Skimming Deep

Searching, traveling, talking, reflecting, and exploring. Read along with me as I continue on my journey through life.

Category: Bay Area

A Nice Vigorous Hike: Purisima Creek

Since moving to our new place, we’ve been trying to find some good places to hike. Hiking in the Peninsula in the Bay Area is very different from hiking in the East Bay. It’s hotter, more exposed, and browner, I find. I’m missing the East Bay hikes (Tilden Park, Wildcat Canyon, etc.). But we’re determined to find something!

So we found Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve. Bay Area Hiker is a great website for finding hikes in the Bay Area, and this suggested hike was quite nice. We found it easily, and though the parking lot was crowded on a late Saturday morning in the fall, we were able to park on the side of the road. This is listed as an easy hike, but we noted that the description says there is a 1200 foot decline and and then the loss is regained, so it ended up being more of a moderate hike, I’d say. We worked up quite a sweat because it was pretty warm for a fall day (in the 70s) and in the direct sun it was almost hot.

Some of the nice aspects of the trail was that it goes through forest and then hits open space. There are some really nice views of the bay at the beginning of the trail and then of the ocean later on. You can see Half Moon Bay at a point.

The hike description talks about an open space for a picnic, but it was just too hot that day to stop there, so we went down the trail about another quarter mile or so and found another clearing that was temporarily shaded. At least it was shaded for long enough for us to have a nice picnic lunch.

The North Ridge Trail ends; it’s not a loop. I think we’ll be back to this area for more hikes in the future.

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#6: Passage

Rite of passage

Passenger on a train, on a journey

Passage of time

Passenger pigeon

Some days it seems life passes so slowly. Each day trudges on. The routine repetitive. Wake up, shower, brush teeth, dress, eat breakfast, walk to the train station, get to work, turn on the computer, type and talk on the phone for 8 hours, get back on the train, get home, make and eat dinner, relax a bit, go to bed. And then the cycle repeats. Groundhog’s Day over and over.

And other days it passes at lightning speed, with each day bringing changes, which land you at the end of the week in a very different place than where you were at the beginning.

This past week was a combination of both. I started the week with a big uncertainty looming – where will I live after my lease is up at the end of the month? D and I have been looking for an apartment for weeks now, liking some, disliking more. We applied to a few and got rejected. We thought we’d apply to another few and then decided not to. We wondered if we were being too picky. We wondered if our dream place was just a myth in this crazy Peninsula rental market where apartments get swept up in a matter of days or even hours and where the rents are mind-bogglingly high.

While that uncertainty loomed, work has been in a lull, and I’ve been feeling a little disinterested. The work is not as engaging. I’m a little antsy. And my mind has been on other things. So the week went by slowly on the work-front. I got to Wednesday and just wondered if the week was ever going to end.

Then Thursday into Friday and Saturday came and just like that – we have a place to live! Amazingly, this place meets all our criteria and then some. It’s a house, first of all, which we just dreamed that we could get but didn’t really think it would happen. It’s within our price range. It’s got everything we want! Plus, it’s got a few fruit trees, a sizeable back yard, and it’s a 12 minute walk from the train station!!!  Wow, a week ago, nay, a few days ago, we didn’t have a place to live. And now we do, lease signed, sealed, and delivered.

I look at this past two years that I’ve been living in the Bay Area and it’s amazing how much has changed and happened. The passage of time has been indeed swift and dynamic. At the same time, I’m ready to settle and let the days pass more mundanely, in a loving home with travel and new experiences to plan for.

#4: Surrender

This is a tough one for me: SURRENDER.

I’m a control freak. I’m a Virgo. I’m analytical, always thinking, always organizing, always trying to make sense of things and bring order out of chaos. So surrendering in any way is very, very challenging. But it is something I am working on (see, even in trying to surrender, I am controlling!).

This act of surrender is something I practice in yoga. Giving in to a pose and whatever it brings. Giving in to a practice wherever it takes me. Observing, noticing, not getting attached to pain or discomfort or the urgent desire to relax and come out of a pose because it’s too challenging. Surrender is easy when a pose is relaxing (like child’s pose or shavasana), but surrendering when a pose is challenging is where the practice really becomes practice. How do you just let something go and be without effort? At what point does trying to be become just being?

So I practice surrender in yoga. And then I practice surrender in real life. What’s the difference between giving up and surrendering? In some ways, they can be seen as the same thing. However, I think surrender has a bit more intentionality, discipline, and purpose than just giving up.

We’ve been searching for an apartment for the last month or so. It’s quite a feat, looking for an apartment that fits all our wants and needs, within a price range that is affordable for two non-tech-salaried people, in the Peninsula – the heart of Silicon Valley. It’s almost impossible. We’re competing with Google and Facebook employees, transplants to the area, who are making easily twice our salaries (combined). It’s discouraging. It’s frustrating. It’s infuriating seeing how much landlords will charge for a tiny one or two bedroom apartment, knowing that someone will take it at that price because they can and they have to! And yet, we try. So giving up would be literally just giving up and not putting in the legwork, the effort, and the research. I think surrendering means doing what we can and then leaving the rest up to the universe. Having hope, having a positive attitude, putting worry and anxiety aside, and thinking knowing that the universe will provide.

What comes to mind is the serenity prayer:

serenity-prayer

Serenity in surrender. Peaceful acceptance. Giving it up to the universe to provide.

