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Stuff the Turkey

September 8, 2013

California – Thursday, August 29

Today my plan was to put on as many southbound miles as I could while still making a donation and doing my 8 miles of walking. I was going to have to get over the mountains and onto the interstate north of Sacramento, and the roads were curvy and hilly and I’m glad I didn’t try to cover those miles last night – they took longer than I expected! Along the way, we passed a huge lake that had several older waterfront towns alongside it. We stopped in one called Upper Lake to do a little walking, but we were only able to get about 3/4 mile in because the towns just aren’t that big! After I got out of the mountains, I was in the enormous agricultural valley in the middle of the state. It’s getting to be harvest time, and I passed trucks loaded down with tomatoes, onions and I don’t know what else. I passed countless orchards and I wish I knew what all the trees were – once in a while there were signs about olive trees, walnut and almond trees, and maybe some of them were avocado trees too. The valley is such a rich source of fruits, nuts and vegetables.

I made it into Sacramento, and found the Sacramento Food Bank, where I was going to make a donation to their “Stuff the Turkey” fund, which is part of their annual Run to Feed the Hungry race. The 10K run and the 5K run/walk takes place on Thanksgiving morning, and nearly 30,000 people raise money and participate. This will be the 20th year they’ve run the race. The guy I gave my donation to participates in the race along with his whole family, and he also told me the food bank has a turkey drive, and they get 6,000-7,000 turkeys, which they take out to distribute in the local communities. Since my journey will be over before Thanksgiving, I was happy to be able to make a Thanksgiving-related donation a little early. The Sacramento Food Bank is a big place with numerous different programs, and its success lies in the hands of thousands of volunteer workers.

Then I headed for Old Sacramento, the historic part of town from back in the Pony Express days. Sacramento was the western terminus for the short-lived pony express route, and there was a statue commemorating their efforts. I had seen the eastern terminus back in St. Joseph, Missouri. Tula and I walked nearly 3 miles in the old town, which has wooden sidewalks, and old-style building and saloons. It was a hot day but we were pretty much able to stay in the shade. In the park, some people were setting up tents and getting old uniforms/costumes out for the upcoming gold rush day weekend celebration. There seemed to be an unusual number of homeless people around – many asking for loose change, and it gave the area a little bit of a seedy feel. We also took the pedestrian walkway under the freeway to an outdoor sort of shopping area, and walked through that. I thought I would walk down to the state capital area, but that was a little too far away, so we turned around and walked back to the van. I drove over to the state capitol instead, and Tula stayed in the car while I walked a quick mile around the capitol with its copper dome, and its very pretty landscaped grounds with gardens and statues and memorials.

Then I headed south a bit more to Stockton, which is one of California’s 2 inland seaports. I thought I’d be able to find some good waterfront walking since the city lies at the end of a 78 mile channel connecting it to San Francisco Bay. But at first I couldn’t find any place at all that looked safe and good for walking – even the parks didn’t have any paths, and the waterfront looked industrial. So I was going to drive out of town, and then I came to a nice big park where lots of families were out picnicking, and numerous ball games were going on, and there were good paths all around. Tula and I walked all around the park and up and down several long adjoining neighborhood streets with small homes and very tidy yards – it was a very pleasant evening walk and we covered a little over 2 miles. And then I found the downtown marina with a riverwalk and nice restaurants along the waterfront, and Tula and I finished our walking for the day there. Then I got a big salad to eat in the car while I drove late into the night along the interstate to get down near Bakersfield, which I figured would set me up pretty good for the next day. The benefit to driving late at night is light traffic, and if I could have driven through the Los Angeles area at night I would have, but I’ve never been the sort of person who can drive all night long – I knew I needed to stop!

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