Sunday, March 25, 2012

March Madness

A bit of local color on public transit.

The dude on the left was slurring the praises of Lexus automobiles
to the dude on the right (who was falling asleep).

Same bus.  Worlds apart.
(I can't remember what suddenly caught their attention.)

He/She on the way somewhere.
(What the hell was at the front of the bus?)

Stealth shot on the #47 Van Ness.

Thought for a moment I was caught and about to get clobbered.

Couldn't resist.
Like a daffodil on a drizzly day.

Over and out.

Friday, March 16, 2012


7:04 p.m. Taaanks bee too da gahdts...It's raining!

Raining good. Raining for a couple of days good. Gonna get cold after tonight, too, so the BA might see some snow on local mountaintops like Diablo, Hamilton, Tam. Been a while since we had a good soaking, and already the usua-yearly nasty traffic blahblah, small stream advisory meowmeow, road flooding yadayada is on the news. This year, however, it seems like the Santa Cruz Boardwalk is experiencing a bit of drama we haven't seen before. San Lorenzo River decided to change course and eat away at a sandy bank on which the Boardwalk stands, and has stood for like 105 years? NEXT, the Sierra gonna get pounded with 1-4 more feet expected.

Yee-Ha! Winter: meet Spring. Almost.

So anyway...Heard that multiple bands of strong, stormy weather might come ashore around 5 o'clock this evening. Wishing to feel some elements I cranked out a super sized load of laundry (btw...I hate my laundromat) and geared up for a walk-about when it hit: couple cotton layers, fleece, poncho, rain pants, wool cap, hiking boots, iPhone for pics.

Glad I got out.

First two shots are from down at Aquatic Park, one of my favorite places in SF. The rain had not yet begun in earnest, but it was still drizzly and moody.

8:12 p.m.'s really coming down, really pouring now! Love that sound. I found some good blustery weather while I was outside, but nothing like what just whipped through.

Mostly I just ambled about for three and an half hours: looking here, looking there, checking out the local flora and fauna, gazing out on the bay, feeling the storm move closer. After some time at the piers I remembered a place I had discovered just the other day (believe it or not after 14 years living in the area) and had vowed to soon explore: the Fort Mason District Community Garden. Spent around 45 minutes snooping about. Definitely gonna return. It was surprising, pretty, interesting, artsy, humorous, even in the pounding rain and gusting wind.



It is also BIG, surprisingly so, with plenty of pathways and structures and nooks and crannies and benches to set a spell. The garden was planted in the 1970's west of where it now sits (on the Great Meadow somewhere, I think), but was later moved to its current site when some old maps showed the location of an original Civil War-era army garden circa the 1860's.

So there you have it. The FMDCG. Cool, quirky place, full of veggies and flowers and the like, right by the hostel. A splash of color on a gray day. You should check it out if you're in the hood.

9:27 p.m. Quieting down outside, the storm is moving southeast, but a pleasant pitter-patter of raindrops remains. It was a good one!

*  *  *

What's the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish wake?
One less drunk guy.

Have a Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
Peter J. Palmer

Monday, March 12, 2012


We had a hike planned, Ms. Julie, Ms. Linda and Mr. Me, but the weather report for Sunday, March 11 predicted rain. Rain would be good, I thought in the days leading up to our rendezvous. California needs some rain.

We were gonna crank out The Loop, aka Hill 88, in the Headlands, and when we arrived at Rodeo Beach it was indeed raining. Sprinkling, more like it, but still nasty-ass cold and windy and wet. Which would have been fine because I enjoy hiking in the rain as it tends to keep the masses at bay. Fine, except for the following realization: Why the hell didn't you bring a slicker, Palmer?

We set off anon. I swear I was actually kind of shivering as we walked off the beach and up into the hills, and was Zen when one of the ladies suggested a shorter route, one that takes just under an hour as opposed to the 2-hour Loop-dee-Loop. Good, I thought, we'll get this done and be home all warm and toasty before you know it.

Five and a half hours later I unlocked the door to my apartment and kicked of my trusty boots. Well I'll be a sun-of-a-gun, I thought to myself, what a lovely, unexpected day!

