The Way to San José

I’m back! I took a few weeks off from blogging to work on a journal article for my real job. It was considerably more comprehensive than my blog posts and consequently took much more time. Unfortunately the academic journal review process takes a while and though that article was accepted before it was written, it may be a year or more before the publication is publicly available 😕. So now I’m back to blogging 😊.

A week ago, I travelled to the Santa Cruz area for a retreat with faculty colleagues from similar departments across our university system. To reduce my travel time (and driving 6 hours at night) I decided to fly to San José and drive the 35 miles or so to my hotel in Santa Cruz. It was a good decision.

I flew to San José on a Friday evening, but spend the first part of my day at a private screening of the recently released movie Harriet, with my friend and her daughter. When she invited me I immediately said yes, then realized I would need to reorganize my travel plans to make it. It was totally worth it. Harriet was at times painful to watch, but it was excellently done (from my layman’s perspective anyway). The writer managed to condense a lot of important history into 2 hours and the acting was great.

Harriet Tubman, one of the bravest and most successful conductors of the underground railroad, was a woman with a tremendous depth of character who was incredibly courageous, steadfast in her faith and possessed a will of steel. My sister, Harriet, is well named. If I’m recalling correctly, I first heard Harriet Tubman’s story through the mini-series A Woman Called Moses, which featured Cicely Tyson as Harriet. The mini-series first aired in the US in 1978. It probably reached Barbados a few years later. So, I was probably about 8 or 9 years old when I saw it, yet I never forgot Harriet Tubman nor Cicely Tyson. Cicely Tyson in fact always reminded me of my aunt Eileen. I came to find out many years later that Cicely Tyson is Nevisian by parentage and that just increased my respect for her 😊.

After Harriet, I headed to the shuttle station to park and take the airport shuttle. For the first time in ages I got to the airport hours before my flight, early enough in fact that I was able to get on a flight departing about 3 hours before my scheduled flight. The flight itself was uneventful but the views from the Embraer 175 were amazing. It was sunset as we flew north and neither my Canon camera nor my cellphone camera could capture what I was seeing from the sky. I include the photo below not because it’s good, but to give a sense of the colours of the sun and its glow as it was sinking below the horizon.

So far I’d had a wonderful day and it continued that way. The flight to San José was less than an hour and I was not too tired when I reached the car rental garage. The customer service agents were very pleasant and for some reason I ended up with an upgrade to a Nissan Altima which was so new it had fewer than 1,000 miles. It wasn’t the most fuel efficient vehicle, but it was okay and not as bad as I’d anticipated – I drove around 100 miles and used about 3 gallons of gas. It was nice to drive though. On returning the car, I ended up in the elevator with the site manager for the rental company who reinforced my impression of their top-notch customer service (at this location).

My retreat was at Swanton Pacific Ranch, a working farm that is a part of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. This farm has good recreation and agri-tourism opportunities that I unfortunately didn’t get to take advantage of because of the retreat. I made up for that the day after. Wherever I travel, I try to get out for a walk/hike. So I searched for parks in the area and decided to spend part of my last day at Natural Bridges State Beach.

Natural Bridges State Beach

I am fortunate to live in an area with excellent local parks and trails, and though people sometimes focus more on national parks, there are unparalleled state parks in California as well. Natural Bridges State Beach (NBSB) is one of these special places.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that this park was named for a series of natural bridges – there were in fact three that were part of a cliff that projected into the sea. The bridge in the photos is the last intact one.

The earliest known inhabitants of the area were the Uypin who subsisted on the fruits of both land and sea (California State Parks, 2015). Today, the descendants of the Uypin, along with those of other Native American tribes from the San Francisco Bay and Monterey areas, are together known as the Ohlone (CSP, 2015).

Conservation/Resource Management/Interpretive Signs

Signs in a protected area are important and may be used to achieve various aims. Here are a few from Natural Bridges. Others will be featured in the butterfly section.

Monarch Butterflies

Nature fascinates me and I really enjoyed this easy hike. I started at the entrance kiosk, followed the road to the Visitor Center, entered the Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve by way of the Monarch Trail, then followed the trail until it connected to the Moore Creek Trail. I then took Moore Creek Trail though the Moore Creek Wetlands Natural Preserve, all the way to the beach. Then did it in reverse. It was great! I’ll let the photos speak for themselves, but can you imagine a butterfly flying hundreds of miles?

Wetlands/Swamps: Sanctuaries

Walking through the wetlands was nice 😊. Some people turn up their noses at swamps, but swamps or wetlands (aka mangroves in some parts of the world) provide critical ecosystem services and benefits such as habitat, breeding grounds, nurseries, and over-wintering respites for many species. There are also important for other reasons such as coastal protection and water storage. Wetlands are so important that there is an international treaty, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat that was agreed in 1971. There are now 170 parties to the agreement and 2,372 designated sites around the world (Ramsar, 2019). See for more info.

There and Back Again

Doing a ‘there and back again’ hike allows me to see things from different perspectives.

6 thoughts on “The Way to San José

  1. Hi Mechelle!
    Excellent blog! lots of detailed and teaching information including important photos of people especially of your aunt Eileen beside Cicely Tyson and scenery of places!
    I am particularly impressed by the name of the movie Harriet, your sister’s name, I hope to see it soon!
    Continue writing your blogs when time prevails. I’m sure some readers will find them interesting and educational if not all.
    Continual success in your great work! God bless!


  2. Excellent post as usual Michelle. Though I may never get to visit all these places, I am always left feeling like I was there too.
    Keep it up! 😎

    Liked by 1 person

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