October 3, 2015 – Sunny, 90 degrees
Miles Today: 25
Miles to Date: 8,006
States to Date: 25
I woke this morning in a midcentury mirage. My warmshowers hosts live in an 1800 square foot ranch on an ample lot in the middle of this sprawling city. It was built in 1955, the year I was born, and has held its charms. I roused feeling light and expansive as the sectional sofa I slept upon and the fig tree beyond the patio doors. We enjoyed fresh fruit and yogurt with coffee for breakfast. The raisins were especially good – Fresno’s fame.
If the point of my trip is to observe a broad slice of American life, I can’t spend all my time in the Yosemite’s and Portland’s of the world. So, I decided to spend the day in Fresno. I began riding up and down Van Ness, Fresno’s classy residential district. Whoever decided to bring water to the desert was a lifestyle genius. It’s so pleasant to be among lush vegetation without any humidity. On a bright Saturday morning, affluent couples strolled beneath giant shade trees, next to green lawns and flowers. All so verdant, all so unsustainable.
I pedaled downtown. There are a few ornate theaters and hotel blocks from the 20’s and 30’s, but Fresno boomed during the 1950’s and 60’s, so there are blocks of over scaled government buildings sitting large courtyards surrounded by seas of parking. The only crowd was a throng of men, mostly homeless, waiting to get into the library when it opened at ten. I interviewed a Pawn Shop manager about tomorrow, and continued my tour.
After a tasty lunch in a local tacqueria, I cruised by Cal State Fresno and spent the afternoon writing in the local Mcdonald’s, which also meant talking with laborers and attorneys and mothers. McDonald’s is our collective living room.
I spent the evening with a cool couchsurfing host. Surge is the son of Mexican farm workers, a high school world history teacher in a overwhelmingly Hispanic high school, and a world traveller. He lives in the Tower neighborhood, Fresno’s hipster district. We strolled Olive Street and ate at a Mediterranean restaurant. We learned the limits of Fresno’s cool: they served falafel on tortillas.