*  *  *

The rain fizzled out, just like it has for most of The Strange Case of the Missing Winter 2012. And I warmed up as soon as we began climbing, so when we arrived at the junction for the shorter hike vs. the longer hike I barely missed a beat. "Let's do it, ladies!" They didn't either. We continued uphill.

Here they are: my two longtime hiking buddies. As you can tell Ms. Julie was the smart one in the group, prepared with her slicker (and was in no chance of getting lost, with that color).

You've all seen the gorgeous vistas and such from previous posts in The Headlands Report (ahem...haven't you?), so here's an artsy-shvartsy shot of some old military installments behind moss-covered manzanita.

More dilapidated military cast-offs on The Loop, this time shrouded in mist. So happy the GGNRA bought the land when it became available in the 70's.

The gray and dismal day was not without a few wildflower fireworks. Yellow footsteps-of-spring are blooming along the trail, as are white milkmaids, fuchsia rock cress, man-root vines, purple bush lupine and these two beauties: stands of fragrant wild lilac and spindly, bright pink shooting stars.

Julie (you can barely see her, right?) and Linda on the Wolf Ridge Trail. The sunny views north to Mount Tamalpais and Tennessee Valley were obscured by the low clouds, but it was delightful nonetheless.

Another artsy-shvartsy picture of the elements that day. It's the same old trail, but it never disappoints.

*  *  *

One hour and fifty-five minutes after we began, Rodeo Lagoon greeted our approach to the parking lot. I've hiked The Loop in an hour and forty before, but we were in no hurry and dallied along the way, so content to be with friends exploring dreary, beautiful Marin County.

Then two things happened. In the lagoon a bright black, shiny head poked up from the water: a river otter! These critters are rare in our neck of the woods; I've seen them only once in 24 years of hiking the Bay Area, so we paused for a sec to watch his/her antics. A few strides further, by the sleek wooden bridge that spans the lagoon to the beach, Julie noticed a Marine Mammal Center truck pull in and park. Pull in and park and hoist out a large, boxy cage! We couldn't see what was inside, but it was obvious by the origin of the truck. A few questions later, we knew we had stumbled upon another rare sight and another first for us all: a honest to goodness sea lion release!

The 400 lb. beast was first seen on Pier 39 in San Francisco with some sort of plastic packaging material wrapped around its neck. Being a somewhat hefty, aggressive fellow in an awkward location they couldn't walk up and net the thing, so they decided to artfully tranquilize it, take it to the center, remove the stranglehold, tend to the infliction and release it on the day we walked past. So without further ado here's an unscheduled detour: a video of something one doesn't see everyday (excuse the wind shear), a video of a sea lion named Dartman returning home.

*  *  *

Pleased as punch and back at the car, Julie asked us if we had any deadlines for the rest of the day (we didn't), quickly phoned her brother Dennis, and after a brief stop at Molly Stone's I found myself on the deck of a classic, 1960's era Chris✭Craft berthed in Sausalito.

I had a cool pilsner in hand, to boot.

Behind the protective coastal hills it was warm, calm and partly sunny, but the clouds continued a moody march across the sky. From land the view would have been (and was) gorgeous, but we were about to take an unscheduled bay cruise.

Pudgy harbor seals and sleek black cormorants watched as Dennis eased his beautifully-appointed motor yacht into Richardson Bay, and for the next hour we slowly puttered about, took turns manning the helm, and munched on veggie sandwiches, beet salad and Tim's Cascade Style potato chips.

It's fabu enough to have a boat and someplace to put it, but Dennis has a killer berth on the Sausalito docks: there's nothing on one side but a line of wildlife and open water.

Mayday! Mayday! It's Julie at the helm!

Another unexpected visual treat: A pair of tall ships was on the bay, staging a life-like combat complete with actual cannon blasts. No large iron cannonballs arced through the air, but there were puffs of white smoke and a big BOOM when they did the business.

Artsy-shvartsy photo alert!

Dennis Ring, with his first mate Linda (for now) and sister Julie: The master of his Chris✭Craft domaine. I can't wait to return (if I'm invited).

*  *  *

So there you have it, cyberhood. Just when I thought I'd spent enough time in Marin, in the tired old Headlands, had seen it all, hiking that same old tired Loop trail, yada yada yada. Hmmm...Guess not.

Peter J. Palmer