Sunday, December 26, 2010

Glen Cove Marina to Carquinez Bridge Overlook - Dec. 26, '10

Walking Distance: 2.0 miles (estimate)
Walking Time: 1 hr. 2 min. (2:40 - 3:42 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Glen Cove Marina Rd. East - up hill from Elliott Cove/Glen Cove Marina; Vallejo, CA

I walked out to both ends of the Glen Cove Marina. Although walkers are skirting private property, there is public access, and it's a nice area for a stroll, and maybe even a light picnic out by the water, weather permitting.

After walking around Elliot Cove and Glen Cove Marina, I worked my way up a series of earthen and wood reinforced steps and a dirt trail leading uphill -- to an overlook area with good views. This stretch of trail is part of the San Francisco Ridge Trail and the Bay Trail.

From the top of this hill, I could look West into the San Francisco Bay; look East into the Sacramento Delta; look South, across the strait, to the old C&H Sugar plant and trains moving along the shoreline; and I could look down onto traffic moving across the Carquinez Strait bridge. It was worth a little climb to get there.

Wildlife Sightings:
2 pigeons; 5 little brown jobs (LBJs); 6 sea gulls; 2 hawks; 14 coots; 20 ducks; 2 slugs; 3 snails (dark); 1 cormorant

Glen Cove Waterfront Park - Dec. 26, '10

Walking Distance: 1 mile (estimate)
Walking Time: 34 min. (1:57 - 2:31 p.m.)
Start and End Point: End of Westsides/Shoal Dr. (cul-de-sac); Glen Cove Waterfront Park, Vallejo, CA

I first walked East (following what is a dotted line on the map near Glen Cove), past the deserted Stremmel mansion, and found the paved road/trail (shown as a red line) that led to the wooden sign -- just West of the Benicia State Recreation Area, where I'd ended my walk two days ago.

After I reached the sign and admired the view of the Carquinez Strait, I turned around and walked West - as far as the narrow, muddy (dotted line) trail would allow.

The trail narrowed, and at one point I reached an area that I thought might have been an improvised camp or children's fort under a tree; however, the hand-drawn signs hanging from some low branches advised passer-bys that these were Native American burial grounds; and asked that hikers please pass respectfully. It would be great if these facts were called out or recognized as part of the Park. But, it looks like the city may not have finished developing this area. Or, like many areas right now, funding may be an issue.

At some point the trail got even narrower, muddier and sketchier -- enough that I decided to turn around and walk back to the car. It's possible that it continued around the point, and into the next cove (Elliot Cove, where the Glen Cove Marina is located); but it was hard to tell. All the recent rain contributed to a bumper crop of wild mushrooms.

Wildlife Sightings:
20 ducks; 20 coots; 3 turkey vultures; 2 sea gulls; 13 little brown jobs (LBJs); 1 (bumble) bee; 1 (tennis) ball in reeds/water

Friday, December 24, 2010

Benicia State Recreation Area, cont. - Dec. 24, '10

Walking Distance: 2.8 miles (estimate)
Walking Time: 1 hr., 20 min. (2:32 - 3:52 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Benicia State Recreation Area, parking lot near botanic garden; Benicia, CA

Today I continued my walk through the Benicia State Recreation Area (the portion of the red line further West on the map). Unlike the clear, sunny weather yesterday, today was quite foggy. So, I missed what I'm certain would otherwise be some beautiful views of the Carquinez Strait and bridge.

Instead I saw a few ships appearing and disappearing in the mist, and listened to the blast of a train across the strait, in Martinez.

What's not shown on this Bay Trail map is there is actually a fairly dense network of trails in this lower "lobe" (west of Dillon Point). I followed all the various trails to make sure I didn't miss any of the segments of the Bay Trail in this area.

At the end of the hike I had a car picnic (view of tables and trees shown at right). I have to say, I enjoy car picnics -- no matter how simple the food and drink.

I noticed there were a lot of land snails on wild fennel and other plants in this area. Their bodies were a bit darker than regular garden land snails that I see in my garden. (I'll need to do some research to find out what kind they are.)

