Thursday, November 29, 2012

Shoreline in Mountain View For a Day.

Buildings of companies like Yahoo, Canon, Juniper Network, Motorola, Rambus, NASA Ames Research Center, e.t.c were the sightings that awaited me when I took the light rail to Mountain View in California. I wanted to go to Mountain View to visit the Shoreline Park and Trail. However, on getting there, I realized that Mountain View is a  distinct extension of the Silicon Valley. What do I mean by this? I mean that many of the high-tech companies were right in Mountain View, and very close to the Shoreline Trail. 

Companies like Microsoft:

23andMe (a genetic testing company for health, disease and ancestry):

and Google:

Also right in Mountain View is the Computer History Museum, a museum aimed at preserving the history of the information age. I saw the oldest computer I'll probably ever see when I walked in to ask for directions to the Shoreline Park and Trail.


Like I mentioned prior, the main reason I wanted to go to Mountain View was to see the hills in ShoreLine and to hike on the trail. On getting to the park, I realized one thing. It was vast!

There are very specific fauna like owls and other birds I couldn't quite place at the Park and they must be protected too, as you can see from the barrier created to keep the birds  away from wandering me...;)

It was a chilly day (in California? yeah, I know). It was fun to walk on the trails, it was also long and tiresome. I eventually stopped taking pictures and focused on walking. I walked a major part of the trail connecting Stevens Creek Trail to the San Francisco Bay Trail. There's not much to write about walking on a trail, so enjoy the next series of pictures describing my walk till I got to the edge of the San Francisco Bay Trail.

And this for me was the end of my walk. I simply walked ahead towards the buildings in the far right in the picture above and walked out of the Park. I was glad I went to the Park as I learned a lot, not only about my endurance level (or lack thereof), but also about ecosystems and land management. Did you know the Park used to be a dumping site? 

I'm really terrible at taking pictures of myself. haha :)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Ride on the CalTrain from San Jose to San Francisco

*So, it turns out I am going to do this backwards. That is, start from the end of my trip to California and end at the beginning. I might throw a dash of other activities in between as well. Let's see how crazy my creativity gets. Should be interesting.*

While on the CalTrain going from San Jose to San Francisco, I wrote "what I saw" at each train stop.  I wanted to see and (try to) walk on the Golden Gate Bridge. So on my last day in California, because my plane doesn't leave till late at night, I decided to go spend a few hours in San Francisco.

On getting on the train, I realize my camera was deep inside my bag, and I wanted to write as well, so I tripled up my iPod Touch as a camera, a nifty notebook and music player. The pictures look grimy, but I like how they describe (as is) the different stops along the ride to San Francisco.

Gritty graffitti in Lawrence. A reminder of South Bronx. Clothes hanging in the backyard. Blazing sun in the dusty afternoon.

 Quiet recluse in  Palo Alto. A reminder that Silicon Valley extends into Palo Alto in the form of Facebook, HP and others. A rich merging of academia, technology and business. Oh look, there goes Mountain View in the distance.

 Mountains reared their heads in San Carlos. A taste of what's to come. Pretty buildings, concrete pavements. The warmth of the sun seeped in through the train windows.

Houses on Hills in Belmont. A wealthy name like Belmont should reside on a Hill like a lonely magnate. Walls? Fences? Haven't you heard of Robert Frost and Mending Walls? "Something there is that doesn't love a wall."

 South San Francisco: brown expanded hills, power lines and colored houses. South San Francisco looks like a painting. The train riding alongside hills, humming in a low rumble, nature acting as a backdrop before veering downward into a tunnel.

 Bay Shore with white houses nested in a brown hill crowned with spiky power lines and blue skies like a hovering mother.

Trying to write what I saw was an awesome activity and before I knew it, I was in downtown San Francisco. When I got off the train, this #30 MUNI bus took me from the Caltrain depot, right into the heart of China Town, past the raggedy road of Lombard street (not the "crookedest street" section), Fishermans Wharf, then I changed on to the #28 MUNI bus which goes through Presidio and made its last stop a few distance off the Golden Gate bridge.

The Golden Gate is an experience of its own, which I will go into in another post. ; ). But because I'm such a tease....Enjoy this little snippet....

The ride to San Francisco was definitely engaging and inspiring.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

University of Ibadan Zoological Garden

Way back in May while I was in Nigeria, my family and I went to visit my sister and her husband.  They live in Ibadan, about 2hrs drive from Lagos (congested Lagos-Ibadan express way traffic factored in).  If the traffic was any worse than that, we might have been on the road a few more hours.

