Permanente Creek begins in the Santa Cruz Mountains to the south and finds its way down through the foothills and across the valley through Mountain View and into San Francisco Bay. At some point it gets routed into a concrete channel (we haven't found the exact spot yet) to guide it through the suburban neighborhoods. Some of the creek is underground, but a lot of it is open, and although direct access to the water is fenced off (it's part of the Water District flood control program), part of the way has a wide path running alongside the creek between it and the backyard fences of the houses on the block.
During the past few weekends D. and I walked as much of this path as we could access in our immediate neighborhood, and we took pics of some of what we saw.
These look almost like autumn foliage, but they aren't. They are the colorful seed pods of the ailanthus tree (Ailanthus altissima, also known at the Tree of Heaven). The seed is in the center of a twisted papery wing called a samara; it goes spiraling down to the ground when it eventually falls off the tree, kind of like a maple seed.
The ailanthus is also known as the "Stink Tree" because the male flowers smell bad. Their strong resinous, woody odor really isn't all that horrible, but it still isn't something I'd want to have to smell outside my window all day long.
The ailanthus foliage is so similar to that of walnuts and Chinese pistaches that I have a hard time telling them apart except for this time of year, when I can clearly see the colorful samaras, little green walnut husks or clusters of ripening berries to clinch the identification.
Those are not little peaches. This is an almond tree growing wild. The squirrels here are in heaven!
Here's an immature pomegranate growing in a yard near the creek.
I wonder if it's worth returning here in the fall to gather the walnuts?
A huge fig tree in someone's back yard overhangs the fence onto the path. Yum, fresh figs!
More path pics as we work our way north toward San Francisco Bay.
Runoff from one of the occasional large drainage conduits feeding into Permanente Creek spills from the pipe's darkness out into a patch of sunshine.
Moss grows on the silty sediment built up beneath small drainholes lining the channel.
Most of these such holes we saw were completely plugged up with sediment. These have enough to support grasses and small plants growing in them.
Some vegetation along the path.
The fragrant buckeye flowers are gone and seed pods are now forming.
What's a walk by some trees without a scrub jay to scold us?
There are a lot of high-tech corporate office parks here in town. One of these companies is headquartered here; perhaps you've heard of them? "Google." They're pretty big on the Intertubes, I've heard. Anyway, their sprawling campus spans the part of Permanente Creek just before it flows into San Francisco Bay, and as a good corporate citizen (if there really is such a thing), they ponied up some dough to create an official creekside trail.
We saw a lot of googlestuff in the neighborhood, such as this googlesculpture: "Vision" by William King.
The figure looks out onto Charleston Park (a great place to watch 4th of July fireworks exploding over nearby Shoreline Amphitheatre).
Acrobat dude statues in front of one googlebuilding.
There are googlebuildings spread out all over the place, one after the other. Googleworkers use these googlebikes to get around the googlecampus.
Here's the part of the path we called googlecreek.
A googlebird in the creek, a snowy egret fishing in the googlescum for googlefish.
A googletree. We saw lots of almond and walnut trees along the trail. It probably used to be an orchard before post-WWII development plowed just about all of it under to create suburbs and office parks.
A googleslug almost made it to the shrubbery before falling victim to the hot sun.
There was even googlecrime. This Mercedes got broken into in a parking lot.
A googlebike abandoned in a nearby field.
D. and I sure wish we had us some googlebucks.
Looking back the way we came, south across town toward Black Mountain, for which Mountain View was named.
The path as it heads out of googleland and into Shoreline Park, at San Francisco Bay. This is also where Permanente Creek flows into Mountain View Slough.
Part of the "landfill hill" between the creek and Shoreline Amphitheatre. The "Vista Slope" is closed off during concerts -- no one is allowed on the hillside to sneak a free peek at a performance.
Blossoming fennel against the brilliant sky. Too bad it's an invasive non-native plant.
Those little brown lumps to the left of the rear traffic cone are well-camouflaged burrowing owls outside their burrow on the landfill hill's Vista Slope.
There's mom, pop and junior (who is almost full-grown).
So cute. And such long legs. They hunt mostly by running on the ground to catch bugs, lizards and mice.
A slough view. On the other side of the summer-brown hill is a startlingly green golf course.
Looking back the way we came, with Shoreline Park on our left and some googlebuildings in the background.
Cliff swallows congregate on the edge of a bridge under which are their nests.
A view across the bottom of the Bay to our favorite place in the world (not!), Mt. Hamilton. The tiny white blobs on the peak are the observatory, where we got barked at, chased off and threatened with arrest a couple of weeks ago.
A Canada goose grazes on the golf course on one side of the slough.
A great blue heron waits for fish on the opposite side of the slough.
Constant reminders that we are right next to a landfill.
This area is full of non-native snails, estivating during our dry summer.
Egret in a tree in Shoreline Park. The ground below was full of lacy white plumes shed now that breeding season is over.
This peculiar structure is the flower bud of the bushy yate, native to southwestern Australia and popular in California, much of which shares a similar climate.
Here's the flower fully open. I think of it as the cheerleader tree.
Looking down the slough into Shoreline Park (which includes a nature preserve, environmental education, a dog park, a golf course, a lake, a concert amphitheater, picnic sites, a kite-flying area, and many trails, including the Bay Trail).
Looking across Mountain View Slough to the East Bay Hills.
A salt pond on San Francisco Bay.
The end of the line. This is as far as we can go along Permanente Creek in this direction without a boat.