Thursday, April 28, 2011

Berkeley-Emeryville - Apr. 27, '11

Walking Distance: 7.6 mi. (estimate)
Walking Time: 3 hrs., 58 min. (1:41 - 5:39 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Unpaved parking lot, near University Ave. and I-80 Frontage Rd., Berkeley, CA

Today's walk started at the intersection of University Avenue and  Highway 80 frontage road, near the Seabreeze Market, on the Berkeley Marina side of the freeway. From here, we walked south on the bicycle/pedestrian paved (asphalt with small dirt strip on side) path toward Emeryville (shown as a red line on Bay Trail map).

We checked out every point (Point Emery), peninsula and public pier/dock on the way out to the Emeryville Marina Park and the end of the Bay Trail (red line on map), taking in views of the bay, some sculptures attached to old pier pilings (Emery Cove area), and the San Francisco skyline in the distance.

Sea gulls and crows were busy harvesting mussels, and then dropping them on hard surfaces, trying to extract lunch. Mussels are, I believe, out of season for people, but, not for the birds.

We passed several restaurants in Emeryville, on the way out to the Marina; this area offers a lot of food and drink options, in and among the office buildings, and what we're assuming were condos.

There were great views of the Bay out at Marina Park at the very end of the peninsula in Emeryville.

Thank you to Ashish for joining me for today's walk.

1 turkey vulture; 81 unidentified brownish shorebirds; 44 sea gulls; 4 Canada geese; 6 crows; 3 cormorants; 4 ground squirrels + 1 tree squirrel; 25 ducks; 6 Western grebes; 4 little brown jobs (LBJs); 1 willet; 3 pigeons; 1 snowy egret; 1 fabric kite; 1 black oystercatcher.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Golden Gate Fields - Apr. 26, '11

Walking Distance: 3.6 mi. (estim.)
Walking Time: 1 hr., 35 min. (2:01 - 3:37 p.m.)
Start and End Point: University Ave. and I-80 Frontage Rd., Berkeley, CA

Today's walk covered the section of trail (red line extending north from University Ave., and part of what was shown as a dotted line (future or undeveloped trail) on the Bay Trail map. Thank you to Rhoda who joined me this afternoon.

From the Berkeley Marina area (University Ave. near I-80 freeway), we walked north along the paved bike path toward Golden Gate Fields (horse racing venue/track). There was just enough room to step just outside the path to let bikes pass; however, on a crowded weekend day, I imagine this might be a little less fun to do. In my dreams, this bikepath would have been just a bit wider to better accommodate pedestrians as well as cyclists, but then more wildlife habitat would have been paved over. Trade-offs and small quibbles.

It was another good day to scan for little fuzzballs (baby birds) in the grass in the Eastshore Park area. Some goslings (baby Canada geese) were spotted with a parent.

It turns out that even though there is a dotted line running behind Golden Gate Fields, there is still a way to (I think legally) negotiate through to the beach (adjacent to the Albany Bulb peninsula) on the north side of Golden Gate Fields.

Sea gulls are funny birds. We were almost hit by a falling mussel -- dropped by a sea gull flying above; it was trying to dislodge a little meal from the shell by dropping it and cracking it open on hard pavement. Or at least that explanation made more sense than it was trying to hit us for laughs.

Wildlife Sightings:
5 Canada geese (2 adults, 3 goslings); 4 little brown jobs (LBJs); 1 lizard + 1 BIur in Bushes (BIB); 11 sea gulls; 8 pigeons; 12 ducks; 2 snails; 1 crow

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pt. Richmond - Apr. 23, '11

Walking Distance: 1.8 mi.
Walking Time: 32 min. (4:25 - 4:57 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Public (2-hour) parking spot, on Dornan Dr., near intersection with W. Cutting Blvd., Point Richmond, CA

Today I began walking north on South Garrard Blvd. (under 580, and a few blocks beyond - double red lines trail on map). I also finished walking the short stretch of West Cutting Blvd. (between Dornan Drive/Garrard Blvd. and Canal Blvd. - also shown as double red line trail on map) that I'd missed on an earlier walk. Both of these areas had sidewalks and reasonable setbacks for bicycles, or a dedicated bike path. A train crossing yielded an opportunity to watch graffiti-decorated train cars rumble by.

