Wednesday, July 9, 2014

John F. McInnis County Park - Dec. 11, 2013

Walking Distance: 5 miles (estimate)
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 30 min. (1:55 - 4:25 p.m.)
Starting Point: John F. McInnis County Park, parking lot

Today's walk was on unpaved, packed dirt trails in and around John F. McInnis County Park, and included a great bird-watching area -- Las Gallinas Ponds (adjacent to the park and part of Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District).

I started this walk by walking out toward Bay on unpaved trail. I stopped to walk out to a small pier (launching area for kayaks?), and then walked along the trail along the water that was part of the McInnis Park Wetland Preserve, according to a sign I passed.

The trail furthest out by the bay was adjacent to a large area of patchy, but healthy looking marsh grasses. I watched a great blue heron, a kite (bird), and some other birds of prey out in baylands either staring into the grasses intently (hunting) or making sudden grabs at tiny, unseen items (food).

Eventually I headed back toward the hills (inland) and looped back round to Las Gallinas (Wildlife) Ponds. I walked around first two ponds, (was some construction going on, and it was getting late, so turned around). I enjoyed watching ducks, white pelicans, cormorants, hawks, and several red-headed mergansers -- who were squawking at each other on a log. I thought one of the mergansers should be called Lucille Ball (a red-headed comedienne and TV star in the 1900s) for his/her antics.

I then had to find way back to my car in McInnis Park without going through the golf course (i.e. I didn't want to walk all the way out into the Baylands again, and thought I could cut through the park. However, I found myself walking up a hill via a narrow dirt path, and eventually climbing up and over the top of the hill (where there was a nice view) to a skate park and a road, that I followed back down again toward playing fields and the parking lot where my car was, near park entrance. Alls well that ends well.

Wildlife Sightings:
51 LBJs/brown sparrows; 3 great egrets, 3 snowy egrets; 1 crow; 142 RWBs / Blackbirds; 3 birds of prey -- 1 kite and 1 larger red-tailed hawk at ponds; 3 great blue herons; 36 Canada Geese; 173 ducks; 4 black-crowned night herons; 35 sea gulls; 2 white pelicans; 6 mergansers; 7 cormorants; 7 black birds with long-black tails flying over ponds late in afternoon; 10 swifts or swallows (not the orange and blue kind); 3 balls (1 golf ball); 3 grebes; 4 coots
























Sunday, May 11, 2014

Redwood Highway - Nov. 25, 2013

Walking Distance: 6.1 miles
Walking Time: 2 hours, 0 min. (2:05 - 4:05 p.m.)
Start and End Point: 4050 Redwood Highway, San Rafael, CA

Today's walk started from a Subway sandwich shop in a small shopping center off the Redwood Highway in San Rafael, CA. (Redwood Highway is a frontage road that runs parallel to Highway 101.)

From 4050 Redwood Highway (the intersection of Marin Center Drive and Redwood Highway), I walked south, on sidewalks, toward the Marin County Civic Center/Civic Center Drive.

When I'd almost reached the point where Redwood Highway turned into Civic Center Drive, I saw a large sign adjacent to an old set of railroad tracks indicating that a Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) train was in the works and would run through the area (connecting communities and providing transit options in the region) sometime in the near future. This sign had been posted for awhile; and I believe it might be a few years before railcars for this new train have been tested and are in operation. I'm hoping there will be Bay Trail access arrangements that complement these plans.

Back to today's walk. I turned around, a bit south of the SMART sign, at the South Fork(s) of Gallinas Creek just past old railroad tracks (at the intersection of Redwood Highway and McInnis Parkway, at the northern end of Marin County Civic Center complex). The Creek with not terribly visible close to the road, but in the distance (east, toward the Bay) I could see a great white egret standing in shallow water.

After turning around, I walked north on Redwood Highway, passing my starting point. As I was headed toward Smith Ranch Rd., I passed the Cat Chateau and Luxury Cat Boarding, Joe's Cafe (4150 Redwood Highway), Happy Garden (Chinese) Restaurant, and Jimbo's Hot Dogs. In short, small businesses which I'm always interested in seeing.

These local businesses give a community a unique sense of place that I don't get with bigger chains. I also passed an office building with attractive, drought-tolerant (or at least a nod to local Mediterranean) landscaping -- with clusters of dark grapes ripening on vines, lavender plants, and neat beds of packed, amber gravel. With water being scarce this year, I was inspired to emulate this design at my house. And, I hope others will be too.

I walked east on Smith Ranch Road to John F. McInnis County Park, and stopped to watch a hawk flutter into a tree along the way.

Once in the park, I found another trail (solid green line on the Bay Trail map) near the old railroad tracks -- a more northerly stretch of the same tracks I'd seen further south; and I walked back on this more peaceful, shaded trail with occasional views of the creek and ducks, that led me back to Redwood Highway (Frontage Road).

I'd seen a family of quail crossing this same trail a few years ago, but it was too late in the day to see much this evening. I did however, enjoy seeing some great views of Mount Tamalpais in the distance as the sun set.

Wildlife Sightings:
11 little brown jobs (LBJs); 11 ducks; 1 red-tailed hawk; 8 pigeons; 7 crows/ravens; 2 clouds of ankle-to-eyeball gnats; 1 great egret; 1 sea gull with bread in beak being chased by 2 crows
















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)