University of California, Santa Cruz rests on a hill over quaint city of Santa Cruz. The edges of it peak out from a beautiful Redwood forest. A few trees on the campus are true old growth with trunks 20 feet around. Some of these you can climb if your bold like Tree 9. But unless you go tree climbing you never seem to appreciate the size of the forest when your inside it. It is not till you step outside the forest and gaze out along the hillside that you appreciate the vastness of the world and all that is in it.
Biking down the hill is an experience that is perhaps as close as riding a bicycle can get to absolute bliss. During the day, the panorama of the quiet town, and the infinite blue ocean emerge from over the hill. As you descend if you are bold, you can let go of the handle bars and you are flying into a fairytale world. You can see the mountains around Monterey Bay, little grey tips protruding from the hazy horizon. If you dive there you find tourist traps and parking lots. But from this point, it is a far away land: mysterious and wonderful.
The rich green forest on you left tumbles off a ravine stretching deep into the Santa Cruz Mountains. From up close one would see it is pocketed with housing developments, but from here it is wild and untamed. It is a place where strange and fearsome bests might live. As you descend the world fades away in just a moment, the air gets chilly and the world becomes normal again. Your path joins with a road and the fresh air becomes stale once again.
However, if you are lazy and have nothing to do that afternoon, you can walk down the hill, marvel at the wild flowers and appreciate the view in peace, alone. Sometimes you might bump in to a couple or small group enjoying the peace with a pipe. They will most likely smile, greet you and offer some to you if you approach them.
At dusk it is similar but chilly. The sun fills the vast sky. As it creeps behind the clouds, they are transformed to some exotic fruit: strangely shaped, succulent and ripe with rich bright colours. The fog creeps from the ocean and envelops the town like a living, breathing blanket. The cold crisp wind sweeps up from the ocean and you are chilled under you light jacket that was a bit too warm to ware during the day. The night sky approaches overhead, and the moon creeps up from the left over the trees as the sun sets.
With night, the dark land becomes the backdrop for a world of stars and city lights. You can convince yourself that you are in space; an astronaut. The lights of the city and dark patches of land are a space station set in a distant galaxy. The cold wind bites you as you descend on your bike. You let go of the handlebars, even though you can barely see the trail. For a moment you are flying in space: a traveller off to another world. For a moment you understand how the astronauts must have felt when they first flew to space. You understand why they risked their lives, and sometimes lost them, for just a moment of freedom from the eternal pull of earth’s gravity. Hear on this hill you have felt that freedom and fear. Hoping you will not catch a cold, you wish you had worn mittens. But you don't wish for a moment that you had taken the bus home because a cold is worth a trip to the stars.