shannon_a: (Default)
As I hike down the path, I see someone far below me, on one of the Selby Trail's other twists and turns. She pauses in the path, stands a moment, then does a funny jump and run along the trail's edge.

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.

Ah, nature.

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?
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These last months I've been learning about the connectivity of fire trails, Ridge Trails, and EBMUD watershed lands above Berkeley. This week I decided to take the plunge and hike all the way from Berkeley to Orinda.

It seemed like a pretty big deal. I mean, Berkeley to Orinda, that's something that you BART, not something that you can walk. But, it turns out that the walking is entirely possible.

To get up this side of the hill, I took paths that I've become increasingly familiar with: steps up Panoramic Hill, then fire trails up to the Ridge. I'd walked most of this before, though up at the top of Panoramic Hill I diverged from the Upper Fire Trail to one of the totally unlabeled trails in the area. Call it the Upper, Upper Fire Trail I suppose. It runs along Skyline Ridge and fronts the Claremont Preserve. The new trail was very attractive; where the Upper Fire Trail gives you nice views of Strawberry Canyon, the Upper, Upper Trail looks out onto the Bay (until you get far enough back that you can only see Claremont Canyon).

However, I was surprised by how many really steep areas there were: Arden Path then Panoramic Way on Panoramic Hill; the start of the Upper Fire Trail; the path from the Upper Fire Trail to the Upper, Upper Fire Trail; at least two big hills on the Upper, Upper Trail; then the final scree-filled climb up to Grizzly Peak. It didn't seem like as much on the way down last week (though that scree-filled hill was better on the way up than down by a lot). But, the whole climb is about 1,400 feet, so I suppose you need some steep.

The path back down the hill, on the other side, was totally new. It's through EBMUD lands in the so-called Siesta Valley Recreation Area. I say so-called because there's nothing there but a few paths, and you need EBMUD permits to walk most of it, so it really seems like a case of overselling the area. Fortunately, I got a five-year EBMUD pass in late 2014 or so. This is only the second time I've used it (after the day I got the pass).

Though it has an overly-ambitious name, Siesta Valley is totally beautiful. It's all green rolling hills that are largely empty. I really enjoyed the pleasant, quiet walk. It headed along the hill line toward Orinda for a while (which meant some more down and UP), but eventually set in at a steady decline. Oh, and it was very muddy at times, from the rain over a week ago. I guess that's why you call it watershed. When I got home, I retired a third pair of jeans in a week to the laundry basket due to excessive muddiness.

In Orinda I'd considered retiring to a Starbucks for an hour to do some writing. Though I've figured out how to get exercise with hiking (instead of biking), I've rarely been able to get the ratio right to also have time for writing while out. So this Saturday I'd only written about half of one of the several histories that I had outlined and ready to go.

Unfortunately, Orinda was jam-packed with families. It was apparently free-family-fun day, with climbing walls and face-painting and balloon animals and what not. So the little mall that contained the Starbucks (and is really 90% of downtown Orinda) was way too full. I glanced in at the Starbucks and it was just mobbed full of meandering people all of whom seemed to be wandering back and forth looking for a line.

So after circling around Orinda for a while and deciding there was nothing else of note, I headed to BART instead. Got a bit of writing done there.

And that was how I walked to Orinda. A little less than 10 miles, and just under 200 flights of stairs. About 4 hours, but that included sitting down to eat a 9" sandwich from IB Hoagies and write half a history.

A Big Hike

Mar. 20th, 2016 02:45 pm
shannon_a: (Default)
So I'm not biking.

And this is definitely impacting my exercise, and therefore my weight loss.

This Saturday was my first free and rain-free Saturday in a few weeks, so I decided to take my personal exercise in hand and do a big hike. I'd had some fun hiking during my initial span of bikelessness, but through many of those hikes I had concern over the Cipro in my system, so I didn't really push myself.

On Saturday I pushed myself, and it was great hike.

In the morning, I walked up to north Berkeley with K., who meets a friend there most Saturdays. Then after grabbing a sandwich-and-chips to go at Andronico's, I started hiking straight up the hill.

This initial hill climbing was definitely not the most scenic part of the day, though I did take Berkeley's many hillside walkways whenever I could. That included the long, steep set of stairs in Cordonices Park and my favorite pathway in Berkeley, the Covert Path, which really is. You're stepping up between houses, and suddenly you're in a shaded little grotto shrouded by trees, where you have to walk across a stream.

All told I believe I walked: Vine Lane; Cordonices Stairway; Covert Path; Whitaker Path; Betty Olds Path; and Anne Brower Path (which is unlabeled and in disrepair, mostly of the foliage sort). Then it was the Wildcat Path into Tilden Park.

