Yesterday several friends and I visited one of the East Bay’s fine parks, the Robert Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve. Volcanic? It’s a trifle hard to imagine, but 10 million years ago, there were several active volcanoes in the East Bay. One of them formed a peak in the Oakland hills called Round Top. The park has several trails, one of which goes around the base of Round Top and another of which leads to smaller hills and meadows. As we walked the trails, my housemate Suzanne, who majored in geology, taught us about the different rock formations in the park. Even she had trouble telling rhyolite apart from basalt, though. (Here’s one thing I learned: “Basalt” is pronounced “buh-SALT,” not “BAY-salt.” Maybe everyone else knew that already.) Also, my brother’s housemate Lisa taught us about plants. I can now identify barley, wild oats, lupines, wild mustard, madrone trees, and the implausibly named sticky monkey flower (its leaves have sticky bottoms; I don’t know what monkeys have to do with anything).
On our way back to Berkeley, we stopped at the Gateway Emergency Preparedness Exhibit Center & Garden, although I prefer to think of it as the Most Pointless Thing in the Entire East Bay. It’s a small, expensive-looking structure, designed by survivors of the 1991 fire in the Oakland Hills, that’s been plunked down next to Highway 24—not exactly a prime location for a park. The structure has a deck big enough for 100 people, although it’s hard to imagine why even one person would visit. We stopped only because we were so baffled by its presence. A platform extends from the deck towards the highway, offering scenic views of, well, traffic, as well as a power substation. There are placards around the deck’s edge with tips on preparing for earthquakes and fires, including detailed instructions for bolting one’s house to its foundation. Presumably visitors are meant to take notes.
We quelled our confusion by visiting Crepes A-Go-Go, where I devoured a Nutella and banana crepe, and Mod Lang, where I found an Iron & Wine cover of the Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights.” And that was my exciting Sunday. Today I am finishing Crime and Punishment and biking to Rockridge. Oh, the spoils of being turned down for all the summer internships I pursued.