Thursday, April 22, 2021

Coyote Creek Parkway North

 Waxing Gibbous Moon

I chipped away another little piece of the Bay Area Ridge Trail today, riding the Dream Machine from Metcalf Park on the southern outskirts of San Jose to Tully Road (closing in on the city) and back. I pedaled 18.4 miles but I can only claim 9.2 miles toward the 325-mile end goal. Big deal, right? Still, it was a really nice, smooth ride on a paved bike path past Hellyer Park and along some unnamed golf course with 30-foot fences. Lucky me, I got to see everything twice.

Just as I arrived at the golf course part, with about 2 miles left until Tully Road, the trash dumps and tent colonies started appearing on the banks of Coyote Creek. The wreckage grew and grew as I got closer to the city. Golf on one side of the 30-foot fence. Squalor and pollution on the other. There was a smoldering fire with somebody's sleeping bag on top of it at one point. Sending smoke signals? 

The fire was surrounded by trees and other camps. Should I have called 911? Or does this kind of thing occur every day? I just kept going, feeling heartless and hopeless. I kept thinking of that old Richard Farina book, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me.

Enough of that. 

Hellyer Park has a huge pond slash little lake surrounded by a bike path with benches and ducks and geese and coots all over the place. It was beautiful on this sunny day. The coots hardly acknowledged my presence, though. Snooty coots they were.

I passed a small group of young folks (30-ish?) bagging trailside trash so I called out "Happy Earth Day!" to them, prompting a fast and hardy reply. They seemed really pleased that someone recognized what they were doing. Those of us who act on our Earthy ideals are a small, but mighty brother/sisterhood. I think it's important to tip your cap, or your helmet as the case may be, when you see people fighting back against the plastic, scummy scourge. The people living on the creek in their filth are no different than the people tossing their fast food bags and beer trash from their vehicles. They have all given up their souls and most of them don't even know it.

On the other hand, the bicyclists and runners and Moms with strollers buzzing up and down the path with smiles behind their masks are trying their best to put a happy face on the idiotic gloom. I'm with them. The trail and the trees and the creek and the parks are little bits of sanity to be cheered and celebrated. Everyday. Every single day.

Peace and Love from Earth,

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Bay Area Ridge Trail - New Project?

 Waxing Gibbous Moon

The ever-evolving Bay Area Ridge Trail will eventually be about 550 miles long, encircling the San Francisco Bay region with access for hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians. Currently, something like 325 miles are in play and plans call for much more to be completed in the near future. The closest it will come to where I live is Gilroy, in Santa Clara County, about 15 miles away.

I have walked or ridden small parts of the South Bay area trails without thinking of the bigger picture, but this week's hike on the Coyote Ridge Trail in Coyote Lake Harvey Bear Ranch County Park near Morgan Hill, CA sort of got my juices flowing. The positives are obvious - getting out and beating my feet in the coolest remaining places closest to home - but the negatives are considerable. Gasoline is expensive and obnoxious and traffic is brutal getting to any of the trailheads. For the most part, there is no backpacking/camping allowed, so extended, long hikes are problematic or impossible without complicated vehicle shuttles and even more complicated arrangements with hiking partners. Proximity to gargantuan population centers is a big turnoff. But it's THERE. And it's CLOSE. So it's TEMPTING!

This week might have been the prime time for hiking the Coyote Ridge Trail. There were hardly any other hikers and there was so much GREEN sprouting up everywhere. This ridge is blue oak heaven and the views down to Coyote Lake were really nice. The lake level is very low, like most reservoirs in the state right now, but it's still a pretty sight. 

Looking down to the lake from Coyote Ridge.

Bird's eye view of the lake. See the hawk?

The trees were the star attractions on this hike for me. I saw a few deer and cows and lots of hawks and ravens, but the wildflowers were pretty scarce, so I spent most of my time admiring the the oaks and the rocks of the Franciscan Formation. The Calaveras Fault runs right through the park, too.

Overall, this park is an outstanding place to walk and to enjoy a peaceful day above the fray. I was overwhelmingly impressed by how clean it was. I wandered about ten miles and only saw (and pocketed) two pieces of trash. Kudos to Santa Clara County for maintaining a beautiful slice of Ohlone territory. 

The one-way mileage of the Coyote Ridge segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail  is 5.6 miles. If I decide to do the whole thing, I have about 300 miles to go - I imagine it will take a year for me to piece the entire trail together given the logistics/obstacles of travel, traffic, regulations, and over-population. This project is not really designed for someone like me, but we shall see. 

Peace, Love, and Possibilities,

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Announcement #1 for Those of You Who Follow by Email

 FollowByEmail widget (Feedburner) is going away

You are receiving this information because your blog uses the FollowByEmail widget (Feedburner).
Recently, the Feedburner team released a system update announcement , that the email subscription service will be discontinued in July 2021.

Howdy Folks,

If you signed up to receive Palomino Dream posts by email notification (or if you had me do it for you), you should know that the company which provides that service is making some changes. Beginning this July, they will discontinue that notification service. 

