A few weeks ago, I signed up with the Matador U Travel Writing Course, and so far I’m not disappointed!
I handed in my first assignment which was to write about what I know best — whether it be my hometown, a day in the life or a city guide. I opted for a day in the life and centered it around my journey along the hiking trails in my neighborhood.
So without further ado, here is:
The Fullerton Loop
A crisp breeze awakens me as I step out the door and head east on the flowering tree-lined sidewalk. After an uninspired work week, hiking on a section of the Fullerton Loop is the perfect activity to reinvigorate my body and mind.
Weaving throughout the parks, hills and terrain of this California college town are 12 miles of biking, hiking and horseback riding trails, and I look forward to the challenge it delivers every time.
As I turn left at the intersection on Euclid, I look up at a sign that was positioned high up on the lush hill across the street since Election Day 2012. “Congratulations, Fullerton Voted No!” I smile knowing that Coyote Hills, North Orange County’s last remaining natural open space, survived residential and retail development once again and will continue to be an untouched wonderland…for now.
Overgrowth and buckling in the sidewalk make me aware of my steps as I head north on the slightly inclined street. With dark clouds looming above, I increase my pace as U2 pulses from my iPod shuffle.
I know my destination, the Robert E. Ward Nature Preserve, is near when two cyclists shoot out from the bike trail exit that runs parallel to the pedestrian trail. One carelessly zooms across the marked crosswalk without a cautionary glance in any direction. The second cyclist crosses only halfway and pedals slowly for a few seconds waiting for oncoming traffic to clear and then continues on his way.
Brush, foliage and cacti blanket the picturesque Coyote Hills to my right. It’s hard to believe that right outside our doors is gorgeous untouched wilderness for all to enjoy.
The clay-like mud on my sneakers and slick grooves carved in the sand indicate a recent rainfall.
Giggles escape from behind a large tree with lush leaves draping down near ground level providing a secluded rendezvous spot for a young couple.
A few steps ahead, a perky gray bunny with a white cotton ball tail hops quickly across the pedestrian path and deep into the brush.
Descending from the hill, a middle aged man in plaid carrying two long branches to stabilize his steps slowly meanders down the hill. He quickly glances the other way as I get closer, but I still say “Hi”. He mumbles something under his breath.
Another railroad tie on the ground marks the end of the walking trail and the beginning of the merged biking and pedestrian trail. I step over the beam, stretch my calves and turn around to soak in the view only to see the young couple emerge from behind the tree in a playful embrace. My break’s over and I continue uphill.
“Bikers coming!” is shouted from above. I hear the rush of the wheels racing over the uneven terrain as three cyclists in their green and black jerseys whiz by, carefree, on the narrowing trail.
Trying not to focus on the stiffness in my legs or my audible breathing, I glance left to admire the perfectly manicured backyards and sparkling pools of homes partially hidden behind a white picket fence lining the trail.
The incline levels off, and I find myself at the peak enjoying panoramic views of rooftops, trees and clouds in various shades of gray.
I snap a few shots and continue quickly onto the curved tree-shaded path covered with wet, matted leaves.
Puffs of weary breath fill the air as four cyclists labor their way up my soon-to-be steep decline known as the Nora Kuttner Recreational Trail. One cyclist with shaggy hair walks his bike slowly, painfully up the hill. “Hello!” Heavy breathing is his only response. I nod in understanding.
The trail spills out onto a dirt sidewalk running parallel to a marked pedestrian path on the street. My feet unanimously vote for the softer surface. The floral-lined sidewalk curves left leading to a connecting trail that ends as soon as it begins. I cross yet another small street to the last leg of my journey.
Stretched out before me is a vast expanse of perfectly manicured grass dotted with towering trees and a paved trail: Virgil Gus Grissom Park. Halfway through the park, class is in session. Students include a white poodle, two golden labs, a pointer and two brown dogs, breed unknown. The eager dogs scurry to and from their owners, sniffing the ground, sniffing their classmates, investigating passersby. An elderly man lifts his arm parallel to the ground and commands in a firm voice, “Go.” The white poodle obeys and proudly struts in front of his owner.
Further down the length of the park, three young men are trying to improve their batting average. Four orange cones provide an invisible shield of protection, but uncertainty moves me from the grass to the sidewalk as I keep one eye on the ball until I’m finally out of range.
It’s about this time when I consider my knees and whether or not they are up for a jog. My lingering patellar tendinitis raises a questioning eyebrow, but I decide to forgo the warning and start my slow jog to the end of the park successfully finishing at the street where my journey began.
Energized, I prance up the stairs to my home feeling optimistic and ready for the week ahead.