Hood River Sunrise


Good morning!  Here are a few shots from our hotel balcony in Hood River Oregon.  The river is the mighty Columbia river.  Happy Saturday!

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San Francico beauties and helpful directions


There are so many architectural beauties in San Francisco that it is sometimes difficult to walk down the street without shooting dozens of photos.  Here are a few shots from the intersection of Montgomery, Post and Market.

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Under the Bridge


I’m moving the ‘urban hike’ posts to another blog (see link above) as it seems that the logistic information about the hikes is not really about photos.  But I will post the best of the hike photos here and photos that document the hike in the hike blog.

Last Saturday had me hiking the waterfront.  But once the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge appeared, it happened – I just stopped and gazed at it for several minutes.  I am obsessed and fascinated with bridges.  This bridge opened to traffic (both automobile and trains) in 1936.  It is actually two bridges, and the photos below show the suspension bridge that spans Yerba Buena Island and San Francisco.

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Photos of urban decay and industry


I am obsessed photos of industry and infrastructure, regardless if it is currently in use or long ago abandoned.  I love the textures and history I see in decrepit buildings, rusting ships and cranes.  Yesterday,  I walked along the San Francisco waterfront – not the nice new section, but the industrial areas.   It was a pleasant walk, with lots of great photos to shoot.  Sadly, I had a few problems with my camera – and as you can see below, there is a lot of ‘noise’ in some of the photos.  Enjoy!

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Urban Hike – Mission Street San Francisco (all of it)


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis week had me hiking the entire length of Mission Street in San Francisco.   Starting from the BART (train) station in Daly City, we walked on John Daly Blvd to “Top of the Hill” and from there we turned left onto Mission Street, entering San Francisco in a few blocks. (Note:  Clicking on any photo will enlarge it)

About Mission Street (From Wiki):  “Mission Street is a north-south arterial thoroughfare in San Francisco that runs from the city’s southern border to its northeast corner. The street and the Mission District through which it runs were named for the Spanish Mission Dolores, several blocks away from the modern route.  At 7.2 mi (11.6 km), it is the city’s longest, and one of its oldest streets.”

urban-hike-mission--4-27-13In San Francisco, from the south, Mission Street starts in Daly City and  continues north through several neighborhoods, including Crocker-Amazon, Excelsior, Bernal Heights, Outer Mission, Inner Mission, and downtown, and then turns northeast and travels through the South of Market neighborhood before ending at the Embarcadero” which is the boulevard that runs along the Bay.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe southern half of Mission Street is part of El Camino Real, which connected the missions in California. More about El Camino Real here.

As usual, we made a side-trip:  24th Street and Balmy Alley.  More about that here, but with the meandering and side trips, our hike totaled 11.01 miles (17.5km).   I have to admit that it was a long hike and one that had so many sensory delights that I feel like I need to be in an isolation chamber for a week to recuperate.  I was planning to get a bit poetic with these blog posts, but that will have to wait for another time.

A friend joined me on this hike. As I wrote above, we took the train (BART) from downtown San Francisco to Daly City and began our hike there.  From the BART station we walked to Mission Blvd and then walked 68 or so blocks to the end of Mission Street.  Mission Street is culturally diverse, but there are pockets of immigrant groups in various neighborhoods.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In Daly City, a city of about 100,000 population, Filipinos are the majority in the Asian population along with Vietnamese, Chinese, Burmese and others. Among the  Latino population the majority are Mexican and Salvadorian.  Mission Street in Daly City is filled with salons,  nail parlors,  restaurants and Filipino groceries.

Continuing along Mission Street and entering San Francisco, the flavor of the neighborhood changes from strongly Filipino to more of a mix of Asian cultures and we begin to see Salvadorian establishments.  We did find a fish sauce store, but it seems to be long closed.

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In the outer Mission, there are almost as many storefront churches as there are nail parlors and ‘beauty salons.’  There are many colorful houses, business and signs, and the smells of the many bakeries and restaurants made it difficult to continue with the walk – I wanted to stop and sample the foods at least once on each block.

We saw many interesting places and I shot so many photos that the all can’t fit here.  I was surprised to find out that the Excelsior neighborhood was primarily an Italian, Irish and Swiss community.   There are still Italians living there.  Initially, it was a community of Ligurian farmers.  But after the 1906 earthquake, many Italians moved there, including many from Cosenza (Calabria) Italy.

There are bright colors everywhere you look and yet it is visually pleasing and very tranquil:

We made a side trip on 24th Street, which is even more colorful than Mission Street. Connecting with 24th Street there is Balmy Alley, which is known for the fantastic murals painted on the sides of buildings:

Of course, all along Mission Street there are many bars, clubs and liquor stores.   Here is a sampling:

And there are a lot of bakeries, restaurants and grocery stores too:

There are other businesses as well:

And finally, we finished at the foot of Mission Street, at the Embarcadero.  It was a wonderful urban hike.  I will do it again, sometime soon.   –Gary

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Urban Hike – San Francisco – Geary Blvd (all of it)


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother Saturday, another urban hike.  I’ve decided to attempt to walk all of the major streets in San Francisco.  This last hike was all of Geary Blvd, starting at 48th Avenue (where San Francisco meets the Pacific Ocean) and walking the entire length to Lotta’s Fountain, where Geary and Kearny terminate into Market Street.

