Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Marin Civic Center - Aug. 15, 2013

Walking Distance: 3.5 mi.
Walking Time: 1 hr., 21 min. (3:49 - 5:10 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Street parking, 120 N. San Pedro Road, Santa Venetia/San Rafael, CA

Today was another hot summer day, and the heat curtailed my walk. But, I did enjoy walking the last bit of N. San Pedro Road and seeing the Marin Civic Center complex (designed by architect, Frank Lloyd Wright). Most of this walk was on paved sidewalks or walkways, and all of this stretch was depicted as a broken green line on the latest (2012-2013) Bay Trail Map Set.

First, I walked (northeast) on N. San Pedro Road to Le Chalet Basque restaurant and bar (where I'd left off on the previous walk), passing schools and a 7-Eleven store, along the way. I turned around and walked back (southwest) toward Highway 101. On the way back, I noticed the first tree with leaves changing from green to oranges, yellows and reds. Wild, ripe berries were growing by the roadside --  reminders that, despite the warm weather today, summer was winding down.

From N. San Pedro, I made a right turn on Civic Center Drive and headed (northwest) walked past the post office and fire station (on the right) and the main Marin Civic Center complex (on the left). All these buildings were designed in a similar style, with wide vaulted, domed roof lines.

I also passed "Field of Dogs" -- one of my favorite names for a dog park on the Bay Trail.

Most of the birds I spotted today were located in Lagoon Park. The large, shallow lake attracted a large number of geese, ducks and other birds (see list below). I walked a circular path around the entire lagoon, stopping to rest in the shade on two different park benches along the way, before heading back to the car. At the far end of the lagoon, where there was less foot traffic, dozens of Canada geese had taken up residence. And, I set off a slow stampede geese into the water as I walked by them. No hissing, just a quiet, deliberate march away from the approaching human, en masse.

On the walk back, I stopped to ponder a sign indicating Petanque Courts nearby, with a plea not to walk dogs across the courts. This French game involves rolling balls on a flat surface and something known as a "piglet." It's all happening on the Bay Trail.

Wildlife Sightings:
2 blurs in bushes (BIBs, probably lizards); 37 pigeons; 43 little brown jobs (LBJs) - including at least 20 sparrows; 9 crows/ravens; 1 whiteish butterfly; 246 Canada geese; 57 sea gulls; 85 ducks; 41 red-winged blackbirds; 9 non-Canada geese (white-fronted, other domestic, a few hybrids); 1 cormorant

Monday, September 2, 2013

China Camp to Marin - July 18, 2013

Walking Distance: 7 mi.
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 1 min. (3:27 - 5:28 p.m.)
Start and End Point: street parking near intersection of Birch Way and N. San Pedro Rd., San Rafael, CA

Today I returned to walk the last part (northern end) of China Camp State Park, from Santa Venetia/San Rafael. I walked back (south) along N. San Pedro Road toward China Camp, on mostly paved (sidewalks, asphalt walkway). Initially, the partly shaded walkways were very pleasant on a warm day. Flowers (wisteria, trumpet flowers, passion flowers) spilled over and through a wood fence on my left side.

Gradually, however, the sidewalk disappeared, and the setbacks on N. San Pedro became quite narrow on the last stretch into China Camp. This stretch deserved its broken green line status on the Bay Trail map.

I passed the entrance road to Buck's Boat Storage (and where there also appeared to be a place to buy cold drinks). I was tempted to walk down Buck's driveway to buy a bottle of water, but thought the better of it, since it wasn't clear whether the small store was open.

Once inside China Camp, I continued to walk along the side of N. San Pedro. I was passed by a light stream of traffic - mostly bicyclists and cars. I walked past the Back Ranch Meadows /Campground sign, and kept going until I reached the Miwok Meadows sign, where I turned around to walk back. On the return walk, I took a short detour to climb up a hill (on the Bay side of the road) for views of the water.

I continued walking back on N. San Pedro Rd., the same way that I'd come. The one exception: I walked down Vendola Drive, and decided to return to this spot in the near future -- I remembered remembered walking some interesting trails (Santa Venetia Marsh Preserve and Santa Margarita Island Preserve) by the water, during my first walk round the bay.

I continued, passing where my car was parked on Birch Way, to walk as far as a restaurant. Le Chalet Basque restaurant and bar was tucked away into this residential neighborhood and I remember enjoying a stop there for dinner on my previous walk around the bay. I turned around here and returned to my car.

