Just Like San Simeon Blues

The cancer center housing is in an area famous for its transformation by the high-tech industry from a family neighborhood to soulless acres of high-rises. I became addicted to my daily walks there, hoping to find visually interesting details to capture with my cell phone camera.

One day, I walked a block east from my usual route, and was startled to see steady streams of people entering into a wooded area close to the freeway. Could there be a park in the area? The mature evergreens made a stark contrast to the spindly street trees on other blocks.

Pedestrians in the rest of the neighborhood were relatively scarce, too, on the weekends, even though those high-rises must have housed many thousands of young workers. But here were these ant-like lines of people, purposefully heading towards this green mecca. I followed them in, expecting to see a familiar park info bulletin board. A few yards within the green enclosure, I discovered an REI sign.

I’d stumbled upon the mother ship! I’ve lived in two other cities with REI stores, but this one, with its designed waterways and landscaped forest surroundings, and its soaring wooden architecture inside, was truly fit for an emperor of recreational equipment, inc.

I didn’t linger. Christmas shoppers were thronging the flannel shirt aisles, and I was avoiding exposure to germs for my husband’s sake. I was happy enough that I’d happened upon this faux-rustic capitalist castle, reminiscent of William Randolph Hearst’s.

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