Assorted recent pix

It’s been awhile since I posted a bunch’ pix here, so what the heck. Haven’t
done any notable hikes in awhile, but I do have a new camera I’m getting used

It’s in the owner’s manual: the first subject of all photography must be one’s
cat. Or dog. Or child. Well, we have only one of the three in our household,
so Floyd gets to be Camera Subject A, whether he likes it or not. From the look
on his face I’m guessing, not.

I’m posting this one to prove that Floyd does come out of his hiding
place in the closet. But this is as close as he’ll let me get to him. Oddly
enough, though Floyd would sooner gouge his eyes out than allow me to touch
him, he gets very jumpy and irritable if I’m out of the house for too long.
When I go camping he keeps Melissa up all night, running out to the front door
and back, whining and making noises to the effect of "all my things are
not in place here, and this must stop NOW."

Now, for something completely different. A couple weeks back I sent my mom
a link to an ad for a boat somebody
is trying to sell.
It’s 49-foot yacht built in 1951 for a grocery store
chain magnate. Sometime in the early ’90s it came into the possession of a documentary
filmmaker who restored and remodeled it to gorgeous condition. She forwarded
the link to Ed, my stepdad, who immediately called up the guy and told him he’d
be out to the coast the next weekend to take a look at it. Ed has owned dozens
of boats in his life so I knew he’d appreciate this one.

Ed in his element, with boats on all sides.

Mom and Melissa wait for the boat’s owner to show it to us.

The guy takes us through the boat, showing us its every detail, lovingly restored
by hand, by him. Shoulda seen the guy’s eyes light up, it’s like he was explaining
how his son was the quarterback of the local high school team that had just
won the state championship. I almost grabbed him by the shoulders and said "look,
mister, you must not sell this boat. Would you sell your own child?" We
were tempted to put in an offer on it, fantasizing that we could own the boat
and live on it, but there are all sorts of regulations regarding people living
on boats, and the cost of the boat plus the cost of keeping it berthed, insured
and afloat would’ve been quite a bit more than we’re paying in rent. Ed was
even more sorely tempted — there was no part of this boat in any condition
less than immaculate — but the notion of trucking it back to Illinois, where
the water in the river isn’t really deep enough for it anyway, eventually returned
him to his senses.

Bottom line: You can see how easy it is for people to lose all sense of proportion
and rationality in the presence of the right boat.

Seals rest on a chunk of lumber in the Sausalito harbor.

We had dinner in a restaurant at the waterfront. Nice view of San Francisco
through the window; I’m glad it’s not my job to wash it.

Lots of boats were in the bay to watch the Navy Blue Angels perform.

A rock-balancing artist performs for the folks walking past on the sidewalk.

We took a quick jaunt up to the Headlands to gape at the coastline. This is
one of my favorite spots in the Bay Area.

You can’t take a bad picture of the Golden Gate Bridge, especially when it’s
not fogged in.

We spent the night in a hotel in San Francisco. The red blur is a a very cool
early ’60s Chevy convertible.

Something completely different, Part 2.

My longtime online pal Gerald from Germany
is visiting family in the Bay Area this month. We got together Sunday and took
a nice walk around Lake Chabot.

The lake has a marina where people rent boats, canoes and other vessels. We
opted for staying on the ground.

It’s quite a scenic little lake, with campgrounds, trails, etc.

Here’ s an intriguing characteristic of my new camera: when the battery runs
down, the lens cover doesn’t open all the way.

Gerald noticed this rattlesnake before the rest of us. It was perhaps 10 feet
away when we saw it. As we stopped to watch it slither away, it would shake
its rattle at us every few seconds. Suddenly it struck me that for all the rattler’s
notorious reputation, it’s actually a rather polite little beastie. If you get
too close it turns on the rattle, as if to say "please take note of the
venomous snake in your vicinity, and step away with caution." Vastly superior
to the bite-first-and-ask-questions-later variety of wildlife.

Gerald and Annette, his lovely wife.

