My commute smells of licorice

Presently, I have no car here in California.  Well, technically that’s not true because Mike’s wife is out of town for a week and has very graciously offered to let me use her car while she’s away.  So as of this evening, I DO actually have access to a car, but from the time I moved into my corporate housing, I’ve only had Mike’s mountain bike to get to and from work.

My current commuteIt’s a 6km ride, 60% of which is on trails through the wetlands along the bay (Shoreline Park, to be specific), and with pretty nice and wide bike lanes for the 40% stretch that goes along the service road parallel to Hywy 101.

As you’ve probably read, California is experiencing a pretty serious drought.  Although it’s hard to tell around all the corporate areas (which still water the lawns with undrinkable grey water), it’s pretty evident along the wetlands.  The grass is crispy brown, and the water levels are quite low.  So low, in fact, that a lot of the rotten bottoms of these sloughs along the shoreline are just baking away in the sun and generally smell pretty bad.

The silver lining, however, is that wild fennel seems to grow along the sides of the trails, so when they cut back the growth along the trail sides, it actually ends up that there’s a pretty strong smell of licorice in the air to counter-act the rot.

Even at 7 a.m., it’s pretty comfortable biking to work in shorts and a t-shirt.  It’s mainly flat, and well-paved or heavily flattened gravel, and takes me about 17 mins – door to door.

Along the way, I get to see several species of birds mucking about in the sloughs, pass by offices for Horton Works, Intuit, the famous Shoreline Amphitheater and most notably the Googleplex itself.  There hasn’t been a day yet where I haven’t passed people out photographing the wildlife out in the park.

One thing I do find strange, however, is that the cyclists here never wave or otherwise acknowledge each other.  Back home, its common to give a slight tip of the head, or a subtle wave without removing one’s hand from the handle bars, when passing fellow cyclists, but here the only time anything like that has happened is from one of the many joggers I’ve passed.