In August, Country Mouse delighted us all with a post about a walk down her bit of road, which you can read here. Country Mouse lives along a private road, with chaparral plants, and very little traffic. I live very close to 3 freeways: 237, 85, and 101. That does have its advantages, but it means I'm far away from nature and need to get in my car to go for a hike or toss my bike into my SUV to go for a bike ride.
Or do I? Well, actually, not really. First, I don't have an SUV. And second, I'm fortunate to live very close to the Steven's Creek Trail. This trail, which the City of Mountain View has been expanding each year, now reaches from close to the border to Sunnyvale to the baylands.
I actually live close enough to the trail to walk to it, but today I want to get all the way to the bay, so I'm taking my Trusted Steed (here in front of Mulenbergia rigens, Deer grass).
The first two blocks go through an area close to the freeway with schools, churches, and light industry. There are some nice oaks, but nothing too interesting otherwise.
Then I come to the overpass that crosses 85 (in the first photo of this post), and the trail actually goes right along the freeway. The trees you can see are the mature oaks and aspen (??) that line the creek.
After a short ride in the shade of oaks, I come to the first trail overpass, which crosses Caltrain and Middlefield Road.
The city has done a nice job planting flannel bush, ceanothus, and toyon in the areas along the trail. The trail is actually is a designated as a wildlife corridor, and the City of Mountain View trail site has information about the different habitats here. And here's a picture of the Toyon next to the overpass.
I huff and puff as I maneuver the Trusted Steed around the bend and up the incline, then I happily coast back down and enjoy a flat piece with oaks, redbud, and other trees, coffeberry, ribes, salvias, and native grasses. Soon I get to the second overpass, which was recently built to cross Moffett Boulevard.
Shortly after the overpass, the trail opens up, with high tech companies, an RV parking lot, and a tree farm on the left (in that order) and with the creek (and on the other side NASA Ames) on the right. From here, we also have water in the creek year round (higher up, it's still dry even now).
I'm not sure what the trees are, but I love the fall color.
I'm also glad to see how many people come here to enjoy the fresh air. Many bring their kids on small bikes with streamers, and I go slowly because they don't always understand that they'll be safer if they stay on the right side of the path.
The Toyon are amazing here as well, with lots of birds stopping by for a snack.
The trail changes again as we get to the marsh lands. Dogs are no longer allowed from here on. The views become wide and expansive.
And then, the Bay. Mountain View is at the southern end of the Bay, and open water so close by does influence the microclimate of my garden.
These areas are burrowing owl habitat. Migrating birds stop over or overwinter in the waters of the Bay. I'm not a birder, so I'll just call these birds ducks.
And then, to my delight, a hawk. Of course I have my camera in my bike pannier, and when I finally fumble it out, he's just in the wrong spot in front of a tree.
"What are these birds," asks a woman on a bike as I stop to take a photo. "I think they're vultures," I say. "Eeewhhh," is the response. I'm tempted to say "So, you eat your meat alive, like the noble hawk, not dead, like the vulture." But I don't.
And what's that bird? Oh, no bird. Here's the kite field.
And then, it's time to head home. The first part's tough. I always forget the headwind I'll have when riding home. Why didn't I turn around sooner? But then the wind comes from a more favorable angle, and it doesn't take too long to get home (after all, I'm no longer stopping for photos). At home, as I get ready to put the bike into the garage, I notice the fall color on Aristolochia Californica near the front entrance.
"I really have to prune that plant," I think. But then, as I take the photo, I notice the first blossom. Well, I'll have to prune it anyway, but how exciting to be welcomed by new blooms.