Category: Frontier

Is Apple’s New HQ Really a View of the Future? Or Just a Blast from Our Suburban Past?

General Motors' PR Vision of the Corporate Park via Collector's Weekly

General Motors’ PR Vision of the Corporate Park via Collector’s Weekly

The idea behind the flying-saucer design of Apple’s new headquarters is to generate plenty of cross-traffic and promote serendipitous encounters. That may be the case, but according to an article by Hunter Oatman-Stanford in Collector’s Weekly the design really isn’t terribly new.

Connecticut General’s new corporate estate included snack bars, ping-pong tables, shuffleboards, bowling alleys, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, a barbershop, beauty parlor, game room, media library, meditation room, and gas station, as well as offsite services like dry-cleaning, shoe repair, flowers, and grocery delivery—more than half a century before Google and Facebook added such benefits.

When tech giants like Apple, Google and IBM locate their headquarters in sprawling suburban business parks they put pressure on workers to commute farther, spend more of their day on-site, and interact with a less diverse group of people than if the companies were based in the city, according to Oatman-Stanford.

Silicon Valley’s tech industry puts enormous strain on the housing markets in the suburbs where the companies are located and inflated the cost of housing in remote communities. Oatman-Stanford hints that there’s an element of classism if not outright racism behind the corporate HQ’s flight from the city.

Contrast today’s corporate park with Samuel Colt’s vision for Coltsville, a central factory connected to a cluster of affordable high quality homes, a family sporting complex, a church, a museum, schools, even a sustainable grove of willow trees to provide renewable resources. It seems like the 19th century city plan is the one that looks futuristic.

[via @PlacesJournal]


Gear Filter: How to Avoid Going Broke Buying Adventure Gear

Mark Shipman's Garage via

Mark Shipman’s Garage via

Our ancestors went camping with little more than a breechcloth and stick. Nowadays you can’t get out without your Osprey Stratos pack and MSR Hubba Hubba.

There’s no upper limit to how much you can spend on adventure gear. The big question is how much do you really need?

The Last Whole Earth Catalog gives us the answer with a handy little “gear filter.”

As Dan Schiller suggested in Popular Photography, the CATALOG will bankrupt you if you can’t distinguish between what you need and what you wish you needed.

Start extravagant, and you’ll never finish. Get the cheap tool first, see if it feeds your life. If it does, then get a better one. Once you use it all the time, get the best. You can only grow into quality. You can’t buy it.

Most of the stuff in the CATALOG can be borrowed free from a library.

Good advice. Start with a Jansport pack and pair of comfy sneakers and try a six mile hike on for size. If you start doing this every weekend move up from there. And don’t be afraid to beg, borrow or even rent gear for your next adventure.


Trail Notes: Mount Cleff Ridge Wildwood Park

White Tailed Kite Eating a Mouse

White-tailed Kites are fairly common around here. You often see them hunting in freeway medians. They have a characteristic way of hovering in one spot like…well, like a kite. I saw this fellow hovering at the base of the Mount Cleff Ridge in Wildwood Park. Slowly, deliberately the kite dropped ten feet, fifteen, feet, and then to the ground. It was a gentle glide, not the fierce high-speed descent of a Peregrine.

Highlights: The Santa Rosa Trail loop that I took was just shy of five miles. The most notable feature in the park is a craggy ridge of conglomerate mineral deposits. You expect a war party of wild Comanches to leap out at any minute. This should not surprise–Gunsmoke, Wagon Train and The Rifleman were all filmed here. There is an elevation gain of 400 ft, a little bit of a stiff climb at the beginning. The ground is very rocky and uneven, a challenge to mountain bikers and people with weak ankles. Mount Cleff Ridge Conglomerate

One other notable thing about this trail. Once you get on top of the ridge there just isn’t any place to pee. Large two-million dollar homes overlook much of the trail along the back side of the ridge and there just isn’t much tree cover. This something the wild Comanches never had to worry about–or maybe it’s what drove them wild in the first place.

The geology changes slightly on the eastern part of Lower Butte Trail. To me it looks something like the burren region in Ireland. This explains how Wuthering Heights could be filmed at the location as Gunsmoke.

To get there: From the 101 take Lynn Rd north to Avenida de los Arboles, turn left and continue to the end. Click here for a Google Map.

Mount Cleff Ridge Trail

Originally posted March 27, 2007

Hungry Valley – An OHV Park You Could Get Lost In

Hungry Valley 4x4 Training Course

Hungry Valley is a State Recreational Vehicle Area just off Interstate 5 near Gorman. The park is packed with 130 miles of trails for dirt bikes, ATVs and 4WD vehicles. This might conjure up an image of a nuclear-broiled landscape swarming with jump-suited Suzuki pilots–something like Mad Max meets the Power Rangers. And that wouldn’t be a completely wrong picture. Part of the fun in Hungry Valley is watching dirt bikers domino into each other as they round a hairpin turn at 40 miles per and find themselves facing the business end of a Jeep.