Sometimes it's not the physical distance traveled, but what you see instead. Today was one of those days. Darkening skies and light rain cut my evening walk time short around 5 p.m. I had wanted an excuse to wander off the trail by a few short blocks to visit downtown Point Richmond. So, I was perfectly content to wander west and drop into the Refined by Fire Art Gallery (103 West Richmond Ave.), in downtown Point Richmond, where I saw the only "wildlife" of the day -- a friendly dog named Mattie, who belonged to gallery owner, Steven J. Nuss.

It was here in front of the gallery, that I also met a gentleman who mentioned he had made a trip around San Francisco Bay (in one day) awhile back, taking (only) various modes of public transportation. 
I hope he'll contact me, so I can list his name on this site. His trip is another great example of how accessible the Bay Area is to anyone willing to venture out of their own city or comfort zone.

Next up: the "dicier" area of Richmond that I've heard about. And then I'm looking forward to attending the April 30, '11, opening of the new landfill loop trail in Richmond up toward Point Pinole. After this, I'll resume my clock-wise walk around the Bay, by returning to the Berkeley Marina area, where I left off further south.

Wildlife Sightings:
0 birds, bugs or small mammals; Mattie the dog.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

SS Red Oak, Richmond - Apr. 21, 2011

Walking Distance: 4.4 mi. (estimate)
Walking Time: 3 hrs., 30 min. (12:08 - 3:38 p.m.) - includes ship tour
Start and End Point: Shipyard III parking lot, off Canal Blvd., Richmond, CA

What a treat to walk out to the S.S. Red Oak Victory, in the Shipyard III/3 area in Richmond, and to take a tour through this ship that was built in the 1940s. There is plenty of interesting history encoded in every part of this ship. Thank you to George Coles for the tour this afternoon. (I would advise checking before you go (as rainy weather may alter the schedule); however, generally, the ship is open on Tues., Thurs., Sat. and Sun.)

I started by walking north on Canal Blvd. to Seacliff Dr. (the end of a previous walk), and then turned around and walked south (shown as a solid red line trail on the Bay Trail map) toward the Inner Harbor Channel, following the Shipyard 3/ Rosie the Riveter themed signs to the SS Red Oak.

The most striking aspects of the walk down to the ship (see red line trail, starting at Canal Blvd. were: 1.) the sweeping views of the San Francisco skyline and Bay; 2.) the huge space devoted to rows of new Honda cars -- fresh off the cargo ship(s), in the large parking lot area, encircled by the Bay Trail/access road; and 3.) the ships anchored in this area, including a large, old timber-hauling, wooden ship gone to seed -- now sporting peeled paint and small clumps of grass.

The trail/road to the ship snaked around a bit, but was easy to follow. Just follow the yellow ship stencils on the paved (asphalt) bike/pedestrian path.

The SS Red Oak upper deck also had great views of the Bay, the San Francisco Skyline, Brooks Island and Mount Tamalpais (across the Bay). Inside the ship, I was able to view crew quarters; a galley with a huge, diesel powered oven/stove (still used for pancake breakfasts); captain's quarters; chart room; and other nooks. Other highlights: peering down into the cavernous, multi-layered engine room, and learning a lot about World War II era life.

On the wildlife front, a whirly crane parked outside the SS Red Oak, I was told occasionally has doubled as a nesting site for interesting birds. Also, alongside the road on the walk back, a small pond backing up into a hill, was a stopping place for a small group of Canada geese, and a family of ducks -- including 4 small duckling darting about under the watchful eye of their mother. It's always fun to see these little fuzzballs in the spring.

