This last week, I’ve been spoilt with my early morning runs. The San Francisco Bay Area, the Carmel Valley upland trails… Delightful exhilarating scenery.
Then comes a night at the Hampton Suites and Inn, Paso Robles: the hotel trapped within a major Highway 101 interchange with a few local main roads. I was determined to find a running circuit, however, and charged out of the front gate in optimistic fashion.
It was encouraging to find a sparkling white concrete pavement at the exit. Even more encouraging to see an old gentleman approaching from the direction of the interchange, clutching a morning paper. Clearly the pavement was worth following. Clearly it led to civilisation, maybe even a coffee bar.
But the old gentleman had obviously materialised out of thin air, or was a figment of my over-optimistic imagination. The blindingly white sidewalk led to nowhere. Nowhere, except the traffic-crazy interchange, and it was hard to picture the old man crossing the six lanes of traffic, let alone purchasing a newspaper in the vicinity.
Turning left to follow the curb edge, I picked and stumbled my way across dried grass and cinders. Almost overcome by exhaust fumes, I felt fortunate to eventually make it back to the rear perimeter of the Hampton Suites and Inn. Suddenly a new pavement-to-nowhere appeared through the hazy mists, and I gratefully abandoned the dessicated verge.
What exactly was the purpose of these unblemished virginal white sidewalks leading to nothing and appearing out of nowhere? Might I have been the first person to ever walk them, save for the old man who was clearly just a mirage? I began to wonder whether they were there just as a superficial device, a make-believe ploy for hotel guests. To give the illusion that this encircled plot of land was indeed linked to the wider community. That the ditch at the rear perimeter of the property reminiscent of the methods employed by Chester Zoo to keep the elephants contained was not part of a wider plot to imprison residents.
Sometimes I get a bit paranoid.