Of April Fools Day, Good Friday and Easter

Yesterday was April Fools Day as well as Easter.  I was thinking of posting this yesterday but then one thing rolled into another and before I knew it it was past midnight. So here it is.

Thirty five years ago, it was another April Fools Day.  I will always remember that day.  That was the day my elder brother, my sister-in-law and my younger brother were going to see my future wife.  Ours was an arranged marriage and I had not met her till that time.  It was early morning, around 9:00 AM when my family members were about to go to my bride to be house when my younger brother said, “Hope this not turn out to be an April Fool joke.”  My elder brother stopped in his track, looked towards me and said, ” Well, it is also Good Friday and the good will surely overcome the bad.” We are not Christians and Good Friday did not carry much importance to us in India except that it was a holiday.  To make a long story short, it definitely did not turn out to be an April Fool’s joke. In another month and eight days, it will be our thirty fifth anniversary and I must have been blessed by someone high up on that Good Friday.

Move forward thirty five years and to April Fools Day and Easter.  Leader of our hiking group had sent a message for a hike up Mount Umunhum, a 3486 feet peak in Santa Clara county, California.  The trail leading up to the summit was opened to the public in September of 2017.  We had been to the grand opening and was fortunate to be part of a group to hike down.  There are three parking lots for this trail, one at the entrance to the park at bottom, one somewhat in the middle and one near the summit.  Hiking up from the bottom lot is nearly a day long affair.  The trail that was opened last year starts from the parking lot in the middle (Bald Mountain) and goes up about 3.7 miles to the top parking lot.  There is another trail leading up to the summit and an alternate path is to climb up 159 steps and walk a small distance.  Bald Mountain parking lot is quite small and fills up very quickly on weekends and holidays.  On my last three attempts, I was not able to find a parking and was forced to drive to the top parking lot.  So I had never completed the round trip of the trail as it is harder to hike down and then hike up and had returned from about half way down the trail.  This time I was determined to complete the round trip so I told my group to be at the parking lot as early as possible.  I was at the bottom parking lot before 7:30 AM and was greeted by the wonderful sight of the moon setting on the western sky over the mountain.

Moonset over Mt UmMount Umunhum with old radar station on the left and the setting moon on the right.

I had to wait for about fifteen minutes before my friends arrived.  I left my car in the bottom parking lot and four of us drove up to the Bald Mountain parking lot.

mount umearly morning
Mount Umunhum in early morning light

Being early had its reward as there were still few parking spaces available.  We parked our car and started our hike.  The trail is a designer trail with very decent grading and switch backs with lots of shade.  Trail is about 3.7 miles long from the Bald Mountain parking lot to the parking lot at the summit.  It was a perfect hiking weather, sunny but cool with a light breeze.  We had a very pleasant hike, wandering around from time to time, exploring.  Completed our hike of nine miles with an elevation gain of about 1300 feet in three hours and forty five minutes with many stops along the way to enjoy the vistas.  So another happy April Fools Day and the blessings of Easter.  I am sure I won’t be here for next thirty five years to tell another April Fool story.  But as long as I live, I will remember these two April Fools Day.  They were perfect.

View of the valley from Guadalupe River Watershed Vista Point on the left and Doppler weather radar on Mount Umunhum on the right

Summer of 2017 – Part 4- Family Time

Continued from previous post : http://wp.me/p73yZZ-3oj

Sunday, July 2nd, I had to wiggle out from my weekend hiking to spend the day with the family. Normally our weekend hiking takes about three hours but including the drive back and forth, nearly the whole morning gets spent.  On Saturday, kids were talking about playing board games. One thing led to another and by the time we had some free time on our hands, everyone was tired.  It was a gorgeous summer day and we ended up with a nice pool side pre-independence day barbecue party with family friends.  All around us we could hear our neighbors enjoying the beautiful day with their own backyard parties.

PART 4: July 2, 2017 : Sunday: Family Time

After a leisurely breakfast, kids brought out some 10 different board games.  We had to vote to select two of them.  I have to confess that I am not an enthusiastic board game player.  I like scrabble but can’t keep my interest for very long playing other board games.  The two games that got selected, I had never played before.

Morning started out cool and the patio table by the poolside provided a good location for the four of us.  Once my son and daughter explained the rules, I did not find the games of “Exploding Kittens” and “Epidemic” that difficult to master.  But as the sun started moving in its trajectory towards the west, the day started to become hot.  Thankfully there was a cool breeze blowing that made it palatable.  Watermelon pieces and ice cold water was getting consumed first.  I volunteered to supply snacks and lunch.  With plenty of leftovers from the day before, arranging for food was not much of an issue.  However, I had an ulterior motive.  It provide me with an opportunity to go inside the house from time to time to cool off sufficiently.

By the time few rounds of Exploding Kittens and one really long round of Epidemic was over, it was nearly 3 PM.  We really had a good time but before the next round could start, I proposed driving to San Francisco.  Kids dragged their feet a little but ultimately agreed. Our dog Skooby was of course game for a drive, as always.  By the time we started for the 60 mile drive to San Francisco, it was nearly 5 PM.  My daughter, who drove the first 40 miles or so, was reluctant to drive in San Francisco and we switched in a vista point on HWy 280 with beautiful view of Crystal Spring reservoir to the west and San Francisco Bay to the east.

Surprisingly traffic in san Francisco was really light.  May be because it was already around 6:00 PM when we arrived near the ferry building, but I would always take light traffic in San Francisco compared to the regular maddening traffic.  However, being a Sunday and late evening, parking places along the piers were closed for the day.  Cruising around and looking for a suitable parking place ( and also trying to avoid the sky high parking rates of san Francisco), we ultimately found a place near pier 39 for a flat rate of $15 after 6;00 PM.  I did not have any intention of visiting pier 39.  Done that many times before.  It’s nothing but a tourist trap though it offers beautiful view of Alcatraz Islands  and surrounding areas during days that are not foggy.  Unfortunately for us, it was a cold evening.  Though the temperature officially was 54F, with wind blowing I thought it must be hovering around 40F.  All the watermelons and icy cold drinks  of the day and the sudden cold acted in tandem to hasten nature’s call.  Unfortunately, may be for the first time, I was greeted with long lines in Men’s Rest Rooms.  It was not a pleasant experience. Thankfully no harm done and from that point onwards, it was an enjoyable evening of sightseeing, eating and of course  taking photos.  By the time we returned back home for a well deserved rest, it was nearly midnight.


To be continued.

©All photographs in this post were taken by the author.  Readers are free to use with proper acknowledgement to the author.

Holiday Parking Lot at the Mall

Holiday Parking Lot at the Mall

Time at a standstill
Life crawling at snail’s pace
Something boiling inside
Amidst it all
Tranquility.

Realization setting in slowly
Rising frustration
Helplessness
Can’t abandon my place
In this meandering centipede

Cacophony of sound and light
Elderly gentleman shuffling slowly
Bag in hand, glancing back and forth.

Expectant eyes following his every move
Moving ever so slowly
Not to miss the slot he vacates
Oh dear! What a letdown.
Unexpected uncertainties of life
Not the exit, but the entrance he turns.

A ripple of smile comes down the line
An undulating wave down the spine
Suddenly the head comes alive
And the crawling centipede starts to glide
Oh! how we enjoy disappointment of others.

Like a Zen Buddhist deep in meditation
Eyes focused in reaching exalted destination
We move slowly
Time is of no essence

Suddenly a ray of light ahead
Turn hard and squeeze in fast
Nirvana
Destination at last
I got a slot
On holiday
At the mall parking lot.