Henry Coe State Park

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

This is totally non-comics related, but I wanted to share it, and hopefully people find it interesting. I saw an article in the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper last week that bummed me out. Apparently, one of the cost cutting measures to help pay for the state’s budget deficit is to close a bunch of the state parks. One of the ones threatened for closure is Henry Coe State Park, an absolutely huge park south of San Jose.

Some brief history: I don’t live there any longer, but I grew up in California and spent a lot of time outdoors and a lot of time riding a bicycle. When I was a kid I’d ride all the old farm roads in the hills around the bay area and when I got older I started mountain biking and would go ride at every park I could. Henry Coe was one of my very favorites.

Anyone that has ever mountain biked there will tell you it is one of the most brutal places they’ve ever ridden. The heat in the summer is scorching, and the hills, if they don’t seem like they’re going straight up, it’s only because they’re going straight down. So… if you didn’t mind dealing with stuff like that, the park is so big, you can ride for miles and miles and miles and get away from everything. I would go a lot in the late afternoon to try to avoid the worst of the heat, so I’d see tons of wildlife. Depending on the time of year, I’d see lots of coyotes, deer, pigs, bobcats, tarantulas, hawks, vultures, bats. It was at Henry Coe that I saw the biggest rattlesnake I’ve ever seen in my life. It was well over five feet, with the rattles being close to six inches long. It was stretched out on the dirt road I was riding so I just got off my bike and watched it until it decided to move out of the way. It took up so much of the road that I couldn’t try to cruise around it on my bike. Another time, I saw a deer when I was peddling up a pretty steep set of switchbacks that just stared at me and wouldn’t move. Deer usually take right off but this one didn’t. Turned out she had a fawn hiding in a stump right next to the trail. When I saw it, I wasn’t more than two or three feet away from it. The baby couldn’t have been more than a day or two old.

There are over a hundred lakes and ponds scattered around the park, and because they’re so tough to get to, the fishing is insane. When you cast out your line if you don’t have a bass on by the time you reel in close to shore, then a blue gill will get it — every time.

I’ve thought when I’ve run out of Zip and Li’l Bit stories, it would be fun to do true-life comics about mountain biking, but I think I’d get tired of drawing a guy sitting on a bike pretty quickly. The landscapes would be fun to draw though.