Tag Archives: nature

Backyard Chronicles #2

When we first moved to our suburban rental house, I found solace at the REI in the nearby mall (which has since closed). Along with a running group I found on Facebook, a trail book I bought there has helped me appreciate living on the edge of civilization. For example, last year I ran a trail 1/2 marathon around the lake behind our house. I decided to do it again since the course was flat, beautiful and so close by.

Waiting for the start as the fog clears.

As you can see, the water level is high. Because of that and unbeknownst to me, the race course was significantly changed in the past week. What was a flat course became one with significant altitude climbs. But that led to some lovely views.

Motorized paragliders (ultralights?) were out.

Looking south and heading up at about mile 7.

Now looking west at mile 7.3 or so.

Still going up.

Finally, running down! Pink tape marks the course.

I am now at a point where I appreciate having all this to enjoy in our backyard while we’re here. It only took me 2 years, and quite a bit of ibuprofen, but I’ve arrived.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Since he is no longer swimming, James is trying water polo. It’s a 7 am practice, so I went for a run in new environs today. The high school he practices at is only a few blocks from an estuary, separated by a strip of dunes from the ocean. It is also very close to the border, but to get there you’d have to cross the Tijuana river delta, where sewage from TJ regularly finds its way and beyond into the ocean. Swim at your own risk.

Since this was only his second practice, James was a little nervous and requested that I return by 7:50. That would give me plenty of time to explore. I ventured off through an older beach neighborhood for several blocks and soon found a trail that went south through the estuary. To the east of a fence parallel to the trail was a Navy outlying landing field. Although I frequently see rabbits on early morning runs in our neighborhood, here cotton-tailed bunnies were everywhere. I guess at the estuary there are few predators and they are allowed to breed like, well, rabbits. And on the landing field, which was quiet, were long-eared jack-rabbits, twice the size of the regular bunnies. I could not, for the life of me, get a decent shot of one.

I did get a few shots of the little ones.

Can you see the bunny?

Here are some of the flowers:

Taking in the surroundings and focusing on rabbit chasing made the run fly by, and before I knew it I had been gone for over 30 minutes. A sign had indicated I was on “The River Loop Trail,” but at about 7:42, I came to this:

Dead end!

I immediately reversed course and quickly came upon an omen I hadn’t noticed previously:

With the entire length of my trek thus far to travel in reverse, I set off in a hare-like sprint to avoid a similar fate. Anyone for whom “the rabbit has died” knows the doom that awaits a parent late to pick up an anxious child. đź’€

Fortunately, I was able to pull something out of my hat: I cut a corner of the “loop,” ran quick like a bunny through a neighborhood shortcut, and made it back, not by 7:50, but at least before he got out of the pool.

This rabbit avoided the stew today!

On the Side

Random, but picturesque, piece of metal on side of trail.

JJ had the day off, so we went for a hike at a small mountain nearby. We had to drop the van off for some service, and a guy at the dealer mentioned there was a loop trail we should try, that continued on from the summit but would take us back to the start. So we hiked up to the top and ventured beyond and down the far side of the mountain.

We saw a bunny. Later, we saw a snake. JJ said, “get a picture!” I said, “no way!” Here was our view as we descended down the far side of the mountain:

Although it was cloudy, the visibility was great. The lake is Sweetwater Reservoir, and beyond you can see downtown, Pt. Loma and the ocean. Also, note the MH-60R helicopters overhead. I actually know helicopters now.

Perspective was wonky, and it was difficult to see where the trail might take us. After we had descended quite a distance, we began questioning whether we were on the right trail. We decided to backtrack and venture up to find a trail that would take us across the side of the hill. After about an hour, our view looked like this:

Not much different. We continued heading upwards. It was really steep.

We eventually got back up to the summit, and decided it was best to just go down the way we’d come. Here’s looking back at the hill after we descended the final time. It doesn’t look that big, but as I said, perspective is wonky. You may see a woman in a blue top and black capris coming down about 1/2 way down the lower most prominent trail, to give you an idea. Or you may not.

Our 2.5 mile, 1 1/2 hour hike turned into 6.5 miles and 3 hours. At least we earned our breakfast burritos today. And our naps.

At the summit.


While James had flag football practice at a community park, Delaney and I took off to explore the surrounding neighborhood. What did you think this post was about?

She initially complained, but I told her we’d just go up one side of the street and down the other. For some reason, that was acceptable. IMG_4995There was a community garden at the park and most of the houses on the street had abundant yards of their own. Delaney took this picture of apples growing from the scrawniest tree I’ve ever seen to bear fruit. It was happy enough I guess.IMG_4998.JPGWe then encountered a huge dahlia and nosy flamingo. IMG_4996.JPGEach home was unique, some were obscured by purposeful plantings, while others were accessible by bridges or other unusual entryways. Sometimes I marvel that we are in a city. And I am thankful we are.IMG_4997.JPG