My sister and her husband had just gotten married and they both attend the University of Ibadan. While there, they prepared amala and ewedu soup with goat meat. Yum! 

Because eating such a heavy meal in the afternoon can make you drowsy, we decided to go to the University of Ibadan Zoological Garden and stroll around. 

The temperature was high but offset by the cool breeze through the garden. There were lots of people at the zoo, especially school kids on excursions. Ah, I remember those days of excursions. Once a semester, a class would go on an excursion with two or more teachers acting as chaperones. The trips are usually outdoors like Olumo Rock but sometimes there are indoor trips too, like a trip to the NTA or Coca cola company... but I digress.

Although the zoo itself is ok, there were stories told that the zoological garden we see now is just a relic of its glorious past. We were told the zoo used to be a major tourist attraction, with primates, snakes lions, and other animals. Poor funding and lack of maintenance were cited as reason for the slow but certain dilapidation.

I have never been to the zoo "in its glorious days", so to me the zoo do not look too bad. In fact, I actually liked it. I did get to see the birds (like owls, and others), primates (chimpanzees, gorillas, baboons and monkeys), lions, ostriches, giraffes, crocodiles, turtles, and many more. The garden sections were also very pretty.  The only animals i did not see were elephants (someone said they took them away recently) and snakes (they had an exhibits of snakes but I did not want to pay to see them, I was told there were different types of snakes there).  

But to those who had been there before, it is not as it was. At least, that's what I heard people say.

My little niece, who really enjoys the outdoors wanted a closer look at the donkey. So I obliged and carried her closer, much to her mother's consternation who thinks the donkey might get volatile and project hot spittle our way. hehe

We saw a giraffe named Ajoke. Ajoke in Yoruba means "someone who is pampered". But in English, it could also be a play on words for "a joke". I wonder if the giraffe is truly pampered or just a spectacle for people's amusement. Either way, it will live up to its name.

Incredibly lazy lions these were. About 15mins before we got to the lions, we heard them across the garden, roaring and roaming around. But by the time we got there, these lions were sleeping, yawning or just gazing. Someone told us they had just been fed few minutes before. Meh, just our luck.

When we came out of the garden, we decided to take a group photo. We used my camera, yay. My brother took this picture. 

This was one of the last trips we took in Nigeria. Now I miss Nigeria. A lot.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

On Busyness and Fall (Autumn) season

*Incase you wonder why I have random pictures showing houses and trees, read to the end. ;-)

On Busyness:
I've been so busy that I wasn't aware of the month of October creeping by. I thought September was busy enough but October proved me wrong. I've noticed that the busiest time of the academic year for me is always Fall. First, it's the start of a new academic year and there's always something to fill out and sign up for. Also, the days get shorter and I realize before I'm done with an experiment, it's dark out, whereas in Summer, it's still bright till 8:00pm or even later. 

Second, conference season is usually in the Fall and so time is allocated to gathering data for presentations and travels. In October, I had to finish up a few small projects in the lab, prepare a presentation poster and attend two conferences. Although, there were times  work got cramped and I was afraid I won't get everything I needed on time, things fell into place nicely.

I have to say, it's alway slightly jarring to realize that the cordial, simple routine that my life falls into changes to accommodate the seasons. Not complaining though. 

On Autumn:
On the other hand, when the season changes, there are a few things that starts to become more prominent. First is the "personality" of Autumn (for lack of a better word). For some, it represents melancholy because Summer is over. But for me, it's more of a phlegmatic personality. If I think of Autumn as a person, I would describe her by saying; "she's lost her sunny, summery disposition but hasn't quite gained the frigid, frosty persona." Which means I get to enjoy a season that's never stifling (like Summer) or frosty (like Winter).  There is something about the beginning of Fall that's just relaxing. The sun is not as glaring, nor is it so humid. It's that nonchalant kind of pleasant, where it's neither hot nor cold. It's just right. That's why I have these pictures here, to appreciate Autumn, just as it nears its end this time of year.  

Autumn is incredibly beautiful. The trees give up their greenness for an array of colorful adornment. There's also Indian summers in the Fall, which is very prominent if you live by the water.

Did you noticed the progression of colorful autumn in the pictures? Even on the grasses, you see fading greenness and blurry brown creeping up at the edges. 

I wrote this one-stanza poem while staring at these two trees in North Carolina, I had to take a picture of them (see pic below).

The trees have transformed
into a burst of brilliant colors
red, green, gold and brown
rustling in the waking wind

Fall is most fashionable.