Friday, March 14, 2014

McInnis Parkway - Nov. 21, 2013

Walking Distance: 2.4 miles (estimate)
Walking Time: 1 hour (12:30 - 1:30 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Near Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium, San Rafael, CA

I started today's walk by visiting the Farmers Market off Civic Center Drive, in San Rafael. The Farmers Market was set up near the distinctive-looking Marin County Civic Center buildings -- designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

After I'd stowed my market purchases in my car, I headed north on Civic Center Drive.

The first part of this walk was on sidewalks and paved (asphalt) paths (green dotted and solid lines on Bay Trail Map). I also chose to take a detour and walk along a packed dirt path that wasn't part of the Bay Trail, before returning to paved surfaces (walkways and parking lots).

From Civic Center Drive, I turned right onto McInnis Parkway, and continued to the end of the road (marked by horizontal white planks and an "End" sign).

Where the asphalt path along the road ended there was a gated entrance to a packed dirt trail on the right side, marked private (open to local residents). I followed this trail -- with views across water to Via Venetia area, and Santa Margarita Island Preserve.

The dirt/gravel trail continued to wind around to the right, affording some great views of Mount Tamalpais and the tops of the blue-domed roofs of Civic Center buildings. I followed this trail until I reached buildings again (the back sides of buildings on McInnis Parkway), and a back entrance to the Embassy Suites hotel.

I made a brief stop at Embassy Suites. This hotel chain often has large internal spaces on the lobby level filled with light and green plants, and I'm always interested in finding possible overnight stops for Bay Trail walking. After my stop, I returned to the trail, and crossed a nearby bridge over the south fork of Gallinas Creek. Once on the other side, I headed back toward the Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium (part of extended Civic Center complex) parking lot, and to where my car was parked near the Farmers Market.

Wildlife Sightings:
25 little brown jobs (LBJs); 15 crows; 1 white butterfly; 1 pigeon; 15 sea gulls; 9 ducks; 4 great egrets

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Marin Civic Center - Aug. 15, 2013

Walking Distance: 3.5 mi.
Walking Time: 1 hr., 21 min. (3:49 - 5:10 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Street parking, 120 N. San Pedro Road, Santa Venetia/San Rafael, CA

Today was another hot summer day, and the heat curtailed my walk. But, I did enjoy walking the last bit of N. San Pedro Road and seeing the Marin Civic Center complex (designed by architect, Frank Lloyd Wright). Most of this walk was on paved sidewalks or walkways, and all of this stretch was depicted as a broken green line on the latest (2012-2013) Bay Trail Map Set.

First, I walked (northeast) on N. San Pedro Road to Le Chalet Basque restaurant and bar (where I'd left off on the previous walk), passing schools and a 7-Eleven store, along the way. I turned around and walked back (southwest) toward Highway 101. On the way back, I noticed the first tree with leaves changing from green to oranges, yellows and reds. Wild, ripe berries were growing by the roadside --  reminders that, despite the warm weather today, summer was winding down.

From N. San Pedro, I made a right turn on Civic Center Drive and headed (northwest) walked past the post office and fire station (on the right) and the main Marin Civic Center complex (on the left). All these buildings were designed in a similar style, with wide vaulted, domed roof lines.

I also passed "Field of Dogs" -- one of my favorite names for a dog park on the Bay Trail.

Most of the birds I spotted today were located in Lagoon Park. The large, shallow lake attracted a large number of geese, ducks and other birds (see list below). I walked a circular path around the entire lagoon, stopping to rest in the shade on two different park benches along the way, before heading back to the car. At the far end of the lagoon, where there was less foot traffic, dozens of Canada geese had taken up residence. And, I set off a slow stampede geese into the water as I walked by them. No hissing, just a quiet, deliberate march away from the approaching human, en masse.

On the walk back, I stopped to ponder a sign indicating Petanque Courts nearby, with a plea not to walk dogs across the courts. This French game involves rolling balls on a flat surface and something known as a "piglet." It's all happening on the Bay Trail.

Wildlife Sightings:
2 blurs in bushes (BIBs, probably lizards); 37 pigeons; 43 little brown jobs (LBJs) - including at least 20 sparrows; 9 crows/ravens; 1 whiteish butterfly; 246 Canada geese; 57 sea gulls; 85 ducks; 41 red-winged blackbirds; 9 non-Canada geese (white-fronted, other domestic, a few hybrids); 1 cormorant

Monday, September 2, 2013

China Camp to Marin - July 18, 2013

Walking Distance: 7 mi.
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 1 min. (3:27 - 5:28 p.m.)
Start and End Point: street parking near intersection of Birch Way and N. San Pedro Rd., San Rafael, CA

Today I returned to walk the last part (northern end) of China Camp State Park, from Santa Venetia/San Rafael. I walked back (south) along N. San Pedro Road toward China Camp, on mostly paved (sidewalks, asphalt walkway). Initially, the partly shaded walkways were very pleasant on a warm day. Flowers (wisteria, trumpet flowers, passion flowers) spilled over and through a wood fence on my left side.

Gradually, however, the sidewalk disappeared, and the setbacks on N. San Pedro became quite narrow on the last stretch into China Camp. This stretch deserved its broken green line status on the Bay Trail map.

I passed the entrance road to Buck's Boat Storage (and where there also appeared to be a place to buy cold drinks). I was tempted to walk down Buck's driveway to buy a bottle of water, but thought the better of it, since it wasn't clear whether the small store was open.

