Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Just an ordinary weekend, local scenes, walks

Friday evening, we walked a few yards with friends, sat on a bench, sipped hot beverages from our insulated cups, and watched the sun go down over San Francisco Bay. The still of the evening seemed to mute the city noises, and it was just the flat bay, ducks in the foreground, in the far distance a freighter. For a few moments the peace brought me back to memories of sitting by lagoons in Baja California, seeing whales break the surface, and sometimes hearing their moaning calls. No peace now in Baja, but that's a different subject.

The day before, we walked around our neighborhood for an hour, finding new routes, new yard art, and some Christmas displays still out. One I liked gave sincerity to a plastic Jesus.

We live in an area formerly serviced by trolleys, trains and street cars, all supplying San Francisco with workers. Houses were up in the hills, transportation down in the canyons, so there were paths, stairways down to to the transport. Many of these are gone now, since the trains and trolleys are gone, stairs rotted and fallen away, paths fenced over by homeowners, but some survive. They have advocates, local groups who research the old routes, and sometimes persuade the cities to rebuild the stairways.

We have armed ourselves with maps from these groups. Berkeley Pathways covers one area, Oakland Walks, another. Saturday we resolved to follow the Berkeley Pathways "Elmwood medium difficulty route". It started at John Muir School, was estimated at two hours, seemed a good choice. We parked at the school, perused our printed directions, looked at the street signs, nothing matched. Looked at the school again. Over the doorway "Chabot School". Didn't have a clue where the right school was, so we walked our own route. Passed by some private school like institution, tried to cut through it to a higher street, but were stymied. Up the street. This is near the edge of the 1991 Oakland fire, which burned 3300 homes and took 25 lives. The new homes are modern and fire resistant - minimal shrubbery. Unburned homes standout. We kept going clockwise when there was an option, gradually circling through an area of grand old Berkeley homes, huge, mostly past their prime, but still grand, complete with lions guarding the entry gate. Of course there was yard art.

This was Saturday, still a small hike, Sunday we rested and Monday we headed for Briones Reservoir, a thirteen mile circumnavigation on permit required EBMUD trails.

A late start, 11am, but ice still covered the trail in shady spots. No other hikers, but ducks, herons and a coyote. In one place there was a cluster of high-voltage towers. One was fully armored against climbers. Don't know what made it special, as the others were unprotected:

As we rounded the end of the lake for our start back, we saw the University of California Berkeley Women's Crew practicing. The lake was dead calm, and you could hear the coach hollering at the rowing crew "lock those shoulders like they were all attached to a steel bar, pull!" The coach was following the shell in something that looked like a two person jet ski trimaran.
Susan graciously consented to let me use her crew pictures.

We cut the trip a little close. We finished at 5:30 and by 5:45 it was too dark to see. Had our tent for emergencies, but glad we didn't have to use it.

The end of an ordinary weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area.


  1. This is a nice blog.I really like the location its awesome you can enjoy a hot cup of tea in a peaceful place.

  2. Beautiful pictures! Looking out at 6 inches of snow this morning!