At Tilden I had lunch at a quiet little campsite, which became a little less quiet when a Chinese family and their caucasian son-in-law showed up. Their grill also unfortunately blew smoke right over my table. (Fair enough; the grill was there before me!) I moved but ended up shivering in the shade as I finished up the two histories that I was working on.

Then I began the long hike home, which was really the point of the day. I wanted to cross through Tilden and then walk onto EBMud lands and UC Berkeley fire trails until I debarked near my house, proving the connectivity of the many trails in the hills above us. And that's exactly what I did.

Many of the trails, particularly in Tilden, were quite muddy here and there. It had been dry for about a week, but clearly some of those trails had become riverbeds during the storms. Over on EBMud lands, I walked a trail that had long lines of stones crossing it, obviously intended to keep the water flowing down the hills, not onto the paths ... and it was of limited success. I had spattered mud up to my knees by the time I got home.

The Tilden path (the Vollmer Peak Trail) was beautiful because it was wooded and empty. The EBMud path (the Bay Area Ridge Trail in the Siesta Valley Recreation Area) was beautiful because it had awesome views of Contra Costa County, and hills that had all grown green during the recent storms. The UC Berkeley Fire Trail (I think it was labeled with a #20) had a beautiful view of the Bay, but it was an awful trail that was too steep and too scree-filled. I skidded to the ground on it once, and heard people both ascending and descending talking about how tricky it was. At one point I saw a girl behind me go running 20 feet or so off the trail into the foliage, presumably because she'd lost control. Afterward, the Upper Fire Trail, above the Labs, was beautiful because it was solid and well-maintained.

Both of the previous times that I walked the Fire Trails in Strawberry Canyon I'd sought out a short cut marked on my Google Maps between the Upper and Lower Trails and I missed it both times. I missed it again on Saturday, but this time went back and sought it out. The trail pretty much dropped off the side of the Upper Fire Trail (but not too steeply), so I saw why I missed it. The path cut through a redwood forest and was lonely but absolutely gorgeous. Then the exit was well hidden right next to a stream. It was a bit muddy and I had my second slide and fall of the day. (More mud on my pants!)

I eventually made it home a bit after 5pm. The total hike was somewhere around 12 miles, and by days' end several hours later I had a record-setting 30,000 steps on my Fitbit (plus 288 active minute, 222 flights of stairs, and by that time about 13.5 miles total).

Next Saturday I'm thinking about walking to Orinda straight up the fire trails, and then down the EBMud watershed on the other side. (I've had an EBmud permit for a bit, and never really made use of it, so now seems like a good time, with the bikelessness and all.) I just need to figure out how to get a tasty lunch involved with that.
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The Cipro Connection. Four weeks ago today I walked in to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription for Cipro, and learned from my awesome local pharmacist that the fine folks at Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield were refusing to fill the full month that my doctor had prescribed. And, it wasn't an unreasonable prescription (barring the whole question of whether antibiotics are overprescribed). I've since looked up the standard advice for my situation, and it's very clear that a four week prescription is the default.

The fine folks at Anthem would only cover two weeks of my doctor's prescription, and this made me a little nervous, because I knew that it probably wouldn't get the job done. So I asked our pharmacist, "Is this going to be a problem when I come in for a refill in two weeks?"

"I've never heard of an insurance company refusing an antibiotic prescription," the pharmacist said.

Given that he'd quoted me a price of $200 for the medicine without insurance, I was still a bit nervous, but went ahead, got my Cipro, and started taking the poison pills.

The Cipro Continuation. Two weeks later I'm back in the pharmacy, and guess who's insurance company is refusing to pay for the pills? That'd be me, being refused by the death panel at Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, who clearly are more worried about their bottom line than other niceties like doing what they're paid for and making sure their patients stay healthy.

My awesome local pharmacist is looking a bit frazzled, and says that he's been on the phone with Anthem for "way too long" and so has my doctor. Which sounds really damned ridiculous to me — that my doctor has written a really normative prescription, that I've got a "gold" level health plan, and that two of my care givers have had to waste considerable time trying to get said health plan to fill said normative prescription.

The pharmacist tells me that they have to charge me full price now, but that he's pretty sure an authorization will be in over the next couple of days, and that the pharmacy (not the insurance company) will then refund me.

I'm about ready to leave and come back in two days. I'd actually delayed starting the Cipro for two days so that I wouldn't run out while in Hawaii, and also so that I had breathing room if Anthem tried to pull a fast one. So I don't need it that day. But then they tell me it's just $30. Maybe the pharmacist had accidentally read me the non-generic price originally? I dunno, but that seems to be case from looking at pricing online.

