Monday, November 28, 2011

Guadalupe River Trail - Nov. 27, 2011

Walking Distance: 2.9 miles (estimate)
Walking Time: 1 hr., 22 min. (2:09 - 3:31 p.m.)
Start and End Point: San Jose International Airport, Economy (long-term parking) Lot 1; San Jose, CA

Having walked, unintentionally, south on the Guadalupe River Trail (shown as a purple line on Bay Trail map) yesterday, I made sure I headed north this afternoon. I soon crossed under Highway 101, and then the Trimble Rd. underpass. These concrete structures are cool and silent except for the muffled thurrumping of cars passing by above; they have a solemnity similar to stone cathedrals or catacombs.

After getting above ground again, I spotted a few mature walnut trees along a wire fence. I had been smelling green walnuts/walnut trees yesterday and couldn't see any. I grew up climbing three large walnut trees in my parents backyard, so I recognized the pleasant, green nut aroma. Hard to tell whether the plowed field on the other side of the fence (a rare bit of open space in between office parks and technology companies) was once a walnut grove or not. But, it was a fun trip down memory lane.

I kept going until I reached the point where I'd left off previously

 (near 2701 Orchard Pkwy, or the back of the building located at this address), with the single basketball hoop in the back. It helps to have an identifiable marker or two to make sure I've arrived at the right place.

Continuing on, I found a little pile of white sea shells on a concrete slope leading up to the freeway. I have no idea how these might have gotten here. Raccoon picnic?

On my way back, I passed by a gaggle of Canada geese, sitting on the trail, and nibbling on fresh green grass at the edge of the top of the embankment that sloped down into the Guadalupe River. I'm fairly certain these were the same geese I saw down by the River when I passed here the first time. Even though they are sandwiched between highway over- and under-passes, the geese had found a reasonably undisturbed area of riverbed to visit.

After this relatively short stroll this afternoon, I took the free San Jose airport shuttle bus over to the new terminal (Terminal B) to take care of an errand I needed to run, and to check in early for a Southwest Airlines flight tomorrow, since I was already at the airport.

The Bay Trail runs by most of the major airports in the Bay Area -- San Francisco (SFO), Oakland (OAK); and, if you walk the Guadalupe River Trail (technically a connector trail to the Bay Trail), then you'll pass San Jose (SJC) as well.

Wildlife Sightings:
35 little brown jobs (LBJs); 12 Canada geese; 10 ducks, 2 cute brownish divers/grebes/ducks?; 15 coots; 1 white butterfly; 3 sea gulls; 4 blue jays; 2 snowy egrets, 1 great egret

Guadalupe River Trail - Nov. 26, 2011

Walking Distance: 5.2 miles
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 37 min. (2:07 - 4:44 p.m.)
Start and End Point: San Jose Airport Economy Parking Lot 1; San Jose, CA

This afternoon I had planned to walk the Guadalupe River Trail (shown as purple line on Bay Trail map) from the San Jose airport north -- to the point where I left off a few days ago. I parked in the airport's long-term parking lot (flat daily rate of $15.00), and proceeded to look for the trail, which is adjacent to this large parking lot.

I enjoyed seeing the public art/design piece by Christian Moeller ("Hands") on the side of Terminal B at the airport (which opened last June). This large, black and white high-tech mural looks like a series of hands raised up -- accomplished by working out the design on a computer first I imagine, and then placing hundreds of small white plastic pieces on a very large mesh or screen background/wall. I went under an underpass and popped out the other side, and there the hands were - waving at passerbys.

I should explain why I was seeing this mural...The Guadalupe trail fans out in a few directions at the airport. Instead or going north, I started walking south toward downtown San Jose, down a long stretch of packed dirt and gravel. And, since it was too late by the time I realized I was headed south vs. north, I made the best of it, kept walking, and eventually stopped at the Heritage Rose Garden in San Jose, south of the airport. (At this point, the trail continues south, but it is off the edge of the Bay Trail map.) The trail was dirt/gravel, then asphalt, then dirt, then asphalt again. Good for mountain bikes. It was great to stop and smell the roses, literally, before heading back.

Wildlife Sightings:
6 crows; 25 little brown jobs (LBJs); 3 unidentified flying bugs (UFBs); 3 white butterflies; 2 hawks/falcons/kestrels; 1 robin; 1 pillbug; 4 cats (abandoned, now feral); 1 mockingbird; 1 tree squirrel; 2 blue jays; 1 great egret; 11 doves.