What surprised me on a recent stopover was how much of the park is unspoiled. There were several places where I got out of my Jeep and felt that I was completely by myself. Either I couldn’t hear, or I simply didn’t notice the gnatlike whine of distant two cycle engines. What I heard was the sound of the wind in the black sage.

At one place I left the Jeep behind and scrambled up a ridge where several junipers stood sentinel. I figured I’d take a few minutes to commune with God and see if he might break his long silence.

The hill itself wasn’t anything to write home about. Just a steep sandy rise covered in chaparal and prickely pear. But on the back side of the ridge there was…nothing. And I do mean nothing. I was standing on the rim of a vast red rock canyon. Something I’d expect to see in Utah, Arizona or New Mexico.

I looked to see if there was some way down into the canyon. There was a narrow path crossing a ledge less than a hundred feet below me. As I studied the ledge, a large, healthy mule deer came bounding along the path and darted out of sight behind a rock wall. A second or two later came a very large gray coyote, burning up the trail in pursuit of the deer. I never knew coyotes had such ambition.

While Hungry Valley OHV park isn’t so big – well, it’s 19,000 acres big – but you probably won’t get technically lost in the park. Yet you can get lost in the exploration of it all.

First published December 20, 2006

Hungry Valley

Trail Notes: Quatal Canyon Jeep Trails

Quatal Canyon Road is Smooth and Wide

Entering from Highway 33, just south of Ventucopa, Quatal Canyon Road is the superhighway of Jeep trails. After several hours of bashing my brains out on the moguls in Ballinger Canyon it was actually kind of nice to be on a smooth dirt road for a change. (I really have to install some anti-sway quick disconnects.)

The first five miles or so is private ranch land on both sides of the road. After this the road narrows and becomes rugged washboard. Fortunately Trail 106, Quatal Canyon Corridor, comes along pretty soon and you can drive in the sandy wash, keeping your fillings intact.

Looking toward Cowhead Portrero (?)

This picture is taken along OHV Trail 106 after it leaves the Quatal wash, looking toward Cowhead Portrero. Note the red color of the soil here, washed down from the hills visible in the upper left part of the picture. These mountains are deep, vivid red. At this point the trail starts to gain elevation. Pinyon pine become more common. By the time the trail reconnects with Quatal Canyon Road, you’ve reached a Jeffrey pine habitat.

At the end of Quatal Canyon Road where it connects with Cerro Noroeste Road there is a small camp ground with picnic tables and fire pit. I didn’t notice what restroom facilities were available, if any.

The Pio Bureau photoblog has some nice shots of some labrynthine areas of Quatal Canyon, a great place of canyoneering. Geological surveys of the area have turned up mammalian fossils, making it a likely place for some amateur paleontology.

Originally published April 11, 2007.

Adventure: Sign Up Now and You Could Be One of the First People to Mountain-Bike on the Moon

Photo via

Photo via

It’s one bunny-hop for a man (or woman) but it’s one giant lunge for mankind. announces an out-of-this-world travel package for mountain bikers giving you a once in a lifetime opportunity to explore some of the gnarliest single track in the galaxy. Check out Evo’s moon biking offer here. [Via pinkbike]

Also – Awesome Gear Announced in April

All-Sport Performance Lederhosen

Who knew that lederhosen would return as the ultimate multi-sport performance wear? (With a ball-tight fit and moisture wicking no less.)

A Backpacking Tent So Light It Fits in Your Shirt Pocket

You’ve seen all the buzz about tiny houses. Now it’s tiny tents with REI’s Gulliver line of micro-tents.


Minimalist Trail Sandals

The Chaco Barefoot-Z sandal takes minimal running shoes to the logical extreme.

One final note on all this amazing gear – check the date on the post.


[Via REI blog, Gear Junkie, Runblogger]

Ballinger Canyon Jeep Trails

Ballinger Canyon Moonrise

Ballinger Canyon is a high desert Off Highway Vehicle area similar in terrain to Hungry Valley, but about half the acreage. Ballinger has 11 jeep trails interlaced with about two dozen ATV and motorcycle trails. There are two main roads through the canyon, both easy to moderate with a few more challenging connectors.

Entrance to the canyon is off Highway 33 near-ish to route 166.

