Sunday, May 10, 2009

A perfect day

The makers of "Trivial Pursuit" have a question under "Science": What is the second Sunday in May? Now why the definition of Mothers’ Day falls under "Science" I'm sure I don't know, but this weekend at my house, we are celebrating and honoring the mother of my children.

We started Saturday with a hike in Henry Coe State Park, led by the fabulous Libby Vincent. No, she is not the Presbyterian pastor from Menlo Park. If you see her name on the "Programs" page, that's a reason to choose that particular day for your visit. Don't believe what google maps say about the park; it is really 13 miles from US 101 to the park headquarters, about half an hour's drive -- half an hour from the E. Dunne exit off 101 I mean.

We arrived about 9:45am for the 10am start, carrying about 2 quarts of water between us. Libby strongly encouraged us to get another liter to bring -- better to have a little extra than not enough.

We could not have asked for better guides than Libby and John. John Wilkinson worked around the valley in high tech, and shares some of my opinions about public transit. Both are knowledgeable about the park and have been involved with it a long time.

Thanks to some late-season rain and a cool spell (after last month's heat wave), the wildflowers were glorious -- better than usual early May conditions. The weather was just about perfect, too -- about 75°F I think at the warmest. We got a few flower photos, but our camera's autofocus was confused and many are blurry. If you don't have manual control over the focus, the Owl's Clover isn't even worth trying.

We took about 5½ hours for the 7-mile hike. (I know, the programs page says six miles -- but we took the loop going by Eric's Bench. This is a worthwhile side trip, giving you a great view of a valley oak, like this splendid specimen at left. But I'm getting ahead of myself.)

The short version is: we crossed Pine Ridge to Frog Lake, then went down Middle Ridge to the Fish trail, then back to headquarters via the Corral Trail. Clockwise, in other words, on the trail marked by magenta dots on the map above.

Now for the details. From the headquarters, we went north on the Monument trail, quite steep. We turned left onto the Ponderosa trail, where we saw Eric's bench and that gorgeous oak tree. If you don't click on the map, this was about 3000' elevation.

After doing that loop, we continued north to Hobbs Road, proceeding roughly north -- this thing was apparently built "by a bloke on a bulldozer" as Libby said; he just drove straight down the hill. This was a steep descent to Frog Lake, a 600' drop. There we saw a woodpecker, a beautiful bird, drilling an apparently-dead tree. He looked great through the binoculars but I couldn't capture his image with the camera.

We took the Frog Lake trail up to the Middle Ridge trail. Switchbacks make it a much easier climb than the Monument Trail was. Though it was near noon, we pressed on to the Fish Trail turnoff. We had our lunch there and took the Fish trail toward Hobbs Road. Somewhere along there I heard a tremendous racket; I turned and saw a deer on our right, bounding through the brush parallel to the trail; it was heading back where we had come from. It paused briefly, then made a left turn and charged up a hill and out of sight. You guessed it, no photos. The last 0.6 mile felt quite long.

We were back at headquarters around 3:20pm. I took my boots off and had a little drink. We visited the restroom (running water and flush toilets at headquarters! Yay!), then Carol drove us down the hill and back to Redwood City.

We parked the car, and I bought our tickets: 6pm showing, which gave us time for a quick dinner at the Chipotle Grill on Theatre Way. I inhaled a burrito, and probably too many chips. The burrito was great; the chips... well, let's just say we pitched the leftovers. Great burrito though, and very quick. The lovely Carol had a salad, which was also great (I had a bite).

The film, Star Trek (2009), was fabulous. It deviates in many places from the history of starfleet as we know it, but that's OK. It's got great FX, a reasonable (well, not utterly stooopid) plot, and some terrific lines. "Careful with the ship, Spock; she's brand new."

We got home about 8:30 and chatted with our teen-ager. I helped her with some computer stuff. We took showers and got to bed early. A perfect end to a perfect Saturday.

Today, Mother's Day (Mothers' Day?), we started off with homemade blueberry waffles; the teenager set the table and created a fruit plate. Dinner was Swiss steak (a childhood favorite of the lovely Carol); I also sauteed carrots and zucchini in olive oil with some Italian seasoning. The teenager whipped up the potatoes, and made up some Jell-O for dessert.

And now it's time to work on the dishes.

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