A few minutes later, I descend to where she was and confirm my suspicions.
I look down at my shoes which still have traces of red mud from Kauai. And maybe even mud from the trails here in the East Bay, before my trip.
Yup, I'm back in the saddle again.
(Except the problem is of course that I'm not.)
Nine Days Earlier.
I'm back to work on Friday, about ten hours after we got home. I actually like having a Friday to work after I get back from vacation, because it gives me one day to catch up with email and phone calls.
Mostly I punt spam that the spam catchers didn't catch. I also start ads, respond to non-spammy email, and do other things that I opted out of dealing with while on vacation.
Then on Monday I start a regular work week without all that catch-up hanging over me.
The weekend and the week flit by.
I write at Clark Kerr. I see a play. I deal with emergencies at Skotos. I research. I write more.
I record the ongoing health symptoms I experience in the hope they will mean something to me or my specialist when I see her next month.
I board game for the first time in April. It's mostly old favorites.
I watch Eric's Dresden Files Kickstarter more than I should, but it's intoxicating seeing the numbers go up.
Day by day I feel the the rest and relaxation from vacation drift away. It's not the work. It's not the crises. I deal with it all well. I'm pleased with how the crises resolve. I'm pleased with the writing I do.
I just can't maintain the joyous relaxation that I gain in Hawaii. I can't stay light-hearted and unworried and unstressed because there are worries and stressors and issues that require a heavy heart. I have medical frustrations to deal with too. Thankfully, I haven't returned to the depths of frustration that I visited before the trip.
But I can't maintain that calm serenity.
I never can.
If I'm not gaming, Saturday is the day I like to take my laptop out for a walk. So that's what I do today, nine days after my return from the Garden Island.
I used to take my laptop out for a ride, but as I said I'm not back in the saddle again. Or on the saddle again or whatever. I'll talk with the specialist about that next month. There will need to be progress on my condition for me to feel this is worthwhile.
But for now, no biking.
I'm starting to feel like I've seen the hikes that our local hills have to offer. But I have a plan for today's walk. Well, mainly I have a desire: a sandwich from Andronico's on dutch crunch with a side of Kettle chips.
So I walk with Kimberly northside and after we diverge I gather my supplies.
Then I begin my ascent.
The goal on a Saturday hike is both walking and writing. I hope to begin the second after my ascent to Codornices Park. However following my lunch, I am forced to flee due to smoke from a nearby barbecue.
This is not the first time this has happened. I begin to suspect that my laptop computer has smoke-attracting circuitry.
I've been playing my route by ear, but I now figure out a new series of paths that will take me up to Tilden Park, which is my intended destination for the day.
I walk Redwood Terrace to El Mirador Path. I'm surprised by how rundown they are. The cement steps are often at weird angles or too shallow due to movements of the earth. Then I take Sterling Path to Keeler Path. The latter is the only one that I'm aware of walking before. It's a rare horizontal Berkeley path, running along the hillside (rather than up it). It goes through an area that's mysteriously empty of houses, and looks very jungly as a result. It's pretty cool.
At the end I emerge into Remilard Park. It has a large rock. I carefully investigate and am relieved to discover there are no barbecues.
I sit down to write.
I am interrupted once by a lady with a small dog named Lucy and once by a hippy dude trying to figure out how to climb the rock.
I scritch the dog and show the dude where to climb the rock.
When I pack up after writing two articles, I try the rock myself, and don't get off the ground. The rock is apparently harder than it looks.
The Berkeley paths have disappeared this high up the hill, so I mostly walk quiet roads to get up to Park Hills. It's at the top of the hill between Tilden and the East Bay. There is indeed a park in the middle. It's a neat little circle of greenery and play equipment surrounded entirely by houses.
There is a picnic table, so naturally I sit down to write another article.
I think the park unused at first, but soon after members of a family drift in: a mother, her child, her wife, an older woman, and their dog.
One of the women, who turns out to originally be from South Africa, is in charge of the dog and keeping her assiduously on her leash. I worry that I might be the cause of that, and I don't want to be when I'm just visiting. So I tell her I'm perfectly happy if she wants to let her dog run free.
She does, but the dog is quite old, so it mostly slowly walks free.
She takes this as an opportunity to talk with me. I don't mind because she is not only very enthusiastic about Bernie Sanders, but she also soon begins to praise my thoughtful political philosophy.
What I find most interesting is her description of this Park Hills area. When I walked in, it struck me as being reminiscent of Ferguson. It's mainly architectural. There's a touch of brick on some of the buildings, and many of them also have (fake) storm shutters. However some of the houses also have details that feel really homey, like the way they display their house numbers.
South African woman says that the area also has a real community feeling to it, where everyone knows everyone.
This is pretty rare for Berkeley.
It sounds nice.
After we talk for a while, she wanders back to her family and I finish the last few paragraphs of my third article and head out.
It's all downhill from there.
Dropping into Tilden I see mud on the paths. It's not as bad as it was in early April, but I do have to dodge it at times. Fortunately, I don't think I add much to the mud collection on my shoes.
Oh, and I lied: it wasn't all downhill from the Park Hills exit, but it was downhill for quite a time, until I hit Lake Anza. From there I head back upward to my favorite picnic area. It's got a barbecue, and I have indeed been forced to flee from its smoke before.
I actually have walked this part of the Selby Trail before, from Lake Anza, up to the Island Picnic area, then up to the top of the stutter ridge.
From there I head south along the edge of the golf course, and this is new trail.
Sadly it's not particularly nice trail. Mostly I can see the road next to the golf course and the chain fence around the golf course.
Eventually I exit Tilden and from there revisit many of my greatest hits.
The Space Science Labs. (Great views!)
Centennial Road. (Sucky walking.)
The Lower Jordan Fire Trail. (Nice creeks and trees.)
Panoramic Hill. (Not actually that panoramic because all the houses block views.)
Some trail down to the Clark Kerr Fire Trail. (Which is trickier going down than up.)
Then I'm back on the ground in Berkeley, and it's a short walk home.
25,000 steps for the day, 11 miles, 198 floors.
Apparently I need to run up our stairs twice to get another copy of Fitbit's Castle badge.
Doesn't 200 floors seem a lot for a castle?