Posted by: digdug2k | February 7, 2011

Hell is Pfeiffer State Parks

This is my first post on WordPress. Not a lot to write about to start, but I want to put something, I’m working on a rant about Google TV, but its turning out super long, so this first post will not be about Google TV. In the interest of full disclosure, my wife works at Google. I work at Mozilla. Sometimes the companies are best friends. Sometimes they are fierce rivals. There isn’t any real reason those can’t both be true at the same time, but its confusing, especially in a house divided. I see the same thing with lots of families in the Bay area, and feel pretty confident we’ll survive.

The pic above is from last weekend when we drove down the coast to see Big Sur. There’s a funny story there. Might as well write it to start this off. There is a beautiful waterfall down that coast at a place named Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. The park is really pretty, and there’s this really easy nice trail leading to this:

You can’t really see the waterfall here at all, but it’s there off to the left, spilling off that cliff and onto the beach, and then trickling into the ocean. We made it barely at sunset on a pretty cloudy day, and while it was super pretty for us, our camera isn’t that nice. So this is what you get.

The story involves us being late, and the fact that, just 10 minutes north of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, a place that is quite different. Pfeiffer Big Sur is kinda pretty too. It’s a bunch of forest, some camp sites, and a Ranger station manned by an angry park ranger who spends more time chatting with friends than helping you out. It’s also got a few signs, but most of them don’t face the direction you’re facing, are tiny, and probably don’t contain the information you want. Some of them tell you that trails are closed, but don’t have maps. Those that have maps don’t have helpful, “You are here” stickers, so you really can’t read them anyway. Pfeiffer Big Sur is a place for those looking to frustrate themselves. And if you manage to survive the frustration and find the trail, at the very end you are greeting by a separate, also beautiful waterfall:

Frustrated and tired after a long walk to this place, we asked the manager of a gift shop where the waterfall was. We specifically mentioned that this waterfall flows into the ocean. I even mentioned the name of the trail it is on (“Easy Waterfall Trail”) according to a book. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the tour book and picture of the waterfall, and instead she sent us back up the same trail again. Luckily, I”m not dumb and didn’t fall for this trickery. We then found out that I am also stupid and had typed the wrong name into our GPS during the original trick. Luckily all worked out. We had a pretty day, but also one full of reminders that good UX design applies far beyond consumer electronics and vehicles.


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