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Sunday, January 21, 2007


Bay Area Trails: The Benches at Long Ridge

Rest your Weary Feet; Feast your Eyes

The pleasures of walking on trails include rest stops for picnics. While one can always find a grassy knoll or meadow to enjoy the view with some food and wine, on some trails the benches and picnic tables can take you by surprise. I always feel a sense of gratitude and admiration for those who paid for them and for those who built them.

Long Ridge, one of the trails in the Stevens Creek and Upper Stevens Creek County Parks managed by the County of Santa Clara, has some benches that offer great views. The benches themselves look as if they belong there.

Roderic F. Annable Bench @ Musafir

View, Looking West @Musafir

The Plaque @ Musafir
The Leonard I. Schiff Bench @ Musafir
View, Looking West @ Musafir

The Plaque @ Musafir

"Lover of this land and the stars above", Leonard Schiff served as Chairman of Stanford's Physics Department from 1948 to 1966. He died in 1971. Didn't have the pleasure of meeting Mr. Schiff but the plaque tells me that he was a kindred spirit. Don't think he was a Republican. Hard to think of Republicans as lovers of open space. Yes, there are a few like former Congressman Pete McCloskey and perhaps Tom Campbell. But for every Pete McCloskey one is likely to find a dozen Richard Pombos.

Distant view, Wallace Stegner Bench @ Musafir

Born in Iowa, Wallace Stegner joined Stanford University in 1945 and lived in Los Altos Hills until his death in 1993.

"Stegner's novel Angle of Repose won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1972, and was directly based on the letters of Mary Hallock Foote (later published as the memoir A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West). Stegner's use of uncredited passages taken directly from Foote's letters caused a minor controversy[2]. Stegner also won the National Book Award for The Spectator Bird in 1977. He refused a National Medal from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1992 due to his opposition to the way the NEA had become politicized in the late 1980s." Source: Wikipedia

Close up, Wallace Stegner Bench @ Musafir

Made of rocks, it looks attractive but as I sat on the Stegner bench on a sunny afternoon in January I thought it was cold. Took a while to feel comfortable. In summer the bench would be blazing hot. Perhaps MROSD, which put up the Stegner Bench, wanted it to last for a long time; the wooden benches have a more limited life cycle.

View from Wallace Stegner Bench @ Musafir

The plaque reads:

"...to try to save for everyone, for the hostile and indifferent as well as the committed, some of the health that flows across the green ridges from the Skyline, and some of the beauty and refreshment of spirit that are still available to any resident of the valley who has the moment, and the wit, to lift up his eyes unto the hills."
- Wallace Stegner


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