Monday, September 30, 2019

Wheel Spin

Waxing Crescent Moon

Tomorrow marks three years since I splashed my poor tired feet into the Pacific Ocean at Limantour Beach on the Point Reyes National Seashore, ending my crazyass coast to coast walk across America. In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago, in others it was just yesterday. (You should read my book. Or re-read it - it's pretty good!)

The overarching purpose of the walk, as some of you may remember, was to raise money and awareness for a recreation trail, the San Benito River Parkway, in my home county. Progress has been glacially slow, with a one-mile section (out of the designated eighteen miles) complete and another three miles or so kinda sorta in the works. The problem seems to be that this rural county has such a small tax base from which to fund a long list of broken things that need to be fixed.

Just to the north of us is Santa Clara County, home of San Jose, Silicon Valley, and the San Francisco Forty-Niners. There is no tax base problem there - just a gargantuan, nearly constant traffic jam and obscene, skyrocketing housing costs. One of the perks of having money for Santa Clara County Public Works is their Coyote Creek Parkway, a hiking/biking trail that goes from the outskirts of Morgan Hill to the ankle socks of San Jose along nicely preserved Coyote Creek. That is where I went today with the Dream Machine to spin my wheels in the sunshine for an hour and a half. On the way, I went through gentrified downtown Morgan Hill, where they just installed a bunch of artsy bike racks. I love artsy bike racks! Check out my Just Bike Racks blog some time.

The trail was smooth and clean and mostly far-removed from the freeway, with cool rest areas near the creek and great cloud-graced bright blue skies in every direction.

I saw lots of other cyclists enjoying the trail, mostly solo riders, with a few couples. I always wave and smile, whether I am walking or riding, not because I want to stop and converse or anything like that. It is more like a personal effort to shine light into the other person/people. I don't care what they do with the light. I just want them to know they are not alone in the dark. It's an act of personal revolution, a peaceful statement from my insides against the machines of darkness and war. It makes me feel good.

My favorite parts of the trail were the sections near the water. There were lots of trees, tule reeds, cattails, and water fowl there. Wildlife abounds, making you wonder how it must have looked before the Missions and the Gold Rush. 

Peace, Love, and Rec Trails,

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Head Spin

Waxing Crescent Moon

What crazy times. While watching the news coverage a few days back, I made a list of the Presidents since I was born. Name - party - info.

  • Truman - Dem - I was born in 1951 so I remember nothing of him
  • Ike - Rep - two terms no scandals
  • JFK - Dem - assassinated
  • LBJ - Dem - forced out by the Viet Nam War 
  • Nixon - Rep - resigned under threat of impeachment
  • Ford - Rep - assassination attempt by Manson chick Squeaky Fromme
  • Carter - Dem - forced out after one term by Iran hostage crisis
  • Reagan - Rep - two terms, Iran Contra scandal, assassination attempt by weirdo John Hinckley, Jr
  • Poppy Bush - Rep - one term, Iraq War I
  • Clinton - Dem - two terms, impeached for sex in the Oval Office, not removed by Senate
  • Bush II - Rep - installed by Supreme Court, two terms, 9-11, lied us into Iraq War II, Great Recession
  • Obama - Dem - two terms, no scandals, reversed the Great Recession
  • Trump - Rep? - total chaos, probable impeachment unless Dems really screw it up

That's thirteen Presidents so far in my lifetime and it's looking like three of the four impeachments (if you count Nixon) in American history in just the last forty- six years. Three assassination attempts, with one "success." Lots of subpoenas of underlings, lots of jail time, lots of dead bodies with little to show for any of it. This stuff is depressing!

To get away from all this depressing stuff, this morning I went for a hike on the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail a short distance from my camp. I needed to go see my trees, maybe sit on a bench, work up a sweat, talk to the rocks.

I only saw one other person, a guy on a mountain bike, working hard up the trail in granny gear, listening to some tunes - very friendly and gone pretty quick.

Soon I was gone, too, gone inside my safe zone, way apart from the insanity of overcrowded cities and their associated problems. Earth is real. We are here to take care of it. All the rest of the madness is self-defeating egomania. You don't have to be a genius think tanker to understand that. You just have to open your eyes and breathe. Trees will help you with that.