After walking ’round the lake we retired to a slurpee shop in Castro Valley.

There were many shops nearby, including a crafts shop full of Halloween decorations.
"In Germany we call this kitsch," Gerald said. "That’s what we
call it here, too," I replied.

A jaunt down the hill and back

The rainy season arrived last week, which turned the trails nearby to mush…
I resorted to walking the road down the hill to Ed Levin County Park — about
five miles each way, so it was a nice workout. I see the same sights every morning
on the way to work and back so it’s not exactly the most exciting walk, except
when the cars zip past too fast and too close.

I took the camera along so we’d have fresh pix, but before we go outdoors,
we have to share a moment with Floyd.

This is about as relaxed as I’ve seen him lately. Usually he runs away when
I get too close to him.

OK, back down the road.

Horses hang out next to a retired utiltiy truck. There’s zillion-dollar homes
way back in the distance but around these parts we still have the charm of old
broken stuff decorating property along the roadside. You just don’t get that
in the suburbs.

Horse to farmer: "You want me to pull what?"

A gazebo and flowers at Ed Levin County Park, which was mostly empty when I
dropped by.

Well, there were some deer hanging out.

I’ve walked up those hills a couple times, but had no such inclinations yesterday,
having walked five miles already to get to this point and facing another five
uphill to get back home.

Here’s an old cemetery whose headstones have all been vandalized. Children
are such fun sometimes.

Nice clouds.

The storm that blew through last week knocked this tree across one lane of
the road.

That’s it for this week, see y’all next time.

Monarchs and other migrations

One of the coolest things about the California coastline is all the animals
migrating along it. Seals migrate. Whales migrate. Monarch butterflies migrate.
The monarchs come up from Mexico and spread out across North America. Every
October, thousands of them stop by (well, flutter by) at Natural Bridges State
Park in Santa Cruz. It’s one of the most amazing things you’ll every see: the
sky filled with butterflies like an old Disney cartoon come to life.

Melissa and I went last year, and this year we took Melissa’s mom, Mary, to
monitor the monarchs.

Uh, ladies, the trail’s over that way.

This wooden foot bridge goes down into a valley that shelters the butterflies
from the strong Pacific breezes. The bridge also keeps the humanoids confined
to small area least likely to annoy the monarchs.

This isn’t really where they rest. They prefer tree limbs way up in the forest

Mary and Melissa making initial Monarch sightings.

Pictures of the humans are often far more entertaining than the butterflies.

Butterflies fill the sky — people with expensive cameras and high-power zoom
lenses could see the butterflies packed together on tree branches; they actually
entertwine their legs to hold on against strong breezes.

This is about as close as one came within range of my digicam, whose manufacturers
obviously neglected to take butterfly viewings into account.

Another one rests on a branch nearby … this picture looks vaguely artsy but
it wasn’t intentional; just too much backlighting.

A volunteer at the park explains how around 9,000 butterflies came last year
but only 2,000 have arrived thus far. The monarchs come from Mexican mountains
that are rapidly being deforested, and it doesn’t help that theri sole food
source — milkweeds — often gets killed off by herbicides. If you’re thinking,
"yeah, there sure used to be a lot more monarchs around when I was a kid,"
you’re right. It’s us doing them in.

Back up at the park’s headquarters, an exhibit shows a monarch caterpillar.
It wasn’t moving, so I suspect it’s been freeze-dried or something.

You can’t go to Natural Bridges Stage Park without going down to the beach
and checking out what’s left of those bridges. There’s a hole in that chunk
of rock, carved out by millions of years of saltwater pounding against it. Those
are pelicans up on top of the rock, which is white from their poop. Which makes
walking down to the beach an aromatic experience that compares favorably to
a field trip at a wastewater treatement plant.

Having adapted to the smell, Mary and Melissa admire the crashing surf.

Does this jacket make me look fat?

Melissa’s million-dollar smile (the cast is from the surgery she had to fix
her carpal-tunnel difficulties.)

