I'd completely forgotten and now I was regretting it. I pulled in past the gate to Shoreline Park, which hasn't been manned in years --- or at least I hadn't seen anyone there --- and into the parking lot where they fly all those beautiful kites on Saturday afternoons. You can see the giggling children and the families gathered around a wound-up piece of string as it's whipped through the air by the acrobatics of its airborne companion.
At least the people who could find parking could. Me? I'd forgotten that there's only one way in or out of this parking lot and, since I'd pulled all the way through, I was about to take the hardest driving test I'd had to face since parallel parking as a 15 year-old: reversing 50 yards past families with toddlers hypnotized by the mylar tails of kites gone by. It turned out to be worth it.
Say Hello to Our Canine Friends
I started this trip past the Shoreline Amphitheater at the local dog park. Shoreline is one of my favorite driving ranges but I'd never stopped by the canine carnival outside the main gate before. Probably because I don't have a dog.
But I do have a serious case of pet envy, so with a little curiosity, I hung a swift right before going into the park proper to see what all the fuss was about. Parking here was tight this weekend afternoon but it wasn't a skills test.
It's penned off into two sections: one for smaller dogs to jump around and another large enough for the big dogs to run wild.
An Homage to Silicon Valley's Roots
At one point in time, Silicon Valley was some of the nation's most fertile land. But what brought the young Henry Rengstorff to Northern California was the gold, or at least the hope of it. Transportation being what it was at the time, he had to sail around Cape Horn to get here and missed the gold rush by about a year.
Undaunted, he worked as a farmhand and saved long enough to buy land for himself. Virtuous cycles and fertile land being what they are, he eventually bought more and more until he owned quite a bit of the Bay Area.
The Rengstorff House isn't his legacy, but it is an illustration of the Victorian architecture of the mid-1800s and it's the oldest remaining building in Mountain View. I could explore architecture like this for hours, but the plaque by the sidewalk that leads to the house has a much better story to tell, and I've linked a snapshot to part of it below.
Fore! The Shoreline Golf Links
But, I'll tell you a secret, my real reason for this trip was to hit the driving range and it was no coincidence that I made my way into its parking lot after the claustrophobia of the lot before. I schlepped my bag across the older of the two bridges that allow carts and pedestrians to pass over the gully unscathed and noticed something amiss!
It was Saturday but people were hitting off the synthetic mats instead of grass. The horror! There was a more practical matter at hand, though, which was the inimitable ball machine and what change I had in my wallet. See, a large bucket is $9 on turf and $10 on grass and while I can hear the chorus screaming, "Just get some change you lazy bum!" it's not always that simple.
The ball hut isn't always staffed and weddings sometimes shut down the restaurant on weekends, so having fives and ones is part and parcel of having a good time at the Shoreline range. The jackrabbit above seemed to be having a good enough time and the natural setting (amidst the backdrop of Google and what's left of SGI) is really a part of the charm.
But luckily for me, four ones and a five later, I'm taking my trusty left-handed 7-iron for a spin. And 100 balls later I resist the urge to take a few shots from the surprisingly steep practice bunker.
Splash! And That's Not My Golf Ball Swimming Either...
A brisk walk towards the water leads a young family playing frisbee under the backdrop of an impending sunset. There's a patch of shade by the water where I occasionally go to clear my head and reflect, but today is a little too busy for that. In fact, in what's become a running theme, there's a queue five cars deep for parking spaces in this lot.
There aren't any windsurfers today but the paddle boats are out in force and there's a couple who's paddled their kayak into the cove with little hope of getting themselves out again. As they eventually solve the puzzle and start pushing their paddles against the dry land to flip themselves in the right direction, I pass the boat launch and consider a little indulgence at the ice cream cart I spot out of the right corner of my eye.
At that point, a beige wind streaks past me and as I switch my thoughts from the ice cream sandwich I was reminiscing about, a gentle reminder of Silicon Valley is now in the distance: the 50 year-old powering a scooter. Good for him. He was going so fast that I only managed to catch him in this photo on his way back to the marina.
The "Park" in Shoreline Park
Then, as the sun finally came to rest, I sat on a small hill to watch the people playing, and napping, and biking, and relaxing along the water. And I thought to myself, people need to see this side of Silicon Valley.