Monday, May 30, 2011

Doolittle Dr., Oakland - May 28, '11

Walking Distance: 2.2 miles
Walking Time: 1 hr., 21 min. (3:39 - 5:00 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Martin Luther King Regional Shoreline, public parking lot, Oakland, CA

This afternoon's walk along the Airport Channel in Martin Luther King Shoreline (park area), and along Doolittle Drive was cut short when a light sprinkle turned into a heavier rain. Surprisingly, this was the first time I'd ever gotten caught in a shower without an umbrella since I started walking around the Bay. Usually, by late May, showers are few and far between. I had to tuck my camera into my jacket and sprint back to the car. No harm done.

By the time I made it back to my car, I was the only one left in the park. I had parked near the boat launching area, where a family had been out on a jetski earlier in the Airport Channel (water).

The only company that remained: lots of Canada geese and some goslings, and a few ducks -- some of which I photographed at the start of this walk, on my way (north) up to the Bill Osborne Model Airplane Field, which may be located in the very southern tip of Alameda, and not Oakland proper. To get here from the park, you'll need to walk along a busy section of Doolittle Drive (double yellow lines on the Bay Trail map) with rapidly moving cars. But, if you decide to brave this stretch on foot, you'll also have a good view of the Oracle (Oakland A's) stadium across the water, to the east.

Goslings and ducklings are wonderful to photograph. Having a zoom lens on my camera helps a great deal. I don't walk with a tripod or any other fancy gear that would weigh me down, so I'm always hoping to get a few good, clear, handheld shots. Sometimes, I shoot pictures while walking, or without looking at the LCD display/viewfinder. I've gotten some entertaining shots this way.

Occasionally I run into lost items or toys that have been left behind in odd places -- such as this Spiderman action figure that someone left on a trash can in the park. Life is never dull if you pay attention. And, while people across the parking lot earlier may have wondered why on Earth I was photographing a trash can, I'm OK with that.

Wildlife Sightings:
9 ducks; 43 Canada geese (including 8 goslings); 11 sea gulls; 1 crow; 2 unidentified brownish shorebirds (UBBs); 1 hubcap; 1 killdeer; 4 snowy egrets; 6 terns; 1 cormorant; 4 little brown jobs (LBJs); 1 starling; 2 blackbirds; 3 balls (1 old tennis ball, 2 kids balls); 1 rusty screw; 1 black oystercatcher; 1 black-crowned night heron (flying overhead).

Hana Bay, Hawaii - May 21, '11

Walking Distance: 1 mile (estimate)
Walking Time: 50 minutes (4:30 - 5:20 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Parking Lot, Hana Beach Park; Hana (Maui), in Hawaii

I have gotten into the habit of bay walking. I see a little bay, and I feel like I must walk it. So, every once in awhile, I have to sneak in a walk from outside the San Francisco Bay Area.

I wasn't in San Francisco this past week, but rather in the southern part of Maui, in the little paradise town of Hana. The southern part of this bay has a road, and/or a sandy beach that can be walked on, but the rest of the bay involves climbing over dark, lava rocks that are planted in the sea.

Because the weather was starting to look like rain, I didn't walk the whole bay. But, it's nice to leave a little bit left to finish, to look forward to, for a return trip in the future. Plus I look forward to stopping at Tutu's ice cream stand next time; they were closed when we were at the Park.

There are many small bays on Maui, and the rest of the islands. Kahului Bay/Harbor was the other small-sized bay that I walked, in part, last week. Kahului is on of the northeastern side of Maui close to the main airport (OGG).

Wildlife Sightings:
2 starlings (myna birds)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bay Farm Island loop - May 26, '11

Walking Distance: 7.2 miles (estimate)
Walking Time: 3 hrs., 13 min. (5:12 - 8:25 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Shoreline Drive and Broadway, Alameda, CA

I started today's walk where I left off previously in Alameda -- at the end of a paved (asphalt) path along Shoreline Drive. At this point, a paved (solid red line) trail turned into a unpaved, packed dirt and sand path (gold colored line on map) that was narrowed in parts, with waist-high grasses on either side. This path will take you to the pedestrian and bicyclist drawbridge (Bay Farm Island Bridge -- shown as solid red line on map) that crosses over to "Bay Farm Island" (primarily a residential and office park area) on the north side of the same peninsula where Oakland Airport is located.

After crossing the bridge (and walking a very short purple trail segment on the Alameda side of the bridge), I walked east/southeast on a trail along the San Leandro Bay (with views of Oracle stadium further inland) to a Model Airplane Park. I then crossed the street to follow the Harbor Bay Parkway around (double red lines) in a large circle -- past a municipal golf course, an industrial park (home of the Oakland Raiders pro football team, Peet's Coffee and Tea, and a few biotech and other technology companies), and to the Ferry stop.

