My Little Corner of the World

My dad and his friends all love the outdoors. They head to the Sierra nearly every chance they get. When they come to a point where there are forests, mountains, and lakes as far as they can see, my dad’s friend John likes to point out: “There are millions of people in California and we’re the only ones here.”

California is a crowded place – not just in the cities or on the roads, but even in campgrounds and on hiking trails. We can’t just spontaneously head out for a weekend camping trip because often there aren’t any available spaces. Campgrounds at some popular parks and beaches fill up months in advance.

Heading out for a hike can pose a problem, too. There may be no parking available, or the trail may be so busy that we’ll end up sandwiched between other hikers.

Living somewhere like this, you start to appreciate the little things that can keep the crowds away. “It rained yesterday, so the trails will be muddy and most people won’t want to get dirty!”, I’ll say triumphantly. “Let’s go!” (Of course, you may head out in not-so-optimal conditions only to find that everyone else had the same idea.)

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Lately, I think the crowds are down simply because it’s winter, and many people don’t associate winter with being outside. Even though, in the Bay Area, winter usually brings a few gorgeous 60 degree days. The recent bout of sunshine has brought more people outside, but it’s not the usual hoards.

We’re eating it up. Despite our love of the City, the opportunity to be outside without the rest of the state has driven us across the bridge on most weekends.

We don’t even need to go very far. Just across the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands offers the chance to sit on the beach or take a hike into the gentle Marin hills.

It’s close enough that we can go late in the afternoon, when there are only a few daylight hours left, and still feel like we enjoyed the best of the Bay Area on our own.

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As spring approaches, we’re taking every chance we have to say to each other, “Millions of people in California — hundreds of thousands in the Bay Area alone! — and we get to have all this, all to ourselves.”

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