Even non-native grasses can show you the way.

I am committed to seeking happiness in communion with my planet. Info wars? None for me, thanks.

Peace, Love, and Mother Earth,

Monday, September 23, 2019

Equinox on Hawks Peak

Waning Crescent Moon

On the Fall Equinox, I decided to celebrate with a short but fun hike around Gavilan Peak  (Hawks Peak in English, Fremont Peak in California State Park lingo). The parking lot in Fremont Peak State Park is a quick, winding drive  up San Juan Canyon from my camp. Sunny and pleasant weather convinced me to go today, knowing the rest of the week will be hotter than normal. The initial reward was this view from the trail on the way to the peak.

Along the trail are outcrops of  ancient marble and dolomite, metamorphosed seafloor sediments that were rafted northwest atop Santa Lucia granite by movement along the San Andreas Fault. The afternoon lighting works best to see the marble, both in these outcrops and in seams of old mine shafts near the trail.

Rounding the mountain, you can see the Salinas Valley unfold before you, plus long views of Monterey Bay. Note: this is a really good place to watch the sunset! Continuing around the mountain, switchbacks provide different angles of these features, plus expansive panoramas to the southeast of the San Andreas and the Diablo Range.

This hike is quick and easy, only a little bit longer if you decide to scramble to the very top. I like to do it three or four times a year as the seasons change, preferably at varying times of day. That way it doesn't get old and I get to see things in a new light. Great fun!

Peace, Love, and Local Exploration,

Thursday, September 19, 2019

That Woozy-Doozy

Waning Gibbous Moon

I do the same thing every year about this time. Over and over. Never fails.

Toward the end of September/beginning of October, usually close to the Fall Equinox, I drive the seven or eight miles into Hollister and stop at Walgreens for my annual flu shot. I started this habit long ago when I was still in the classroom, where every germ-virus-pathogen in the known Universe commonly breeds on the floors, desks, walls, and in the air. As soon as you walk into a classroom, public school or private, your skin, clothing, and mucus membranes are smeared with foul, microscopic, teenage cooties. It is war. You spend one fifth of your salary on hand sanitizer, chlorox  wipes, Emergen-C, Airborne, and Kleenex. Thank goodness, the flu shot is free.

Rarely do I get sick. Even back then, working (pardon my language) sixty hour weeks in influenza hothouses, I rarely got sick. Chalk it up to clean living, a decent diet, regular exercise, and gallons of water. I totally believe in the flu shot and I always will.

However, every year I repeat the same dumb mistake. The day after the shot, I go outside for a hike or a bike ride in the sunshine, forgetting all about the sore arm I had yesterday and the longer than usual sleep last night. I tromp or spin like nothing ever happened and then BLAM I get dizzy and sleepy and I can barely get back home. I am thirsty and hungry and completely disoriented. It is so stupid. I need at least one full zero day to let my system absorb the inoculation. When will I learn?

Today was a beautiful pre-Fall day which seduced me once again into forgetfulness and provoked me to engage in a semi-strenuous hike up the hill on the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historical Trail. The trail starts about a mile from my camp and it's one of my usual haunts. I had the trail all to myself this morning and I felt fine until I stopped at the second bench to do my little prayer thing and sunbathe. Before long, I started to feel the woozy-doozy invading my bloodstream. I knew then that I should turn around and wobble down the hill back to my truck. Did it again!

I took a bunch of pictures along the way, mostly on the way up, and I will share some with anyone who happens to see this post along with a friendly warning. Please, definitely get a flu shot, but just as definitely take a day off from direct sunlight after you get yours. Go to a movie or read a book and avoid the post-inoculation woozy-doozy. Life will be more pleasant that way.

Peace, Love, and an Afternoon Nap,

Sunday, September 15, 2019

More on Juristac

Waning Gibbous Moon

Last Sunday's walk to demonstrate against the proposed sand and gravel quarry on Amah Mutsun sacred lands received very little press coverage locally - disappointing, but not surprising. The dominant culture continues to value monetary gains over spiritual/cultural/native sovereignty at the expense of environmental degradation and continued multi-generational trauma.

