Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sausalito-Marin - Aug. 10, '12

Walking Distance: 2.4 miles
Walking Time: 1 hr., 14 min. (7:12 - 8:26 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Shopping center parking lot, Harbor Drive and Marinship Way, Sausalito, CA

This evening I took advantage of the longer daylight hours of summer and took a walk in northern Sausalito. Fingers of fog were starting to roll over the hills, cooling things down.

First, however, I needed dinner.

I checked out "Fish," a restaurant at the (east) end of Harbor Drive, by the water; it looked great. But, I was in a hurry to do some walking before dark.

So I hiked back up toward Bridgeway and I bought dinner at Mollie Stone's off Harbor Drive, near the intersection with Marinship/Bridgeway. This local grocery store always seems to have a great selection of high-quality foods that are also portable enough for walks. I remember stopping here on my first walk around the bay a few years ago.

Most of tonight's walk was along paved road, asphalt pathways, or sidewalks. However, I did take a few detours along some packed dirt transitions or smaller trails closer to the water -- particularly when I walked back closer to the water (southeast) on Gate 5 (road) and back up (west on) Harbor Drive on the walk back (not on the Bay Trail).

After dinner, I walked north along Bridgeway, the main road running roughly north-south through Sausalito, at about the point where double red lines turned into a solid red line trail on the Bay Trail Map.

I eventually made the transition to the bicycle - pedestrian path and walked north toward Marin. This part of the walk was closer to the water (Richardson Bay), which afforded great views of a variety of different houseboats (loved the colorful jumble of mailboxes facing the road), and Mount Tamalpais before sunset.

There were also several white egrets fishing near the shore, in the grasses and shadows.

I passed the Seaplane Adventures office (which was closed for the day). I hope to take a flight on one of these seaplanes soon to get an aerial view of Richardson Bay and San Francisco. I turned around at the Shoreline Office center.

Wildlife Sightings:
1 crow; 25 sea gulls; 6 snowy egrets and 2 great egrets

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sausalito - Aug. 2, 2012

Walking Distance: 2.0 miles (estimate)
Walking Time: 4 hours (11:10 a.m. - 3:10 p.m. total, 4 stops)
Start and End Point: Parking lot, near Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA

If you like boats, this would be a great walk for you. We started with a ferry boat ride from San Francisco (Ferry Building) to the lovely coastal town of Sausalito in Marin County.

It was a beautiful day for a ferry ride across San Francisco Bay, with views of Angel Island on the way. As we pulled into Sausalito a thin layer of fog was curling over the tops of the hills, but it was a beautiful sunny day. From the ferry terminal we walked to Bridgewater, and headed north toward Harbor Boulevard.

Along the way, we walked primarily on paved sidewalks and road surfaces, although we did take a few detours. For example, we walked along the wooden planked docks to see houseboats* and on paved dirt/gravel paths to check out Carl Dunphy Park and to see an art car. And we sauntered along a gravel/dirt road next to a boatyard, as we were looking for Gate 5 and Harbor Blvd.

There were several interesting places to visit, and to eat and drink on this walk. We passed by the Visitors Center and Historic Exhibit building, but stopped at Cibo, a cafe in a brick building on Bridgeway, for some lunch. After our meal, we continued north and spent time taking a tour through The Bay Model.

The Bay Model was a very large scale model of the San Francisco Bay that, run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, that was open to the public. While more sophisticated computer models have replaced some of the original functions of this huge physical representation of the Bay (roughly the size of two large warehouses inside), the Bay Model Vistors Center represents a great learning environment for school groups and anyone else interested in knowing more about the history and geographic and hydrological workings of the Bay. In addition to short films and interactive displays, there was a tule boat, and an exhibit area with information about the building of ships during WWII.

Continuing north, we visited a large building that housed dozens of artists studios on Harbor Blvd. (A small "Art" sign on the building that housed West Marine led us here.) And, last but not least, we took a trip into Heath Ceramics. We needed to get back to catch our ferry back to San Francisco, but if we'd had time we would have had some dinner there; we heard good things about "Fish" restaurant at the end of Harbor Blvd. Next time...

On the return Ferry ride back to San Francisco we cruised by Alcatraz Island, and were close enough to see details of buildings and structures there.

*For those interested in more information on the wooden boats, you might also enjoy:
Vistoria Colella's Sausalito Wooden Boat Tour:

Thank you to Elise and Camille for joining me on this walk.