Wildlife Sightings:
1 pillbug; 1 white butterfly; 11 Canada geese; 11 ducks (including 4 ducklings); 22 sea gulls; 1 cormorant; 5 Western grebes; 1 tern; 2 turkey vultures; 2 killdeer; 3 crows.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Berkeley Marina - Apr. 19, '11

Walking Distance: 7 miles (estimate)
Walking Time: 3 hrs., 52 min. (11:22 a.m. - 3:14 p.m.)
Start and End Point: public parking lot, near Cesar Chavez Park, Berkeley, CA

I've generally been walking around the Bay in a clock-wise direction. However, today I skipped (temporarily) a few segments in Richmond to walk in the Berkeley Marina area. Thank you to Ashish for joining me today.  Due to spring rains, there were still large areas of green grass, with patches of wildflowers, making for enjoyable scenery, even if it was a bit cool and breezy.

We first walked west and then north along the north side of Cesar Chavez Park (red line loop trail on map). Judging from the small puddles of birdseed on the trail, and birds and ground squirrels that were tame enough to pose for pictures, I'm guessing the wildlife are well fed here (by people at least).

We also walked an unpaved segment of trail (white line on map) before walking through a gated, (no dogs allowed) wildlife restoration area, then continued south along Marina (gold line on map) to University Ave. We took a lunch break at Seabreeze - a combination market and deli that stocked fresh fruit, seafood, sandwiches and smoothie-type drinks. There was a partially covered counter here, but most seating was in the form of wooden picnic tables outside.

After lunch we continued west and south, past Adventure Playground (closed, so we couldn't investigate). In the Shorebird Park/south side of this peninsula, we passed two more restaurants (Hs Lordships and Skates On the Bay), and then walked out to the end of the long fishing pier and back. Ashish pointed out this pier used to be more than 3 miles long (extending from the original, pre-bay fill shoreline), and was one of several piers that once existed, before the automobile and semi, transport truck became the more dominant modes of transportation.

Walking through the remaining marina area, we had the momentary opportunity to feel jealous of those living on nice houseboats there. If you're a landlubber, living on a boat sounds delightfully appealing when you don't have to think about all the maintenance, haul-out costs and other details.

We passed Hana Japan restaurant and the Doubletree hotel with restaurant on our way back as well. So, there are plenty of places to find food and beverages in this area.

Wildlife Sightings:
19 ground squirrels; 33 little brown jobs (LBJs - includ. 2 finches and 2 blackbirds); 21 sea gulls; 14 cormorants; 14 red-winged blackbirds; 13 Western grebes; 2 terns; 3 crows; 60 ducks; 2 butterflies; 30 small unidentified brownish shorebirds; 1 American avocet; 1 killdeer; 1 rusty screw; 2 black-necked stilts; 1 ball; 3 rabbits/hares; 12 Canada geese; 1 loon; 1 UFO grebe/diver; 2 fabric kites.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Brickyard Cove, Richmond - Apr. 15, '11

Walking Distance: 4.6 mi. (including walk to end of Sandpiper Spit)
Walking Time: 1 hr., 55 min. (4:19 - 6:14 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Pkd.: Near Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline parking lot - Dornan Dr. and Brickyard Cove Rd., Richmond, CA

Today's walk started at Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline (park), near the intersection of Dornan Drive and Brickyard Cove Road, in Richmond, CA. I walked east on Brickyard Cove Road (dotted line that became a red line on the Bay Trail map, shown); I passed domestic and wild flowers in bloom, and what was left of an old a plant that used to produce, you guessed it, bricks.

This was the third brickyard I recall seeing on my 1,000-mile walk around the bay. The different brickyards were gradually closed when newer building materials replaced the red clay bricks being made. A few old brick structures (kiln, chimney) remained in this site, mixed in with a relatively new(er) housing development.

I walked out to the end of Sandpiper Spit, a street -- that I (wrongly) thought might be part of the Bay Trail. However, this accidental detour did provide the opportunity to catch glimpses of the Bay, between houses built out on pilings over the water. Some houses looked like they were connected to docks and boats in the harbor.

Despite the presence of housing developments and marinas, I spotted several types of birds in this area, including two black oystercatchers (birds).

As I continued to walk east on Brickyard Cove Rd., this Road turned into Seacliff Drive, which eventually ran into Canal Boulevard. I turned left onto Canal, walking roughly north on Canal, until I reached the native plant nursery at 601 Canal Blvd. -- the point where I'd previously left off -- where I turned around to walk back the same way I'd come, over a few hills and past a few oil storage tankers.

