Grass Valley Trail, winter through spring might as well be summer…

I love this little trail. We get to it from Anthony Chabot Regional Park Bort Meadow parking on Redwood Road, the back way between Oakland and Castro Valley. It’s less than ten miles from our house, and a small driving adventure (whee curves oh shit bikes).

We live in a climate of wet and dry seasons, but lately it’s more like dry and drier seasons. This last winter was glorious. So many beautiful weekends to get out and about, our faces showing a little too much sun.

Grass Valley Trail in winter

But the hills should be green in January.

Winter hill Grass Valley Trail

When the plum trees started blooming, the green was a little stronger under last year’s grass.

Grass Valley Trail early plum flowers

And today? The grass is green and tall.

Tall grass on Grass Valley Trail 5-11-14

Tall enough to hide mountain lions and snakes and ground squirrels and clattering wings and allergens…

Trail in tall grass, Grass Valley Trail 5-11-14

We turned around after only a few minutes today. One kid had a suddenly streaming nose and itchy eyes, but not until after he mentioned snakes. At the reminder of snakes, the other kid went back to the gate and lurked a while, under the Mountain Lion warning sign. But that was okay, because we already had a discussion about mountain lions and safety with the youngest of the three on the way out. Don’t tell the kids, but the real reason we left so quickly? I was too hot.

Besides, we were ready for hamburgers from Sparky’s on the way back down the hill.

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Bear Valley Trail, Pt Reyes

I had a weekend without family last summer, so I treated myself to a much longer hike than usual.  I argued with myself all the way from Oakland to West Marin, even called Mom to distract me from my attempts to justify not going.  Silly brain.

I started from Bear Valley Visitor Center.  Over the years, I’ve walked several times up to Divide Meadow and back, memorably once carrying a sleeping three-year-old slung on my back all the way down to the car. This time, I wanted to walk all the way out and back, but I didn’t know how long it would take or if I could manage. Usually, I’m limited by a whining child or everybody’s schedules (who’s playing futbol today when).

I started in the sun and found the fog at Divide Meadow.

Fog divide over divide meadow, bear valley trail

The log benches in the meadow are a good place to eat lunch and spin. (I have a rule. If I want a photo of my spinning in a lovely place, I need to actually spin and not just take the photo.)

Silk spinning, divide meadow, bear valley trail

And then I walked

Creek, bear valley trail

and walked

Pines, bear valley trail

until I suddenly found the ocean, tilting horizon and Pt Reyes lighthouse and all. Arch Rock is the end of the trail.

Pt Reyes from Arch Rock, bear valley trail

I watched a seagull watch all the people. (It was not as lonely as the photos imply.)

Seagull, Arch Rock, bear valley trail

Of course I spun more silk.

Silk spinning, Arch Rock, bear valley trail

And then I walked back up and over the hill.

Dark Bay and Light Aspen, bear valley trail

About thirteen miles round trip, I was back in the meadow at the Bear Valley trailhead.

Meadow at Bear Valley trailhead

My feet were tired and sore, but no blisters. A beautiful walk, through different woods and grasses and coastal scrub and Suddenly Ocean.

Here I am, a couple months later, and I can’t do even a short hike until this mysteriously injured toe rests enough to heal and my knees are in better shape. I’m not sure these photos are a consolation or a terrible temptation.

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Pie! In Photos






















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Finding Skulls

Just a few more from Albany Bulb.

Concrete slab with revolucionario, dead fish, something, and skulls.
Concrete slab con revolucionario Albany Bulb

Calavera con flores.
Calavera con flores Albany Bulb

Brick skull Albany Bulb

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Exploring Art

I’ve heard of this place out on the Bay, with lots of sculptures and sometimes at risk of disappearing (tides? officials? dunno). I’ve never been – so many places I’ve never been. It has a name – Albany Bulb – and what a fascinating place to explore! With a little care not to walk through somebody’s campsite.

A bunker, a castle, una casita.
Albany Bulb casita

Sex ed. (Definitely sperm. We walked over more along that path.)
Albany Bulb sperm

Eyes. And a cat.
Eyes and cat Albany Bulb

Sometimes we stepped on things we almost didn’t notice.
Asphalt chunk tree Albany Bulb

Sometimes we walked around a bend of hill and water and found astonishment.
Mounted Albany Bulb

And a sword fighter or dancer.
Sword Albany Bulb

Sun salutations? Or is she La Llorona? Or somebody else?
Sun salutation o la llorona? Albany Bulb

And nature manages beauty fine without us.
Mud flats apple blossoms Albany Bulb

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La Playa Fria On a Saturday Afternoon

Saturday was the start of the normal weekend. Morning martial arts class, lots of quehaceres, most of which didn’t get done because the car was ready for pick-up. I’m thankful for the free shuttle service, which was only about half an hour later than I wanted, but just good enough. The cousins in Richmond were off school this last week too, but we’ve had the sick Kid and the sick car and then a train adventure and oh, we’re very busy people.

Forget the quehaceres! We grabbed the girls and took them to the beach. Rodeo Beach, Fort Cronkhite, Marin Headlands. La playa fria. It wasn’t so cold. The wind was strong, but it’s been stronger, and it was almost a warm wind. Warm for la playa fria. But not a warm day.

They were properly appreciative of the gray beauty of the waves. Good girls!

Low tide cliffs la playa fria

La playa fria primos
(It wasn’t really this dark. But I wanted the kids in silhouette more because I like the look. My photo! I can mess with it how I want!)

And then we ate Indian food at Sartaj in Sausalito. As is right.

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Train Ride, Oakland to Fresno to Oakland

Instead of going to Mexico to visit family last week, the Kid and I stayed home for vacation. First he was sick, and we cancelled all the fun stuff we’d scheduled to distract ourselves from changed plans. But then he was better, in time to take the train to Fresno for a quick overnight visit with a friend. (We had to take the train. The car was sicker than the Kid and still in the shop.)

A few photos there and back.

Thursday morning we took a taxi to the Amtrak station in Jack London Square.
Amtrak station Jack London Square Oakland

Port of Oakland cranes.
Port of Oakland cranes from Amtrak

A little bit of the Bay.
Bay from Amtrak

A different view of the Carquinez Bridge.
Carquinez Bridge from Amtrak

Leaving the coast hills.
Amtrak leaving the coastal hills

Central Valley, with computer.
Valley from Amtrak

Irrigating the Central Valley.
Irrigation from Amtrak

Orchard from Amtrak

The sun came out, almost to Fresno.
Sun came out, from Amtrak

We went to Fresno to see a dog.
Fresno with Labradoodle

And we were back on the train again the next afternoon.
On Amtrak again

Spinning cotton with a tahkli, in the sun on the train. I always have something to do.
Cotton tahki spinning on Amtrak

Afternoon light over flat fields.
Flat fields going north on Amtrak

Water again, into the Delta.
Delta? North on Amtrak

I love the hills. I’m usually driving, so I indulged myself with more than one photo of the hills. Green!
Green hills going north on Amtrak

Darker sky, brown wetlands grass, almost into the cities again.
Brown grass going north on Amtrak

The train ride was about 4 hours, maybe an hour longer than driving. But I could take lots and lots and lots of pictures, and spin and knit and the bathroom travelled with us. The Kid got a little bored, but he was pretty content with the train ride. I don’t think we’ll do it often, but it was a nice adventure for our vacation.

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