These two chunks of rock used to be connected by natural stone arch, but I
suspect one of the recent earthquakes knocked it down.

We left the beach and headed up California Highway 1. Pigeon Point Lighthouse
is one of our favorite stops. A couple years back, Melissa bought her mom’s
twin sister, Marie, a shelf-size replica of this lighthouse, so it made sense
to take her sister over to get a look at the place.

Mary approves of the decision.

There’s a little hamlet called Pescadero up the road a ways. We stopped in
to check out the local arts and crafts, many of which are made locally.

A house converted into a curio shop.

Turning off the flash produces warm hues you might not expect from a digital

Art deco doll in cabinet. Cool.

A shop called "Made in Pescadero" sells furniture handmade by local
folks. Slobber-inducing to people who are into such things.

Pretty glasses on a table.

This is a local landmark called Duarte’s Tavern. They make wonderful soups
and pies, and there’s always a waiting list to get a table. Tasty meals, reasonably
priced; a rarity in these parts.

Another curio shop up the street a ways.

A stained-glass angel keeps an eye on the place.

You can’t miss in a shop that sells Buddha cats.

Hardly Strictly speaking

Every year for the past four, this millionaire from San Francisco has been
bringing the world’s greatest bluegrass performers to town and inviting everybody to come
see them — and the admission’s free. Just bop over to Golden Gate Park, pull
up a patch of grass and listen to two days of amazing picking and fiddling.

Originally it was called the Strictly Bluegrass festival but it evolved into
the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival — which is where I spent most of Saturday
and Sunday. One nice side benefit of this free festival is that you can walk
right up to the front of the stage and take pictures of the performers. Two
days of this gave me a fresh appreciation of what concert photographers go through
— it takes exact timing to anticipate when an interesting expression will appear
on a musician’s face, then you have to hope there’s no microphone in the way
and reconcile yourself to the fact that the minute you set the camera down,
something really cool will happen. The highlights:


Imagewise, the day got off to an auspicious start when I took the BART train
to San Francisco on Saturday and noticed this little baby peeking his head behind
his carrier and making impossibly cute faces at me.

OK, enough of full-cuteness mode. Back to the main topic:

The festival is on four stages, and as I approach the first one, I hear this
guy named A.J. Roach singing — I kid you not — about dying of black-lung disease.

His band seems pretty cheerful, considering the subject matter. Maybe they
think "if he keeps this up I’ll have no choice but to launch my solo career."
A.J was a capable mountain wailer but I had to see who else was mixing things
up elsewhere.

These jumbo hula hoops are always popular.

Here’s the Hot Club of Cowtown, a really swinging Austin, Texas, string band.
I had to leave before I developed a crush on the blonde fiddle player.

It was a day for Emmylou Harris sightings. That’s her in the black cowboy hat.
She closed the show Sunday.

I was wondering what it is about bluegrass that ignites an irresistible urge
to dance. Best I can figure is that the rapid-fire plucking of guitar, mandolin
and banjo strings becomes a kind of percussion, which just seems to set toes
tapping, legs twisting, hips shaking. (OK, so I’m asking you to accept the premise
that percussion makes music danceworthy … it’s just a thought, but I’ll stuck
with this theory till a better one comes along).

Speaking of pickin’, here’s a couple guys from Hot Rize attempting to warm
things up. They were a pretty hot combo, but no match for what the weather gods
sent us this weekend: Cold, windy, damp — hell on any exposed extremities,
and hard on wooden musical instruments that kept expanding and contracting and
getting out of tune.

The Banjo Stage draws a nice crowd.

Kevin Welch, center, Kieran Kane, left, and their fiddler, whom they called
Fats (because he’s the skinniest guy in six counties, I suspect). Their set
was better suited to a small, smoky room in a bar rather than the expanse of
the outdoors. If you’re into singer-songwriters who don’t suck, check these
guys out. Excellent lyricists who harmonize well. One of the funniest moments
from the weekend happened during their set: Between their songs, one of the
bands at the next stage over receives a thundering ovation, and Welch says in
this droll twang of his, "sounds like they’re having more fun over there
than we are." Yeah, you had to be there.

