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

San Rafael - 3rd St., cont. - April 14, '13

Walking Distance: 2.2 miles
Walking Time: 59 min. (5:33 - 6:32 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Montecito Plaza Shopping Center, San Rafael, CA

This segment was a continuation of my walk on 3rd Street from earlier this afternoon. I walked east on 3rd Street, which soon turned into Point San Pedro Road. Most of this walk was on sidewalks along Point San Pedro Road, with a few transitional areas (packed dirt/asphalt shoulder). This stretch of road was shown as a broken green line on the 2012 - 2013 Bay Trail Map set.)

I passed San Rafael High School on the left, and a light industrial and yacht/marine services area on the right, with signs promising live bait and bargain slip rates. A residential neighborhood followed as Point San Pedro Road curved to the left.

There was a stiff breeze this afternoon, and I watched as some birds had to work harder to land on telephone wires above me. This may have been good news to sailors out on the Bay. As is often the case, the sporadic gusts would diminish as the sun went down.

In the meantime, I enjoyed walking through a sheltered "tunnel" of trees and flowers along one stretch of sidewalk.

I chose to end this walk before dark as I'd already walked a fair distance earlier today. I eventually turned around at the intersection of Point San Pedro and Summit Ave. -- the road leading to the Marin Yacht Club.

On the way back into town I enjoyed views of boats in the water with Mount Tamalpais in the distance as the sun was starting to sink lower in the sky.

It's always good to see Mount Tam -- visible for almost a third of my walk around the Bay Trail last time.

Wildlife Sightings:
18 little brown jobs; 2 pigeons; 4 sea gulls; 1 turkey vulture; 3 crows (one was attacking the turkey vulture); 3 black-necked stilts (flying low over water); 3 ducks (mallards)

San Rafael - 3rd St. - April 14, 2013

Walking Distance: 3.2 mi.
Walking Time:  3 hrs., 1 min. (2:17 - 5:18 p.m.)
Start and End Point: street parking on B Street, San Rafael, CA

Most of today's walk was on sidewalks and paved surfaces in the downtown area of San Rafael (the largest city in Marin County), with a few short stretches on packed dirt/gravel. From my starting point on B Street, I stopped at Safeway and then walked through their parking lot, where I turned left onto A Street (shown as solid green line on Bay Trail map). On A Street, I enjoyed seeing a garden and architectural details on one of the few remaining older houses.

From A Street, I turned right onto 3rd Street (shown as a broken green line on the 2012-2013 Bay Trail map set). Ambling along 3rd Street, I passed commercial buildings and restaurants, some painted in bright colors.

Continuing on 3rd Street, I passed the transit center and walked under Highway 101 where some of the concrete support pillars had been painted with flowers and butterflies.

I continued on third until I reached Grand Avenue, and made a right turn on Grand. I crossed over the San Rafael Canal, and passed a car dealership on the left. I made a left turn on Francisco Boulevard East (a broken green line on the Bay Trail map) until I reached the end of the Bay Trail, and extended my walk to include a detour on Canal Street.

From Francisco Blvd., I made a left on Harbor Street (shown only as a white line on the map), then a left on Canal Street. I followed Canal a short distance to the end, to a small park near the water -- a branch off the main canal). The little park looked a bit forlorn -- with dry grass, two trees, an old fence, and a partially overgrown cement walkway; but it did provide an overlook to the water.

From here, I turned around, and walked back to Francisco Blvd E.,  where I headed northwest. I stopped at (made a right turn into) Harbor Center, to research a few small restaurants. I stopped at the Kababbq for an afternoon meal.

After eating too much good food, I walked the last, short stretch of trail (broken green line) along the canal (between Yacht Club Ave. and Grand Ave.), before crossing the canal, heading east on 3rd for a bit (to Whole Foods Market), then heading back to my car.

I then drove a short distance to continue walking on 3rd Street, later today. (See next post.)

Wildlife Sightings:
3 crows; 7 sea gulls; 2 ducks (in canal); 1 rusty screw