Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Return to Cal Poly's Design Village in Poly Canyon

For the twelfth consecutive summer, the girls and I headed to Poly Canyon's Design Village for a day of exploring its architectural wonders. The village is an inspiring, fun, whimsical spot, particularly for children and childlike adults. It's one of our favorite, easy, local walks.

Truth be told, we actually do this walk several times each year. It's easy to find, shaded, offers little elevation change and there's always a chance we'll run into some horses to pet and treat. But since 2006, we've led this summer hike as a group event for fans of "Best Family Adventures." The summer hiking series began at the request of readers and had grown to include outdoorsy families of all sorts who may or may not have heard of the books.

The 2012 hiking series also included walks up Reservoir Canyon, San Simeon Headlands and Bob Jones Trail. We had also slated Bishop Peak and Cerro San Luis, but had no takers. The girls weren't thrilled with the idea of warm-season hikes, either, so we called off those hikes. And this year's series was not as warmly received. Too many folks RSVP'd that they'd meet us at the trailhead, then failed to show. I know things come up, but it was a frustrating rate of no-shows. If we do the series again next year, we'll have to come up with something that's more satisfying for all involved.

But I digress.

Our Poly Canyon walk was, as usual, lovely. After paying for parking (the only downside to Cal Poly property hiking), we navigated to the "trailhead" - a well-marked, typically locked gate on a wide, graded, dirt road. The stroller-friendly road is well-traveled by cyclists, runners and walkers as well as local wildlife. The university uses the area for field study. We've run into botany students here and had a great entomology lesson with a student who was making her collection here for class. We picnicked in the shade of the barbecue area in the Design Village, then made our way to the Shell House, a personal favorite, checked out the recently abandoned glass shoebox, played in the Martian house and climbed into the watchtower.

At its peak, this was an architectural jewel, but the structures have largely been abandoned, and vandals have done their worst. My favorite Shell House would be a great student housing unit if it could be returned to its former glory, as would the glass shoebox overlooking the entire village. The Martian house could also be a fun spot for quirky students. Oh, if I ran the world...

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