Wildlife Sightings:
12 sea gulls; 3 pigeons; 1 crow; 7 little brown jobs (LBJs); 1 cormorant; 1 butterfly

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fort Baker - July 28, '12

Walking Distance: 3.2 miles (estimate)
Walking Time: 1 hr., 50 min. (4:40 - 6:30 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Fort Baker, Marin, CA

After a few stops in San Francisco, we headed north and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. Taking the second exit off Highway 101 after crossing the bridge -- down to Fort Baker, we found a street parking space at Fort Baker. From our parking spot we headed up the hill (back toward the Bridge). Note: these roads are marked in white on the Bay Trail map shown at right, indicating they are not "improved" trails.

We walked up the hill on Bunker Road/Danes Drive -- enjoying the sight of a mother deer and two fawns grazing in the shadows. We took Alexander up to the intersection with the Golden Gate Bridge approach road (to a spot where there was a grate in road near a stop sign -- where I'd left off before). Note: there were a few spots on this paved section of curvy road where it's fairly narrow, with shared setbacks with bicycles, so walk with caution. On the plus side, the view looking backwards (through a short tunnel) framed the San Francisco skyline very nicely.

We turned around at this grate/intersection, and on way down, took Alexander Road toward Sausalito (not technically part of the trail), until it joined with East Road. We turned right onto East Road (to walk back toward Fort Baker), shown as a solid red line on map. It was great to see the newly improved packed dirt pedestrian/jogger path, separated from the bicycle path on this stretch. (This area had been under construction during my last walk here in 2010.)

On the way down East Road toward Fort Baker, we turned right to climb the packed dirt Eucalyptus trail (Drown Road trail - not shown on map) to its end -- a fence that separated the trail with Alexander (busy road on other side of fence, where we'd walked earlier as it turned out). We then walked down to the Chapel at Fort Baker and took a peek inside. Taking the Chapel Steps Trail, we walked down a set of stairs and returned to the car.

Nice views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay, Angel Island and SF City Skyline on this walk.

Thank you to Ken for joining me on this walk.

Wildlife Sightings:
5 little brown jobs (LBJs); 1 robin; 1 hummingbird; 3 deer (mother and two fawns); 5 dragonflies; 6 crows

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Golden Gate Bridge - July 17, '12

Walking Distance: 3.6 mi.
Walking Time: 3 hrs., 47 min. (11:33 a.m. - 3:20 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Marin Vista Point parking lot, Marin, CA

Today was a great day to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge (shown as a solid red line trail on the Bay Trail map). Thank you to Cindy for joining me today. We started from the Vista Point parking lot on the Marin (north) side of the Bridge; and, from there, it was a very short and easy walk to the sidewalk/bridge approach, to walk south across the bridge toward San Francisco.

This (east) side walkway for pedestrians faced inward toward the Bay and City, and offered sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay, Fort Point (at the foot of the SF side) and Lime Point (near the footing/end on the Marin side), San Francisco, Alcatraz and Angel Island. It was a bit crowded, with mixed bicycle, pedestrian and bridge crew work vehicle traffic jostling for position on the east side of the bridge walkway. (The west side (facing west, out toward the Pacific Ocean) was closed, and opened to bicycles after 3 p.m. we were told.)

During my first walk around the Bay, I crossed the Bridge at night, during the colder months. It was too dark to see any wildlife. A highlight of today's walk was looking down into the water, viewing boats that were passing underneath the bridge, and watching harbor porpoises (including a mother and offspring) swim and surface in the waters below. Identifying birds from above was fun as well. Unfortunately, I did not have a working camera charger (and therefore working camera with a zoom lens) on this walk, and was not able to catch the harbor porpoises in action. The porpoises are apparently making a comeback which is great to hear.

The fog drifted across the bridge in drifts during the walk (south) across the bridge, but cleared during our lunch stop at the Information station/gift shop and The Bridge Cafe. We walked a bit around on the San Francisco hillside before walking back to the Marin side of the bridge where we'd parked. There were patches of blue sky and warm sun on our walk back, and cloud shadows drifted over the surface of the Bay.