On this trip I arrived mid-afternoon to do some hiking in the canyon. I drove Trail 24, an easy road with mostly soft soil that is compacted into a billowy washboard ride…something like riding a jetski on a choppy day. I hiked up Trail 14, an ATV-only trail, and a stiff uphill to boot. But the trail wends through a nice pine habitat and there are some beautiful views.

I made it back to the Jeep about 4:30 pm. And I really didn’t want to drive all the way back down 33. Now, here’s where good map skills would come in handy! I’ve got an aging DeLorme map book that shows Ballinger Canyon road (NF-9N10) cutting all the way through to Cerro Nordeste–which would take me into to Frazier Park. As a matter of fact, Google Maps also shows 9N10 connecting to Cerro Nordeste.

If I had paid a little better attention to the map posted at the park entrance, I could have spared myself a wild ride. The trail map makes it pretty clear that there are no through routes. But my made it look like I was within spitting distance of the highway so I gave it a try.
Now, trail 24 is marked as an easy route, but as it climbs eastward up the canyon it starts getting damp and rutted. There was snow on the sides of the road and in places the mud had been whipped into a froth. In a few places there was barely enough width to the trail for a Jeep and a wrong touch on the gas could easily have sent me skidding into a big ditch. I had visions of getting high-centered and spending a frosty night trying to dig myself out in the moonlight.

Did I mention that it was getting dark by the time I hit the end of Trail 24? And yes, Trail 24 comes to an end with a big red timber closing off the drive.  In the dark it was a little challenging to navigate the maze of trails that often petered out into a motorcycle track. Finally I decided to bite the bullet and slog back the way I came.

Overall it was a fun ride, in a white knuckley sort of way. I think I might wait until Spring to go back. It is supposed to be one of the best areas to view wildflowers.

Southern California BMW i Series Owners to Attempt World Record April 2


Photo by Lothar Spurzem via Wikimedia

Photo by Lothar Spurzem via Wikimedia

BMW i series owners (i3, i8, X5 40e) are gathering at the Long Beach Formula E race this Saturday April 2, 2016 to organize the longest parade of BMW cars in history. The previous record was set in 2008 by 178 BMW Isettas (the car pictured above), arguably much cooler than an i3 which has been compared to a grumpy porpoise.

As geeky as all this sounds, if it helps promote cleaner transportation it’s probably worth giving it a whirl. Register here if you are a licensed BMW i series owner and want to take part in this fiasco. (Imagine a couple hundred electric vehicles trekking to Long Beach and then looking for a place to plug in.)


10 Must-See Bay Area Outdoor Spots from SF Gate

Photo: Photo: Michael Furniss, Courtesy SF Gate

Photo: Michael Furniss, Courtesy SF Gate

  1. Tahoe, Heavenly’s Skyline Trail
  2. Santa Cruz Mountains, Silver Falls/Golden Cascade
  3. North Sierra foothills, Feather Falls
  4. Marin, Sky Trail
  5. Fern Canyon, Prairie Creek Redwoods
  6. Wildcat hilltop via Tilden in the East Bay Hills
  7. San Pedro Ridge
  8. Pardee Lake

The article includes photos, descriptions, phone numbers and web links for all locations.

You could also add to the list some closer-to-home Bay-Area locations like Stinson Beach,  Ohlone Wilderness trail, and Robert Louis Stevenson State Park.

Ventura County Day Hike – Sisar Canyon

Topa Topa from Sisar Canyon

The Topatopa bluffs run from West to East, serving as a gigantic reflector for the Ojai valley. They are a numinous presence in much of the surrounding county. I can see them from my house. This weekend, however, is the first time I’ve hiked anywhere close to them.

To hike the Sisar Canyon trail you take Highway 150 from Santa Paul (or Ojai if your so inclined) and turn North on Sisar Road. Travel up the road a mile or so, continue bearing right where the asphalt ends. You’ll come to a gate.

Sisar Road gate

The first three and a half miles are well-traveled road. There are two water crossings in the first mile or two, an easy rock-hop to get across. I was a little surprised to meet a man driving a late model Subaru down the hill, but there is a residence a few miles back.

The road is popular with mountain bikers and equestrians, so keep your eyes and ears open on the blind curves. It’s a two mile hike to the overlook that commands a view of the Oxnard plain on one hand, and Topa Topa on the other. Another mile and a half you come to the head of Trail 21W08 which goes up to Sespe Creek. The sign is shot up and naked of paint, but you can read the raised lettering to see that Sespe is some 13 miles beyond. Closer is White Ledge Camp, a shady campsite with firebox. The trail to White Ledge is a long half mile. It looked to me like a trail crew had been this way just a few days earlier. Branches were trimmed and the path was smooth and level with some fresh trenches for runoff. There are a few narrow spots, not a place I’d want to go on horseback, especially not after a heavy rain. But it was clear that someone had done just that–hoofprints sunk deep in the trail near some very steep drop-offs.

