a kettlebell training log, and
a launch pad for aberrant missives

Friday, July 9, 2010


A year and a day later, I was finally back at Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve, a truly lovely patch of awesome that is part of the Mid-peninsula Regional Open Space District.  Despite the overcast skies that often mystify tourists visiting "sunny California" - the drive down along Highway 1 was at once spectacular and subdued - the Day Star did break through the cloud cover to illuminate my eastward path along Purisima Creek Trail, brilliant sky blue above, brilliant jade green below.  It was like walking into a Miyazaki film. 

I was here on July 4th, 2009, with a friend.  It could be said that a puppy dog is a girl's best friend, and since I had neither a puppy dog nor a best friend, the guy that I dragged along would turn out to play that endearing role most fittingly; it is how I will always remember him.  This place holds memories and secrets - stuff that you just casually leave behind, and only revisit when you happen upon the same tree, hop over the same log, walk across the same bridge, and come to acknowledge, almost reluctantly, that time has slid under your nose like a slug.  What is memory but time resurrected?  As if on cue, I recalled how, a year prior, I had picked up a plastic bottle that someone had left on the trail; how we went down to the creek to touch the water; how, when we came upon a clearing, my friend had announced, with typical sarcasm, that the fresh air made him want to smoke a cigarette.  It was also at that same spot that he whipped out the shitty first-gen iPhone to see if the satellites could find us.  And the answer was, yes, GPS worked - one bar, no thanks to AT&T.  

At 1,600 ft I checked my modest Android phone, and thanks to Verizon, I also had a one-bar connection to the real world from the jungle.  On a whim, I decided to send a postcard to my friend.   During my 1,000-ft ascent, I had come across these bright and slimy objects called banana slugs.  They are compellingly, single-mindedly yellow.  For what evolutionary purpose I know not, for these guys do stand out and are quite easy to spot, and I'm not aware that their natural predators (raccoons, ducks, salamanders, according to Wikipedia) dislike bananas or yellow foods.  "But they roll the slugs in soil to bind the slime."  You know, like how you'd roll a mochi ball in shredded coconut to coat it.  Sort of.

Apparently the Pacific banana slug, being the second largest terrestrial slug, can grow up to 9.8 inches long.  That is longer than LONG.  And while we're on the same train of thought, I would also mention that Ariolimax columbianus "gnaws off its penis when disengaging from sex."        

The redwood forest in the preserve constitutes the southern tip of the Pacific coastal forest belt that is the banana slug's natural habitat.  I snapped a couple of pictures to show that I WUZ HERE!!! - one sent to my friend, the other to my mother, and both being shared here.   I thought about taking a video, but when creatures move at a glacial pace, staring at a still photo for five seconds will have pretty much the same effect.  Stare any longer though, and you will realize that this is really a yellow straightneck squash in camouflage, because some vegetables don't actually want to end up in your stir-fry, so they pretend to be a slug.

And that concludes my great adventure of July 5th.  

Gear: Vibram FiveFingers Sprints 
Distance: ~ 6.2 miles
Elevation Gain: ~ 1,000 feet
Post-Snack: Straus soft-serve at New Leaf Community Market / Half Moon Bay
Warm-up: 1,776 kettlebell swings on Independence Day

Posted via email from Mandarin Menace Lite


dbt1959 said...

The Banana slug is also the Official Mollusk of the State of California as you probably figured out in your research, but chose to omit, in favor of the penis eating tidbit.
Funny and thoughtful post, good Miyazaki reference, keep 'em coming.

Authentic Strength Training said...

1st experience with Banana slug: The UC Santa Cruz t-shirt Vincent Vegas reluctantly wears after shooting Marvin in the face.

2nd experience with Banana slug:
2003 release from 'super group gone way of the dinosaur' A Perfect Circle "The Thirteenth Step" features a California state mollusk on the cover.

3rd experience:
A sexually aggravating post by Cecilia Tom capturing the length and velocity of said creature.