From the Ferry stop the trail (turns to solid red again) along the water merges with a Shoreline Park, and offers great views of the distant San Francisco skyline and Bay Bridge, and the Oakland skyline, on a clear day. It's also very nice at sunset (with the sun setting over San Francisco). I enjoyed hearing the lapping of small waves on the north/bay side of this path. Residential developments were set back on the south/land side of this trail.

I made my way across the same (Bay Farm Island) bridge into Alameda and high-tailed it back through the dirt path area, just as it was getting dark, and after taking a few last sunset pictures, a few with some windsurfers that look like dark specks in front of the San Francisco skyline. (To see them, you may need a magnifying glass.)

By the time I finished, I was hungry, and enjoyed a Greek dinner at Daphne's in the Alameda Towne Centre shopping center a few blocks north from where I had parked (at the south end of Shoreline Drive).

Wildlife Sightings:
2 black beetles; 3 doves; 12 little brown jobs (LBJs) including 1 pair of finches; 10 terns; 1 swallow; 18 sea gulls; 2 bumblebees; 1 pigeon; 1 great blue heron; 11 ducks; 1 great egret; 1 blackbird; 1 tennis ball; 2 hummingbirds; 1 cormorant; 4 crows; 3 ground squirrels; 1 snail.

Oakland, Lake Merritt Loop - May 17, '11

Walking Distance: 5.3 miles total (3.3 miles for actual loop)
Walking Time: 3 hrs., 3 min. (2:00 - 5:03 p.m.) (estimate)
Start and End Point: Jack London Aquatic Center, in Oakland, CA

Today I walked inland (northeast) a mile or so from the Bay Trail, into downtown Oakland, to meet with the Bay Trail team for lunch. Thank you again to Laura, Maureen and Lee for all the good work you do.

From the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG)/Bay Trail offices at 8th and Oak Streets (across the street from the Lake Merritt BART station), I walked (northeast) up Oak St. toward Lakeside/Lake Merritt to get to the loop walk around the lake (shown as a solid purple line on the Bay Trail map).

Note: While the map shows a purple line going from the Bay Trail to Lake Merritt, there really is not a connector trail in place at this time. However, heading northeast from Jack London Square on Oak Street is a fairly easy way to get to Lake Merritt from the main Bay Trail.

I had caught glimpses of Lake Merritt in years past, always from a moving car. So I was delighted to discover many new nooks in this large lake at close range, on foot, including the oldest wildlife refuge in the U.S. The Lake Merritt Refuge (established in the 1870s) is an area with many birds, and a few small "islands" with dozens of cormorants nesting in trees, and many other birds (different types of geese and ducks, and black-crowned night herons, to name a few) nearby - at the Rotary Nature Center.

The trail around the lake is lined with benches and, in places, strings of lights -- that must make for festive summer evenings. It looks like there is something to do for people of all ages, whether it's going out for a stroll, a run, a gondola ride, or visiting the Children's Fairyland area.

Someday I'd like to return to eat at the Lake Chalet (Seafood Bar and Grill). The view of the lake looks like it's worth experiencing.

Wildlife Sightings:
46 pigeons; 100 sea gulls; 20 ducks; 98 Canada geese; 7 snowy egrets; 50 cormorants; 2 blackbirds; 5 little brown jobs (LBJs); 1 white fronted/mixed goose + 4 odd/unidentified geese; 1 unidentified flying bug (UFB); 8 black-crowned night herons, including 2 brownish juvenile herons; 4 squirrels; 1 crow.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Alameda, Shoreline Dr. - May 16, '11

Walking Distance: 3 miles
Walking Time: 1 hr., 42 min. (11:08 a.m. - 12:50 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Alameda Towne Centre, Alameda, CA

I'm not finished walking Oakland yet; but I skipped ahead today to walk over in Alameda, along Shoreline Drive (solid red line on Bay Trail map). Thank you to Ken for walking the trail with me today, and for expert photo tips.

We started at the Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary. First, we walked southeast along Shoreline Drive to the end of the paved (asphalt) trail; and then we turned around to follow the trail northwest along Shoreline Drive -- as far as the intersection of Westline Dr. and ShoreLine Dr., near Robert Crown Memorial State Beach/Alameda Beach/Park, before retracing our steps back to the Alameda Towne Centre shopping center, where we enjoyed a Greek lunch.

Along the way, ground squirrels popped up occasionally, and there were scenic views of beach grass and flowers in bloom, a long stretch of sandy beach and the San Francisco Bay; and further out, across the water, there were distant city skylines among gray clouds. It was overcast on the day we were walking, and we just missed being rained on by a few minutes. The views were still great -- as I'm sure they would be great on a clear, sunny day, or at sunset, as well.

