Since my photo’s are limited at the moment, perhaps I can convey our adventures with words….. I hope my writing is good enough to express the feeling of our outings.
Yesterdays outing was to the Oakland hills with Bernie’s parents. It was quite a nice walk over all. The route we take is a loop trail that takes you through a shaded redwood and California bay forest. You tread upon an old dirt roadbed, a little creek mianders through the valley you climb, gently babbling and feeding water to the trees that tower over you. Sun rays sneak their way to the forest floor in a few spots, putting natures highlight on little gems here and there. We turn onto another trail, gently climbing up out of this majestic little valley. At the trail junction we are suddenly surrounded by millions of ladies. Lady bugs that is. They are huddled into groups and piles all over the surrounding vegetation. They are mostly close to the ground, little clusters here, large clusters there. When there is sunlight focused on a spot of them, they start to crawl around, you can almost hear them celebrating the warmth. We join in their little community for a few moments, enjoying their company, and watching their habits and interactions.
The higher we climb the redwoods and California bays are slowly replaced by a towering eucalyptus forest, surrounded with various shrubs and trees. This time of year the Eucalyptus don’t seem to have a lot of resins/saps coursing through them, because the area is not permeated with that all too familiar smell. Later in the year their intoxicating scent will fill that area, announcing to each person their presence. As we move into this area more sunlight makes its way in between branches, dancing across your face. We pass a talking tree, holding a gentle conversation with the wind, and the world around it. As it sways its voice creaks, and as it swings back it sighs.
Slowly you notice a new character. Who is this with its little jagged and curly leafs? Ah, we have entered into coast live oak land. These hardy little oaks always amaze me as we walk among them. They create their own special habitat, and seem to thrive where many other plants don’t prefer. Soon these are the main beings that surround us as we move along the trail. What fascinating, sturdy trees these are. We are now getting high enough that the views pop open when there is a little gap between the trees. You can see for great distances, all the homes and cities stretching out below you. You would not believe when you are being embraced by nature up here that there are so many people pulsing through the veins of the city down below.
We all stop at a bench to enjoy a lunch with a view. Our feet rest, our faces soak up the sun, our eyes soak up our surroundings. As we continue on we meet a man with a little dog full of enthusiasm, and a larger dog, calm and wise with age. They all jog by, looking quite content with their outing in nature. Our direction begins down, losing a bit of the elevation we have gained. The man has turned around, and passes us again, with the wise dog, the little one is on an adventure, exploring the brush somewhere. There is trust there, the man continues on, he will show up. We bid him well and turn onto another trail, quickly moving down. But wait, we are now joined by a little dog, his eyes asking us if we have seen his dad. We try to point him the right direction at the intersection of trails, he just does not understand our words. Back and forth he goes, a moment of barks that I understand clearly. “Where are you dad? Which direction do I go?”. So Bernie and I turn around. We try harder to bridge the language barrier, he looks confused, not quite listening to us, what do they know anyway? But then a moment of revelation. Ah ha! Dad must be this way, and he bolts off. We wait, making sure everyone found their way. He doesn’t show up again, and so we make our way down, bidding farewell to the hills and the little dog. In moments we have droped back down to the trailhead. There is the car, and Bernie’s parents waiting for the update. Yes, everything is well, we can now go home.
Todays outing took us to the Hayward Regional Shoreline. This is an expansive trail along the shore, with many different parking/access points. We started off, the first moment on the trail we are graced with golden showers on both sides of the trail. Some type of Acacia is in full bloom. I take a moment to smell these little wonders, they remind me of something….. I just can’t quite place what it is though.
The trail makes its way to the shoreline, and then we turn left. We walk past a water treatment facility with a large mural painted on one of their buildings of humpback whales. Most of them are swimming under water, but one jumps joyously out of the water. Tidal marshlands are laid out to the left of the trail. There are some shore birds, but the tide is high, so most of them are resting, waiting for the water to recede and reveal the little treats that are hidden within the mud. A few poke around where they can get to a shallow spot, but it is relaxed, they seem to be passing the time.
Gravel crunches under our feet as we walk. Every now and then Bernie stops to snap a shot. Various birds decide that we are not too bad, and they accept us as we stop to watch them, and click away. Who knows what those silly humans are up to with those clicking machines in front of their faces…… but it seems harmless enough.
I have brought a couple of my needle felted acorns and a little note reading “I am a gift to who ever finds me. I am a good luck charm to make all your dreams come true!”. I scan for a place to leave my little treasure. Here comes a bench with a good view…. That will do. I set them down with a couple rocks securing the note from the gentle breeze. I hope they bring someone some joy….
We come across a group of Canada Geese, but they have some interesting visitors. Three snow geese seem to have found themselves in this group. Are they lost? Do they just want different scenery than all the other snow geese? Are they having an identity crisis? Or do they just find those Canadians entertaining to hang out with? What ever the reason, I hope they are enjoying themselves.
We walk, we snap shots, we turn around, we walk, we snap some more shots. This is an interesting place to walk. We are at water level, but there are no obstructions for quite a ways, so you have an expansive view of the area. You can see the city of San Fran in the distance, from here, it looks like a little toy set of buildings all stacked close together. You can see up into the Oakland hills. Little clusters of houses inching up into the hills like fingers. It always amazes me how much green space is up there. When you can see houses and buildings stretching as far as the eye can see, its really nice to see green hills. Mount Diablo stands in the background. A green giant sticking up above the other hills around it. Bridges crossing the bay, here and there. Little toy cars (or so they seem) streaming in lines across them. Jets roar over at carefully timed intervals. FedEx, Southwest, FedEx, Southwest, some other plane….. and so on.
The sun slowly descends into the west. The evening takes on that warm golden glow of late day. The best light for taking photographs. Bernie finds a group of willing subjects, so we linger for a while. The large groups that were resting with the high tide sense the change in direction of water flow. They start to stir. First just a couple take to the air, making the short flight to the other side of the path, landing on the bays edge. Slowly little groups wake up and fly to the feeding grounds. Bernie stands in the middle, capturing their movement as they fly around us. Pretty soon you can see thousands, no millions of little shore birds moving along the shore, poking into the mud and sand, searching for their dinners. As the minutes pass by, the tide slowly recedes, and with it the birds. They follow the edge, each of them working the mud in their own unique ways, with their own unique bills.
It is time to make our way back to the car, the sun is setting. As we come to the end of the trail we are surrounded by the Acacia again. But something is different. The magic twilight has enticed them to release their intoxicating scent. The air is filled with their perfume. What an enjoyable way to end our walk.
Whew, I have not written that much in quite a while. But it’s a wonderful exercise to get me to reflect on the details of the day. We are surrounded with beauty each moment, take the time to enjoy it!
The lady bug photo is courtesy of Bernie from our outing the other day. I played around with some different effects and created the final product.