Wildlife Sightings:
3 turkey vultures; 2 great egrets; 10 crows/ravens; 1 golf ball; 3 horses; 3 dragonflies; 2 deer; 1 swallow; 6 little brown jobs (LBJs)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Candlestick Point - July 8, 2013

Walking Distance: 3.2 mi.
Walking Time: 2 hrs., 19 min. (10:26 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Candlestick Point State Recreation Area (SRA), picnic/day use area parking lot, San Francisco, CA

This morning I went "backwards" and walked a stretch of Bay Trail in southern San Francisco that I skipped last year. Thank you to Ellen, Betsy and Susan for their good company. We had beautiful sunny weather, during today's walk at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area in San Francisco. We walked on both paved and packed dirt areas (solid green lines on Bay Trail map), and enjoyed a day with no wind (unusual for this area).

We parked in a day use parking lot and walked south along the bay shore (Jackrabbit Cove). We stopped to investigate some purple flowers that were growing by the water line, and were approached cautiously by a few ground squirrels.

We walked out to Sunrise Point and back. We continued southeast, stopping to walk out to the end of a public fishing pier and back.

We followed packed dirt trail(s) along Hermit's Cove that ran in parallel to Hunters Point Expressway/Jamestown Ave., then along Harney Way (the roads that have historically been jammed with traffic on game days for the 49ers and other football teams playing in nearby Candlestick Park stadium). We passed several picnic tables (many with wooden walls to help shelter picnic-ers from the wind).

We paused to try out some exercise course equipment/bars (part of an old Par Course perhaps?), and then continued east. We enjoyed walking on a very creative, multi-colored sidewalk (visible from Harney Way, and accessible by foot). The design was one of a large primary-colored mosaic along Candlestick Cove.

We walked as far as possible, to the end of Harney Way, getting close to the hum of traffic on  Highway 101. We turned around at a cement utility tower and enclosure, north of the San Mateo County boundary, and then we back to the car.

Wildlife Sightings: 
35 ground squirrels; 3 crows/ravens; 2 white butterflies; 102 sea gulls (about 100 were on the beach area by highway 101); 3 cormorants; 2 little brown jobs (LBJs); 1 robin; 1 lizard; 1 rusty screw; 2 mockingbirds

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Cooley Landing - June 21, 2013

Walking Distance: 2.6 mi.
Walking Time: 1 hr., 22 min. (11:32 a.m. - 12:54 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Cooley Landing (packed gravel parking lot), East Palo Alto, CA

Cooley Landing is located at the east end of Bay Road in East Palo Alto, at the Southern end of the Ravenswood Open Space Preserve. It was once part of a network of boat landings, built before there were modern freeways on the San Francisco peninsula. Boats carried freight, not semis. In later years, Cooley Landing hosted a boatworks.

Several organizations cooperated to preserve and make this historic site accessible. After a first phase of work was completed, the site was finally opened to the public in 2012, creating another link in the San Francisco Bay Trail.

I was happy to walk the new stretch of Bay Trail at Cooley Landing (shown as a dark green, solid line on map) for the first time today -- all the more so, because I was joining Kurt Schwabe on this walk. Kurt was in the process of doing a round-the-bay walk in 30 days (June 2013), using public transit.

To meet Kurt, I walked back (south) a short distance. He'd gotten an early start and had already walked several miles. When I spotted Kurt, he was walking briskly with a man he'd met on the trail (and his dog).

We quickly consulted the appropriate map card in the new Bay Trail 25 Map Card Set, as we walked north toward Cooley Landing.

However, rather than terminate the walk at Cooley Landing, I convinced Kurt that we should keep heading north to walk the large crescent shape trail (medium green solid line on map), then return to walk the Cooley Landing peninsula/point afterwards. (Kurt was a good sport and extended his already long walk for the day.) We did exactly that, and when we arrived back at Cooley Landing, we walked out to the point, and around old wood structures encircled by a fence*.

This point featured views of the Dumbarton Bridge to the north, the east bay hills across the bay, and Shoreline Ampitheater to the south.

Wildlife Sightings:
4 butterflies/moths; 2 mockingbirds; 2 little brown jobs (LBJs); 5 swallows; 3 clouds of ankle-to-eyeball gnats; 1 ground squirrel (small, juvenile); 2 great egrets

Note: An old boat building at Cooley Landing was destroyed by fire in mid-August, 2013.

China Camp, part 2 - June 8, 2013

Walking Distance: 2 mi.
Walking Time: 1 hr., 48 min. (1:11 - 2:59 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Back Ranch Meadow parking lot, China Camp State Park, Marin County, CA

This afternoon was a continuation of an earlier walk at China Camp. We revisited the China Camp historic area and eventually made our way from the Back Ranch Meadow parking area, up to the Bay View loop trail that headed up into the hills.

Thank you to John for joining me today, on a hot summer afternoon hike. We worked our way uphill toward an old Nike site. This trail was popular with mountain bicyclists as well, and several cyclists passed us on this hillside trail.

