Thursday, September 03, 2009

the blog of Mar. 4, 2006 (2)

obscure destination: Cuesta Ridge

A few things went right this weekend. I decided I would search for the Imogen Heap CD "Speak for Yourself". I had heard a track in Banana Republic while using the gift card John and Christine got me for Christmas. But to find it would probably require a trip to Monterey or San Luis Obispo.

After work on Friday, on a whim, I slipped into Wherehouse Music in Salinas. I knew the odds were slim. They had the Frou Frou CD at a ridiculously high price. Then I saw a separate section for Imogen Heap. What? The have it? And it's on sale? What's this? A used copy for even less? Bullseye. Those who know me know I have a special talent for this kind of experience.

Another thing that went right was today's weather. We had rain all last week and are due for more, but today was a beauty of a clear, sunny but not-too-hot day. I was due for a hike so I jumped in the car and headed for Cuesta Ridge, an obscure destination in SLO County I wanted to check out.

I blasted the Imogen Heap CD. She is the singer from Frou Frou, whose 2002 album "Details" was my favorite of that year. For all practical purposes the Imogen Heap album is a Frou Frou album. If you enjoyed her highly emotive vocals on the one, you will find more of the same on the other.

To get to Cuesta Ridge, you pull off south-bound 101 at Cuesta Pass, right before descending the big mountain. It's actually one of those emergency lanes for runaway trucks, but it also takes you to one entrance of Los Padres National Forest. There is a dirt clearing where hikers and mountain bikers typically park.

My goal was the "Botanical Area", three miles from the freeway on a winding, bumpy-ass road. Most people seemed to be driving there, but since the underlying purpose of my outing was to burn calories, I walked.

From the freeway these mountains look as though they may be heavily forested, but in fact they are covered with a thin layer of chaparral, barely three feet high. The views of Pismo Bay, the ocean, and Los Osos Valley were spectacular. There were some people para-gliding in one area and two fellows shooting at clay pigeons in another. There was also a big installation of radio towers, beyond which was the Botanical Area.

The Botanical Area is 1334 acre section of land covered with groves of rare Sargent Cypress trees. Suddenly the ground cover goes from about three feet to anywhere between fifteen and thirty feet. The groves are actually almost equal parts Cypress and Manzanita; neither are very tall, but the effect is pleasant enough.

Looking northeast, I thought I could see the snow-covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada. They may have been clouds; but on the other hand they really looked like mountains. On a clear day, from such an elevated vantage point, why shouldn't one see the highest mountain range in the country?


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