Delta Smelt to Motel Madness
Trip Start Sep 29, 2007
45Trip End Dec 01, 2007
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The trip from Madera was fairly uneventful, but the scenery was much nicer and when I stopped to chat, I was met by very nice people. Politics From Fresno to Sacramento is very controversial, the main topic being water and the building of new reservoirs to provide the 1 in 3 people who are involved directly in agriculture. The argument on the Left is that Smelts in the Delta, are a distinct subspecies, and to build additional reservoirs would destroy the habitat of this already endangered fish, and possibly cause their extinction. The Right argues that the Smelt in the Delta is not unique and that the grapes, almonds and other items grown in this large area will not have enough water to produce competitively in the world market. They contend that the agriculture in the valley needs a new reservoir, now to meet the demand.
The AM radio stations are covering this issue from both sides and to get a feel of the issue, I talked to a lot of growers during my zig-zag ride North to Chowchilla. The general consensus was that the valley is very close to consuming the available water at this time and if a new reservoir is necessary, it should be built. I spoke to mark, who grows almonds for "Blue Diamond." He said that he gets his water from his own well, and this is not an issue for him. He did state, however that the past years have been very dry and that he has had to drill deeper and deeper every year to obtain the water he needs.
I do not have enough information to make an informed opinion, but this is a dry place and the areas not sufficiently irrigated are very dry and nothing much grows in those places except Tumbleweeds.
Enough about politics and on to my arrival to Chowchilla, which is a nice little community, complete with a fairgrounds that allows camping if they are approached and asked first. They charge nothing, have bathroom facilities and available electricity. There are a few inexpensive motels a nice little Downtown area and some inexpensive places to eat. The people really like pizza and everyone I spoke to directed me to Rudy's Pizza on the south side of town, right next to the Fairgrounds.
As It was really hot today, I stopped numerous times to get out of the heat. I kind of planned on stopping in Chowchilla, which is about 27 miles from Madera. From now on, I will consult Mapquest to get directions. Although the people I asked were eager to give me directions, a few times I found myself at dead ends, having to backtrack. "Golden State Blvd." is the main road that runs parallel through the entire valley. I would recommend this for travelers, but several spots are under construction, and according to the workers I spoke to, once completed, the Blvd. should connect the Valley from Fresno to San Francisco.
The last travel tip I would like to give today involves ID. It is probably a good idea to change your Driver's License, credit cards and the such if you have a name that has been shortened, such as Susan to Sue, or any other shortening that any person born and raised in this country would recognize. Let me explain the "Motel Madness," I mentioned earlier. In my case, I have alway gone by Steve, which is the common, shorten version of Stephen. To Make it more confusing, I also have a first name on my Driver's license, I have never used. I wanted to pay for my motel with my credit card and I presented both my license and my credit card to the manager of the motel, who happened to be born in India. We had had a nice chat about, this-and-that until I presented both the credit card and my license.
At that point, everything changed and the owner became stone-faced and picked up the telephone. I asked him what he was doing and he said he was calling the Police. Since we had had a pretty good chat before he decided in his head that I was a criminal, I took the chance and asked him to hang up and let me explain. He agreed and hung up the Phone. I explained that my complete name was on my license, that I have gone by the shortened version of Stephen, Steve, my whole life, and that was why Steve was on my credit card. He was insistent that Stephen was pronounced "Stefan" and that Steve was definitely not a shortened version of that name. I admit, I raised my voice and told him that he was wrong and that if he had been born and raised here, he would know that Steve was short for Stephen. Now some would say that this is a racial issue, I disagree. I say that this guy was an idiot and had nooooo idea what he was talking about. I was beginning to lose it , when a car pulled up with about 4 people inside that were born and raised in this country. The manager knew these people and said he would ask the driver, whom he had known for a long time. He handed my Drivers license to this man and asked him all the questions I described regarding the inconsistent names.
After about 2 seconds, the man said, "I wouldn't go by this first name either, his middle name is pronounced, Steeeeeven, and Steve is the shortened version of Stephen." Thanks, whoever you are. By this time, I was fed-up and I had already produced a "C" note and handed it to the manager. I just wanted my ID back, my change and a room. The owner continued to shake his head saying he was right, but took my money and did not call the police.
That was enough excitement for the day, so I went to my room, in which if I stretched really far, I could touch both of my hands on each wall at the same time, $30 buys very little these days. I am now settled in and coincidentally, my Pizza from Rudy's arrived about 3 minutes ago and I am starving.
Thanks to all the people who are reading, and enjoying my prose. Again, I wrote when I was done riding and tired, but I think it is readable. Let's see what happens tomorrow.