Photo credit: Robert Eliason
BenitoLink, the local San Benito County online news source, published an article and some photos today describing the walk and some of the event's leaders. You can read "Community Walks for Juristac" here.

Photo credit: Robert Eliason
So far, this is the only one I have found. I hope there are more news stories to follow.

Photo credit: Robert Eliason
Recently, a YouTube video was posted that captures the beauty of Juristac and the Amah Mutsun's reverence for the site, again featuring Tribal Chairman Valentin Lopez. Chairman Lopez is a retired California Highway Patrol commander who speaks strongly and eloquently for his people.

For a concise summary of information about the Amah Mutsun tribal band, click here.

To sign the petition  to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors against the quarry at Juristac, please click here.

Peace, Love, and Justice,

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Walk for Juristac

Waxing Gibbous Moon

Today at 1:00 p.m. PDT I will join with local indigenous people of the Amah Mutsun band and their allies to walk ~ five miles from the San Juan Bautista Mission to Juristac in the hills north of town to demonstrate against a proposed sand and gravel mine on Amah Mutsun's sacred ceremonial land.

I will not post any pictures from the walk in deference to and out of respect for the wishes of the tribal leaders. I ask for your prayers and support for the safety and success of this peaceful demonstration.

You can watch and listen  to Tribal Chairman Valentin Lopez address the United Nations here.

For more information, see the Protect Juristac web site. Please consider signing the petition to the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors to stop the quarry from forever scarring this important and sacred land.

Peace, Love, and Responsibility,

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

San Lorenzo River Walk

Waxing Crescent Moon

The San Lorenzo River is not very long. It starts up in Castle Rock State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains and empties into the Pacific a little less than thirty miles away, near the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, CA. Until the powers that were did a bit of remodeling in the 20th century, the river caused some pretty big problems, flooding the low-lying areas near its banks several times and wiping out homes and businesses in the process.

That's the Boardwalk on the right, with the roller coasters, etc.

The solution, however temporary it may be, was to build tall levees on either side of the main channel and encourage stabilizing plant growth. The river was essentially harnessed and funneled to the sea. This allowed some very hip development to blossom near the levees, including  bike paths, walking trails, a skateboard park, hoops, beautiful parks, and an art colony that is both upscale and, if I may use the word, fabulous.

The skateboard park scares me, but I guess there are actual humans who can navigate that pipe.

This morning I wrangled Spugly the Spectacularly Ugly Palomino Transporter, through doomsday rush hour traffic to meet Aptos, CA's own Captain Chem for breakfast at the Sunrise Cafe in Soquel to fuel up for a two-hour walk on the San Lorenzo River Trail.  We began the hike in Ocean View Park, quickly cutting down to the trail which was built atop the levees on either side of the river. Ocean View Park is a nice little neighborhood park with playscapes for the kiddies and its own Free Little Library. You can tell that Santa Cruz is a university town by the contents of the FLL. There was a well-used biography of Madeline Albright to name only one of the heady titles begging to gather dust on your nightstand. Ow. I am getting a headache just from thinking about cracking open that baby.

Long live the Little Free Library.
San Lorenzo Park was one of the highlights of this walk, with ducks and lily ponds and grassy playing fields and lots of welcome shade. Right next to the park are a couple of county government buildings with crowded bicycle shelters. Clearly, lots of the county employees use the trail to get to work and store their bikes in the cages during the day. They are not the ones clogging the freeways.

The star of the show, however, was at the turn-around point just past Highway One. It's called The Tannery Art Center, a thriving little community of densely populated apartments and condominiums clustered around upswellings of grand public art. I truly love this place, even though on a Tuesday morning there were no people around who may or may not spoil the very fun vibe (it's not that I distrust my fellow humans, you understand, but, well, there is that potential). This complex has just about everything I like, including full-court basketball, lots of bike racks, and instant access to the trail. Pretty cool.

I could easily move right in and never ever not once ever get inside a motor vehicle again. I might need a sizable cash loan forthwith. Please stand by.

Peace, Love, and Designed Living,