Wildlife Sightings:
32 sea gulls; 8 cormorants; 4 ducks; 8 pigeons; 3 crows; 8 terns; 2 unidentified brownish shorebirds (UBBs); 2 great egrets, and 2 snowy egrets; 1 dove; 6 ground squirrels; 1 vole; 9 little brown jobs (LBJs); 6 bumblebees + 5 regular bees; 9 Canada geese

Oakland, Embarcadero - May 13, '11

Walking Distance: 1.2 miles
Walking Time: 43 minutes (1:22 - 2:05 p.m.)
Start and End Point: 1211 Embarcadero, Estuary Cove; Oakland, CA

Another quick, short segment this afternoon. Would love to have walked a bit longer, but need to get home for a meeting later today. Life does get in the way of walking the bay. It's important to actually schedule or block out time for crazy adventures in one's schedule.

I continued to walk southeast along the Embarcadero in Oakland this afternoon. I walked the trail along the water's edge until it ended at 1363 Embarcadero; and then I walked along Embarcadero, past a small beach and the San Antonio Fishing Pier, as far as Harbor Masters office (Embarcadero Cove Marina, Central Basin), just south of a Motel 6. After that, I turned around and walked back, northwest on Embarcadero. After getting back to my car, I enjoyed a nice cold coffee drink at Starbucks at 1211 Embarcadero; the patio in the back faces the water, and has a view of Coast Guard Island.

Wildlife Sightings:
6 sea gulls; 3 cormorants; 2 balls (nerf football, party deflated soccer? ball); 1 mattress; 2 Western grebes; 2 terns; 1 little brown job (LBJ); 1 bumblebee; 9 pigeons

Jack London Square - May 13, '11

Walking Distance: 1.3 miles
Walking Time: 37 min. (12:37 p.m. - 1:14 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Jack London Aquatic Center, off Embarcadero, Oakland, CA

I doubled back today to make sure that I covered this short segment (double red lines on Bay Trail map) along Embarcadero (in between Jack London Square and the Jack London Aquatic Center) that I missed, having taken the waterfront/boardwalk route previously. The two bits of trail run in parallel here from Jack London Square toward Aquatic Park. (The path along the water is shown as a solid red line on the map.)

I'm glad I did, as I walked by the train station, and discovered Miette Bakery's Oakland location, where I was able to gaze at glass jars of macarons and a wonderful selection of chocolates.

Also, I had another opportunity to pass the historic buildings commemorating American writer, Jack London, and his life and times in Oakland, Alaska and elsewhere. There was also a metal statue of a wolf/dog, like those in many of London's stories, such as "Call of the Wild." This wolf statue happened to be gazing down at a few (live) pigeons; although there was not much he could do to them being in frozen form.

Wildlife Sightings:
2 crows; 2 sea gulls; 3 pigeons

Oakland - Geese Visit, May 11, '11

Walking Distance: 2.0 miles
Walking Time: 1 hr., 37 min. (5:44 - 7:21 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Jack London Aquatic Center, Oakland, CA

I was walking southeast on Embarcadero over a bridge, and I spied an interesting mixed flock of geese and some goslings, below near the water. I stopped to point my camera down and take a few photos, when I heard a voice say: "You can come down here to take a closer look if you want." No, I wasn't hearing voices, there was someone under the bridge; and so, call me crazy, I left the road and made my way down to take a closer look.

I ended up speaking with a homeless man who I will call "the guardian of the geese." He was very knowledgable about the geese (and the few domestic ducks), and could tell me the breed, the diet, and something about each member of this avian crew. This is not something I ever would have seen driving by in a car. And this is why walking the Bay is so interesting. And, sometimes, you just have to leave civilization and sit down in the dirt to get an eye-level view of a goose.

After this visit, I continued walking south on Embarcadero, as far as 10th, then cut west to a boardwalk along the water, then to a small shopping center (with a Quiznos and a Starbucks) before turning around and heading back to the car.

On the way back, I enjoyed watching a group of sailboats before the sun set. Thanks to Yogi the dog's owner for letting me take a picture of Yogi playing with the frisbee/disk.

Wildlife Sightings:
37 pigeons; 20 geese (14 mixed, non-Canadian geese, 6 goslings -- 6 were white-fronted geese); 2 "domestic" ducks; 1 crow; 1 sea gull; 2 little brown jobs (LBJs); 2 balls; Yogi the dog w/ Frisbee in park; 2 Canada geese.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Oakland, 7th St. - May 11, '11

Walking Distance: 4.2 mi. (estimate - for large loop)
Walking Time: 1 hr., 46 min. (3:37 - 5:23 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, public parking lot (Middle Harbor and 7th) Oakland, CA

If you like big trucks and seeing how things work, this highly industrialized (large loop) route may be of interest. I began this walk in the relative serenity of Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, with geese and goslings running to and fro.

