Green Springtime hills Green hills We do enjoy using maps, and we particularly enjoy finding interesting combinations of large and -- mostly -- small roads which go to interesting places. Today's trip was one of the best we have had here in the Bay Area. As usual, Bob, with the help of Google maps, had sniffed out some terrifically twisty roads.

We began by threading our way south and east of Alameda, through industrial and residential areas of San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Hayward, Fremont and Milpitas. We passed small strip malls and shopping centers, storage yards for large machines, apartment houses and single family houses, the occasional public library or hospital. By the time we got to Fremont we found ourselve in intriguing neighborhoods where all of the signs were in Asian languages. We followed the track of the light-rail train running into San Jose.

Elk Elk Just at the edge of San Jose we turned east and headed up into the hills. As we climbed we were surprised by the density of houses clinging to the hillsides. Small boutique ranches sat next to McMansions. Horse property spread out on all sides.

Finally we were high enough to leave the exurbs and enjoy the switchbacks and hairpin turns of the road to the top of Mount Hamilton. We were in light forest most of the way up. The hills are brilliant green now, but will most likely be golden brown in a couple of months.

Lick Observatory The Lick Observatory

We spooked three wild turkeys when we paused to take a photo. They stopped eating and strode off, looking as though they wanted to run but were too dignified to do so. We were on State Route 130, but it seemed more like a country road, narrow and without shoulders in many places, with several flooded patches. We twisted this way and that, until we reached the top.

There we found The Lick Observatory, which is a complex of more than a half-dozen domes and associated buildings. It is only open in the afternoons, and we had fifty more miles to cover before we would find lunch, so we admired the outsides and moved on.

The Auto Club map shows the road down from the observatory to be even more convoluted than the western side, but the opposite was true. As we descended into the San Antonio Valley, we passed cows and beautiful Spring streams and even a herd of elk grazing on someone's ranch

Our trip showed us once again that California has more hidden beauty than we'll be able to capture, no matter how hard we try.