Bay Area Travels

In addition to cooking and eating, as usual, I’ve been going on hikes and biking excursions around the Bay area. This is one of the amazing aspects of living in the Bay Area – the weather is consistently so pleasant that one wants to be outside as much as possible. This is especially true of me: after working a full week where I rarely get outside except for my regularly scheduled 10-15 minute walk (yes, I do a regular walk a few times a week that I have scheduled as a recurring task in my Outlook calendar. Sad but true. Otherwise, I would sit at my desk for the full eight hours, lunch included, and not get out!) and being as solar-powered as I am I am always itching to get outside by the time the weekend rolls around.

A fun outside excursion we did a few weeks ago was a bike ride on the Stevens Creek Trail and the Bay Trail. Stevens Creek Trail is a multi-use trail that runs along, you guessed it, Stevens Creek in Mountain View, CA. It connects to the San Francisco Bay Trail, an amazing 500 mile multi-use trail that wraps around the San Francisco Bay. The part we cycled around follows the shoreline near Mountain View. It was a beautiful November day, breezy, partly sunny. And we ended up cycling 22 miles, roundtrip, on a tandem bike!
Bay Trail tandem

Riding a tandem bike is an interesting experience. As someone who yearns and needs to be in control (I’m the first child of three; I’m a Virgo; I’m the only daughter: just a few reasons for my need to be in control), sitting in the back where I couldn’t see anything in front of me, needing to follow the lead of my bike partner on the pedals, not being able to shift gears myself, and not leading the way was all a bit challenging at first. Kind of like dancing and needing to follow the lead of the male partner, something I was never good at, any of the times I tried ballroom dancing.

But with a little bit of good communication and a lot of trust, I was able to let go and enjoy myself. I could even ride without hands and just enjoy the scenery since I didn’t have to lead the way! What a new experience! It helps, of course, having a good pilot who knows where we’re going, is comfortable riding a bike and maneuvering tight turns, and is calm under pressure. Someone should write a book about the ins and outs of riding a tandem bike. It sure is a good test of any relationship!

Good Eats Returns!

It’s been a long while since I last posted. Life just took over! But I’ve missed blogging for a few reasons:

  • it helps keep me writing
  • I can document places I’ve been, food I’ve eaten and cooked, books I’ve read, thoughts I’ve had
  • it’s a good space for reflection

So I’ll start up where I left off, with some food and some travels.

Thanksgiving 2014 has come and gone, but not without some great eating! One highlight of this past few days of cooking and eating was having Dungeness crab, Vietnamese style. (At least, I think it’s Vietnamese style – the recipe comes from my Vietnamese friend!) It’s Dungeness crab season in the Bay area, and I hope to take full advantage of it.

Having grown up in Maryland, I’m still partial to Maryland blue crabs; but I’m learning to love Dungeness crabs, too, which isn’t very hard!

We got two big crabs for $6.99/ pound at 99 Ranch, the big Chinese supermarket out here. And then we used this video to kill the crab as humanely as possible. One adjustment to this video was that we left the crabs in the freezer for more like 30-40 minutes. I think even an hour would have been better. This was another good supplemental video that was helpful.

So here’s the recipe from my friend that we used:

Ingredients

  • 4 dungeness crabs = 6 pounds
  • two fist size knobs of ginger
  • two heads of garlic (small or medium size)
  • two bunches of scallions
  • 2-3 tsp fish sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp sugar

Dungeness crab ingredients

Preparation

  1. Crabs – take off the shell.  Put the innards into a bowl (keep!!)  Cut up the body part into halves or quarters.  Keep all parts for cooking.
  2. Ginger – cut into 2 inch matchsticks
  3. Garlic – rough mince
  4. Scallions – 2 inch chop

Cooking

  1. Use big pot (wide bottom is better) with a lid.
  2. Heat oil.  Add garlic and ginger.  Saute for a minute or two.
  3. Add crab pieces.  Cook for a minute or two.
  4. Add fish sauce and sugar (may need to add more – taste the broth that develops from all the ingredients).  Toss crab to coat with developing sauce.
  5. Add crab innards.  Cook a few minutes, tossing if possible.
  6. Add scallions.  Turn heat down to medium.
  7. Cover with lid.  Check every so often, toss to makes sure all crab pieces get flavoring.
  8. Total cooking – 7-10 minutes, check that meat turns white.  Don’t overcook!

IMG_6886

We made the recipe with two crabs, and that would have been enough to feed three people, probably. Super simple and easy – the hardest was probably butchering the crab, but luckily I got someone else to do that (thanks, D!).

It’s good to have a filler to go with this since not everyone can eat enough crabs to fill themselves up, so I made some kimchee-bacon fried rice. I don’t really have a recipe for this, but I’ll write a narrative description here:

  1. Chop up well-fermented kimchee, bacon, and anything else you want to throw into the fried rice.
  2. Cook up the bacon to get it crisp.
  3. Add the chopped up kimchee with some kimchee juice and cook that up until the kimchee has wilted pretty well. Add some sugar, sesame oil, and soy sauce for some extra flavor.
  4. Add day-old rice. Stir it all around.
  5. Add an egg or two and stir well.
  6. Serve!

IMG_6887

Good post-Thanksgiving eats!

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