For $20 difference, I'm not going to make my life difficult.

So I head off with two more weeks of poison pills.

(Has the pharmacy ever refunded my money? It looks like the answer is no, though Anthem did confirm they'd pay for the pills.)

The Cipro Conclusion. I've got just three Cipro pills left. I'll be done taking it tomorrow night. It's continued to make me mildly miserable. I'm perhaps not sick as much as I was about a week in, because I found a good blend of antibiotics and yogurt. I'm perhaps not quite as achey every single day.

But I'm still sick, and I'm still achey.

And the worse part is, I don't think it's done anything. I've been having another bout of my chronic problems, since last Friday or so — at least as bad as it's ever been. It's maddening and disheartening and maybe even frightening.

Pill Position. Cipro isn't the only med I've had going on. About 10 days after I started on the Cipro I went in to see my cardiologist. In January we'd upped my beta blocker to try and better control my blood pressure. It was making me unhappy because it was really damping down my pulse, so that I couldn't get a good cardio workout any more.

Well, Heart Doc said that it wasn't working that well for the BP either, so he dropped me back to my old level. My heart rate came back up ... and I realized how much it'd been making me tired too! So, there's one scant bit of medical happiness this month.

He also put me on a second med, which controls BP in a different way. He acted like it had almost no side effects, as long as you're not having kidney problems, so I took him at his word. My BP looks fine (106/60 at the moment), but I would have said the same after the previous change.

As for side effects: I realized that it's impossible to say if there actually are any, with the Cipro being a freight train smashing right through my vitals. Fortunately I'll be off the Cipro for three and a half days before I'm back to the cardiologist. So, I'll know if the aches and pains and such have disappeared.


Exercise Extinction. But the Cipro ...

Its other main problem is how its impacted my exercise.

First, my doc had already suggested that I not bike for a while due to my condition. Then, the Cipro suggests that you be careful of any sort of exercise. Reading online, this has to do with the possibility for tendon damage, and it's really running that they're cautioning against ... and biking.

So my exercise has been subpar for four full weeks now. In particular, I've only biked when it was a necessity (getting to a distant doctor's appointment, getting to Endgame). Heck, I've even been walking to the grocery store, which is a mile-and-a-half trip, each way.

This last week I've found myself thrown into even more of a fitness funk by the death of my Fitbit. I'm still doing my best to get my 30 active minutes a day, but the lack of statistical information on how I'm doing definitely has an impact and makes me feel at sea ... (And unshockingly the Fedex "SmartPost" has missed its scheduled delivery of today for my new FitBit; new schedule was first Friday, not Thursday, which is typical for Fedex's pennies-cheaper-but-days-longer delivery system.)

Sadly, this all means that my weight loss of the last 11 months has stopped. I'm hoping that'll pick back up when I get back on my feet.

Hill Position. Because of the suggestions against biking, I haven't been doing my usual weekend biking, nor the occasional evening biking. Instead I've been doing some hiking on my free Saturdays (which has been most of them in the last month, between the end of Mary's Cthulhu RPG campaign and the start of my Clockwork RPG campaign).

My biggest hikes were the trail up to the big "C", the two fire trails in Strawberry Canyon, and the fire trail above Clark Kerr. I was actually surprised my how many there were. I always knew you could hike the entire length of our East Bay Hills, but I hadn't realized quite what a network of trails there was, mostly up behind the campus.

I'd hiked the Clark Kerr fire trail before, and it's OK. It's a bit too much "a trail on the edge of a hillside", and the last part is really steep. However, the two Strawberry Canyon fire trails are extremely pleasant. They're mostly shaded and tree filled. They're also quite long. And they also feed into trails that go to some of the local parks.

(I probably shouldn't be hiking either, if I wanted to be 100% cautious about exercising, but it's the balance I settled on, to retain my sanity.)

So that's been the one particularly pleasant thing in recent weeks: discovering all these neat trails quite close to our house.
shannon_a: (Default)

No gaming today, so I opted to have lunch out then venture into the North Berkeley hills. It was a blustery day, grey and lightly drizzling, so I didn't bring any Designers & Dragons work with me. Instead I just got to enjoy being out and about.

My immediate goal was Cordonices Park. I've been there many a time, but I've never seen it as empty as it was today (though the rain had mostly stopped by then, turning into occasional mist that I'd see throughout the rest of the trip). That was kind of cool because it meant I got to ride my bike around the park a bit on the blacktop trails (though there aren't a lot of this). After enjoying a burbling brook for a while, I headed on.