We enjoyed the views down to the Bay, but turned around a bit before the top, due to temperatures that were hovering at the triple digit mark (100 degrees farenheit). Colorful patches of tree bark were peeling off in the sun, and we spotted a few lizards basking in the warmth. Other than a few rustles in the bushes (likely lizards) at the edge of the trail, it was very quiet. Few birds and animals in the mid-day heat.

Wildlife Sightings:
1 blur in the bushes; 3 turkey vultures; 2 lizards; 2 squirrels; 2 white butterflies; mystery bug on path; 1 bird (little brown job)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bellam Blvd. - Baypoint Dr. - April 21, 2013

Walking Distance: 1.3 mi.
Walking Time: 30 min. (4:00 - 4:30 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Mi Pueblo (store) parking lot, San Rafael, CA

Having gotten a late start today, I had to hustle to get this 30-minute walk accomplished (mostly on sidewalks) along Bellam Boulevard in San Rafael. This stretch was about 80% broken green line on the 2012-2013 Bay Trail Maps set and a bit of solid green line. (A broken line can indicate a rougher or unpaved path, or a sidewalk on a busy city street. A solid line indicates a more developed, or dedicated pedestrian/bicyclist path.)

I first walked (east), and passed the new Canal Community Garden (built with The Trust for Public Land support) on the way, which was great to see. I continued as far as the Bay Trail trailhead (for the City of San Rafael's Jean and John Starkweather Shoreline Park) at the end of Bellam/Baypoint Drive, where I'd started and finished a previous Bay Trail walk.

Then I turned around, and walked west on Bellam Blvd. enjoying a lizard and a jerusalem cricket in the first block from the shoreline park, before returning to more well traveled concrete and asphalt surfaces. Later I spotted a small concrete channel carrying a creek down to the Bay. Things are more controlled in more urban areas.

I walked to the intersection of Bellam Blvd. and Castro Ave., where I turned around. I passed several small restaurants and businesses, and one of my favorite commercial signs that I first spotted a few years ago on my first round-the-bay walk. That would be: the zebra head affixed to the Johnny Franklin's Mufflers sign on Bellam Blvd.

I returned to Mi Pueblo to order a great-tasting chicken combo plate at The Grill, before driving home. 

Wildlife Sightings: 
2 little brown jobs (LBJs); 1 jerusalem cricket on sidewalk; 1 lizard

Pt. San Pedro Rd. - McNears Beach - April 16, '13

Walking Distance: 6.5 mi.
Walking Time: 3 hrs., 47 min. (3:51 - 7:38 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Residential street parking on Lagoon Road, San Rafael,  CA

Today was a beautiful spring afternoon for a walk by the Bay. After parking in a residential neighborhood, I walked northeast on Point San Pedro Road toward McNears Beach. I walked on a mix of sidewalks, paved asphalt path/shoulder and packed dirt today, primarily along Point San Pedro Road (shown as a broken, then solid green line on the 2012-2013 Bay Trail Map Set).

Along the way to McNears Beach, I passed Chapel Cove (and a Chapel), also the San Rafael Rock Quarry and Brickyard. The San Francisco Bay shore was home to several brickyards. I've enjoyed seeing tall brick chimneys that mark these historic sites as I've walked around the Bay. (Note: I did not walk (right) on the McNear Brickyard Road to Point San Pedro, depicted as a broken green line, but will investigate in the future.)

I walked the entrance road (green dotted line) into McNears Beach County Park. At the south end of the park, there was what looked like a dock re-construction project going on. I walked north through the middle of the park, along a paved path with Canada geese on the surrounding lawn. And, further north, I walked along a sandy beach, where there were a number of moon jellies (jellyfish) floating ashore, and crabs that had washed up -- signs of a healthy crab population in the area I'd like to think.

This beach with soft waves would be a great place for a family picnic. (There is also a nearby pool and snack bar; check website for hours of operation between Memorial Day and Labor Day.) Note: there is an admission fee.

After hiking up the road to Point San Pedro Road, I headed southwest, passing my starting point and continuing southwest. I walked past a new shoreline park and a school, on the bayshore side (with a tunnel underpass if you need to cross Point San Pedro Road).

I turned around at Summit Avenue, where I had ended my last walk a few days ago. I stopped for a few minutes to rest on a bench at Bayside Park, then continued until I reached Peacock Drive (Lagoon Road), as it was getting dark.

Wildlife Sightings: 
19 ducks (3 were Lesser Scaups); 10 crows; 5 Western/Clarks grebes; 20 little brown jobs (LBJs); 1 finch; 1 great egret; 4 red-winged blackbirds; 3 butterflies; 11 Canada geese; 4 sea gulls; 1 coot; 1 cloud of ankle-to-eyeball gnats; 5 plovers with dark throat patch/shorebirds; 2 doves