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.

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