After these guys finished, Nick Lowe, who had some hits in the ’80s, came on
the same stage — his name alone attracted twice the audience and triple the
applause but he didn’t seem nearly as good as Welch & company. Could be
an example of fame distorting reality, or merely me identifying with the unfamous.

These kids in front of us were a hoot: constantly raising hell to their mom’s

Shay, a guy I work with who knows more about bluegrass than anybody else I
know. He used to work for Rounder Records, which handles tons of folk/roots
bands. He’s always seeing former clients of his at these concerts.

John Prine, who dusted off an anti-war song of his from the Vietnam Era. It
goes like this

"But your flag decal won’t get you into heaven anymore,
they’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war,
Now Jesus don’t like killin’,
No matter what the reason’s for,
And your flag decal won’t get you
into heaven any… more"

Prine’s voice sounds like a gravel road but he’s still got a lot of singing
left in him. He played a fabulous set — lively, sarcastic, well paced, covering
a 30-year career. He’s the real deal … catch him if you get the chance.

Emmylou, center, guest stars with Buddy and Julie Miller. Buddy’s a fabulous
guitar player and Julie’s a bit of a space cadet but she’s got fine pipes. I
caught a few of their songs and wished I’d have seen more. With four stages
and dozens of bands there were lots of tough choices: I had to miss Steve Earle
to see Prine, and I never even made it over to one of the four stages. But nobody’s
complaining at these prices.

Saturday’s headliner, the living legend and godfather of bluegrass, Ralph Stanley
— center, holding his hands to keep ’em warm. He did the a capella version
of "Oh, Death" from "O Brother" that was a bit too haunting.
The lyric goes, "Oh, death, won’t you spare me over for another year,"
and I got the feeling that Ralph — who’s been at this for half a century —
was hoping his song might ward off the Reaper.


Lest you worry that all his music distracted me from my hiking, rest easy:
I walked four miles from City Hall the park site both days. I invited the folks
at Walk South Bay to come along for Sunday’s walk.

That’s the San Francisco city hall up ahead. It’s uphill most of the way to
the park from here, but the hills are mild compared to what I’m used to. Only
two of the Walk South Bay folks took me up on my invitation: Gilad, an immunology
researcher at the University of San Francisco (he’s one of the mosaic of scientists
searching for a cure for AIDS) and Angelika, a research assistant at the university.
She’s from Germany, he’s from Israel — a true international couple and wonderful
company for a walk through the city.

We stopped at the botanical gardens in Golden Gate Park — they are truly stunning.

Gilad and Angelika stopped by the bluegrass fest for awhile, but they found
they weren’t dressed warmly enough to stand still and watch music, so they kept
on walking another couple miles down to Ocean Beach. I’m hoping I’ll see ’em
on another hike.

OK, back to the festival:

Here’s the Texas singer-songwriter Jimmie Dale Gilmore, who played an extremely
polished set. He sings in a high register that reminds me a lot of Willie Nelson,
except Jimmie Dale has a smoother voice — the pitch without the crackle. This
guy proves why you have to peel past the layers of fame to find to the really
interesting musicians. Willie Nelson is an icon for sure, but the key to his
appeal is not his fame or his hit records: it’s his distinctive musical style.
Willie can make anybody’s songs sound good, and the same is true of countless
indie musicians like Jimmie Dale Gilmore who barely scratch out a living playing
music. It takes a lot more patience to sit through songs you’ve never heard
before but the payoff is hearing something amazing for the first time.

Steve Earle sits in on a songwriters session. He’s singing a song about a 19th
century juvenile delinquent; earlier he sang that song of his written from the
perspective of a guy about to be executed by lethal injection. Amazingly powerful
song, really gave me the chills. (When Steve trots out his causes at every show
the audience is silently saying, "Shut up and sing, dammit" — and
it’s like he reads our minds and knows it’s going to take some kick-ass performing
to melt that annoyance away. Then he does it.)

