The thoughts that were thunk and the goings on of my life.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Viewing the Mountains

I just had one of the best work trips I’ve ever had. This week I came to Mountain View, CA and from start to finish it was about as great as one could hope for.

One of the best things about coming to Mountain View from Austin is that it’s a direct flight. After my last business trip where I was traveling between 8am and 2am just to get to my destination, I LOVE the fact that I simply board one plane, sit back (with my new Bose Noise Canceling headphones that the Wife got me for my birthday. Thanks!) and viola I’m there. This place is simply beautiful, from the first moment I stepped outside I was greeted by perfect weather, and beautiful trees.

Fortunately I’ve been to this region before. While last time I was here I spent a good deal of time going to San Francisco or visiting malls…this time I decided I was going to do nothing but soak up the mountains and get some good exercise. And that’s what I really love about this area, the landscape is gorgeous. Mostly it’s just because on the ‘mountains or beaches’ first-date question I circle mountains multiple times, but also these are some really nice ones in that they’re scalable and have tons of wildlife all over them. The first day was a nice little jaunt of only about 2 miles, but totally worth it, especially because I saw the clouds make a rainbow…never seen that before.

The course I was teaching went pretty well too, most of the class was really top notch and nobody fell asleep, so that’s a definite plus.

The next evening I decided to drive and see what I can find. This is point 2 why I love mountains is getting to drive these awesome twisty little roads that make your tires stink and your rotors beg for mercy. I raced up and down the twisties for about an hour before finally finding a great spot to go jogging. Then it was up again into the mountains.

Going into the mountains is always a little scary alone cause there’s big signs at the head of every trail that say, “Never hike alone. Mountain Lion Habitat”. But, I figure I’m a bit on the big side for a mountain lion, so I’ll take my chances. Doesn’t mean I didn’t take my ID though…just in case. So these mountains are so diverse. There’s shrubby plants, redwoods, grass meadows, dry areas, lush areas, etc. This trip was really cool because I found all sorts of critters.

Like baby birds in a mud embankment.


Peacocks at the local winery.

And lots of bunnies.

The trail was a lot of fun too but was quite a few miles long. After running all this time in the mountains this week my legs and butt are starting to get pretty sore.

After tooling around on Google Maps I found something the next day that I decided I needed to go to: Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The road out there was fantastically fun (map). Just turn after tight turn after turn. If only I wasn’t driving a Chrysler Sebring (one of the worst handling rentals I’ve ever had: anemic, warped rotors, squishy tires, poor steering feedback) I could have really had a blast! Eh, I had a blast anyways, so it’s all good.

Anyways, I get into this park and it’s just fantastic. The trees soar over your head to where you can never see the tops, the trunks are massive, and the quiet of everything is surreal.

It’s weird, but where the foothills were teeming with life, the forest was eerily silent. Simply the wind in the trees, the slow creaking of the massive trunks and the gurgling of the brooks.

All this beauty really turned me into a tree hugger though.

Then I found a map and looked for the trail I wanted to hike, but I found out it was 11 miles long and it was already about one hour until dark, so that wasn’t going to happen. So then I did a bit more searching and found a trail that was supposed to take 3 hours, and was labeled as being ‘very strenuous’ and having a rigorous ascent. Sounds perfect! So I decided to book it up to the top of the 1200 ft (365 m) climb and it was totally worth it!

I did the whole 2 mile 1200ft ascent in 30 minutes! That’s like walking to the top of the Empire State Building and then running a mile…pretty proud of myself on that one.

The views from the top were breathtaking and the serenity of the moment was peerless. I just sat at the top for about 20 minutes just soaking in the harsh brutality that awaits those who visit the mountains’ peaks. The clouds soar overhead like cars on a freeway, racing with feverish pace and the roar of the wind howls at you like you’ve invaded some wild animal’s territory.

Unfortunately the sun was about to set, and the ever present threat of cougar attacks made me decide to make a quick descent to the safety of numbers. A nice drive home through the now darkened twisties and through Saratoga which was littered with Ferrari's and Porsche's and it was off to bed for me. A little sorer, but better filled with joy on the inside.

The last day of class ended a lot earlier than I thought so I got to go to this great coastal city called Santa Cruz.

While I don’t have a lot of pictures it was absolutely splendid just walking on the beach, watching kids run away from the waves, feeling the cool breeze blow over me, and seeing even more new things.

Like baby sea lions.

And kelp. And surfers. And my favorite (a mini life goal of mine), I got to see a Sea Otter floating on its back in the ocean and trying to bang open an oyster against a rock on its chest. (The next mini life goal is to have a pet fresh water otter!)

After all this running around though I was wiped out but completely satisfied. I can’t really put into words how recharged I feel inside after being directly in the presence of so much beauty, it really just fills me up. I really hope that one day I can move to a place like this and have access to this all on a more regular basis. Now I’m just counting down the days until the wife’s and my vacation to Washington and British Columbia. Can’t wait!


Anonymous said...

Whoa dude--looks like an awesome trip! I'm jealous.

Unknown said...

Heh, awesome. I was just in LA a week or so ago. No so much natural beauty, but it was interesting to see the $35 million dollar homes of Belair residents among other things. They have weird seaweed there too. Different than the crap we have in Galveston. California has interesting plants and trees...

Hey Lady! said... For your next trip, they have a great train ride that starts from the base of the mountains, and winds through the redwoods to the coast in Santa Cruz. It's a lot of fun!