Day 20: Sometimes it’s About the Destination

Alviso Post Pic

While I stayed true to my goal of walking, the planned Bay Trail section between Milpitas and Alviso is best traveled by bike – and a fast one at that – due to the truck traffic to and from the Zanker Recycling facility.   It is a short but very necessary section of the Bay Trail since it connects east with west in the South Bay.  The golden link is Alviso and she is a jewel.  As I approached this small town of ranch style homes with a few Victorians sprinkled here and there on the edge of the southern most tip of San Francisco Bay, I had no clue that San Jose was only a stones throw (well, maybe a Kaepernick stones throw) away.  You are thrown back in time as more than a few buildings seem to  beg to be brought back to life, teetering on the edge of being either charming ghost town relics or fallen piles of rubble.  You also get the sense that the begging is coming from desperate last grasps of breath as bricks crumble, roofs collapse and murals fade.  The first thought that entered my mind as I approached Alviso, however, was “Mexicali”.  The assortment of Mexican restaurants caught my eye before the thought that I might want to set my sites on the wetlands, board walks and slough that bears the town’s name. I proceeded on but made a mental note about the food.

Alviso is the first wetlands I had seen thus far that allows an up close and personal experience for visitors.  Raised boardwalks provide access directly into the grassy wetlands in several areas and you can almost disappear in the grasses in a few places while staying perfectly dry.  If you are up for the walk you can completely circumnavigate some of the old salt ponds on the levee trail, starting and ending your hike in Alviso.  The path extends north along the eastern edge of Alviso Slough until it intersects with Coyote Creek close to where it meets the Bay.  The path then follows Coyote Creek back inland for a little over a mile before cutting in and heading back to Alviso.  As you will see from my Garmin map, I did not do this particular loop, saving my legs for the walk back to the VTA station in San Jose as well as the ten miles ahead of me tomorrow.

As I wandered back through town toward San Jose, I found myself taking a table for one at Maria Elena’s Restaurant which was empty when I walked by just an hour earlier.  Now it was bustling with a mix of Silicon Valley lunchers, a few locals and a handful of tourists.  The words came out of my mouth before I had a chance to think it through: Negro Modelo, per favor.  Yes, I must be in Mexicali, because that is the last time I uttered those words.  I savored my Modelo as I pondered the menu.  I ultimately decided on a carnitas taco and chile relleno.  I was not disappointed and the meal was the perfect send off.  I am confident Alviso and I will meet again, perhaps at Maria Elena’s Restaurant.

Note:  Zanker Recycling (aka the dump) on Los Esteros offers tours on Thursdays between 11:15am and 12:15pm.  Go to http://www.zankerrecycling.com/content/zanker-facilities-tour for more information on the tours and also about this facility.

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