Monday, May 31, 2010

"Happy" Memorial Day? Well, a good weekend anyway.

Our friend Carl was telling us about his father's experience under the waters of Pearl Harbor the morning of December 7, 1941. He was in his bunk (above water) when the ship started to sink. I'm sure it was terrifying when the water level rose above his port-hole, and it soon became obvious that this would be the only way out. He barely fit through the port-hole after stripping completely naked; his roommate could not.

There was nothing to do for it, so he swam up to find burning fuel on the surface of the water. Eventually he found a ship that wasn't sinking, and he climbed onto the deck. A Marine quickly gave him his pants. "You need these more than I do."

I've heard many other stories; that one I remember.

Coyote Creek Trail

Saturday morning, a bunch of us met at Galveston and Tully Roads in San Jose, where the Coyote Creek Trail starts (map). We checked tire pressures, prayed briefly, and set out down the trail.

But trouble soon followed. About 2½ miles in, one of us lost his balance while trying to re-mount his bicycle. His eyelid and eyebrow were bleeding. A fast-thinking young man rode his bike back to the starting point and fetched his car. Bikes were loaded up and he drove off with the injured guy (and one more). The rest of us continued on down the trail, riding quite carefully.

There are some gorgeous photos on this page, but I'll summarize by saying that the trail is quite diverse, going through parks, golf courses, residential areas, forest... it runs right next to a power substation. There are bridges. The trail is paved but could stand some repairs (the state budget crisis may have something to do with that).

We stopped for lunch at "Metcalf Park" (please see this map (PDF), which starts about 4 miles from where we did), and eventually got as far as the "Eucalyptus Rest Area" before heading back. Some of the grades are steep for inexperienced riders, but they are also short -- unlike, say, taking Woodside-La Honda Road up to Skyline. If you're accustomed to your bike and have a good breakfast, you probably can do this ride if you take your time. What makes it tiring is trying to ride it fast.

Marin Headlands

That was Saturday. Sunday after church, the lovely Carol and I drove up to San Francisco, where we picked up our friend Barbara (who we've known at least since Japan). We were headed up to Audubon Canyon Ranch but had lost track of our directions, so Carol asked Barbara to look up directions. Lucky thing, too, as it's closed on weekends! So we decided to head for the Marin Headlands in the Golden Gate NRA.

Traffic heading toward the Golden Gate Bridge was horrendous; everyone and his dog seemed to be heading up that way. A stalled car blocked one lane in a tunnel, but traffic didn't really improve after that.

Once on the bridge, traffic flowed, but bunched up near the first off-ramp (a vista point); we took Alexander Street and went right. In retrospect this was a good move, although a 5-minute wait (there's a one-way tunnel on Bunker) wasn't fun for the driver, who was really wanting to use a rest-room! We came to a fork in the road: beach right, lighthouse straight ahead. I read the sign aloud, asking for advice. Barbara sang out, "Lighthouse!" and so we went.

The visitor center was a welcome sight; we grabbed a map and made our plans: lunch just up the road (the map showed picnic tables), then a short (0.2 mile) trail to the beach. Which beach? The map didn't say. There were gorgeous views of the bridge and the bay and the City by the Bay from the picnic tables. It was perfect.

After lunch we continued on the one-way road and found the trailhead that led to "South Rodeo Beach." We saw some poison oak on the trail, but it's not hard to avoid. The trail is not wheelchair-accessible; some grabbing and big steps are needed near the end.

Since so few of you actually read this blog, I'm not afraid of letting the secret out: this is much nicer than the big stretch of "Rodeo Beach" a few hundred yards north. The South Rodeo Beach is quieter, with fewer people and much more interesting landforms.

On our drive out, we took a right turn from Bunker onto McCullough Road. The sign says "no right turn" but it means "if you're a bus or an RV". The views from McCullough are breathtaking, and we stopped for some more photos. The drive back to Barbara's went fine, but we were astonished at the northbound traffic -- it was like a parking lot from the 19th Avenue exit, through the Presidio and Golden Gate Park.

Memorial Day

We had breakfast out, the lovely Carol and I. Then I took her car out in search of some wood chips or something for the side-yard (a weed garden). I was thinking of Home Depot, but then decided to try Lyngsø. Fortunately I had just beaten the crowd! I picked up a roll of weed-cloth (4′x50′), and read the instructions: use three inches of tan-bark or whatever for weed control. I strolled up to the counter, where I asked the man what I should put on top of the weed-cloth.

"What do you want to look at?" he asked. I didn't, so he suggested "mocha chip." This isn't chocolate-flavored coffee chips; it's a dark mulch. 3" covering about 150 square feet... I needed 1½ cubic yards. He urged me to rent one of their trucks, so I did. Automatic transmission, electric windows, yow! Our neighbor helped me unload (I didn't know about unlocking the gate before trying to dump the stuff in my driveway).

After returning their truck, I drove back home and began hauling the stuff into the side-yard. I lost my race with the sun -- the shade was gone by the time I was half-way through. But our temperature today didn't even get to 80° and eventually we got some clouds.

And I did finish eventually, after about 30? loads with the small wheelbarrow. A desire accomplished -- it was sweet to the soul.

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