Island Standard Time

Dear J-

The geography of San Mateo is such that our neighborhood is bounded by the Bay, Highway 101, and two major streets (Peninsula and 3rd). Practically speaking, there’s only a handful of ways out by road (two entrances to 3rd, one to Peninsula) and the overall effect in my mind is to think we’re on an island of sorts, cut off from most of the rest of the city by 101. We have a couple of small restaurants and a grocery store, a gas station right on the border, but aside from that we’re houses, a couple of parks (city and county — Coyote Point) and one major gathering spot, the Boys and Girls Club up on Monte Diablo by our habitual park. The whole village/island is contained within one or two square miles, although I admit I haven’t taken the time to walk down every street yet.

Honestly we’re not as cut off from the rest of San Mateo as I make it out to be; we can be downtown in half an hour, walking at kids’ pace and direction, and that’s a pretty easy jaunt up and across our pedestrian bridge. I like reducing our trips to human scale; for anything longer we can either drive up to Millbrae and ride BART or walk down to Caltrain. It may not be the most efficient way to travel in terms of time but it is a reliable option we didn’t have in San Diego, either (there our trolley trips were limited to the few times we went downtown). Compared to driving and parking, though, it’s still not the cheapest option, which can be curious given the emphasis on getting cars off the road.

theVet’s current job requires her to be on call when we’re out, so consequently we haven’t been out much lately. I intend to fix that. We can be out; we can have fun watching the world go by and I can start with baby steps. I used to have a routine on Saturdays when it was just me and figgy; we’d go out someplace we’d know about like the Zoo or the beach (come to think of it, the boy does have the sniffles lately; perhaps the healing powers of sand and surf should be on order) and then maybe the bookstore until we were advised to try the library instead. If you can, try reducing your world down to what’s walkable and what’s within reasonable reach of transit to see what you discover; your islands may be more interesting than you remembered.

Mike

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