Wildlife Sightings:
33 sea gulls; 4 harbor seals; 5 harbor porpoises; 1 sea lion; 2 snowy egrets; 2 terns; 2 brown pelicans; 17 cormorants; 2 pigeons; 2 little brown jobs (LBJs); 12 Western/Clarks Grebes (near Fort Point)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fort Baker - July 15, '12

Walking Distance: 2.9 mi. (estim.)
Walking Time: 1 hr., 48 min. (1:30 - 3:18 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Street parking, Near Cavallo Point, Marin, CA

This segment was the second part of a two-part walk, on the Marin side of the Golden Gate Bridge. I am scheduled to walk across the Bridge in a few days. So, I've skipped ahead to the North side of the bridge for a few posts this week. Thank you to Ken for joining me on this walk.

Following a break to eat lunch at the Cavallo Point restaurant at Fort Baker (great food and drink here), we walked out (south) to Moore Road, past the fishing pier, and under the Golden Gate Bridge, where the road started to turn uphill and became Conzelman Road. (Conzelman continues up to Marin Headlands on the west side of the Bridge.)

On the way back we walked out to end of the fishing pier and back. And then we followed Sommerville road and path/trail around Horseshoe Bay. We passed the Travis Marina and Presidio Yacht Club and to end of marina and out to Point Cavallo, then northish past the old military batteries;  we took the road/path and stairs leading up to East Rd. (that continues north to Sausalito).

We walked back toward Cavallo Point (east) on East Road, toward McReynolds Road, climbed up the stairs to Merrill Street -- then up some more stairs to the Chapel on the hill.

Unfortunately, for us at least, there was a yoga class going on in the chapel, so we couldn't go inside. So we headed down to the Cavallo Point store, bought a drink and a snack, then headed back to the car.

Wildlife Sightings:
5 cormorants; 17 sea gulls; 1 Western/Clarks Grebe; 3 turkey vultures; 3 Canada geese; 2 brown pelicans; 2 balls (1 tennis ball, 1 baseball); 1 (tiny) lizard; 3 pigeons.

Marin, Vista Pt., Ft. Baker - July 15, '12

Walking Distance: .8 mi. (estimate)
Walking Time: 50 min. (11:10 a.m. - 12:00 Noon)
Start and End Point: Marin Vista Point (North end of Golden Gate Bridge), Marin, CA

This was a short walk, part 1 of 2 today, from the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge (Marin Vista Point parking lot) to the dirt service road that curves around and goes down under the Golden Gate Bridge.

This curved dirt road (visible from Google Maps insert at right), downhill from the Vista Point parking lot, ends under Highway 101/Golden Gate Bridge, at a controlled access point, where only employees are allowed to pass through a gate). However, it is an excellent vantage point for views down into Horseshoe Bay (on Fort Baker side), across the Bay toward Angel Island and San Francisco, and of the Golden Gate Bridge from the north side.

Note: To cross underneath the Bridge or access Moore Road which turns into Conzelman Road -- and goes through to the Marin Headlands (west side of the Golden Gate Bridge), you need to approach this from the Marin Headlands (west) side, or follow Bunker Road down (north) to Fort Baker - take a right on Murray Circle and stay right to continue on Moore Road. Watch for speeding bicycle traffic coming down the hill. 

After walking back up to Marin Vista Point, we walked a bit farther down toward Fort Baker, turning around just past the intersection with Alexander Avenue.

Wildlife Sightings:
13 sea gulls; 5 little brown jobs (LBJs); 3 swallows; 2 brown pelicans; 2 white butterflies; 1 bumblebee; 1 turkey vulture.

SF, Fort Point - July 7, '12

Walking Distance: 1.6 mi. (estimate)
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 50 min. (12:49 - 3:29 p.m.)
Start and End Point: diagonal (free) parking space, southeast of Fort Point, San Francisco, CA

This afternoon I walked from the paved (asphalt) parking lot area (southeast) to the Crissy Field Warming Hut/Cafe (where I left off on yesterday's walk) and out to the end of the Torpedo Wharf/fishing pier to look for the brown pelican I saw yesterday. After spotting what I'm fairly certain was the same pelican sitting with two fishermen, I turned around and walked up (northwest) to Fort Point.

Fort Point is, as the name implied, is a historic fort located on a point, at the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Bridge recently celebrated its 75th anniversary. Fort Point pre-dated the Bridge by 70+ years.

I had the chance to see the "International Orange" exhibit (named for the official paint color of the Golden Gate Bridge) at Fort Point.

The exhibit consisted of works from several artists, including a room of period-inspired Fiesta Queens gowns, designed with images representing the different San Francisco Bay Area counties; a collection of tent camera photographs; a beautiful widescreen video projected on a wall of SF Bay scenes; an International Orange "store" -- and many others.

