A great tarantula season!

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Saturday: I hiked Mission peak to Sunol and back (16 miles, 4300 vetical feet); as the weather cools off, it’s good to get out into the open country – which just happens to be where the tarantulas live.

I walked through a loose collection of maybe forty cows, almost all with newly born calves. A coyote loped along the trail a hundred meters ahead of me. The cows moved off the trail, but weren’t overly concerned. Both the coyote and the cows know full well that, whatever the coyote’s fantasies about veal for lunch, they just aren’t going to happen, full stop.

I saw the first tarantula of the day, crossing Calaveras road, not far from the Sunol headquarters. I helped him get across the road safely, my good deed for the day. After going on to Sunol, having some calories, chatting with the ranger at the visitor center – who hadn’t had many tarantula reports yet this season – I returned; saw the same tarantula (I think) in the same vicinity. Ten minutes later, I saw the second of the day. Two in one day – that’s pretty good!

But the most interesting spider of the day was the little orange one. I really like spiders’ eyes! In this picture, we see four on the left (and there may well be more that don’t show in the photo); they are lensed eyes, not insect-like compound eyes, and spiders are estimated to see about as well as we can, with the advantage that they can see in all directions at once. Hard to sneak up behind a spider.

Not a bit of fear in this guy. He’s the size to stand on my thumbnail, but if I’m a threat, he’s ready and willing to tear me limb from limb, chew me up and spit me out! Argh! Come and get it! And good for him!

Sore feet again, blisters. I think my shoes are sending me a message. Happily enough, REI is having a sale: 20% off one full-priced item. So I stopped on the way home and bought a new pair of shoes.

Saturday evening we visited Alex and Sigrid for their annual Oktoberfest. Yes, we all know that Oktoberfest is in September, but it was delayed this year because Sigrid was at the real one in Muenchen.

Sunday: I should go out and see whether these new shoes are going to be good friends. In case I need to take them back, I’ll stay on pavement today, or at least grass or duff. Stanford? Why not! Six or seven miles, a few hundred vertical feet.

Yes, the shoes are fine. I ran up the steeper parts of the dish trail and also some of the not-so-steep parts.

And I found four tarantulas! Outstanding: I have gone entire seasons without seeing that many. I wanted to see if I could get one to climb up into my hand.

Hmmm… on second thought, no thanks!

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