My efforts to photograph a kite (bird) in a dead tree failed. Sea gull-sized birds, kites are striking white birds with dark around their eyes, and they have a flutter hover that is very distinctive. Ah well. Next time perhaps.

Wildlife Sightings:
60 snails (with darker bodies); 1 kite (bird); 5 sea gulls; 41 little brown jobs (LBJs); 22 ducks; 2 large "rafts" of birds way out on water/strait - but they were too far away to identify (probably ducks or coots); and 1 Western or Clarks Grebe.

Benicia State Recreation Area - Dillon Pt. - Dec. 23, '10

Walking Distance: 3.2 miles
Walking Time: 1 hr., 23 min. (3:10 - 4:33 p.m.)
Start and End Point: State Park public parking lot ($6.00 for Day Use), Benicia State Recreation Area (end of Rose Dr.); Benicia, CA

Today was a gorgeous, sunny winter day; it was a perfect time to walk around Southampton Bay and out to Dillon Point, in Benicia. The pictures tell the story. I followed Dillon Point Road (red line on map), inside the Benicia State Recreation Area -- continuing where I'd left off a few days ago.

On the way, I passed the Forrest Deaner Native Plant Botanic Garden (which contains some 250 species on 3.5 acres, overlooking Southampton Bay.

This dog-friendly stretch of of trail was suitable for all types of traffic -- walkers, runners, bicyclists, and cars. At the end of Dillon Point Road, there were restrooms and what appeared to be the end of the road; a small section of unpaved trail continued out to Dillon Point from there. Looking West (toward Vallejo), on a clear day, was a nice view of the Carquinez Strait Bridge.

Wildlife Sightings:
4 robins; 14 little brown jobs (LBJs); 9 ducks; 9 egrets (6 snowy, 3 great); 4 sea gulls; 5 ground and/or other squirrels; 7 Western and/or Clark's Grebes; 22 coots; 1 cormorant; 11 red-winged blackbirds; 6 crows

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Benicia - Matthew Turner Park - Benicia State Rec. Area - Dec. 21, '10

Walking Distance: 2.8 miles
Walking Time: 1 hr., 35 min. (12:53 - 2:28 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Public parking lot in Matthew Turner Park, Benicia, CA

I photographed birds first in goose-friendly Matthew Turner Park. Although the geese must have their detractors. One probably placed the "statue" of the crouching wolf nearby. The geese were giving him a wide berth.

I then walked West on K Street. At the point where K Street and Military W. crossed, there was a frontage road (Dillon Pt. Rd./near Highway 780) that led into Benicia State Recreation Area. Nice, side-by-side bicycle and pedestrian paved paths were a luxury and allowed me to stop, photograph and gawk at some hawks and other critters, without worrying about annoying bicyclists. I tried walking closer to the water, but parts of this muddy trail were flooded due to recent rains and high tide today.

There were lots of ground squirrels out today "mowing" the grass -- nibbling on bright green shoots starting to appear.

13 Geese (1 Canada goose, 3 all white geese; 9 white-fronted geese; and 1 smaller goose w/ brown markings); 5 little brown jobs (LBJs); 16 crows/ravens; 7 sea gulls (2 fighting over a piece of food mid-air -- that crow ended up getting when they dropped it); 102 ducks; 1 coot; 1 domestic cat; 12 snails (w/ darker bodies than most snails); 2 Great Egrets; 3 brown hawks; 1 jackrabbit eating green grass; 6 ground squirrels eating green grass.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Benicia - I St., West - Dec. 16, '10

Walking Distance: 2.8 miles (estimate)
Walking Time: 1 hr., 26 min. (3:56 - 5:22 p.m.)
Start and End Point: W. 5th St., near J St., Benicia, CA

Today I walked back to where I'd hit a dead end near West 3rd St. and I St. in Benicia, last weekend. The mystery was solved when I spotted a wooden staircase on a hill went up to W. 3rd and G St.

From there, I headed West, along the Carquinez Strait, as close to the water as the Bay Trail would allow. I enjoyed seeing several old wood Victorian houses. Further West the houses looked newer and nicer, but less charming.

