March 8, 2008

Hiking with the Cows

It is with shame that I have to admit that my hiking shoes had real cob webs in them when R brought them up from the basement today. I think the last hike we took was when I was preggers with Buckaroo, and he's almost a year old.

Today, though, we did venture into the great outdoors, and it was lovely. R heard about a website ( on KFOG where the fabulous outdoorsy people tell all about their weekend excursions, so this morning we looked it up, found a description of Garin Regional Park in Hayward, and set off. Here's Sherpa's description of the park:

"East Bayers traditionally head to Mt. Diablo for big views; but for a less popular yet still compelling vantage, head to Garin Regional Park and its namesake peak. Just southeast of Hayward, this underused park offers wide views without crazy climbing. Yes, there's some elevation gain, but it's a pleasantly gradual ascent through rolling green hills, grazing cows, and shady creek canyons. Navigate the Vista Peak Loop Trail (3.3 miles round-trip) clockwise and within the first 30 minutes you'll be treated to the sight of the southern San Francisco Bay spreading all the way to the highlands of Sweeney Ridge and the Santa Cruz Mountains. The cows and rain can make this trail messy, so bring a spare pair of shoes to change into after you're done. What would life be without a little messy fun? To reach the park: From I-880 going south, exit Industrial Parkway and turn left. Go 2 miles and turn right on Mission Blvd. After .25 miles, go left on Garin Ave., which takes you into the park. From the parking lot, follow the paved road (Vista Peak Loop Trail) east through Arroyo Flats. Garin is dog-friendly."

Perfect! There is a $5 parking fee as well, but the man in the booth was awfully friendly. It must get boring working in that booth all day. He gave us a map and told us exactly where we wanted to go. We strapped Buckaroo on R's back and away we hiked (Sweet Potato is off on holiday and Obo is attempting to hike his way through a dark valley of science homework).

It was beautiful-- blue skies and sunshine, ladybugs and quail. We even saw furry scat and attempted to determine its origin. R thought owl, but I thought maybe coyote. The view from the ridge is probably lovelier without the smog, but it was still good to stop there and share a Lara Bar.

On the way back down the hill we spotted bat houses. I didn't know what they were, and R said he wouldn't have known if he hadn't been researching how to build them for our adventure in The Woods. They're flat pieces* of wood on posts; I imagined them more like bird houses, house-like. I also imagined them hanging in the treetops, but I guess they have to be on those posts-- not as romantic as I had hoped, but I'm still excited about the bats they will bring and the mosquitoes to be eaten by them.

We found our way back to Pinot, and while I nursed Buckaroo R announced that he had a hankering for a beer, a burger, and a spot outside in the sunshine. R does not often have hankerings, so we mulled over where to go while we buckled Buckaroo into his car seat. While R buckled, I distracted Buckaroo with Eric Carle's book of animals. When we got to the duck, I said, "duck," and Buckaroo said "Dut," and I think he meant it.

The three of us ended up having a late late lunch at Pasta Pelican. R had a burger and two Coronas while I had salmon salad and The Dark Drink (aka Coca-Cola), and we watched the sailboats in the estuary. Meanwhile Buckaroo sucked on chopped olives and flirted with the older ladies at the table next to us.

*R later clarified that there is some space in there for the bats to congregate and elbow one another in a jocular fashion.


Sandy said...

Sounds like a wonderful day! I think it was coyote too, owls leave barf behind /owl pellets I think.

Rick said...

The bat houses were very cool. I don't think I've seen bats since I moved to California.