Around: Before BART Got There

I woke up early. For invalid reasons I can no longer remember, I went down the road to Denny's for breakfast instead of just setting out walking. And then back to the room. And only eventually set out. But I did eventually set out.

Sharks Ice

My next set of destination choices: ClubSport Gym (probably not much to do there just "dropping in"), Premier Ballroom Studio (ditto and furthermore not open in the morning), Sharks Ice▼ (not much to do there, but watching skaters was probably more interesting than watching exercisers).

And so I headed out, navigated cloverleaf, cut over to the Coyote Creek Trail; walked the trail between wetlands and farmland; exited the Coyote Creek Trail sooner than I had to but just in time to avoid a tangle of navigation I thought might slow me down the next few miles. The Dixon Landing business park owners learned the hazards of putting a decorative (except: empty and unused) planter on their sign: a transient might sit on the afforded benchoid, pull off a shoe and sock, and pull out burrs. I suppose the many commuters driving by weren't so impressed. Oh well. I walked inland, making my way through a construction zone where a crew was digging a BART tunnel. So far, BART went only as far south as downtown Fremont; but these folks were extending it.

In south Fremont, mean dogs barked at me as I walked past residences. It seemed an unfriendly place. Still, as I moved through these unfamilar neighborhoods, there were hints that soon I'd be back in areas that I knew. I was in Fremont; I'd visited Fremont, though not this part. There were signs for AC Transit; if all else failed, I could catch a bus home. Mean dogs barked; I kept walking. I moved on to an industrial area of Warm Springs. Here, a crew was building a new BART station. Specifically, they were putting a sidewalk onto the street in front of the future station.

Long term, I was glad they were adding that sidewalk. In the short term, it made for a technical stretch of walking. To make my way, I had to walk in front of a cement truck that trundled slowly towards me; I stepped out into traffic: hey, sorry, don't mind me, I gotta go this way because there's no sidewalk yet. But a few steps on the road and then I was able to skitter back into a cone-demarked area, out of traffic, out of the way.

Down a sidestreet, under the BART Tracks. There were concrete steps leading up to the tracks. No doubt when this part of the line was operational, those steps would be protected behind a locked gate. But for now, they were protected only behind flappy loose plastic fencing and a traffic cone. I snuck past, up the steps, looked around at a view that would soon be inaccessible.

The side street off the side street seemed to lead only to uncultivated fields, but these gave way to warehouses and then I was at Sharks Ice. I stepped inside. The rink was open; nobody was in the skate-rental room. I told myself that this was not the time to learn how to ice skate anyhow; a walk aroundt the bay was no time to twist an ankle. But it was nice to sit in the cool and watch the skaters practice.

Fremont Central Park

Next choices: Fremont Central Park (aha, back into territory I knew), Cheese Steak Shop (not so interesting to a vegetarian), Stage 1 Theater▼ (not showing anything this early). Time to walk to Central Park.

I was still in an industrial area, so the walking was not always straightforward. I.e., maybe I was supposed to navigate onto a traffic island; but maybe there was also a traffic tower on the island; and to protect that tower from crazy drivers, that traffic island now had bollards, fencing, and traffic barriers. It was more complex walking than I was accustomed to, but easier than sidestepping an oncoming cement truck, so at least I was in practice.

Eventually, I made my way to the Irvington neighborhood, stopped at the Chapel of Angels funeral home to photograph a Benny Bufano statue (no sirens this time), and walked and walked until I came to Central Park, where Lake Elizabeth looked familiar. Here was the boat ramp and here was the path that led to the library and downtown Fremont.

The Original Country Way

The next set of destination choices: The Original Country Way (diner), Stage 1 Theater (still not open), Silliman Family Aquatic Center (I still didn't have a swimsuit). I was ready for lunch, the diner won.

I headed to downtown, then through blocks and blocks of shopping centers. A few blocks of residential seemed out of place, but soon I was past those to the strip malls. And there was The Country Way. It was in a strange A-Frame building. I ordered a scramble; when it arrived, it was bigger than my hand. Fortunately, you know what they say about guys with big hands: they also have big stomachs. I ate up the plateful of food and even the saucerful of toast that didn't fit on the plate.

Ardenwood Historic Farm

My stomach was working pretty hard to digest all of that food. I went across the street to a bit of strip mall where I'd noticed a comic book shop, Treasure Island Comics. This was Wednesday, new comic book day. It was also my fourth day on the road; I was out of fresh clothes, and ready to sleep in San Francisco this evening, catch up on correspondence. So maybe I could get comics at Isotope, my usual comic book shop. But if Treasure Island had a good collection, maybe I could save some time. But what were the chances that some strip mall comic book shop that happened to be across the street from where I'd had lunch would be any good?

This time, the chances were 100%. They carried God Hates Astronauts, if that's any indication; and I thought it was an indication. I did some comics shopping, gave my stomach a chance to recover, let my blood start delivering oxygen to my brain again.

Outside the store, time to consider my next destination: either Pho Saigon (I didn't want to think about eating yet), Ardenwood Historic Farm▼, or Dancemakers (I couldn't imagine attempting to dance with so much potato inside me). Ardenwood, then.

I walked past houses, past a school, past more houses. At first, I was walking kind of slow, but eventually I remembered what it was like to walk again. I made it past more strip mall, then to a monument telling me I'd made it to the City of Newark.

Here was something to interest puzzlehunters: an artifact rich with data. Here was a stone sphere marked with location of Newarks Around the World. What a great thing to base a puzzle on! Or maybe not—now that I have some time to sit and double-check this, I have my doubts about the sphere's accuracy. It mentions a Newark, Australia; I can find no such place. It mentions a Newark, South Africa; I can't find that, either. Perhaps these places changed names in the ~30 years since the sphere was researched and made. Maybe those places exist but aren't so easy to find on Google Maps. Or OpenStreetMap. GeoNames knows about a couple of Newark homesteads in Australia, should those count on something that claims to be a list of cities? Or… Or… Or maybe someone pranked the original researcher of this sphere? I don't know the story behind the sphere, but the closer I looked, the less I wanted to try to use it as a reference.

When I arrived at Ardenwood Historic Farm, it appeared to be a large plowed field and a closed-for-now fruit stand. Then I saw a car drive around the field to a spot where it disappeared in some trees. And so I walked around the field, through some trees and came to the park proper. That field was just a decoy, I guess.

The Ardenwood Farm was apparently run by some well-off Victorians. They didn't just have some farmhouse; they had a victorian mansion. In addition to the sheep and pigs you might expect, there were also peacocks running around. Even though most stuff was closed until later in the year, there was still plenty to look at.

It was getting on in the afternoon. I wanted to spend the evening taking care of things back home. So I made my way back to the Ardenwood Farm exit by way of the decoy field, then across the street past the traffic accident, over to the Ardenwood Park and Ride. There I caught the U bus to Union City, then rode BART and streetcars for a couple of hours to get home.

Next: Straight Shot[>]

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