On my map, I'd found some parks I'd never been to north and upward of Cordonices, so I headed to those. 

Next on my list was Cragmont Park, which I got to by walking up one of the many paths in the Berkeley Hills, Easter Way. It's got a cool little covered outdoor area that has a magnificent view of the Bay. I looked out from there for a while, enjoying the sunlight and shadow that played over the Bay due to the storm clouds overhead. Around me a group of people dressed in climbing gear talked about how to save people, which was weird. Some type of class, but I dunno why Cragmont Park was the place for it, as I didn't see anywhere in particular to climb. 

I biked up and around from there until I got to Remillard Park. I don't know entirely what to make it as it's almost entirely defined by three paths which form a triangle. Within them it's really wild, but there's also some houses there(!). In any case, I biked up to the easternmost path, which ran across the top of the park (as lateral paths are much more interesting than stairs when you're hauling a bike along). It was very cool because it felt like I was cutting through a rain forest or something. That feel was probably helped by the wisps of fog than ran through everything, as I'd by now made my way up into the clouds overhanging Berkeley. (Things got damper as a result, though even the light drizzle had stopped by now.)

Up in the northeast corner of the park, I found the onemore  park-like area. A playground and a totally cool-looking rock, apparently called Pinnacle Rock. It reminds me of Indian Rock (nearby) but isn't nearly as accessible. Apparently people do rock climb there though. Maybe that's where the search-and-rescue people from Cragmont were headed.

After that I headed further up into the hills. Every once in a while the sunlight would catch up with me, as the day slowly pushed back the clouds from the Bay, but then I'd go up further and be back into the clouds. I briefly stopped at Grizzly Peak Park, which was a disappointment as it was pretty much a slide and a basketball court. Ate a brownie there though. 

As I headed further up, I suddenly saw signs heading down into Tilden Park. Wowza, I hadn't realized I was quite that high. I certainly would have headed there if it was a day that I could have sat out and read and worked, but instead I went up Hill Road. It turned out to be quite steep — which the name should have told me — but it had gorgeous views down into the Bay. I'd love to go up there on some clear day, as today I was now so far up in the clouds that I couldn't even seen much Bay. My goal was another lateral path, the Scott Newhall Path. Not too impressive, as it turns out, as it was just a dirt (mud) path with no particular views. Cool houses on the other side, though, including a neat stone wall. (But there were lots of cool houses up in the Hills; it was one of the joys of the trip.)

From there I headed southward, passing around the south end of Tilden Park. I was really tempted to head in there, as it led to the mysterious south end of Tilden Park that I'd never been to. Instead I continued on to the Lawrence Hall of Science. That offered up the most gorgeous view of the day, a complete vista of the Bay. I gawked there for a while, took some pictures, then took the road rather rapidly downward (to Trader Joes and eventually home).

Overall a fun adventure. Good to see there's still so many new places to explore just here in Berkeley. Total ride was only about 11 miles, however I got up to above 1000 feet, putting it as one my biggest climbs in the hills. Not too hard either, though I did walk a block here and there (including Hill Road!). Lots of fun, and the overcast, gray, and clouds just made it that much cooler.

shannon_a: (Default)
Berkeley Walk #1. A while ago I got "A Map of Berkeley's Pathways", which shows slightly more than 100 pedestrian paths in Berkeley, mostly official and marked and mostly in the Berkeley hills. They were built to allow easy access up and down the hills for people that didn't have horses or those new-fangled au-toe-mo-beels. I've been wanting to start to walk them all, and on Sunday, Kimberly and I finally did the first ones.

Our destination was a set of paths at the southeast corner of campus, the only ones I thought we could easily walk to. There are six of them in the area called "Panoramic Hill", numbered 114-119 on my maps booklet. The first of them was Bancroft Steps (114) an attractive set of bannistered stone steps that ran up behind the stadium.

From there we went up to Orchard Lane (115-116), which was the pathway that really impressed me. Much like the Steps, it was stone and bannistered with attractive waist-height columns along the sides. However it was its size that really impressed me. It went up a fairly considerably length of hillside, and was large and majestic for the first half, and still nice for the second half. There were, of course, houses along the way. Many of them even had their main entrances and mailboxes on these paths, rather than an actual street. As we walked up the path we saw a deer in one of the backyards, chewing away on hedge. It fled when we got too near.

(The nearby pic shows the upper half of Orchard Lane, after it got smaller. The deer is pretty well hidden in the pic, but it's to the left in the distance.)

