This morning I was back in Alviso and got the back story of this charming town from two unsung heroes of San Jose – Councilmember, Kansen Chu and Yves Zsutty, Trail Network Manager for the City of San Jose. I know what you’re thinking and I asked the same question: Someone gets paid to blaze trails? How cool is that? Actually he gets paid to do a lot more than blaze trails; he connects people and communities and puts in twelve hour days and probably late night community meetings to make it all work. Well, it’s working and Alviso is just one example of Yves’ hard work.
Alviso is in Council Member Kansen Chu’s district and he was on hand to learn more about the Bay Trail and the plans in store for his constituents. However Councilmember Chu is also a historian of sorts, filling me in on the details of the catsup plant, cannery, police department and fire department. It was not hard to figure out how this man ended up in politics, he is genuinely interested in his community, he listens when spoken to, asks questions that he truly wants answers to and, well, he is a very likable guy!
Having toured Alviso thoroughly with my resident experts, I started my trek at the edge of town and picked up a steady pace, looking forward to my next meet-up about a mile past Bayland Park. Here, I had the honor of meeting former Sunnyvale Mayor, Julia Miller. Julia is also on the Bay Trail Board of Directors and was an influential player in the existing Bay Trail route between the Bay and Moffett Field and Nasa Ames Research Center. “Influential player” is an understatement. Think about what it must have taken to get NASA to go along with a public trail between their fences and the San Francisco Bay. This is a woman who gets things done – and for the better I might add, but then I am a little biased.
Julia showed me several key areas along a mile stretch of the trail such as a tucked away outlook with binoculars so Bay Trail trekkers can look out into the salt ponds, wetlands and beyond to view the wildlife. However, as Julia and I walked along the trail, binoculars were not necessary. Shortly after a conversation about great blue herons and how they always seem to fly solo we saw not one or two, but three of these majestic birds. You may have noticed by now that I have a special place in my heart for blue herons. Also plentiful were the Bay Trail standards – snowy and great egrets as well as more white pelicans. I could also go on and on about the ducks and the incredible variety in the wetlands and sloughs all along the trail. This is a subject I will surely need to brush up on because, frankly, I have one duck species in my vocabulary and it rhymes with ballard.
I finished today’s trek at the happiest place on earth – and I wasn’t in Disneyland. I was in Mountain View. The VTA bus drivers are helpful, and smile when giving directions. And the people who work here all ride the same bikes with the same striking red, yellow and green color pallet. One even had that very same color pallet on her hair! As they approach from behind, they politely ring their bike bells and give a wide berth. I was also dumbfounded to see self-driven cars seamlessly intermingle with manually driven cars on the city streets . I arrived at CalTrain after a brief bus ride, looked down at my ruby slippers and clicked the heels together three times. The next thing I knew I was in San Francisco getting bopped in the head by a low hanging backpack on a very crowded 45 Muni. I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.