When word arrived that a space rock had fallen from the sky and landed in the hills north of my fair city, there was no question but that I would take to the hills with my intrepid canine in search of said quarry. After all, it’s not every day that space debris finds its way to the home of John Muir and Joe DiMaggio.
Getting into those hills was easy for me and my dog Guppy (yes, Guppy — my stepdaughter decided five years ago when we brought him home from the shelter that Guppy was her favorite word, and despite my pleadings and protestations, he is named after a small fish). Our former home, which I walked away from last year around this time, was located just in front of a trail which actually leads to the Franklin Hills range. So all we had to do was take a little nostalgic trek by the old homestead, with a few surreptitious peeks at how the new owners have changed the back yard (not much).
Then, it was, as they say, all uphill from there. Past the lovely Telfer compound and up through the East Bay Regional Park gate, then up a steady climb past the reservoir, up a steeper climb to the site of the old ranch house, now torn down, at we’re at the summit. From there, it’s an easy and scenic path to the meteor. At least that was the thinking.
It was a lovely day, just cool enough to provide comfort and warm enough not to notice we were hiking a lot farther than our usual morning constitutional. But we were, after all, on a mission. Guppy was extra alert for the whiff of space detritus, though he did miss entirely the fox that was standing a few yards away, looking quite amused at the two meteor hunters. It amazes me how a human with failing eyesight can manage to see a fox, when a dog with extraordinary olfactory powers completely misses it.
But we didn’t have time for that discussion. We continued our trek up and down the main trail, eyes peeled for space stones. Any sign at all—skid marks on the soil, smoking stones glowing different colors, celestial humming… whatever other-worldly experiences awaited us, I was ready.
We saw a few rocks, and I must say that a few of them looked otherworldly. There was one group in particular that was lying in a field otherwise devoid of rocks. We waded bravely through the weeds to investigate. Unless space rocks come with moss already on them, these were not new arrivals.
We saw a few other formations, but they seemed as though they’d been in the ground for quite some time. Still, it was fun to imagine that they had just recently come to Martinez to provide yet more marketing opportunities in what is still kind of a down market.
“Come see the meteors meet the beavers at the home of the martini,” could be our new motto.
And though Guppy and I came up short, we’re going to continue to look for fallen space rocks. If we find any, perhaps we’ll ask the folks at the John Muir National Historic Site if we can put them on display over the giant fireplace in the naturalist’s home. He was always fond of wandering, and would probably appreciate a rock that did the same.
Jim Caroompas is the editor of Martinez Patch.