High atop one of the tallest hills in the Marin Headlands is an FAA antenna. Looking like an odd, little silo, it can be seen from quite a distance. As one approaches it, its strangeness emerges. It stands in utter silence, braced against the ocean wind. Surrounded by a gleaming white fence, it is unapproachable. Warning signs tell hikers to stay away, stay off, don't tamper. Lives are at stake. In the post-9/11 world one dares not go near anything related to air traffic safety. I figured the fence was electrified or had some weird force field emanating from it. I steered way clear of the damned thing.
I tip-toed around the perimeter, looking at it out of the corner of my eye, the way my cats look at me when they think I'm a big mouse. I wanted to go up to it like the ape that approached the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Maybe there was enlightenment to be found. But, the white fence and Homeland Security were effective as deterrents. I continued my circuitous route. My trail guidebook stated that the best views from the hill were to be found on the trail that surrounds the antenna. So, I continued my walk—but couldn't take my eye off the white silo. The antenna stared back in utter aloofness.
I felt like I'd been transported to an alien nation. If an alien actually landed right at this spot what would he think? I imagined a tiny Mars-lander kind of probe touching down on this hill, beaming back pictures to the mother ship. I suppose they'd think this thing were a sacred object, a place where mystic rituals celebrated the solstice. I walked around and around. Then I got tired, bored, and sat down. I ate a bag of trail mix and walked down the hill. To the next adventure.