective” will be linked for a while.