This Land is Your Land.....

Trip Start Sep 29, 2007
Trip End Dec 01, 2007

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Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, October 2, 2007

It is hot for this time of year, and traffic is heavy because it is harvest time for grapes.
I left my motel at about 9am, and I took Brian's (the proprietor) advice and took the road he said would border the 99 hwy. Either I took a wrong turn or his directions were wrong because I found myself on the on ramp TO the 99hwy. There was no where to turn around, and there were no signs that said no bicycles, so I get on going. The Hwy. had just been paved and the shoulder was about 8 feet wide and looked like it was made just for me. There are certain areas where bicycles can travel a highway, as there is not a side street that continues out of town. Thee shoulder was prisine, and I soon found myself cruising at about 25mph. This was because the truckers passed so close and so fast that I was caught in their wke and it pulled me along without really pedaling. This lasted for about 5 miles, until I was stopped by a CHP, who started laughing when he walked up. He said, "I got a call about a transient on the highway, and I can plainly see you do not fit the profile. He was really cool about the whole thing and suggested that I get off the highway, even though it is not posted for motor vehicles only." I introduced my self and in situations like this I always throw in that I am a former police officer, turned travel writer. He was the type that laughed at everything and said he was concerned that I would get taken out by a big-rig. I agreed with him but I told him my defense was that there was no sign. He then followed me to the nxt off ramp and sped off.
This got me thinking about people traveling on bike and in fact I am a "transient." I could imagine that if my bike was old, my appearance was dicheveled, and I didn't have the cop card to play, my freedom to continue unhampered was in jeopardy.
The area of Fresno in the North, has a suburban area that reminded me of home. With little houses that looked all the same, going up as far as I could see. I stopped my bike for a minute and watched as the huge bulldozers, moved earth as fast as they could. Just like home, where almost every inch has some kind of building. As I watched, I thought of the many species of animals and plants that were either displaced or buried in their burrows. I understand that people need places to live but where was the EPA that was supposed to monitor and sign off areas as "buildable" or something like that. I know habitat and I knew that a lot of supposedly protected species were being plowed over.
This brings me to an interesting point, from a licensed falconers position. I have to renew my falconry license every year and I have been doing so since 1977, when it cost just $17. Last year, if you can believe it , I paid $100. for the Federal part of my license, and $97.50 for the State part. this is just to have th birds. On top of that, I have to pay about $40. for a hunting license, yearly if I want to hunt Cottontail Rabbit, (certain times only) and a Duck Stamp, for I don't know how much, if I want to hunt Ducks (also certain times only). The Ironic part is, is that I have to pay a lot of money to hunt protected animals, I which I am careful not to over hunt. However, the bulldozer gets Paid to plow complete fields, wiping out what ever is there, and he gets paid for it. Something is not right here. Speaking of wat is not right, when I first received my Falconry license, I had to sign a portion that allowed Fish and Game Wardens to inspect my premises whenever they plesed, given it was a reasonablr hour. The point is that I have to sign away my Constitutional Rights of Privacy if I wan to be a licenced falconer. I think I know why this occured, and I can understand. In the early 1970's a small group of dedicated Falconers wanted to make falconry a recognized legitimate hunting sport. Some in the State were against them and I think that getting the Sport legitimized was more important at the time then the Constitutional issue, which I believe is wrong.
I will get off my Soap-Box and put some travel info in log. My ride from Fresno was really cool for the most part and I was able to find a seldom used road that folloed a river from Fresno to the Highway, connecting to Madera, where I am now. Along the way, I ate grapes at almost all of the places that I stopped and asked permission. I think I stopped at 4 vineyards that had ripe grapes.
I even stopped at a privately owned vineyard and met the owner who drys the grapes and sells them to "Sunkist." The owner was nothing I imagined a vineyard owner to be. The man I met was a teacher part time, highly educated (from Berkley I think) and had a lot to talk about. This included Iraq, the Migrant Worker issue in which he is effected directly and other really interesting subjects. He is even a sailor and said he owns a small sailboat on a lake nearby. I ended up tasting the raisins that were being dried by the sun on paper mats and I filled up my water bottles at the same time.
My advice on a day like today, is hydrate, hydrate then hydrate some more. I am skipping meals and I can already tell that I will drop some pounds on this trip.
I ended up stopping at the Madera Valley Inn, one of the tallest buildings Downtown. The word on the street was that they had decent rates, so I stopped in to check it out. The rates were not as reasonable as I expected, but the check-in people were so nice and I was so hungry and tired, that I paid the 75 dollars just because I liked the place.
That is it for now, as even though I was writing in the past tence, i still haven't eatten and I am still hungry. I just had some things on my mind and they were bugging me.
Additionally, I am on the motel's computer and the spell-check is different. Sorry about that but just live with it this time.
Thank, Steve
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