Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bakersfield, California

I left Oakland yesterday afternoon, on my way to Las Vegas. I traveled down the Central Valley on I-5, hugging the east side of the Coastal Range. The landscape is open and dry, with no hint of the Sierra Nevada range off to the east. Cattle grazing and a variety of orchards are the main uses to which the land is put. An impressive array of wind turbines lines the ridge near where I-580 and I-5 meet, about 25 miles southwest of the East Bay.

You can check out my general plans for this trip at Community Walk

My only stop, after four hours of driving, was Bakersfield, where I spent the night. This is a city of several hundred thousand people, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. It is a clean and prosperous city, fattened by oil and ranching. I entered from the northwest and saw many residential neighborhoods surrounded by concrete walls. The homes behind the walls appeared spacious and comfortable.

After checking into my motel around 5PM, I went for a short run and then hopped into the car in search of the downtown, about five miles from the motel. Bakersfield is not a high-rise city, so without a map the downtown would be hard to find.

While clean (even the alleyways!) and not unattractive, neither is it overly impressive--but maybe I'm just hard to impress. It appears to be mostly an assemblage of government and financial buildings interspersed with small shops, such as jewelers, tobacconists and markets. There were not many people on the streets. The city obviously has a large Latino community, so I opted for a burrito at Los Altos and headed back home.