Past the top of the Lane we walked Arden Road, an actual street, a bit. That's the one bad thing about the walkways. Many of them dump you out onto streets with poor sidewalks, also reflecting the time most of these were built, in the early 20th century. Fortunately they're not too busy. Fortunately, they're also full of attractive houses. I particularly liked the brick ones I saw in our journeys, as they remind me of the Midwest.

From there we walked up Arden Path (119), which was hidden back at the end of a cul-de-sac, in what I at first assumed was someone's side yard. That top walk was more what I expect of Berkeley's paths: just one person abreast, with no handrails or wooden ones. The top bit of the path was just wooden steps. Nice though.

And that took us to the top of the paths for the day. Sadly, no particular panoramas. I could make out the skyscrapers in Emeryville and bits of the Bay Bridge at one point, but for the most point it was too foggy, which has been our curse most of the summer.

Heading back down, we took Arden Path, then Arden Steps (118) immediately below it, which was much the same. Below that we got onto Mosswood Lane (117), which was the least finished of the paths. The top of it was just wood blocks offering a step down every 5 or 10 feet, then below that it turned into a rambling path that winded its way among of houses. At one time it ran just to the side of a set of majestic trees, which I expect were planted 100 years ago when the path was built. A few times, I thought the path had just ended, but then we'd take a turn and it'd go on. Eventually it connected back up to the monumental Orchard Lane, and from there we headed gradually back down into Berkeley--where we eventually went to campus where we had a picnic dinner under Stevens' Hall, where we've et several times lately.

Lafayette. Eating seems to be the theme for the last couple of days. Kimberly had a doctor's appointment out in Orinda in the late afternoon today, so we decided to meet up in Lafayette after I was off work to eat at the Baja Fresh there.

It's a bit far to go for fast(ish) food, but we loved our Baja Fresh when it was in Berkeley and were very unhappy when it disappeared last year. Actually, Lafayette is closer than I think. Door-to-door it took me about 40 minutes to get there from home (including biking to the Rockridge BART station). We were surprised to see one of the employees that used to work at Berkeley and that we chatted with the most. After that we had food, and it was good.

I was back in my office in Berkeley about 2 hours after I left, including 15 minutes spent waiting at Lafayette for a train (during which I read aloud from Soldier of Sidon, by Gene Wolfe).

Tonight. Much to do. I've been working on a log of the penultimate Savage Tide game (after my computer ate the first half I'd already written) and a review for RPGnet. And this journal entry.

Well, something's done now.
shannon_a: (Default)
WaterfallsSo today I found my secret waterfalls that I'd hiked up to in North Berkeley,ten years ago. Just north of Codornices Park there's a path that you can take that drops down into a canyon. The walk up to falls is pretty short, but long enough to put some distance between you and the crowds at the Park proper. Then you're suddenly surrounded on all sides by greenery, and it feels like the city is a million miles away, then up ahead you can see Codornices Creek dropping down four levels, to the canyon below.

I thought I might be disappointed when I finally rediscovered the waterfall, but I wasn't. It was as beautiful as I remembered, and as amazing as I thought it was before, because of how it's so surrounded by North Berkeley and so secluded at the same time.

When I hiked up past the waterfalls I found myself in increasingly swanky tiered North Berkeley. I hiked around a bit more up there and found the "Covert Path", one of over 100 public paths that cut up and down the hills of Berkeley. I decided to head up that too. It was a neat little path because it was genuinely covert. You started walking into it and suddenly you were in a tree tunnel, hopping over a (very small) creek then continuing up.

Past the end of Covert Path, I found Upper Covert Path, which I was very surprised to find is quite new. Apparently Berkeley set aside quite a bit of room for the hillside paths in the early 1900s, but the automobile came about before they finished building them all. And thus some have set, unimproved, largely unused, and sometimes unusable, for almost a century. But Upper Covert Path was one of several that have recently been completed.

I ordered a map of all the public paths in Berkeley, with the suggestion that Kimberly might like to hike around them with me. She would be happy just walking anywhere, but me, I like projects, as you might guess from my Bay Trail Project (though I don't give it a lot of effort nowadays, since I've covered everything local). So, that means that I think that hiking each and every of those public paths would be fun.

It also looks to me like the paths can be largely used to access Tilden Path from Codornices Park (without having to walk up steep roads, which is less easy & fun than walking stairs). I've suggested we try that hike someday too.

So, that was the last day of my three-day holiday. Tomorrow it's back to work. Reiner Knizia's Kingdoms awaits (though I expect to touch upon some other stuff before I really let the new game totally consume me).

September 2017

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