From the park, I crossed the street, and I entered the world of loud rumblings and heavy moving metal.  I walked on the paved (asphalt) path east on 7th Street (double red lines, then solid red line on Bay Trail map), toward the West Oakland BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station. You'll be walking in parallel with the BART train tracks (blue line on map). Semi-trucks were whooshing by on 7th St., busy dropping off goods to waiting cargo ships; and many were leaving, having accomplished their mission for the day.

And, except for a somewhat dicey, necessary street crossing near the intersection of 7th and Maritime, all went very smoothly. (I needed to cross the street because the sidewalk was ending under BART, and I needed to get to a sidewalk (on the northeast side of 7th) to enter into the underpass and into the Cement Grant Canyon (not its official name). There isn't really an elegant way for a pedestrian to make this crossing, but if you're careful, and look both ways, it's not a problem. Just remember those big trucks may need extra stopping distance.

You will be treated to a free exhibition of graffiti/street art in the underpass/gallery. And, then you'll pop out into what I call The Cement Grand Canyon. It's a bit intimidating (so much so, that I forgot to take a picture), but there is a sidewalk, crosswalk and walk lights for pedestrians, so just toddle through and be amazed at all the concrete that went into this place. You will not see any green here; wildlife sightings may be limited to small bits of detritus: a rusty screw or two, a little dust, a muddy/oily shred of cloth, and a bit of broken glass and a chicken bone -- at least I think that's what it was.

Next, on your right, will be a gigantic post office building/facility -- probably a major hub of some sort. And then, before you know it (after a bit of construction on 7th if you don't dogleg over to 8th at Wood 1st), you'll be at the West Oakland BART stop on your right. I turned right at Martin Luther King (MLK) -- aka Mandela Parkway on some maps)/3rd St., and followed 3rd St. to Adeline. Cross the street to the far (southeast) side of Adeline to the crosswalk which, upon heading right/west, will take you over an overpass and back to Middle Harbor.

The final leg involved heading west on Middle Harbor (road), shown as double yellow lines on the Bay Trail map. There are not sidewalks on this road, so I would advise walking on the packed dirt shoulder where possible. Depending on the time of day, you may also have the option of stopping at one of several lunch trucks parked along the road, for a sandwich, a burrito, or something to drink along this stretch.

While this is a gritty walk, especially on a windy, particulate-filled day (and probably not the best walk for families and/or children), there were some very interesting sights to see. Being near the Port of Oakland, and the heart of several transit centers, I felt I was at the infrastructure heart of what keeps the flow of goods and services moving.

Wildlife Sightings:
4 rusty screws; 1 hubcap; 5 sea gulls; 2 little brown jobs (LBJs); 16 Canada geese (8 adults and 8 goslings); 1 plastic ride-on toy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Jack London Square - May 10, '11

Walking Distance: 4.1 mi.
Walking Time: 1 hr., 40 min. (4:48 - 6:28 p.m.) + dinner stop after
Start and End Point: Jack London Square Parking Garage, Oakland, CA

I'm loving daylight savings time in the warmer months; it gives me more time to walk in the evenings before pitch dark arrives. This evening I walked the boardwalk (solid red line on Bay Trail map) at Jack London Square, and surrounding areas. I also walked north - to 3rd St. and Adeline (double red lines on map), and to the south I followed the shoreline trail as far as Estuary Park (near the Aquatic Center, south of the old Rusty Scupper Restaurant, now closed).

Heading northwest from Jack London Square, the 3rd St. area is fairly hard-bitten, industrial and borders the Port of Oakland. There was not much to see of the Bay from here, but it's an important part of Oakland, and has an interesting history of its own. A few of the original brick buildings from earlier commercial establishments remain along or near Embarcadero as well.

I enjoyed reading about the history of this port area, and its namesake, American writer Jack London. The author of "Call of the Wild" and other books, was born in San Francisco, grew up on ranches, and moved to Oakland with his family when he was 10 years old. "In 1916, he died as he had lived," read one plaque. Great epitaph, although it does conjure up notions of hard living.

A metal sculpture of a wolf/dog gazed down at the ground near an old log cabin (with a sod roof no less) and a few yards further south lay Heinold's First and Last Chance -- a small, period-designed wooden tavern. Also on view from the boardwalk: views of the Port of Oakland, Alameda. And on the bird wildlife front, there were several Western and/or Clark's grebes in the water, calling to each other, and a few terns darting around above the water.

While many of the shops had closed by the time I finished walking, there were at least half a dozen restaurants in the area that were still open -- including Kincaid's, which I chose as a dinner stop.

20 Western grebes; 27 sea gulls; 10 pigeons; 4 cormorants; 2 terns; 4 little brown jobs (LBJs) - including one w/ very pretty song; 1 duck; 2 crows; 1 hummingbird.