One of the most ironic, but I guess also fitting, aspects of Cupertino (a leading technological suburban town) is even the spots that come closest to being part of nature are man-made. We have some beautiful parks, hiking trails, and scenic points, but all of them were intentionally created by humans.
When I was in junior high, my dad liked to take us boating nearly every weekend either on free Saturdays or after temple on Sundays. He bought two inflatable rubber rowboats and strapped it on the roof of our van when we went down to the Stevens Creek Reservoir. As soon as you hit the winding roads, you know youíre close to the Stevens Creek park area. The reservoir is obviously man-made, but many people go boating, kayaking, and even fishing there. Swimming, however, was prohibited.
On the banks of the reservoir, there were picnic areas and park benches from which people liked to observe all the waterfront activities. Nearby man-made hiking and biking trails proved to be successful attractions too. I remember going on these trails a few times and liking the experience. Yet, it wasnít quite like the actual cross country backpacking and camping I had done as a Boy Scout. Real nature was much more rugged. Some say itís more beautiful too, but I just find it different Ė beautiful in a different way. If you wanted to keep your hands clean, but still enjoy nature, Stevens Creek Park was perfect. If you wanted real nature, youíd have to go somewhere else outside of Cupertino.
I remember during my senior year of high school when I was living in a condo by myself, a girl from transferred from Pennsylvania to California. It wasnít until a few months later I realized she was my neighbor. She instant messaged me one night during our spring break at around 2am and asked what there was to do around here. I told her Cupertino was a pretty dead town, but gave her a list of possible things to do anyways. I caught her attention when I mentioned the reservoir and she asked if I would take her sometime. I said sure. She asked now? What the hell, I thought, sure. So I called up my friend John who also happened to be our neighbor, awake, and alone to see if he would drive us. He agreed, but only to drop us off. Good enough deal, I thought.
So this girl Luna snuck out of her house and met up with John and me, and we went to the Reservoir. It was pretty dark by then. I could barely make out the vague black shapes around me. I remember it being windy and cold too because I couldnít hear anything Luna was saying to me. We stopped trying to talk after awhile, maybe because it was too hard with the wind, but probably more because I didnít know what to say to her really. I felt kind of uncomfortable. We started to explore the areas around the Reservoir by ourselves. Itís really different at night. A lot more eerie, but a lot more peaceful too. There was wind, yes, but it was peaceful in the sense that we were the only two souls around and we were trespassing and didnít care.
I saw her running around in the wind with her arms opening, just sucking all the cold into her body. I decided to walk on the walls of the reservoir and explore the chain-link fences. I found it strange that this was our idea of nature, this was Cupertinoís idea of nature. One half man-made fences, concrete walls, and things, and the other half dirt and grass and rocks and stuff. Stevens Creek Park was a simulation of nature, but in some ways also improved on the original. There were precautions around all the dangerous areas and easy trails to hike. There might have even been some landscaping. Coming to the park was enjoying nature without really being in nature. This may be what Baudrillard was talking about when he said in the reproduction of an original, both the copy and the real are negated. There was no real nature at Stevens Creek Park. It had been man-constructed and arguably improved, but in this improvement, the very essence of true nature was lost. The park was an improved copy of nature that rendered real nature somehow not as good, not as attractive (at least less attractive for most of the people of Cupertino).
Another nature spot was a scenic view at Hunterís Point in the hills. Again, all the trails were man-made and when you finally got to the Point, you could feel the ultimate merging of man and nature. If you looked one direction, you could see all the beautiful city lights of the city. Turn the other way and stare straight into so-called nature. It was really quite beautiful and romantic, but it was a simulation (perhaps one more real than the original).
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