Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Trekking: Sprig Day Use Area

Thinking of a new segment here since I don't really have any stories about work right now. (still not gainfully employed) I enjoy hiking. I don't get out there nearly enough mostly because I find it hard to motivate myself to actually leave the house. But when I do strap on the boots and fill up my camel back, I enjoy the experience, and wonder why I don't do it more often.

This trip was to the Sprig Day Use Area of the Santa Clara County Park system. This day use area is mostly used by picnic-ers and equestrians. No bikes and dogs (off leash) allowed. There are only a few trails here, but for the enthusiasts it does connect to Mt. Madonna County Park.

I did a loop of the two main trails: The Merry Go Round and Ridge Trails, with a jaunt down the Old Mine Trail to a surprise and the Tie Camp Trail which connects the Merry Go Round to the Ridge Trail.

This little park in situated 5 miles west of Gilroy in the east side of the Coast Range (Santa Cruz) Mountains on Hwy 152. Blink and you miss the entrance. The trail starts out in the Oak woodlands. The typical rolling hills you see around the south bay. Big oak trees and bay laurels with thigh high grasses and wild flowers, and of course the icky stuff like thistle and poison oak. As you climb though, the view gets prettier. Ever once in a while you need to turn around on your way up to see the valley open up beneath you.

Also, because this place is in the coast range... Redwoods!! The higher you climb, the more little pockets of redwood trees. It is very cool to go from open space with oak trees to being engulfed in a redwood forest canopy, and then back again.

On this trip, I passed only one other hiker. So if you want to feel alone, this may be the place.

When I got to my intersection to start back down the mountain, there was a side trail called The Old Mine Trail. A short there and back again of 0.4 miles, so I decided, what the hey. My map said there is a scenic lookout, might as well go see what it is. This trail was not very maintained and is overgrown at the end, but if you are taller than me, you can get better pictures. And when I got to the end, I saw this.

a cool little lake!

The loop I did was about 4 miles and took me a little over 2 hours. I saw butterflies and quail and lizards and of course flies. You aren't hiking outdoors unless there are flies. One can easily spend the entire day here and hike into Mt. Madonna and back, and parking is free!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I’m getting frustrated with myself. The feeling of guilt and laziness, whether warranted or not, of being jobless for five months is getting to me. I’m trying to figure out what kind of job I want. I’ve thought about going back to school for construction or horticulture, but would require 1 to 2 years of full time schooling and finding a job in the meantime to pay for the schooling and mortgage. I actually find it somewhat humorous that someone with a BA and an MA would consider going back to school for a technical certification from a Community College.

I don’t know if I want to go back to school. I already spent 9 years in college, do I really want to make it 11? Some days I think I want to, other days I don’t. Then I start thinking too much. To change careers, how much new stuff will I need to learn? When I started in archaeology, I knew practically nothing about the field. I went to school and started reading on my own because it was interesting to me. I don’t do that anymore. I feel now like an uneducated, out of the loop unemployed archaeologist.

I’m someone who has many interests. Who will learn enough of something to be competent. I learned to play many musical instruments. I was good, but not great at any of them. I know a little about a lot of things, but I’m not an expert at anything.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Have you ever

Get your mind out of the gutter! I’m once again listening to Pearl Jams, Just Breathe. Have you ever cupped your hands over your headphones (back in the day) or pushed your earbuds into your ears so that you could listen to music? I used to do that to pick up the bass line of a song I wanted to learn. If you have never done this, try it. The volume does not need to be loud, actually if it is too loud, it doesn’t work. I do it to pull out all the other layers you don’t usually hear in a normal listen via speakers or earbuds. It is like having the music re-verb in you head instead of off the walls or the interior of your car. It bounces around in your skull. Again, don’t do it with a loud volume. I don’t want to be responsible for your hearing loss.

I can pick out the lyrics and melody of course when I do this, but I can also pull the bass line and all the other intricacies of the piece easier. Examples would be like how many guitars are used. I can pull the lead guitar away from the accomplement, which is usually more intricate. I can pick out the many layers. Such as this Pearl Jam song. Vedder is the only singer. There is no harmony with a voice until the bridge and later incarnations of the chorus. But there is an acoustic guitar, synthesized wind instrument like a wooden flute or that old airy pipe organ sound... oh what is that thing... (google-ing)... ok google has failed me., bass guitar, strings, and an electric guitar. Back in the day I used to be able to tell if it was real or synthesized strings and if it was a violin or viola, trumpet or french horn, and so on.

Pushing my headphones into my head was how I used to learn how to play something. I would have one headphone plugged into my cd player (before the invention of ipods) and the other headphone plugged into my bass amp. I didn’t want to be too loud and annoy everyone else in the house. But I would spend hours plunking it out until I got it. This was also before tabs and chord sheets were readily available on the web.

My nephews process is similar in some ways. He gets the tabs to something off the web and plugs in everything to his amps and plays along. Only he likes playing everything so loud that the bathroom toilet is vibrating.

Even if you don’t play instruments and aren’t interested in dissecting how a song is put together, listening to something with your headphones or earbuds with your hands or fingers pushing them into your head is a very interesting way to experience the song in a new way.