On Saturday, I decided to drive up to the Lick Observatory to see what I could see. On the outskirts of town, I found Sikh Gurdwara which just seemed out of place and I certainly wasn’t expecting it. Fascinated by it, I took a few pictures. I also found that the parking lot had a great view of San Jose.
I continued up the road. If you haven’t been to the observatory, it is approximately 20 miles of narrow, winding roads with gigantic dropoffs that may or may not have guard rails. I found it was easier to maneuver in the dark because I could see headlights coming at me.
There was plenty to swerve around on the road. A herd of five deer came directly at me. I slammed on the breaks and brought out the camera as they ran off. My breaks also got tested by a pack of wild boar. The only other wildlife I had to swerve for was a Porche driving a little too fast coming around a corner. Luckily, I was on the inside and going up the hill. They were the ones who had to watch that they didn’t fall off the cliff.
The observatory was quite impressive. Run by the University of California, there are a number of telescopes. The one I had the tour of is the oldest of them all and is completely hand operated. The woodwork in the room is amazing. Supposedly, one of the newer telescopes is completely computer operated and can be used remotely by people all over the world.
I neglected to mention that when I started my trip, it was about 55˚F and I’d had the top down on Myrtle so that I could get my bike in for an earlier adventure. It was sunny, so I decided to ride as long as I could in the fresh air. The highway portion was a little difficult, but the windy roads were fine. When the fastest you can drive is about 25 mph, the air temp doesn’t really matter. But the higher I climbed, the colder it got. At 38˚F, the temperature started flashing to say, “Moron! Put the top up!” Needless to say, I spent as much time as I possibly could inside the building so that I could unthaw. Next time, I’ll bring a hat, mittens, and a winter jacket.
Once I did warm up enough to freeze again, I ventured outside. The sunset over the valley was breathtaking. Completely awe inspiring. The view. The colors. The experience was incredible.
I grabbed the tripod and set up just in time to be told by a police officer that I needed to leave. I hopped in the car and drove down the road a ways. Found a nice pullout and set up again. The officer found me again. He was very kind about telling me I had to leave. So I asked how far I had to go to be “off the property.” About five miles. I was definitely going to lose the sunset by then. I hopped in the car and headed out, defeated.
About a mile down the road, I’d caught up to the officer. He stopped in the road, threw his lights on and got out of his car. I rolled down the window. I have to admit, that I was petrified. I couldn’t even imagine what he was going to tell me. What had I done wrong?
He apologized for running me off, but he’d had to chase the Jeep in front of him off from two spots already. He told me that there was a better spot for photos up ahead and to follow him. As long as I was with an employee, then it was fine. Said as long as no one was there, then he’d let me stay there for a few minutes while he checked out the next few spots for hoodlums. I was a little freaked out by the whole thing and was hoping he wasn’t trying to take me off to kill me somewhere. In the end, I got a couple more photos. They aren’t the best…I still need to work on picking the right settings, but I did get to enjoy a fabulous sunset.