Wildlife Sightings:
5 mockingbirds; 10 sea gulls; 17 little brown jobs (LBJs); 5 red-winged blackbirds + 1 blackbird; 3 cormorants; 9 tiny unidentified brownish shorebirds; 1 coot; 6 pigeons; 1 bumblebee + 2 regular honey bees; 1 dove; 2 ducks; 1 medium-sized unidentified brownish shorebird; 1 unidentified flying bug (UFB); 2 black oystercatchers; 2 swallows; 4 crows; 20 Canada geese; 15 starlings; 2 spiders; 1

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Miller-Knox, Richmond - Apr. 13, '11

Walking Distance: 3 mi.
Walking Time: 1 hr., 30 min. (12:30 - 2:00 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline parking lot, Dornan Dr., Richmond, CA

Thank you to Margaret and Albert for joining me today for a hike in the hills (purple line trail on map) in Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline park, in the Point Richmond area. We began our walk in the unpaved parking lot of the Richmond Ramblers (motor cycle club) building (818 Dornan Drive), north of the Golden State Model Railroad Museum.

From this parking lot area, we headed straight uphill, and walked out to all three scenic points along a crest/ridge trail, including: West Ridge Point, East Vista Point, and Nicholl Knob. The last stop, Nicholl Knob (elevation ~370 feet), had sweeping 360-degree views. From this vantage point, we were able to see Ferry Point, Point Richmond, the San Francisco skyline, Mount Tamalpais, the Richmond San Rafael Bridge, the Carquinez Strait, and various industrial and housing areas. It was a great site for a snack and a panoramic photograph.

We enjoyed spring wildflowers along the way, and what may be the last few weeks of green grass on the hills.

3 mockingbirds; 1 hawk; 3 little brown jobs (LBJs); 2 turkey vultures; 2 pillbugs

Monday, April 11, 2011

Miller/Knox, Keller Beach: April 11, 2011

Walking Distance: 4.4 mi.
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 54 min. (3:08- 6:02 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Public parking lot closest to Ferry Point, Knox-Miller Regional Shoreline Park, Richmond, CA

This afternoon's walk took place in the Point Richmond area. It was a beautiful, spring day, with just enough of a breeze to make for good-kite flying weather for a pirate ship aloft, or for taking a sailboat out on San Francisco Bay.

Thank you to Matt for joining me for today's Bay Trail adventure. We first walked out to Ferry Point and back, and then followed a path that hugged the shoreline until we reached the park's picnic grounds -- a large, green grassy area with a big pond and an island in the middle. There were lots of sea gulls, geese, ducks and other birds here on or near the pond, only occasionally being chased by a young child or dog.

From this area we followed Dornan Drive, roughly north, through the Ferry Point tunnel and into an interesting, historic part of Point Richmond on Richmond Avenue, past a pub, a cafe, an art gallery and many other interesting businesses, including an old railroad depot that had been brightly painted and transformed into a bank.

After returning through the tunnel, we walked up Western Drive (part of  what someone referred to as "the Point Richmond Riviera"), where residents on the Bay side of the street have panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay, the San Francisco skyline and three bridges. We then walked down to Keller Beach, a small strip of sandy, scenic beach with a small picnic area and a few benches.

After living far away, across the Bay, and hearing unfortunate television news reports about crime in Richmond for many years, it was wonderful to visit so many beautiful parts of Richmond during the past few weeks. Good planning and much effort went into making the waterfront areas and trail that we saw today.

To quote Bruce Beyaert, founder of TRAC (Trails for Richmond Action Committee): "... I urge all of you to go out and explore the Bay Trail in Richmond and discover the wondrous necklace of National, state, regional and local parks we have along our shoreline." I couldn't agree more.

On the way home, we revisited the Rosie the Riveter Memorial area and enjoyed a good, Italian dinner at Salute restaurant in Marina Bay. Tables by the windows offered views of boats in the harbor.