Exhibits were located throughout (on different levels of) the old fort structure, intermingled with historical exhibits.

I concluded my Fort Point visit by climbing up the brick-lined stairwells to the always breezy roof level of Fort Point. The underside of the Golden Gate Bridge, where one can listen to the ker-thumpity thump of cars rushing by above.

After seeing the exhibit, I walked back (southeast) along the narrow, asphalt road (Marine Drive, shown as double yellow lines on the Bay Trail map), toward the Crissy Field Warming Hut/Cafe.

I took the winding trail with flights of stairs leading uphill. The trail was a packed dirt trail in places. I passed some historic signage and enjoyed the view of the Torpedo Wharf below, and saw what might have been some old bunkers.

Eventually I reached the Golden Gate Bridge Information building and store, on the way to the pedestrian/bicycle approach to cross the Bridge. I looked around the store and also stopped at the Bridge Cafe to buy some Icelandic yogurt and chocolate; both structures had been recently renovated.

If you're lucky, you'll see a panoramic view of the Bridge, fog-free from the top of the hill. Or, the tops of the bridge towers could be shrouded in mist, as they were today.

Wildlife Sightings:
27 little brown jobs (LBJs); 3 pigeons; 1 cormorant; 1 brown pelican (same one as yesterday? - on pier/wharf); 5 Western/Clarks grebes; 5 sea gulls

Palace of Fine Arts - July 6, '12

Walking Distance: 2.2 mi. (estimate)
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 2 mins. (4:18 - 6:20 p.m.)
Start and End Point: 2-hour parking spot, on Baker Street (near intersection with Jefferson St.), San Francisco, CA

Another lovely summer afternoon walk that shaded into evening on the San Francisco Bay Trail.

After a quick stop to see the new Inn at the Presidio (uphill from the Bay Trail and south east of today's walk), I parked just south of the Bay Trail, on Baker Street, adjacent to the Palace of Fine Arts and the Exploratorium. I didn't have any time today to explore the Exploratorium (which will be relocating to the Embarcadero), but I did stroll through the Palace of Fine Arts grounds at the end of this walk.

Heading north from Baker Street, I crossed the crosswalk at Marina Blvd. and followed the Golden Gate Promenade/San Francisco Bay Trail (west) into Crissy Field, stopping at the Beach Hut Cafe (next to the Crissy Field Center), for a chocolate bar and water break first. I then moseyed west along the combination paved and packed dirt path toward the beach/marsh area to do some dog- and people-watching, in one of the best, legal dog frolic areas in San Francisco.

I continued to follow the Bay Trail (west), passing the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, Ocean Climate Center, and related buildings to the north along the Bay. (The grass-covered Crissy Field was on the south side of the trail.) I'm glad they preserved these buildings; I'm a fan of this architectural style, or frankly any building that has a few curves and interesting/elegant architectural style.

I continued (northwest) on to the Crissy Field Warming Hut/Cafe, where I saw a young Brown Pelican hanging out within inches of the Trail -- a somewhat unusual sight. Tourists were stopping to take pictures, posing their young tots next to this bird, who after a while flew off to land at the end of nearby Torpedo Wharf. This pelican was apparently what Judy Irving, Executive Director of Pelican Media, called a "pier bum" -- fishermen were feeding it. I hoped it wouldn't get caught in any fishing line/hooks and then continued on my way.

After walking out on the wharf/pier and talking to a few of the fishermen who recognized this pelican as a recent regular, I walked back toward the Palace of Fine Arts, retracing my steps except for a short amble out to the beach.

On the way back to the car, I cut through the Palace of Fine Arts grounds along a small lake, where I saw pond turtles, ducks and duckings lazing around in the water, and a swan family on the grass -- all a few dozen yards from where I'd parked the car. Seeing the five, fuzzy young swans with two adult swans in the shadows was a nice finish to the walk.

Wildlife Sightings:
3 crows; 56 little brown jobs (LBJs)/songbirds; 26 sea gulls; 10 pigeons; 1 brown pelican; 1 cormorant; 1 swallow; 1 potato bug (jerusalem cricket?); 2 fabric kites; 1 great blue heron; 1 tern; 3 unidentified brownish shorebirds (UBBs); 2 = plovers?, 1 killdeer; 2 adult swans + 5 baby swans; 3 turtles (1 with long neck); 5 ducks + 5 ducklings