You have two options that I know of right now if you want to keep reading this amazing collection of wise and entertaining tidbits of contemporary American literature.

The artist formerly known as Stumpy the Dancing Tree Stump

Option one is to bookmark the site and check it frequently to see if I have posted anything new. That would be sort of labor-intensive, but not really. The main pain would be that (if you are like me) you might forget for months if not years at a time. Here is the URL if you are up for the challenge.

Option two is to sign up as a Follower, which a dozen or so people have already done. Then you get an automatic notification of new posts plus the dubious notoriety of being listed right up front on the sidebar as an official Palomino Dream Follower. It's like being one of the cool kids on the playground, only without bully privileges (I disabled the comments section because it's too much work to chat with people after I already said everything I had to say on the subject, plus I don't chat much to begin with). If you are old like me and you don't know how to jump through this little become-a-Follower hoop, just ask anybody under thirty for some help. Ignore their eye rolls and twitchy nose rings and buy them a jelly doughnut for their trouble.

I hope you all keep reading and most of all I wish you good health and a happy spirit.

Peace, Love and Changes,

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Why, Angie, Why?

 Waning Crescent Moon

All you fans of Palomino and the Dream Machine may share in my embarrassment today upon receiving some pretty upsetting news from Fort Hancock, Texas. You may or may not recall my rave review of Angie's Restaurant in Fort Hancock on my ride westward toward El Paso in 2013. I sorta fell in love with the chicken fried steak at Angie's and professed my allegiance in black and white for all to read in perpetuam, if there is such a thing. Here is a refresher:

Redefining Chicken Fried Steak


 Once in a blue moon, somebody somewhere does something so well, raises the bar so high, that everybody else just gets blown out of the water. Like Bob Beamon’s long jump in Mexico City. Or the Beatles' "Abbey Road." Or Larry McMurtry's “Comanche Moon." Or Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five." Or Ellen Page in "Juno." Or when Travolta tastes Uma's milkshake in "Pulp Fiction." It's so electrifying you can't touch it.

 Add tonight's dinner to the list.

 If you think you can cook, and you cook something you call chicken fried steak, you better start calling it something else. Why? Because Angie, soul proprietor and creative genius at Angie's Restaurant in Fort Hancock TX, has broken the mold. She has set the bar for chicken fried steak so high as to redefine it.

 After my chicken fried steak experience tonight, I won't dignify anyone else's amateurish attempts to duplicate it. If I see the words "chicken fried steak" on a menu somewhere else, I will smirk out loud. Angie's chicken fried steak crushes all the competition.

 Angie's gravy is supernatural. It bypasses your taste buds and goes straight to your brain, that sinful part of your brain which registers immediate and total ecstasy. It’s like a Grand Mal seizure, but in a good way. Her gravy shape shifts and transmogrifies as soon as it hits your tongue. FOOM!! It dazzles your yum neurons and puts your smile on keen factor five.

 I have no idea how long it took me to eat it. It could have been minutes. It could have been days. I was so transported I couldn't tell. When it came time to pay, I was befuddled. How could mere money possibly equate? $9.99? For a gravy ride to paradise?

 You should go. You should stop whatever you are doing, load up your bicycle, drive to some place 70 miles from Fort Hancock TX, like Van Horn or wherever, do battle with the wind all day to get good and hungry, and go. Immerse yourself in CFS heaven. It is SO good.

 Don't bring a lot of company, though. Angie's Restaurant is a tiny cinder block building a couple hundred yards off Interstate 10 and I doubt that it accommodates more than fifteen patrons, tops.

 I can't wait for tomorrow. Angie opens for breakfast at 6 a.m. I will be the first in line. If breakfast is as good as dinner, then that does it. I'm moving to Fort Hancock for good.

 Peace, Love, and Cholesterol, 


Photo from Google Images

Okay, remember now? I still plug Angie's chicken fried steak to anyone who will listen whenever the topic comes up. Granted, where I live, the topic hardly ever comes up, but still, I am ready to go to the mat to tout Angie as the greatest.  

A month or two ago, I was helping with the Friday food distribution at the local Community Center when Barbara, also a local volunteer and an avid reader, mentioned that she had just finished reading Palomino and the Dream Machine and it was her favorite of my three books. For some reason, I get that reaction a lot, probably because that one is just pure funny business without much reflection or education value. It's okay, I'm glad if anybody likes any of the books for whatever reason, but I think it's ironic that I put WAY more work into Palomino Nation and especially into Walks Far Man than I did the first one.

Anyway, back to Barbara. She just happens to have lived in New Mexico at some point in her past and had been jonesing for a road trip to revisit friends and places she had not seen in many years. She also is a big fan of chicken fried steak and other regional delicacies of the southwest. When she read Redefining Chicken Fried Steak, a plan was hatched to saddle up and go to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, with a side trip to Fort Hancock, Texas and Angie's Restaurant

The trip occurred this past week and Barbara promised to report on her Angie's experience forthwith. I requested video of the first transmogrifying bite. I was so very excited. Judging from her text message a few nights ago sent from a hot pool alongside the Rio Grande Rift somewhere in New Mexico, so was Barbara. 