Wildlife Sightings:
4 Western grebes; 6 pigeons; 2 unidentified grebes/divers; 33 sea gulls; 14 Canada geese; 2 cormorants; 1 bluebird; 2 killdeer; 1 unidentified brownish shorebird (either a greater or lesser yellowlegs); 4 ducks; 5 coots; 1 turkey vulture; 2 fabric kites

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Richmond, Cutting Blvd. - April 9, '11

Walking Distance: 5.2 mi.
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 34 min. (4:35 - 7:09 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Street parking, near Historic Ford Point, Harbour Way South, Richmond, CA

Beautiful Saturday late afternoon-to- early evening for a walk in Richmond. Even though most of today's walk was along surface streets (double yellow and double red lines on map), it was still interesting. The sky was blue and the temperature was just about right for walking. The shadows started to creep into the picture toward the end, but the spring days are also getting a few minutes longer each week.

I started my walk by revisiting Sheridan Point (near the end of Harbour Way South), and then walking back up Harbour Way South toward Cutting Blvd. This mixed commercial and industrial area is also a transit corridor for railroad traffic. I watched a few trains to go by near Wright Ave. before I reached Cutting.

Along Cutting Blvd. there were several boat, yacht, and marine-related businesses on the bay side of the road. A bit before I reached Canal Blvd., there was a very small park (on the south/bay side of Cutting) accessible via a small cut-through. The park is visible from Cutting if you're on foot, but you may miss it if you're traveling by car.  I then walked part-way down Canal Blvd., before walking back.

After stopping for a quick bite to eat, I walked down Marina Way, and east on Hall Ave., to the Harbor Master's at Marina Bay and watched a few boats coming back into the harbor area before sundown.

Wildlife Sightings:
1 orange tabby cat (same one I saw before); 26 sea gulls; 7 pigeons; 16 little brown jobs (LBJs); 4 crows; 1 small black beetle; 1 pillbug; 2 cormorants; 3 mockingbirds; 4 Canada geese; 1 snail; 3 fabric kites; 1 rusty screw

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Richmond, Marina Bay - April 6, '11

Walking Distance: 3.12 mi.
Walking Time: 1 hr., 41 min. (5:05 - 6:46 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Lucretia Edwards Park, Richmond, CA

Today's early evening walk in the Marina Bay area of Richmond first took me out to Sheridan Point - near what had been an old Ford Motor Co. assembly plant building, located at the end of Harbor Way. The renovated space housed the Craneway Pavilion event space and Boilerhouse Restaurant, and commercial space for a solar company. (And it looked also to be the future site of a planned Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historic Park Visitor Center.)

After this walk by the waterfront with a view of the San Francisco skyline in the distance across the Bay, I headed east toward Marina Bay, and followed the broad, paved path around the harbor area. I passed two more places to stop and get something to eat: Salute, and Amini's By the Bay: Groceries and Delicatessen. I would have liked to have stopped to try one of these places, but it was starting to get dark.

As I continued around the harbor, I overlapped a bit with yesterday's walk. I stopped to spend a bit more time looking at the Rosie the Riveter Memorial, and then I "re-walked" the east side of the harbor to  a short segment connecting the harbor with Shimada Peace/Friendship Park. (I had missed this cut-through yesterday when I chose to walk out to Barbara and Jay Vincent Park.)

I then re-traced my steps, back through the Rosie the Riveter Memorial area to Marina Bay Park, to walk a loop on Regatta Boulevard. I walked west on Regatta until I reached Marina Way South, where I turned left and returned to my car, parked in a public space at Lucretia Edwards Park. By the end of the walk, sunny skies had turned dark, cloudy and very windy.

The above description will sound quite confusing unless you have a map. Fortunately, there were some Marina Bay Trail Guide maps near the Ford Assembly Building. I recommend picking one up if you're in the area.

Wildlife Sightings:
19 sea gulls; 1 crow; 7 pigeons; 5 Western grebes; 5 other UFO grebes, divers; 37 coots; 3 cormorants + lighter one; 3 little brown jobs (LBJs); 1 spider; 1 snail, 1 (fabric) kite; 1 domestic cat