Calaveras Day Trip

From home to the Calaveras Reservoir. Well, most of the way. I decided to stop on a hill overlooking the reservoir instead of cruising all the way down to it. Only about 26 miles and 1200 calories, with a climb of about a thousand feet … Nothing fancy, compared to last week’s crazy adventure.

Calaveras Road cuts nicely between the hills to the east, up past a couple of recreational horse ranches and a small golf course. When the road splits off to the north and follows the reservoir, it becomes very steep for a while, then levels out and winds along through pleasant hills. You can see from the satellite photo here that the reservoir is more than half empty.

One of the few instances of decent San Jose bike lane. I expect we’ll see lanes like this all over the city in a couple of years, instead of tacked onto fringe roads where there was only enough room by accident.

I turned left from this onto an easy rise leading up between the hills. I’m the kind of bike tourist who likes to mosey and meander, and I stopped a bunch of times to examine the thistles, sip my water, and munch the tangerine slices Pit Crew La made for me.

The hills east of San Jose, California

The lower valley, obscured in late-afternoon haze. Some of it mist, some of it foreign particulate matter. I saw a lot of large birds wheeling in the sky above the telephone lines.

Moos! And a bonus moo! At the top of the steeeep hill.

In the hills east of San Jose, California

Catching the warm sunset light on the grass, where I stopped for lunch.

Much deeper sunset colors. I cheated a bit here and dragged the saturation up in Aperture. Check out those damned blocky JPEG compression artifacts in the upper left. I should have set the camera into TIFF mode.

Some blocky effects here too… Most vexing.

Highlight of this trip: It was the very edge of sunset, with the light almost gone from the sky, and I was riding back down the gently curved hills. I rounded a long curve at about 15 miles per hour and heard a rustling in the grass to my right. I looked just in time to see a huge white owl take off into the sky. It assumed a position directly above me, and as the curve slowly leveled out, I looked straight up into its face, it’s huge eyes showing a pale spark of reflection from my bike headlamp. We stared at each other for almost five full seconds before it veered away and I looked back down at the road.

Totally worth it.

Also saw another crew of bats spiraling around an oak tree. Also listened to my ambient music+poetry playlist as I climbed the steep hill and the curves beyond, including “Christmas at Sea” by Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Green Eye of the Yellow God” by John Milton Hayes, and “Lepanto” by G K Chesterton. Such fantastic imagery in that one…

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