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Time to put some spring into your step
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A pleasant place to spend some time - or walk by is the Mistlin Fountain where Second Street meets East Main Street near the Highway 99 on ramp in Ripon. The fountain was a donation of Modesto Honda dealer Tony Mistlin. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Step into “Spring” right out your front door – there’s nothing like it before the sun’s up.  Many a pickup truck will pass you on the street as farmers are headed out to their ranches and you might even find a dog that wants to walk at your side for several blocks.

The signs of spring are everywhere from the blossoming trees to the birds in the branches overhead chirping as they await the beginning of their day hoping for a bug or two for breakfast. They arrived long before spring officially did at 4 o’clock this morning.

Those early-riser type “A” personalities are all over town with the change of the season, although many have continued their early morning walks right through the winter months.

There are the lone walkers – those who have a partner and walk in twos – and the groups of women walking pretty much in step who enjoy their early morning chats at four miles an hour.  They never seem to run out of anything to say as they walk four abreast with flashlight in hand.  Most will call out with a cheerful “good morning” or “how ya doin’.’”

And Ripon has its soda can collector too – riding his bike through the shopping center and parks gathering all the aluminum he can discover on the grass and in the trash containers.

Bike riders go zipping by at quite a clip just trying to rack up their miles before going off to work.  There’s always an occasional runner who makes us walkers feel like we should be doing more in our daily exercise efforts.

The newspaper delivery folks are out too and that can be a problem.  They often drive on the wrong side of the street or pull a U-turn not expecting a walker or runner in dark clothing.  For those not expecting it, it could ruin their day.

Route choices are as varied as the guys and gals, young and old, choose in getting the best start on the day.  I have always enjoyed walking the residential areas right out my front door and wandering into a nearby shopping center and checking out the shops in the old downtown.

Some might see it as mundane, but there are those of us to feel like we have control of the community before the sun rises in the east and we are pretty much by ourselves.  Birds are beginning to sing and an occasional cat and dog is often in the shadows to greet the walkers.  One thing I’ve always enjoyed around 5 a.m. is walking over the Fulton Overcrossing of Highway 99 seeing the morning commuters traveling north and south on the freeway in long strings of red and white lights.

The same can be said about crossing over the bike/foot bridge near the high school with the traffic streaming by below.  Walking by the ever so quiet elementary and high school campuses before anyone has set foot on a campus is interesting especially when you come across an open door.  There has been an occasional open door at the city’s businesses, too, frequented by an unwelcome midnight shopper.

Stauffer Park on the east side of town is another fun spot walking under the stands of oak trees that borders Spring Creek Country Club.  A bike bridge that borders Highway 99 is another curious place to walk where you might run into a red fox or two and maybe even an occasional coyote.

There are also the coffee shops that have some takers as commuters drop by on their way to the Bay Area.  And the two workout gyms have an early morning following as well as their parking lots begin to fill.

Spring and the early morning ours is a terrific choice.  It’s cool and it doesn’t matter which way you walk or run – the sun is not creating a glare that requires sun glasses.