April 19, 2015

In the Moment

A day of reflection was needed, and at such times I'm drawn to the sea.

California gull on a fencepost along Monterey Bay, Pacific Grove, California
The overcast sky suited my frame of mind. I would spend much of the day outdoors, but first headed to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I normally visit for member events, when the crowds will be sparse. On this Sunday morning, the place was bustling with families and I enjoyed that more than I expected. The kids put every interactive exhibit through its paces, and then some. I pointed out some of the well-camouflaged creatures tucked away in tanks that jaded adults concluded were empty. I learned that the residents of the aviary are all rescued and rehabilitated shore birds that can no longer survive in the wild.

Bright blue fish in the Kelp Forest, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California
I noticed a panel featuring a quote attributed to Francis Bacon:
We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand—and melting like a snowflake.
Harbor seals with pups on a beach, Pacifc Grove, California
I ambled slowly southward through Pacific Grove, along the promenade. Harbor seals lounged on a beach, some nursing their pups. One hapless little one would advance a few feet from the water's edge, only to be rolled and pulled back by the next wave's advance.

Drosoanthemum floribundum blooming along the coastal trail, Pacific Grove, California
I read about the signature “magic carpet,” Drosoanthemum floribundum, in glorious trailside bloom. It's an ice plant native to South Africa, tended here by volunteers, and a legacy of the first volunteer, a curious adventurer named Hayes Perkins, who planted it. The promenade passes through the eponymous Perkins Park, dotted with benches dedicated to others who found solace in this place.

Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans) blooming along the coastal trail, Pacific Grove, California
Later, I would find the preamble to Bacon's quote.
Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity.

April 4, 2015


Turkey vulture with carrion in a field, Morgan Hill, California
Last year was The Year of the Dog; this, The Year of the Turkey Vulture. The bird was occupied with some delectable piece of carrion and none too concerned with us. It was pure chance that my ride buddies and I had stopped nearby.

This was the coldest Tierra Bella pre-ride I can remember. I regretted not having insulated my head and toes. “If the Tierra Bella is next week, why are you all riding today?“ asked a cyclist on the opposite side of the road. When we explained that we ride the course to check the markings and look for any problems, he thanked us. With any luck, we'll get that spray of broken glass and pulverized bits of car on the shoulder of Highway 152 cleaned up.

Lupine in bloom at the Chesbro Reservoir, Morgan Hill, California
Given our extended drought, I have been surprised at the abundant wildflowers this spring. It was a banner year for the oaks to produce acorns, too.

Canada Road offers a swift descent to the valley, with some care. One sweeping arc, in particular, tends to catch some cyclists unprepared. I tapped the brakes to keep the new bike from getting carried away. My rear-view mirror allowed me to keep an eye on a wide SUV that was trailing me at a distance. The gap would shrink whenever the road tilted up or straightened out, but once we hit the curves I had the advantage. Reaching a long straight stretch, I sat up and slowed to let it pass.

Owl's clover blooming near Chesbro Reservoir, Morgan Hill, California
The driver pulled even with me and matched my speed. Mountain bikes on the rear rack, windows down. “You were movin'!” the passenger exclaimed. “Yes,” I smiled. “It's fast.” Curious about where we were headed, I told them about the upcoming Tierra Bella.

Starting and finishing at the site of our post-ride barbecue, we cut the 100k route a bit short: 55 miles, with 2,260 feet of climbing.

Flat, essentially.