Ricky Skaggs, center, and Kentucky Thunder. They play fast and furious, tight
as a snare drum.

Del McCoury, right, and his band. The best bluegrass combo I’ve ever heard.

A dancer nearby swings to the twang.

The Gourds, another good-time Austin band. I stayed for a couple of their songs,
then headed home.

Yeah, it was cold, windy, and all-around terrible weather for an outdoor music
festival. But the only regret I have is a kind of buyer’s remorse that happens
when you’re grooving along to one band and hear a huge round of cheers for a
different band closing its set at a nearby stage. Even then you realize somebody
else is having a good time over there so it’s hard to feel too terrible about
missing their fun, especially when you know they’re missing yours.

ArtCarfest 2004

Downtown San Jose, typically the squarest place in 50 miles, became a tad cooler
yesterday with the arrival of ArtcarFest 2004.

The premise of ArtcarFest is that people who have made a canvas of their cars
gather all their zaniness into a single zipcode. There’s a strong aroma of hippiedom
— lots of peace symbols, feminist agitprop, antiwar statements, etc — but
the tone is light, frivolous, antic, occasionally silly. ArtcarFest presumes
to be the exact opposite of the typical classic-car show, but the people who
put 90 coats of paint on a 1950 Mercury have a lot in common with the people
who glue 90 Disney figurines on the roof of their 1969 Beetle. The classic car
buff wants to celebrate the automobile; the carart buff wants to subvert it.
Either way, cars provoke a creative obsession that produces more photo ops than
you can shake a hubcap at. Just what I need on a cool, cloudy Saturday.

An early ’60s Caddie covered with costume jewelry. Because the car was so tired
of its owners getting to wear all the fake pearls.

The couple kicking back in Snorky’s back end are having a high old time.

A Bug, with wings. Somebody had to, right?

Sometimes an artcar is a concept. The frame rail says "Guitars not guns"
but from this angle those axes look remarkably similar to firearms.

I’m pretty sure I saw this car built in some Discovery Channel show. Note how
unromantic cigarette smoke is from this angle.

No, bud, it’s a lot longer than that.

This creation was absurdly over-chromed.

It looks much cooler from the rear — suddenly "Rudolph the Red-Assed
Reindeer" springs to mind.

Who profits from your self-loathing, this car with curlers on the roof asks.
One of those "message" cars that’s about as subtle as a blown engine.

… because we all should tremble before the Creator, right?

Look, it’s interactive: people write their suggestions for Scooby doings on
the paper.

Some people you just know were hippies back in the day.

Two guys having a deep geographical discussion — good thing somebody left
that globe there. (this is weird: every time I try to write globe, it
comes out blog.)

For those lacking a globe: a pickup truck coated with maps.

File under: What’s the wackiest thing you could do to four-door Ford Maverick?
You start with tailfins, naturally….

… but you keep adding stuff like this compass and all these mechanical-looking

Some carartists just stick as much junk as they can find on the roof.

Others stick to a theme. Note the cat ears up there on the roof.

One car was covered with snow globes: I wanted to shake it real hard and see
what happened, but I figured it might shake the globes off the roof (which,
come to think of it, might not have been a bad idea. I love the "Rosebud"
moment of a snowglobe exploding.)

I took this only to get the downtown fountains in the background.

This guy took the "cover it with junk" ethic to extremes. Fortunately
he eventually ran out of car.

Here’s a little girl checking out the famed Carthedral — an old hearse done
up in Gothic fashion.

The guy next to the Carthedral had this little black dog that attracted a very
large dog to stop by and sniff.

A carartist with her art, her dogs and her lunch. All that matters in the world.

