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August 2, 2010

Time Passing

“I'd like to make myself believe –
That Planet Earth turns slowly … “

- Owl City, “Fireflies” (video after post)

Continuing with a couple of themes I’ve touched upon recently – how quickly time is moving lately, and the therapeutic effect of riding bikes with my kids – today’s post is a collaboration of sorts: a story about riding with my son last month, which I meant to have posted a few weeks ago if I hadn’t been juggling about 10 other things simultaneously.

The occasion was somewhat nondescript, other than having a general sense of “Hey – it’s already July, and we haven’t done anything awesome yet this summer!”, but the destination was quite specific:

A rocky outcropping that stands as a ridgeline sentinel overlooking two adjacent canyons in the middle of the Fort Ord open space. Viewed from the proper angle, it cuts a pretty imposing figure above the surrounding landscape.

And that little person standing on top of it [click to enlarge] would be my 11-year-old son.

Visiting this spot – visible at right-center above - had been a goal of ours for a while, and requires a pretty challenging ride to reach. You either take the direct route through about five miles of Fort Ord’s steeply rolling terrain, or take a longer, more gradual climb to the adjacent ridge (on the left above) before doing a quick down-and-up to the outpost – and from either direction, there are uphill stretches that are mandatory dismount and push sections. There’s really no easy way to get there, but we opted for the longer, more gradual approach on our way out.

The top of the rock is fairly nondescript, as the only things to attract your attention are an old wind gauge …

… and some pretty views overlooking all the trails you took to get here.

You also get a nice sense of the geographic character of this area, and an appreciation of why it was such an ideal training ground for battlefield operations back in its US Army heyday. Rolling canyons, rocky bluffs, natural overlook towers ... this would certainly be a sweet place to play soldier for a while.

Nowadays, thanks to the Army base closure and the Bureau of Land Management's restoration efforts, it’s a very sweet place to run and ride bikes – and after playing around on top of the rock for a while, we had several miles of hilly terrain to cover before reaching the car again.

Since we took the gradual route coming out, we opted (well … I opted; he didn’t really have a choice) for the direct, steeper route home, which includes this asphalt section affectionately known as “Black Death” by locals. My son zigzagged back and forth across the steepest pitches like crazy, but managed to keep the wheels rolling all the way to the top; what he lacks in raw power he makes up in resolve.

From the top of Black Death, it’s a mostly downhill final 2 miles back to the neighborhood we started from, where we wrapped up the ride just like every other week. There wasn’t anything especially monumental or instructive about this outing; it was mainly an opportunity to check something off our to-do list that had been a long time coming.

Which, when you think about it, it what summer is all about.

Postscript: Here’s another example of how quickly time is passing me by lately: since doing this ride last month, the 11-year-old boy in the pictures has become a 12-year-old. I’m afraid that the next time I sit down to write about him, he’ll be an 18-year-old young man who can’t wait to leave us. What I wouldn’t give to make the world turn more slowly sometimes.

Owl City, “Fireflies” (click to play):


Chad Tibbetts 8/2/10, 9:12 PM  

I love the landscape. I'm jealous. Being in NYC, all I get to see is cement and building. Although we do have some great parks, its not the same as mountains on the horizon.

Angie Bishop 8/2/10, 9:21 PM  

oh my.. You read my mind completely. How is it that August is already on the move. So many changes and wonderful things happening just around the corner. Its all good but kind of going by in a blur.
Thanks for the new music, at least for me.

cloudveil 8/3/10, 8:37 AM  

nice places, i love to see them with my bare eyes..you're lucky to see em :)

RBR 8/3/10, 9:30 AM  

What a great way to spend some quality time with your son. Even when he is 18 he will cherish these memories, and will still want to ride with you so he can beat his dad up Black Death. :) Such is the progression of life.

Great post. I really have to get out there to run. Every time you post pictures of Fort Ord, I wonder why I have not done it yet.

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