According to Wikipedia, Geary Blvd is a “major east-west thoroughfare in San Francisco. It is a major commercial artery…that is lined with stores and restaurants, many of them catering to the various immigrant groups (Chinese, Russian, [Korean, Polish, Jewish] and Irish, among many others) who live in the area. The boulevard borders Japantown between Fillmore and Laguna Streets.  The roadway is named for John W. Geary, the first mayor of San Francisco after California became a U.S. state.  It began life as a dirt carriage track out to the Cliff House and Ocean Beach and for a time a flat track paralleled the road where horsemen raced their mounts on Sundays.”

If one only walks Geary Blvd, which is from point A to point B on the map below, it is 5.8 miles (9.33km).  My walk had me wandering some and including my walk home from the end of Geary (point B to point C), I totaled 8.4 miles (13.5km).

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat makes this walk easy is from downtown San Francisco, one can get to the end of Geary on the very-frequent #38 Geary bus.  Riding the bus in San Francisco guarantees that you will find something different.  On my morning trip, this woman was sitting a few rows in front of me, busily tending her makeup routine.

Geary Blvd spans many neighborhoods, but there are 4 major neighborhoods, moving east to west:  The Richmond, the Western Addition, the Tenderloin and Union Square.   Getting off the bus on 48th Avenue and walking around the corner, one encounters a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean and the ‘wilderness’ of Land’s End.  And then there are the gorgeous poppies.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Heading east on Geary, it almost feels like another city  or the suburbs.  It is nice as there is a lot of light and air, not a lot of noise and homes are all low-rise.  Some are painted  with bright colors. It could be because it is often foggy in this area and there are entire summers without direct sunlight.

Continuing east, one arrives at a business district, full of groceries stores, bars, churches and other retail venues.  This section of Geary is a true “melting pot”, having once been predominantly Irish, but now having immigrants from Russia, China, Korea, Poland, Japan and Mexico.

Starting in the Richmond district, there are many churches on Geary:

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Our Lady
Russian
Orthodox
Church
(Geary and
25th)

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Right photo:
Our Lady of Fatima Byzantine Catholic Church
(Geary and 23rd Avenue)
 Left photo:
Star of the Sea Church (Geary and 8th Avenue).

 

 

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There are also a lot of bars – here is a sampling of some of them:

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Of course, it’s not all sinners and saints

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Continuing out of the Richmond District we encounter Japantown, St. Mary’s Cathedral and St. Mark’s Lutheran Church:

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Now we descend into the Tenderloin and Union Square:

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Finally, I arrive at the end of Geary and not a minute too soon. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Urban Hike!


On Saturday, I decided to verify that my knee injury had healed by going on a long walk in San Francisco.   My only objective was to avoid changes in altitude as climbing/descending hills can still cause a bit of pain and also to walk near major bus routes in case I still had problems.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI ended up hiking almost 7 miles (11.25 kilometers)!  It was such a beautiful day that I just kept going.  I started my hike at Sutro Baths, where the land ends at the Pacific Ocean (hence the area is called Land’s End).   From there I hike through the wilderness-like area on the Land’s End Trail, which used to be how the trains got from downtown San Francisco to the Sutro Baths and the Cliff House, a huge bathhouse and social club club complex.  More about the Cliff House here.  

Here is the map of my route, depicted in the blue line:

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I used the My Tracks app on my Android phone with GPS to track this.  More about this below.

The hike through Land’s End is always beautiful.  Full of flowers, trees, incredible views of the ocean and bay, it is spectacular on a Spring day.  Here are a few photos I took on the trail:

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While this is now only a trail, as I mentioned above, it used to be the railway.  I found this video from Thomas Edison, Inc, from 1902, taken from the train, headed from the Cliff House going east towards downtown, the same direction of my hike.  If you look carefully, you can see the ‘Golden Gate’ – the mouth of the bay – before the bridge was built:

Emerging from Land’s End drops you into Sea Cliff, a very expensive and very beautiful neighborhood:

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Continuing my hike, I walked to the Presidio, a former military base, originally founded in 1776 by Spanish settlers.  Later (and briefly), it was under Mexican rule, before the US Army took control in 1846.   It is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. More information about the Presidio here.

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I really misjudged the map and ended-up climbing and descending more than 200 feet 3 times along with other climbs.  The image on the right is from the My Tracks app on my Android phone.  It is a great application, using GPS to track progress, depict on a map your exact location and when you are done, it provides you with statistics about how far you traveled, how fast you traveled and the changes in altitude on the walk.   Even with all this climbing, my knees were fine, although I was being very careful when climbing and descending.

After exiting the Presidio, I found myself in yet another very wealthy neighborhood:  Presidio Heights and Pacific Heights.  And much to my surprise, there were steps.  A lot of steps.  So many steps that people were going up and down the steps to train for upcoming athletic events.   The photos below are of two different stairways.

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One great thing about this type of hike in San Francisco (and other major cities) is that you can go from wilderness to National Park land, to an urban environment which can be anything from wealthy neighborhoods and trendy shopping districts  to very seedy neighborhoods.  Toward the end of the hike I was getting tired and afraid that I’d re-injure my knee so I didn’t stop to shoot many more photos.  But I did come upon an old Lincoln Continental and I was compelled to take a few shots:

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And here is a close-up of the famous ‘suicide doors’. They were called that because if the car was moving fast and someone opened the rear door, it would snap open from the force of the wind.

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It was a great day for a hike and I’m looking forward to doing more now that I am literally back on my feet.  Enjoy!

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