Critters ahead

Another quickie hiking report. Last month I joined a group called Walk South
Bay for a sweltering, challenging hike in Rancho San Antonio Park near Mountain
View. Sweated a lot, drank lots of water, got sore feet. Thought: Next time
there’s an easy hike with cool weather, I’m there.

A member of the club named Debbie had a nice little five-miler planned for
this weekend. The forecast said high of 72 — 25 degrees cooler than the last
Rancho hike — so I hopped in the car and sped over there Saturday morning.
Turned out Debbie and I were the only ones who showed up; I’m sure she’ll show
up in future hike reports .. .this time I was skittish about taking pictures
of one person and saying "this is half my hiking group."

Spotting this deer made Debbie’s day.

This guy was doing the little freeze that all the "prey" species
do just before they flee. The old "Maybe if I stand real still, the mountain
lion won’t notice me." It never works. Good thing they can run so fast.

We also passed through a section of the park called Deer Hollow Farm, which
gives city kids a chance to gape at farm animals and squeal loudly when amusing/amazing
things happen. I need no provocation to take pictures of livestock.

Goats are about the most relaxed farm animals you’ll ever see. Maybe it’s because
we don’t eat goats.

Chickens are, understandably, a bit more tense. This rooster was making all
kinds of crowing sounds, though the hens were no doubt thinking to themselves,
"for God’s sake, buddy, it’s past lunchtime. Give it a rest."

Pull open the door and it says…

I like cows because they seem so resigned to their fate as meat-, milk- and
leather-bearing servants of human appetites.

Really needs some people in there with a sign saying "Earthlings, in their
19th Century Habitat." (A great Twilight Zone episode has an ending like

A bit o’ culture

So there I was in downtown San Jose, hoping to see how the free wireless Internet access works.
Before I got sat down to fire up my laptop, I heard this drumming coming from
down the street. I notice a bunch of people lined up along the street and I
realize, "hey, a parade. How cool is that?"

The event is Fiestas Patrias, which means a celebration of the fatherland.
An announcer tells us the Aztec Dancers are heading our way.

The outfits are pretty ornate. They dance in formation, pound drums and look

One of the dancers walks right past me. He seems a bit pale for an Aztec, but
a few more hours in the sun’ll take care of that.

The home country is Mexico, if you haven’t figured that out already.

There were lots of people on horseback. This guy had quite a way with a rope.

Here’s a car I saw in the parade. It’s about a half-hour after it’s over, and
some of the participants are heading home.

This is one of my favorite sights in downtown San Jose: People on horseback
waiting in the turn lane for the arrow to give them permission to execute a
legal left turn. It would’ve been even better to see this without having seen
the parade — the surprise/incongrousness factor would’ve been at least double.

Next week the annual Art Car Fest returns, and I hope to blog it live. Should
be lots o’ fun.

On the road, on the rocks

Driving up the Coast Highway from Monterey to the San Francisco suburbs is
one of my favorite ways to kill a day off. Melissa and I hadn’t done it since
last summer so we decided to go for it again yesterday, for old time’s sake.
On Tuesday I hiked for four hours through Sunol Wilderness, which I
had been to a few weeks back and meant to explore in more detail. The place
rocks. But first, the road trip.

Melissa in the co-pilot’s seat, parked on Skyline Drive overlooking Silicon
Valley. This is near the end of the drive, about mile 220 in a 280-mile loop
that went south to Monterey and north to Pacifica, then back down California
Route 35 atop the Santa Cruz Mountains, then down to Saratoga and back home.

To get things back in order, let’s get down to the Monterey Bay.

This is actually near Pacific Grove, the next town south of Monterey. We clambered
down on the rocks, hoping to see some starfish or octopi in the tidal pools.
The coast was still clouded in, so no brilliant sky for a backdrop. Still, not
bad scenery for a Monday.

No luck on exotic aquatic species, but Melissa found these fine little empty
shells, possibly the former homes of hermit crabs.

Remember the Chicken Heart That Ate Cleveland? This appears to be one of the chicken’s eggs.

