The place in these photos is known to many of us who grew up in the valley as “The Top of the World.” Once upon a time, it wasn’t exactly a secret but everyone didn’t necessarily know about it either. From the Top of the World, you can see all the lights of the towns in the valley, and walk to the other side of the road, look in the other direction, and see the lights of Livermore, and the lights from the cities on the other side of the hill. It’s a place some of us went to when we were young. It was, back then, way out of town, in the country, the boonies, fifteen miles outside of town, the beginnings of the Altamont Hills between Tracy, California and Livermore, California. Patterson Pass Road, an Arco Station at the bottom of the road, where a friend or two worked at one time or another, was really in the middle of nowhere. In 1985, the population of the town of Tracy was less than twenty thousand people. These days, the town of Tracy pretty much reaches all the way out to that exit, and I guess people ride bicycles up there and, well, The Top of the World has its own facebook page. I cannot begin to tell you what a travesty that is. In the days of my youth it was a place of some mystery and romance, and legend, things that even now, I’m sworn to keep the secrets of by the code of one who knew and understood it as it was. If you know about the Top of the World, then you do, if you don’t, ah…
Knowing that most such places and things change with time, the growing population expanding the cities and towns further and further out, my husband and I could see it all changing. We could see the places of our youth beginning to disappear. So a few years ago we decided it was time to take a ride up there and kind of take a good look and bid farewell to it as we knew it. Someday, well, they’ll build right up to those hills and over the tops of them if they can for whoever can afford the view.
So we went up there and I was taking pictures, like I do. I got a couple of great shots of the sun beginning to set behind the hills, the windmills. I remember when those windmills were first going up on those hills. I decided to use one of the pictures on the back cover of my first collection of poems, “Red Line Wine”, as many of those poems were written during my years living in Tracy, with The Top of the World even specifically mentioned in one or two of them. I was just looking at some of the photos from that day again, possibly for another post, and I noticed something in one of the photos that I hadn’t noticed before, and to me, it’s a priceless moment I hadn’t realized I’d taken a picture of. The sun shines on the crest of the road just so every now and then, if you catch it just right, the road looks golden. I happened to see it and took a picture. What I didn’t realize was that my husband was standing all the way to the right, in silhouette, leaning on a telephone pole.
Well, that’s a keeper if ever there was one.