Unfortunately, yesterday I got some bad news. Barbara and her mate made it all the way to Fort Hancock by late morning on Tuesday, entered the modest little humble sanctuary of Angie's Restaurant, sat down trembling with anticipation, waited a few minutes to be served, and with happy, bright smiles, ordered the famous aforementioned chicken fried steak from the stained, dog-eared, laminated paper menu. 

Photo from Google Images

Then it happened. 

Angie stated without fanfare that she ran out of chicken fried steak sometime Monday, but the Angie's Burger is pretty good.

Oh no!!

Barbara explained about the bicycle dude in 2013, the description in his book, the chance meeting in San Juan Bautista, and the trip all the freaking way across the southwest to pay homage to the gravy goddess. Angie, although friendly enough, was not moved. The facts were that she was still out of chicken fried steak and the Angie's Burger was still pretty good. Damn, so disappointing!

The Angie's Burger, of course, was very good. Just not transmogrifying, if you know what I mean.

Peace, Love, Truth, and Kinda Sad Consequences,


Friday, April 2, 2021

Roller Coaster Ride

 Waning Gibbous Moon

I was scheduled for my Moderna vaccination dose numero dos on Tuesday, March 30 in Capitola over on the coast. The appointment was for late afternoon so I drove to Aptos in the morning to squeeze in a quick walk at Nisene Marks State Park and an even quicker one at Seacliff Beach. Then I met Captain Chem for a burger and conversation at the Sno-White Drive in. These were the fun parts of the week.

I even found a few fossils in the creek, always a blessing.

And of course the beach was beautiful. Every day is a beach day. Ask Captain Chem - he lives a mile or so away from here.

I arrived at the CVS 45 minutes early, but there was no line and they let me go right in. The lovely Santa Cruz sweetheart of a nurse poked me painlessly, slapped a band-aid across the hole, and sent me over to wait on a chair for 15 minutes before going home. I did not flop around or hurl or otherwise create a fuss, thus proving I was not a menace to society or to myself, so they let me go on my way. This was the smooth part of the week. 

I was back in my camp in front of the TV exactly on time to watch UCLA squeak past Michigan and get to the men's Final Four (kind of amazing, really). I was very happy about this unexpected victory and I was feeling only a little soreness in my arm, just like you would with a flu shot. I felt quite a relief to be vaccinated, to tell you the truth. This was the miraculously optimistic part of the week.

When I awoke on Wednesday, things were pretty normal, but I noticed that I was still a little sleepy. After breakfast, I stretched out on my bed and before I knew it, the whole morning had passed. I had been asleep for three hours. I had no appetite and standing up was a little bit of an adventure - very wobbly - so I drank a glass of water and hit the rack again. Poof! The afternoon and most of the evening disappeared into sleep, with aches and chills stirring me at 9 p.m. I drank more water and took an ibuprofen and went back to bed. 

If that was all the vaccine had to offer, I was okay with it. I had read that the first shot provides you with antibodies to fight the virus and the second shot provides you with stuff for the antibodies to go to work on. So a more robust reaction to numero dos was to be expected and would be evidence that the antibodies were working. Wednesday night and Thursday morning would be the experimental parts of the week.

I slept straight through from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. Then I woke up soaked with sweat, a survivor of the chemical warfare inside my brain and parts south. My pillow case (not "My Pillow" case just my pillow case) was sopping wet. There was actually a tiny shallow pool of standing water in the depression where my head had been. I toweled it off, took another ibuprofen with a ton of water, changed my shirt, shivering, and climbed back under the damp covers. This was the weird, wet part of the week.

Sometime in the middle of the morning I came to and pronounced myself all dried out and fairly normal. I took a shower and dressed in clean dry clothes, fed the birds, and noticed what a beautiful sunny day it was. I wanted to go for a walk but I thought better of it, settling for a stroll to the trash dumpster and back, then twenty minutes of poking around outside like a septuagenarian feeb. I felt weak and still a little achy, deciding to just read and be lazy the rest of the day. This was the cautious part of the week. 

I was wary when I went to bed last night. I really did not want another all night fever war. When I woke up this morning, my shirt was damp, my pillow was a little wet, but I felt much stronger than yesterday. I feel like most of the reaction is over with, like the vaccination was a success, and in a couple of weeks, I will be a little more free. From what I read, they are not yet sure how long the vaccine will last - maybe 90 days, maybe longer - but a booster shot is likely sometime down the road. I can handle it. This is the grateful part of the week.

Peace, Love, and Numero Dos,

P.S. I found out that the main group of birds I have been feeding are not Northern Shrikes like I thought. They are White-Crowned Sparrows instead. If it wasn't for the worldwide pandemic, I probably never would  have known that. This is the ornithological irony part of the week.