At one spot there is a huge slag heap of rosey sandstone. It looks as if someone had been quarrying the area. I’d be interested to know what cause this, it certainly looks man-made.

All in all the hike from the gate to White Ledge is an eight mile round trip.
Trail to White Ledge Camp

Addendum: Sometimes you’ll find this hike by searching for Topa Topa Mountain. On maps it is listed as Topatopa Mountain. It’s a little confusing, seeing that place names in Ojai are listed as Topa Topa.

Originally published March 7, 2007

Where You Are is What You Are

World\’s largest drawing used GPS

I stumbled across a provocative label on Mark Bernstein’s site, coupling the phrase “Where you are is WHAT you are” with the caption “Weber’s Qualitatvie Analysis Tools.” As best I can tell, Weber refers to sociologist Max Weber and “Where you are is WHAT you are” is a quote from Constantin Stanislavski related to his affective memory system of acting. The notion is that if you want to act the part of a jealous prince you use your imagination to return to a set of circumstances where you felt jealousy. The feelings were not the key, it is your response to the circumstances that is the key.

Environmental psychologists call this “place identity.” A person’s memories and sense of self are attached to particular places. This is one reason why going “home for the holidays” is filled with emotion for so many people.

If we are the sum of our memories, and if our memories are rooted in a particular place then, yes, where we are is who we are. And if we want to better know ourselves, then one way to start would be with understanding our own particular place.

Originally posted April 2, 2010

Agoura Hills Day Hike – Liberty Canyon to Cheseboro Canyon


This year’s late winter rains make this Spring a perfect time to get out into the Santa Monica mountains for some hiking. This particular track starts at Canwood Street just off the 101 Freeway at Liberty Canyon Road. It’s an easy hike over a spur trail out of Liberty Canyon through a shady oak grove and on to Cheseboro Canyon where the trail gets quite wide and flat. If you’re planning on biking then be advised that this first leg gets pretty narrow and there’s a short steepish section with loose scree.

There is enough parking for two or three cars at the trailhead. If this is full you can park in the shade under the freeway or drive a few miles back into Cheseboro Canyon and park at the Modelo Trail parking.

The highlights of this particular hike are the large groves of Valley Oak that provide plenty of shade along the way. This season’s wildflowers are sprinkled all about the hills. At about two miles you come to the 1890s Morrison ranch house with the remains of a cattle stockyard. Continue heading North, there’s no reason to take the road to your right unless you want to explore the coyote track that doubles back to Liberty Canyon.


When you get about a quarter mile past the ranch there are numerous side trails. I prefer to stay in the canyon because the ridge trails are steep and not particularly scenic. I did a 6.7 out-and-back but the trails up Cheseboro Canyon keep going on and on.

Pack a lunch and a blanket and this would be a great place for a picnic/hike.

More details at Gaia GPS.

Make a Bow and Arrow the (Really) Old Fashioned Way

When society collapses you’ll be glad you have these skills. Primitive Technology shows how to make a lethally effective bow and arrows using just a few stone tools.

It doesn’t end there. The (as far as I can tell) nameless maker behind Primitive Technology serves up a baker’s dozen tutorials on how to do sophisticated things with a few paleolithic tools. Make a poisonous bean non-poisonous, weave baskets with plant fibers, make a mud hut with a central-heated floor.

The blog posts and videos are all clear, straightforward and completely understandable. I only have one question – with all the time this guy spends shirtless in the wild, how does he stay so white?

[Via Kottke]

How to Survive a Mountain Lion Attack: Take Your Wife


Jim Hamm is lucky that his wife, Nell, kept her head while a mountain lion had a deathlock on his. The 70 year old hiker was attacked by the lion while hiking in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Nell tried stabbing the cat in the eye with a ballpoint pen but the pen broke. Then she tried beating the lion with a big stick. Finally she jammed the butt end of the stick up the lion’s nose and that convinced the animal to let go of her husband.

One thing the Hamms did that helped them survive was to talk ahead of time about the possibility of a lion attack. It’s something to think about if you’re considering hiking in the Santa Monica mountains. It wouldn’t hurt to read up on the standard advice–don’t try to run away, appear to be huge, make a lot of noise, fight back aggressively when approached.

But if you really want to know how to survive a cougar attack, consider this: the Holy Spirit is more than one billion times faster than a cougar.

(cf. Man rips leopard’s tongue out)

[Photo via]

Originally published February 1, 2007