Step by Step

::: By Hand and On Foot :::

Winter Solstice 2014

Sarah-Hope is up in Napa helping her folks prepare for Christmas, so I decided to take a bit of a road trip on my solo Sunday. Which also happens to be the shortest day of the year – so it needs to be spent outdoors. Next stop: San Juan Bautista!

We were thrilled when we realized San Juan is closer to us than is Santa Cruz. I love love love the rolling California hills, with their textures and shapes and lonely oaks silhouetted against the sky. And San Juan is set in the middle of some of the prettiest rolling hills you’ll see.

Oak tree at the trailhead

First stop, a short hike on a bit of the De Anza trail. I only walked up to the first fence, having forgotten my water bottle and wanting to get back home to do some art. But it was a lovely climb, steep enough to feel it, not so steep that you think you’re going to die.

First, a field with cows. Well, on the other side of the trail there was a field. These two cows thought the trees offered better snacking.

Cows in the trees

This tree practically glowed, and the spiral cow paths surrounding it gave it a cosmic feel.

Cosmic tree

Looking behind me at the path I’ve climbed, with a view out over San Juan Bautista and the surrounding hills. As someone who grew up on the East Coast, it’s still odd to have bright green hills in the midst of winter, and dry brown hills in the summer.

Looking back down the trail

I reached a point where I could look out over the other side of the ridge, towards Hollister. At first I could only hear the breeze and the birds, but I soon realized there must be a rifle range on this side, and the rest of my walk was accompanied by the sounds of multiple shots ringing out. (Way too many for hunters, and including what must have been a semi-automatic gun. Ick.)

Looking out towards Hollister

Some laurel berries along the way.

California Laurel with berries

Some scenic views.

Oak trees and barbed wire fence

Oak tree and landscape

As I mentioned, I only hiked a portion of the trail; I will definitely be back to complete it! I hear there’s some interesting geological features, and even better views.

I followed my walk with brunch in San Juan Bautista, where I found a small Basque restaurant that serves Spanish-style tortillas with potatoes, followed by the lightest, tastiest flan ever. So good!

Basque restaurant in San Juan Bautista

3 Comments

  1. BTY what a good daughter Sarah Hope is! Thanks for a new light on the scenes of my childhood.

  2. Thanks for shining a new light on the landscape of my childhood. My uncle Ed published a small local paper in San Juan, called The Mission News, for decades and also served as the “judge” mainly for traffic offenses but he did have a court room set up on the other side of the presses. I have many fond memories of visiting them.

  3. What a beautiful area – and I loved the misty feel to your pics.

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