I passed by several small parks along the shoreline today, including one with a boat launch ramp at West 9th St. I turned around to head back at Matther Turner Park (near W. 12th St. and K St.).

Although my walking was cut short when it got dark around 5 p.m., I was happy to be walking on a day with no rain. Although judging from the heavy cloud formations rolling in, it may be awhile before we see sunny weather again.

OK weather for ducks and geese though.

Wildlife Sightings:
28 sea gulls; 12 coots; 5 white-fronted geese (or at least 4 + 1 whiter one); 1 cormorant; 22 ducks; 19 Canada Geese (13 in water); and 1 unidentified brownish shorebird.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Benicia Marina -> West; Dec. 12, '10

Walking Distance: 2.7 miles (estimate)
Walking Time: 1 hr. 52 min. (3:00 - 4:52 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Public Parking lot area (4 hour limit), near Benicia Marina, Benicia, CA
Although overcast, the weather today was relatively mild. This made for a pleasant stroll through the historic areas of Benicia by the water, including the restored train depot (with a small See's Candies shop inside), a large Christmas tree, and a fishing pier out on the 1st Street Green area. From there, I walked up 1st Street, past antique shops, restaurants, and other businesses.

I took a very short detour to see the Benicia Capitol building, and then tried to follow the dog-leg trail. Eventually it got dark enough that I had to stop. Next time, I'll figure my way out of what appeared to be a dead-end street somewhere near I Street.

39 little brown jobs (LBJs); 54 sea gulls; 1 great egret; 15  blackbirds (plain and red-winged blackbirds close to water's edge); 2 Western or Clark's grebes; 20 ducks.

Is Dumbarton Bridge trail open yet? No - Dec. 7, '10

Is the trail area near the Western (Menlo Park) end of the Dumbarton Bridge open yet?
Short answer, no it is not. (This project is scheduled to be completed in 2011 I believe.)

When I exited Highway 84, right before the Dumbarton bridge, construction and salt pond rehab work was still underway today (Dec. 7, 2010).

Delay in Postings - due to frozen shoulder

Apologies for delays in postings this past month. I'd hoped to make great headway in my walk around San Francisco Bay this Autumn. However, due to international travel and a "frozen shoulder" this was not to be. I missed November entirely, and spent time rehabilitating the arm and shoulder instead. This is a shame, as I remember some really wonderful walking days on the other side of the Bay during the month of November last year. Ah well. Patience.

Benicia Marina to Jefferson - Oct. 27, '10

Walking Distance: 2.4 miles (estimate)
Walking Time: 56 min. (5:04 - 6:00 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Public parking lot (4-hour limit) near Marina

After walking out two, small/short Public Access spurs,  I walked North on 5th Street, past the City of Benicia Wastewater Treatment Plant, took a right on East Military, then jogged left-ish onto Jefferson. It started to rain, and so I turned around at the intersection of Jefferson and Park.

Houses were decorated for Halloween (which was 3-4 days away). I liked the fake sea gull with the skeleton, the various haunted houses and and lawn tombstones.

2 mockingbirds
2 doves
2 little brown jobs (LBJs)
1 hubcap
1 ball
1 domestic cat
2 sea gulls in the distance, flying over the Bay
2 crows
1 dark bird with white wingtips and long tail (Mynah?)
(Heard a few hummingbirds closeby, but didn't actually spot any)

Wilson Ave., Vallejo, CA - Oct. 8, '10

Walking Distance: 2.0 miles (estimate)
Walking Time: 60 minutes (4:30 - 6:30 p.m. - less 1 hr. for meal)
Start and End Point: Sardine Can (restaurant) parking lot

I started this afternoon/evening walk with some crab salad and tomato artichoke soup at the Sardine Can restaurant. After that,  I walked south and then north -- under the Mare Island Causeway, and along Wilson north of Highway 37. I stopped near an onramp to Highway 37, after a sidewalk area had ended as well, near a locked gate.

