Don’t worry, I’m not crashing out of the sky, I just don’t have any interest in making up a fancy title. I’ve made myself the promise of doing a weekly update here in order to be used to it when we finally get on the road, but I also don’t want to send out weekly emails that are useless either. The whole idea is that you, dear reader, look forward to opening an email with exciting news from the road.
But of course we aren’t going to be on the road until August, so the only thing worth talking about is any weekly preparations Kate and I have been up to. That can also get tedious though and I don’t want this journal to read like the minutes of an Elks Lodge meeting. And so this week we’ll keep it short and sweet.
The is nothing to update on because our weekly meeting was about our mission statement… about Kate and I deciding what 2hearts1horizon is supposed to be about. Yes, it’s about stories of our travels together, but when you create a space, virtual or otherwise, where people regularly go, there is an expectation.
Honesty and openness in our writing is going to be foundational. I hate stories where the author feels a need to portray themselves as the infallible hero or to explain their mistakes in an act of self-defense. We are all ignorant of things and have blindspots, and if you want to tell a real story then you need to be a real person: don’t turn yourself into a character.
Hell, even people whose job is literally being an online or on-camera personality can be real, can give a feeling that you know them personally: they are instantly recognizable from the vapid talking heads that introduce the next exciting installment of sexy people doing things on TV for your amusement, or whatever the next reality show is.
See, I just noticed that entire last paragraph was one huge run-on sentence. Did I change it? No. Realism. Actually, I just don’t want to edit it. BOOM. Even more realism. Okay sure, not the cutting edge writing of the next great American Novel, but that isn’t what we’re here to do, so I hope you aren’t here on a free travel blog for that.
What I can offer this week is a few photos to poke around at. It’s not some far-flung destination and I’m proud of that; too many of us think exploration happens on the horizon and not all around us. So yesterday Kate and I took the long way home and swung through the salt ponds of Dumbarton. See, that sounds a little exotic, doesn’t it?
In actuality its what a huge chunk of San Francisco’s Bay looks like in the southern parts. We dug out evaporation ponds in the marshes to harvest sea salt all along the southern and southeastern shores more than a century ago. The funny thing is, this commercial usage actually saved a lot of wetland.
As housing pushed more and more for that perfect bay-front view, a huge amount of marsh was filled in or dredged out. Gone forever. But the evaporation ponds were already there and they’re a favorite place for marine birds to poke around and look for insects, nest in the grassy hillsides, and generally do what birds do.
It’s a rare time when the goals of industry and the goals of nature coalesce. The ponds give us salt and also give us wetland. Not the marshy promise-land for frogs and snakes I reckon, but there are more happy critters here than you can find sitting on the dock outside someone’s $4-million estate.
Snowy Plovers, Egrets, Terns, and a few urban sparrows flittered and fluttered around the entire time we were there. The constant wind makes it a great way to watch birds in flight yet suspended in a hover against the wind. The old fishing shacks and the newer picnic areas and discovery areas for children seemed to fit the aesthetic as well, giving this feeling that you were in a John Stienbeck novel (except full of people wearing COVID-19 masks and pedaling around on mountain bikes).
Officially it is called the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, but a glance at any map will show you that salt ponds and wetlands extend for miles to the north and south of the park (the space north of the Dumbarton Bridge is called Eden Landing Ecological Reserve).
We poked around for several hours and can tell you it’s one of the great treats of the San Francisco area that you can be immersed in nature while being surrounded by millions of people and all the trappings of the city at the same time. The geography and the politics of the area make nature and urban sprawl take turns. They don’t mix together like we’re some tree-dwelling Ewoks or something, but that isn’t the point.
I think it has to do with water. Southern California is more densely packed because people had few choices on where to get water. As technology solved that problem the sprawl began, but in the Bay people were searching for their little corner of heaven unabated. From Santa Cruz to Mendocino there are ponds, lakes, rivers, and wetlands, so towns sprouted all over the place.
The sprawl eventually joined many of them but it’s still nothing like that Los Angeles vibe: sprawling out everywhere yet still stacked on top of itself.
So, if you’ve read this far you may have noticed I started out not wanting to tell a story, and yet I did. Good for me, and I’m glad you liked it enough to read through. If only I could punch out 1,000 words this easily on a topic that publishers and editors-in-chief would pay me for, I’d have much more free time to explore the local wetlands.
Well, until that day, let me get back to my grind, and I hope I pulled you out of yours for at least a little while. See you on the road.