Guadalupe Trail - Nov. 24, 2011

Walking Distance: 2.6 miles
Walking Time: 1 hr., 4 min. (4:04 - 5:08 p.m.)
Start and End Point: End of River Oaks Parkway (off N. 1st St.), San Jose, CA

It's always a good day to go walking, but it's even better to walk on holidays like Thanksgiving. After a nice big meal - I enjoyed catching a breathe of fresh air and working off some of the Thanksgiving Day feast. And I felt very thankful to be able to enjoy seeing the leaves turn colors -- bright yellows, reds, oranges, crimson pinks, and greens.

Today my short walk took me from the (red metal) bridge near the end of River Oaks Parkway, to within a mile or two of the San Jose International Airport (SJC).

And I took pictures of colored leaves....lots of pictures of leaves...

However, it was starting to get dark so the lack of light limited how many pictures I could take, and how far I could walk this afternoon. We're in the season of shorter, darker days -- by California standards that is.

Wildlife Sightings:
1 gray and white cat (feral/abandoned); 23 little brown jobs (LBJs); 38 ducks; 16 coots; 2 great egrets, 3 snowy egrets; 9 Canada geese; 1 mockingbird

Guadalupe River - Nov. 19, '11

Walking Distance: 6 miles
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 49 min. (10:12 a.m. - 1:01 p.m.)
Start and End Point: (New) Alviso Educational Center (2040 Gold St.) parking lot, Alviso, CA

I'm still waiting for one last segment of Bay Trail to re-open further north (Alameda Creek Trail by Coyote Hills). In the meantime, I am investigating the Guadalupe River Trail (shown as purple line,  connector trail on the Bay Trail map). I believe the Guadalupe River starts in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains; it moves through downtown San Jose, past San Jose airport, and eventually runs into the San Francisco Bay at Alviso.

I started walking from the Alviso/north end of this trail. This morning I headed first toward historic Alviso (across the railroad tracks and within sight of Vahl's restaurant and bar), running into where I'd walked the Bay Trail (red and gold lines on map) a few months ago. I then turned around and headed toward San Jose, following a broad, packed dirt/gravel trail, passing a (golf driving range) and crossing under Highway 237 (thicker white line on map).

Note: In case you're walking in wet months (winter/spring), during heavy periods of rain, it might be advisable to check the status of this trail in advance, as there are signs posted warning of possible flooding of the Guadalupe River in lower spots. During other times, the creek bed is home to grasses, trees (with leaves changing colors this time of year), rocks, ducks, egrets, herons, and the occasional feral/abandoned cat further south.

I passed a golf course (which I could see from the other side), and an abandoned red shirt or towel. There are all sorts of lost or left-behind objects on the trail. Each item may have a story to tell.

I walked south until I reached a red metal bridge (near River Oaks), and crossed this bridge so I could walk the other side of the trail on the way back to Alviso. This provided a nice change of scene in this area, where there were multi-dwelling housing developments and a park.

Wildlife Sightings:
2 kites (birds); 1 cloud UFO bugs; 11 little brown jobs (LBJs); 6 snowy egrets, 2 great egrets; 29 pigeons; flock of 20 ? birds (blackbirds? LBJs?); 1 turkey vulture; 3 snails; 1 tiny black beetle; 2 tennis balls; 6 white butterflies, 1 orange and blk/brown butterfly; 1 tree squirrel;1 bumblebee; 23 ducks; 12 crows; 7 cormorants; 31 Canada geese; 24 coots; 1 cloud gnats or mosquitos?; 1 dragonfly; 2 robins; 2 great blue herons

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Alameda Creek Trail - Nov. 9, '11

Walking Distance: 2.2 miles
Walking Time: 1 hr., 15 min. (4:02 - 5:17 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Parked near Beard Staging Area, Fremont, CA - East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD)

I returned to a segment of Alameda Creek Regional Trail that was closed last month. Happily, it was open today. Thank you to the Alameda Public Works Department who let me know it was open again.

From the Beard Staging Area (end of Beard Road), I walked West on (the south side of) Alameda Creek Trail, under Highway 880 underpass, almost as far as the Alvarado overpass -- where fence had marked closed point previously. I turned around and walked back the same way.