Monterey has turned Steinbeck’s Cannery Row into an appalling tourist trap,
which we skipped. Instead we headed over to Fisherman’s Wharf for a taste of
what’s left of the Monterey that matters. You know, where people take boats
out into the ocean, scrape the bottom with nets, bring back seafood, sell it
to a distributor and hope to have enough left over after their boat payments
to buy a Filet o’ Fish at McDonald’s.

One of those big fishing vessels is right over Melissa’s shoulder in the marina.

The coolest thing about the wharf is this little greasy-spoon called LouLou’s.
It’s got room for about 12 people inside, not counting the four or so who work

Our first-ever meal in Monterey was served at this very spot, though it was
under different management, I believe. In any case, the fish is fresh and tasty.
Service is quick, and the staff is way cool.

I had the fried calamari. Salty and tasty — who’d a thunk those little O’s
were squid tentacles? Melissa had the broiled white fish. Loved it.

Remnants of the lunch crowd … everybody knew everybody else by name. Regulars.
Somebody left a box of Hostess HoHo’s on the counter. The proprietress vowed
she’d pop a couple in the deep-fryer — and she kept her word.

We must’ve exuded that an of people who are game for an experiment, because
the waitress handed us this deep-fried HoHo with our check. It was a bit rich
for my palate but Melissa loved it.

From there, it was on to Santa Cruz. Surf City.

The Surfer Statue along the Santa Cruz coastline. This little spot gets the
best waves, and the best surfers.

The waves were breaking close to the cliffs; this guy was wearing a helmet
to avoid breaking his skull in a wipeout.

A tribute to a beloved local surfer who died recently. It was a guy in his
50s. Surfing draws people of every generation; it’s not unusual to see gray-haired
guys out there next to teen-agers.

After that we headed north again. We stopped at one of the public beaches and
waded into the ocean. Ankle-deep is plenty in this water, which isn’t exactly
ice cold but is chilly enough to wake up the road weary. I was feeling a bit
sleepy till my toes got a taste of that chill.

Waves doing what they do at the beach.

Those are the highlights of our little Highway One drive, though these few
pictures barely convey the splendor. A coast like this is worth a thousand pictures.

Next up: Sunol Regional Wilderness.

I brought my digi-cam to the park Tuesday feeling fully sick and tired of
the same old stately trees and majestic hillsides. Well, not tired of seeing them, just tired
of taking pictures of them. Turns out Sunol was just where I needed to be, because
it has two of my favorite things: water and rocks.

I started my hike along the Alameda Creek, which is barely deep enough to carry
a current at this time of the year, but can turn into a raging river when the
rains come. I noticed a rain gauge in a dry riverbed that went up to 12 feet.

If, like me, your mind is in the gutter you will fully understand the need
to take and post this picture.

I was looking for an area of the park called Little Yosemite. When I got there
I did see some wild rock formations, though comparing it to Yosemite is a bit
ambitious. But even 10 percent of Yosemite is plenty amazing.

Rocks, many of them broken in half. This one looks like a Godzilla gave it
a good karate chop.

I saw a couple of these, apparently split by earthquake forces.

Another rock jutting up out of the ground — it goes up about 15 feet or so.
Wants to be El Capitan when it grows up.

The hillside had these big bluish rocks jutting out of it. And a privy tucked
back in there for those who insist on privacy when they run back behind the

I had to huff and puff to get up here. It’s about 2000 feet up, and about four
miles into the hike. That’s the peak of the ridge in the background.

On the way down I came across this huge pile of huge rocks. I’m guessing it’s
crawling with climbers on weekends. I had it all to myself … but fortunately
I neglected to bring any climbing gear (on account of not owning any), so I
was free to walk on past. I have a hard enough time keeping my footing on level
ground … seeking out ways to lose traction and fall embarrassingly doesn’t
suit my style.

Sunol Wilderness is full of surprises .. great trails, stunning rocks, and
I covered perhaps a quarter of it. It’s on my return list, for sure.