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May 26, 2009
Back with a pack on my back: Fremont to Milpitas

Today Russell walked 12.61 miles!
Total traveled so far = 144.11 miles

“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.”
– Anatole France

I never did get dinner last night. One of the “features” of the Fremont Frontier Motel is that it isn’t near anything. The closest eateries are about a half-mile away. I didn’t end up finishing my blog until 9:00 pm, and I just didn’t feel like walking out to dinner that late. So I (finally!) opened one of my granola packs and ate that. One happy consequence is that I was actually able to go to bed at a decent hour – 10:00 pm. I fell asleep immediately.

Getting up this morning was difficult. There was no complimentary breakfast at the motel – nor any place to get breakfast nearby – so I stayed in bed past 6:30 (late for me this trip).

Beginning yesterday, I am back with a pack on my back; there are no more car shuttles to shepherd my baggage. Now that I am back in the Bay Area, though, I am able to make some adjustments to my load:

My route today would be split between Mission Blvd. and Warm Springs Blvd. I fully expected to find a breakfast restaurant within the first mile or so. I stepped out the door at 7:40… and didn’t find a restaurant until almost seven miles (three hours) later at 10:30. I was amazed, especially because I was on a major road that passed right by both Mission San José and Ohlone College. Apparently, people in Fremont don’t eat out. (I did pass by two options – McDonald’s and Jack in the Box – which I was happy to pass by.)

Mission San José, founded in 1797 by Father Fermin de Lasuen of Spain

With a combination of a weekday and proximity to home, I was able to listen to “Morning Edition” on PBS, followed by “The Beatles’ Singles.”

Fremont (population: 211,622) is the fourth most populated city in the San Francisco Bay Area, and its largest suburb. The city was incorporated in 1956 by merging five smaller communities: Centerville, Niles, Irvington, Mission San José (which dates back to 1797) and Warm Springs. (Fremont is also home to the largest concentration of Afghans in the United States. As a result, it is featured in Khaled Hosseini’s recent novel, “The Kite Runner.”)

It was not until the intersection of Mission Blvd. and Warm Springs Blvd. that I finally found a Denny’s. I was so tired and hungry by that point that I sat down with a “Grand Slam” for more than an hour. (It wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t skipped dinner last night.)

Today's terrain: Fremont
Mission Blvd. and Warm Springs Blvd.
(Lots of houses and businesses, but no place to eat!)

To the east, the hills include Mission Peak and Monument Peak
To the west, one can see across the entire valley (that brown stuff obscuring the view is smog)

For some reason, Fremont seems to have an awful lot of power poles!

I hit the road again at almost noon, continuing down Warm Springs Blvd. (which runs between Highways 680 and 880) into Milpitas. The border of Milpitas is also the border of Santa Clara County. I was now officially back in Silicon Valley.

Milpitas” (population: 64,700) comes from “Rancho Milpitas,” a Mexican-Spanish phrase that roughly translates to “little garden where maize [corn] is grown.” It has a rich history as farmland, from the Ohlone Indians to Mexican ranchers to European immigrants. The city incorporated itself in 1954, largely to stop itself from being swallowed by San Jose. (The city was almost named “Penitencia,” but locals were concerned that the name might be confused with “penitentiary.”)

A 1981 Milpitas crime was the inspiration for the movie “River’s Edge,” which starred some unknown actors named Keanu Reeves, Crispin Glover and Ione Skye.

Milpitas is home to the corporate headquarters of Maxtor, LSI Logic, Solectron, Adaptec, Intersil and SanDisk. (It is also home to the Bay Area’s largest enclosed shopping mall, the “Great Mall of the Bay Area”.) Unfortunately, industrial wastes (and street water runoff) have destroyed what used to be prime fish populations in the local creeks. Fishing is no longer legal due to mercury contamination.

Even worse, Milpitas also suffers from “stinky air,” due to an unfortunate combination of bay salt marshes, a nearby landfill, the San Jose sewage treatment plant, and air pollution from Highway 880. (Carbon monoxide has registered at maximum levels for the last two decades.)

It is here that I am spending the night, just off Highway 880 at Day’s Inn. I arrived at the wonderfully early hour of 2:00, which is great because I was getting so hot that I bought a Slurpee at 7-11 to drink while I was walking. I am optimistic that I will be able to both have dinner and turn in at a decent hour. (But then again, I am optimistic about this every night.)

I had a craving all day for Chinese food, which I was able to indulge at Chili Palace, a new authentic place right across the street. (I know it is authentic because they gave me a menu all in Chinese.) Unfortunately, I get hungry again 30 minutes after eating Chinese food. So I stopped at the grocery store and bought a package of microwave kettle corn. I’m finally going to watch a show tonight! Too bad my trip is just about over…

It is a very strange feeling to be this close to home (in a motel, no less), but not quite there yet. This will be my last night in a motel. Tomorrow will be my last day of walking. With any luck, I will end up in Cupertino by late afternoon. The end is in sight!

Today's terrain: Milpitas
The return of traffic

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