The sun was setting, making it difficult to capture photos that weren't dark and blurry. But, can you recognize this gray blur (bottom right) on the rocks? No, it's not the squirrel. It was one or two gray foxes -- perhaps hunting for ground squirrels. The gray foxes I've seen on my Bay Trail walk have been at dusk, in the south-east portion of the San Francisco Bay. I'm sure they also live elsewhere; but I haven't seen any of their Peninsula or North Bay fox cousins (yet).

Wildlife Sightings:
3 fuzzy caterpillars; 2 crows; 1 black and white cat in creek bed/grass (domestic?); 8 starlings; 2 robins; 8 little brown jobs (LBJs)/finches; 27 Canada geese; 7 sea gulls; 1 hawk/falcon; 2 gray foxes

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Alameda Creek Trail - Oct. 16, '11

Walking Distance: .25 mi. + 3.2 mi.
Walking Time: 10 min. + 1 hr., 37 min. (9:26 - 11:03 a.m.)
Start and End Point: Public parking lots 1.) Beard Staging Area; 2.) Parking lot off Eastin (off Union City Blvd., near intersection w/ Lowry); Fremont, CA

This morning I continued my walk along Alameda Creek Regional Trail (shown as two purple lines on the Bay Trail map -- extending east from the Bay), after a brief false start.

I first parked at the Beard Staging Area (parking lot), at the end of Beard Road; and, after walking up to the trail, I almost immediately ran into a fence and a trail closed sign. A trail/levee repair project was apparently running a few days late.  So, I drove further west and re-parked to a location closer to Coyote Hills Regional Park, close to where the official Bay Trail portion (marked with red lines on map) of the Alameda Creek trail is located. This way I could skip over this closed segment, and walk back toward Beard from west to east.

From the East Bay Regional Parks District parking lot (marked with a "P" on map) off Eastin/Union City Boulevard, I walked toward, and then onto, Union City Boulevard (double yellow lines on map), crossing an overpass to the south side of Alameda Creek Trail, and walked east along this paved (asphalt) segment - until I ran into a closed trail sign and fence, marking the west end of this closure. Despite having to turn around, and missing a walk along this short segment, it was still a very nice morning for a walk, punctuated by the honking of low flying Canada geese and the sounds of other birds.

Wildlife Sightings:
3 lizards; 11 pigeons; 9 ducks; 2 great blue herons; 20 white butterflies; 4 fuzzy caterpillars; 1 belted kingfisher; 12 little brown jobs, 2 finches; 33 Canada geese; 3 snowy egrets; 1 dragonfly; 3 blue jays; 2 crows; 3 mockingbirds; 1 turkey vulture; 26 blackbirds/red-winged blackbirds; 1 hawk/kestrel/falcon; 1 true falcon; 17 tiny unidentified brownish shorebirds (UBBs) (sounded a little like killdeers flying off?); 1 lady bug

Alameda Creek - Isherwood - Oct. 11, '11

Walking Distance: 3.1 mi. (estimate)
Walking Time: 1 hr., 42 min. (4:01 - 5:43 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Isherwood Staging Area; East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD); Fremont, CA

From the Isherwood Staging Area, I walked across the overpass/bridge to the south side of the levee trail -- to walk west/northwest on the Alameda Creek Regional Trail (shown as double purple lines on the Bay Trail map).

I walked past the Decoto bridge; and I turned around at the Beard Staging Area/parking lot. I walked back to the Isherwood Staging Area/parking lot the same way. It was nice to have designated parking lots on both ends of today's walk, with a restroom/portable bathrooms.

The signs of a fall day: acorns on the ground; green leaves turning red; lizards on rocks; fuzzy caterpillars; views of Alameda Creek and hills with dried, tawny grass, not yet green after the first rainfall.

Wildlife Sightings:
3 cormorants; 8 lizards; 2 great egrets; 2 snowy egrets; 3 squirrels (2 tree + 1 ground); 68 ducks; 7 white butterflies; 5 coots; 7 fuzzy caterpillars; 4 little brown jobs (LBJs); 7 pigeons; 42 Canada geese; 9 crows; 1 blue jay; 1 great blue heron; 4 turkey vultures (1 on ground, 3 in air)