Once inside China Camp, I continued to walk along the side of N. San Pedro. I was passed by a light stream of traffic - mostly bicyclists and cars. I walked past the Back Ranch Meadows /Campground sign, and kept going until I reached the Miwok Meadows sign, where I turned around to walk back. On the return walk, I took a short detour to climb up a hill (on the Bay side of the road) for views of the water.

I continued walking back on N. San Pedro Rd., the same way that I'd come. The one exception: I walked down Vendola Drive, and decided to return to this spot in the near future -- I remembered remembered walking some interesting trails (Santa Venetia Marsh Preserve and Santa Margarita Island Preserve) by the water, during my first walk round the bay.

I continued, passing where my car was parked on Birch Way, to walk as far as a restaurant. Le Chalet Basque restaurant and bar was tucked away into this residential neighborhood and I remember enjoying a stop there for dinner on my previous walk around the bay. I turned around here and returned to my car.

Wildlife Sightings:
3 turkey vultures; 2 great egrets; 10 crows/ravens; 1 golf ball; 3 horses; 3 dragonflies; 2 deer; 1 swallow; 6 little brown jobs (LBJs)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Candlestick Point - July 8, 2013

Walking Distance: 3.2 mi.
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 19 min. (10:26 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Candlestick Point State Recreation Area (SRA), picnic/day use area parking lot, San Francisco, CA

This morning I went "backwards" and walked a stretch of Bay Trail in southern San Francisco that I skipped last year. Thank you to Ellen, Betsy and Susan for their good company. We had beautiful sunny weather, during today's walk at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area in San Francisco. We walked on both paved and packed dirt areas (solid green lines on Bay Trail map), and enjoyed a day with no wind (unusual for this area).

We parked in a day use parking lot and walked south along the bay shore (Jackrabbit Cove). We stopped to investigate some purple flowers that were growing by the water line, and were approached cautiously by a few ground squirrels.

We walked out to Sunrise Point and back. We continued southeast, stopping to walk out to the end of a public fishing pier and back.

We followed packed dirt trail(s) along Hermit's Cove that ran in parallel to Hunters Point Expressway/Jamestown Ave., then along Harney Way (the roads that have historically been jammed with traffic on game days for the 49ers and other football teams playing in nearby Candlestick Park stadium). We passed several picnic tables (many with wooden walls to help shelter picnic-ers from the wind).

We paused to try out some exercise course equipment/bars (part of an old Par Course perhaps?), and then continued east. We enjoyed walking on a very creative, multi-colored sidewalk (visible from Harney Way, and accessible by foot). The design was one of a large primary-colored mosaic along Candlestick Cove.

We walked as far as possible, to the end of Harney Way, getting close to the hum of traffic on  Highway 101. We turned around at a cement utility tower and enclosure, north of the San Mateo County boundary, and then we back to the car.

Wildlife Sightings: 
35 ground squirrels; 3 crows/ravens; 2 white butterflies; 102 sea gulls (about 100 were on the beach area by highway 101); 3 cormorants; 2 little brown jobs (LBJs); 1 robin; 1 lizard; 1 rusty screw; 2 mockingbirds

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Cooley Landing - June 21, 2013

Walking Distance: 2.6 mi.
Walking Time: 1 hr., 22 min. (11:32 a.m. - 12:54 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Cooley Landing (packed gravel parking lot), East Palo Alto, CA

Cooley Landing is located at the east end of Bay Road in East Palo Alto, at the Southern end of the Ravenswood Open Space Preserve. It was once part of a network of boat landings, built before there were modern freeways on the San Francisco peninsula. Boats carried freight, not semis. In later years, Cooley Landing hosted a boatworks.

Several organizations cooperated to preserve and make this historic site accessible. After a first phase of work was completed, the site was finally opened to the public in 2012, creating another link in the San Francisco Bay Trail.

I was happy to walk the new stretch of Bay Trail at Cooley Landing (shown as a dark green, solid line on map) for the first time today -- all the more so, because I was joining Kurt Schwabe on this walk. Kurt was in the process of doing a round-the-bay walk in 30 days (June 2013), using public transit.

To meet Kurt, I walked back (south) a short distance. He'd gotten an early start and had already walked several miles. When I spotted Kurt, he was walking briskly with a man he'd met on the trail (and his dog).

We quickly consulted the appropriate map card in the new Bay Trail 25 Map Card Set, as we walked north toward Cooley Landing.

However, rather than terminate the walk at Cooley Landing, I convinced Kurt that we should keep heading north to walk the large crescent shape trail (medium green solid line on map), then return to walk the Cooley Landing peninsula/point afterwards. (Kurt was a good sport and extended his already long walk for the day.) We did exactly that, and when we arrived back at Cooley Landing, we walked out to the point, and around old wood structures encircled by a fence*.

This point featured views of the Dumbarton Bridge to the north, the east bay hills across the bay, and Shoreline Ampitheater to the south.

Wildlife Sightings:
4 butterflies/moths; 2 mockingbirds; 2 little brown jobs (LBJs); 5 swallows; 3 clouds of ankle-to-eyeball gnats; 1 ground squirrel (small, juvenile); 2 great egrets

Note: An old boat building at Cooley Landing was destroyed by fire in mid-August, 2013.