There seems to be no direct path between San Jose and Modesto, at least according to my GPS unit which takes me on a super convoluted route that I wonder about. Back in previous days with the RV, I often double checked the GPS route against a real map to see if it made sense. I have gotten out of that habit since it isn’t as critical with the smaller vehicle, but maybe it’s a good idea ?
Anyhow, I traveled through through more than enough traffic getting away from the intel-cyber metropolitan area, but finally entered real farm country again. In spite of that there were traffic backups everywhere, just too many people for the roads, but they just keep building. I really struggled with where to go next on this adventure, but upon arrival in Modesto I knew I had made a good choice. The downtown still somehow has retained much of its original look and feel. I guess they weren’t smart enough to wreck their old downtowns during the 1960’s urban renewal craze like San Clara and San Jose did. The Southern Pacific Rail Station remains although is mostly a bus station now, but the bus fleet looks modern and It is still served by Amtrak and is a planned stop on the future California high speed rail project. Also the iconic street arch remains and has even been restored to its former glory. Modesto is also home to the largest winery in the country Gallo, which is also the largest employer.
|I live the arch, but the city motto seems weird|
|It even lights up at night|
|Every old town takes great pride in their beautiful Kress buildings|
|Modesto has this huge new movie theater and across the street|
is a massive new Hotel which I can't image ever getting filled
|I really liked the Fox Pub|
I find a few good murals near the Train Depot and on wandering around the block come upon a history walk where it takes you around the early 1960’s car cruise circuit on 11th and 12th streets. This was the in thing to do back in those days. It seems that George Lucas who spent his early years in Modesto remembered those times fondly also and it was the inspiration for his hit movie American Graffiti. It's kind of funny that this cruising, somewhat lawless, racing in the streets kind of thing is now a nostalgic city attraction. Downtown Modesto is looking good these days with a nice mix of businesses, the restored State Theater, a beautiful new performing arts center, a giant new Hotel and many nice cafes and restaurants. It was Wednesday night where the Barkin dog grill does a weekly jazz jam session. It was quite incredible, best stuff I’ve heard in a while, even though jazz is not my favorite. The lack of service sucked, but my priority was the music and it was great !
|Well done mural in downtown|
|Another very artistic collage on a side lot|
|The beauty of hot rod cars and the arch|
|There were a whole series of these murals|
|Another nice mural, but obviously done by someone from another era,|
Mustangs were never a cool hot rod vehicle
|Modesto street corner mural|
|A series of historical panels were around the old|
car cruise circuit which was vibrant in that time
|Don't know about the food, but the jazz jam session is great|
Disturbingly I read that Modesto has a very high rate of car theft and gang activity, must be another area of town, I have seen. As I am basically sleeping on the street, I need to be aware of these things. It does have plenty of homeless types as every town I've been to so far on the California coast does.
I have a hiking trail app on my phone that gives me potential hikes wherever I go. I need some exercise and pick one about 10 miles away that follows the Tuolumne River for a mile or so, it’s not long but sounds interesting. The Tuolumne River is a fast flowing healthy looking stream that comes from the mountains. Just a couple of miles outside of Modesto puts you back into farm country through many orchards and vegetable farms with fresh produce available.
|The Tuolumne River is a beauty|
|The river flood plain is mostly sand which the|
|The most interesting Datura plant which is not to be eaten were|
covering this sandy flood plain area
|This tree (unknown to me) was loaded with these blue berries|
I do another first by traveling to the TA Truck Stop and doing the shower thing. It’s a very efficient setup but kind of pricey at $15. If you are a member of their loyalty program there is a discounted rate, I'm not. It was a large private room with toilet, sink and shower, very clean and everything worked fine. I don’t know if there is any time limit, nothing was said about that. Going into the back section at the truck stop is like entering another world. There is a truckers lounge with a TV and comfortable chairs. It’s funny, but all the drivers seem to have a similar look. You might be able to pick out a truck driver in a criminal lineup just by sight.
Afterwards, I decide to go visit another nearby town for a few hours and somehow end up staying the night in Stockton, California. I initially stumble upon this historic Spanish and Chinese area, then search out the old downtown area. Unlike many other towns, Stockton did not demolish its old downtown during the 1960’s urban renewal period. The buildings are mostly still there, many are vacant and in bad condition, but still restorable. As a result the core downtown although rough looking, (maybe even scary) in areas has character and I had a great time wandering around looking at things.
|No open doors at the Confucius Church|
|Beautiful Bank of Stockton building|
|The beautifully restored Fox Theater|
|Very nice !|
|I believe this was the Masonic Temple|
|I loved the way they did this sign for "I scream for ice cream"|
|Stockton Memorial City Auditorium with the gold bear out front|
|City Hall building is looking a little shabby these days|
|Not sure this is still active here|
|Another landmark building with a series of murals|
|Good rules to live by|
|A poor looking apartment building with a motivating mural|
I am in a different climate now since leaving the coast, it’s full direct sun with some humidity and over 90 degrees in the afternoon. It’s like a sauna in the van by mid afternoon, but does cool off at night if I can open doors.
By late afternoon I had walked about 6 miles on the hot city streets, was hot and tired and then decided, why return to Modesto, makes sense to stay here tonight. I ended up a few miles away on the old Lincoln Highway, route, near the campus of The University of the Pacific next to a giant shopping mall. I found a spot one block off the highway that looked good, but in the morning at 5 AM a delivery truck was roaring next door and then a crazy homeless man starting yelling nonsense. It’s time to pack up and get out of here.
|A rather expensive sign for the mall using the|
Lincoln Highway emblem
Next stop is the state capital of Sacramento. California