1 big seal or sea lion (which disappeared too quickly to be properly identified)
5 ducks
50 little brown jobs
3 blurs in the bushes
1 fairly large crane or heron perched on top of a tall wooden pole/piling off-shore
1 cloud of bugs
1 crow
1 hypodermic syringe
1 shell (gun) casing
5 sea gulls
5 unidentified brownish shorebirds
13 geese

Mare Island Way, Vallejo - Oct. 7, 2010

Walking Distance: 2.4 miles
Walking Time: 1 hr., 7 min. (5:13 - 7:20 p.m.); 1 hour was dinner stop
Start and Stop Point: Public parking lot where people were fishing

Today, I got out of my car and walked south. I eventually passed a make-shift memorial for a young man who had died, complete with candles, balloons, cards, and other items. These roadside memorials are a sad bit of life, that go largely unnoticed when you are inside a car. However, when walking, you have a chance to glimpse a picture, parts of a story, and it's difficult to ignore these small shrines. So, best wishes to Isaac's family, wherever you may be.

Shortly after this point, I turned around near the intersection of Curtola Parkway and Sonoma Boulevard/Highway 29, and walked north, past my car, and the Vallejo Ferry. There were views of Mare Island from the trail, which ran along the Bay. I walked as far north as the Vallejo Boat Works. Along the way, I stopped and had dinner at Zio Freddos restaurant on the water.

77 pigeons
33 sea gulls
2 turkey vultures
14 ducks
1 cormorant
2 black crowned night herons

Decision to skip two stretches of Vallejo

I will be walking through Vallejo next. Unfortunately, there are some areas of the Bay Trail that can be a little dicey for pedestrians walking alone.

For safety reasons -- linked to a recent rise in crime in some areas, cuts in law enforcement, and kids throwing rocks at passerbys (fortunately I got away with a dent in my car just below my passenger window, and was not hit directly) -- I've chosen to skip two stretches of Bay Trail in Vallejo. This week I will finish walking two stretches of Vallejo trail. However, after that, I will skip the remaining two, and I will move onto Benicia. I hope to return to finish these two sections someday.

Mini Drive to Highway 37, Vallejo

Walking Distance: 1.6 miles
Walking Time:
Start and End Point: Parked along Mini Drive

Walking along the side of a road (Sonoma Blvd./Highway 29) that is leading to a freeway on-ramp is rarely a glamorous undertaking. I did not see much in the way of wildlife, as much of this stretch was either asphalt, concrete, or otherwise developed. About the closest I came to spotting wildlife was a hand-written sign advertising pit bull puppies.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Broadway/Highway 29, cont. - Sept. 22, 2010

Walking Distance: 3.2 miles (estimate)
Walking Time: 1 hr., 29 min. (5:36 - 7:05 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Safeway parking lot, American Canyon, CA

After a nice Tsunami sushi lunch at Safeway, I walked East to walk down the other side of Broadway. This side of Broadway is part of historic Highway 40; and I walked through Veterans Memorial Park along the way and passed a dog park. The Eastern side of Broadway is a little more pedestrian friendly than the busier West side.

As sundown approached, a very large flock of songbird sized birds circled overhead.

1 unidentified bird
2 blurs in the bushes
15 doves
16 red-winged blackbirds - singing like mad
1 turkey vulture
1 black beetle
282 little brown jobs (LBJs)
41 pigeons
1 crow

Opening of New Trail Segment - Sept. 20, 2010

Distance: Walked about 1 mile to opening ceremony
Time: 10:30 a.m. - 12 noon (ceremony started at 11 a.m.)
Start and End Point: Sunnyvale, CA

I recently returned from a long trip, and am eager to get walking soon. However, I took a break from walking up North this week to attend today's ceremony. Today an important, new 2.4 mile stretch of the Bay Trail opened near Moffett Field, allowing access from Mountain View to Sunnyvale.

After speeches were made, and proper recognition was given to all those that had worked long and hard on making this happen, a previously locked gate was opened -- and bicycle riders, pedestrians and runners streamed through the gate. It was a beautiful day, and I decided to walk to the ceremony to enjoy the scenery, even though that meant the space was packed with attendees by the time I arrived.