Archive for May, 2017

San Francisco Downtown – 5/28/17

Walked down to the government center area to City Hall – passed a lot of street art on the way:

Lots of beautiful churches:

And witty businesses (happy to serve ogres and krakkens):

The city is celebrating light-based art installations throughout the city. This is one, where the wind moves the squares- they light up at night, but it’s just wind patterns by day: doubleclick any photo to enlarge

City Hall is spectacular, with a dome modeled on St. Peter’s at the Vatican. City Hall’s history is powerful – from the ire-hosing of protesters objecting to the House UnAmerican Affairs Committee holding their commie-hunting hearings there to the murder of Harvey Milk:

The cultural district is right next to the government buildings – opera, symphony:

Another light installation – Caruso’s Dream – shows illuminated pianos up above the sidewalk, where Enrico Caruso had performed and was awoken by the rumbling of the 1906 earthquake:

More murals and public art- The ornate building houses the city’s Human Services Agency, while the giant swirling Venus is blocked by private apartment towers under construction:

Next we come to museum-central. The Contemporary Jewish Museum, construction for the Mexican Museum, and the striking SF Museum of Modern Art:

These museums are adjacent to Yerba Buena Gardens the centerpiece of which is a stunning fountain in memory of Martin Luther King Jr. Waterfalls cascade over a walkway with panels of Dr. King’s quotes – some well-known, some surprising. A powerful monument, very moving and inspiring:

The gardens are lovely, too.

Another fountain:

A few blocks away is the Museum of the African Diaspora, with giant collage of photos which blend together to create a portrait of a little girl:

We stumbled onto the California Historical Society, which was featuring an exhibit on the movements that led up to San Fran’s Summer of Love, which is being celebrated for its 50th anniversary.

Janis Joplin, folk singer

Folk singers Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter, 1962

Grateful Dead

Alan Ginsburg!

The Historical Society Stairs are name in honor of:



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San Francisco – Nob Hill to Russian Hill 5/27/17

Flying in to San Francisco, and the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is so deep – they say the upper elevation roads won’t open till July.

We get our first taste of the city walking to our hotel – everything is uphill! First destination – Grace Church up on fancy Nob Hill.

Grace Church

The front doors are a recreation of the bronze Baptistry doors of the Duomo church in Florence, Italy, created by Ghiberti in the late 1400s – using perspective and deep relief to create the 3-D effect that ushered in the Renaissance.

Moses receiving the Ten Commandments

The walls inside Grace Church are lined with murals depicting historic scenes in the city and the Church’s life. This one is of the 1906 earthquake and fire which destroyed the 3rd version of Grace Church – the church was first built as a little wooden chapel in 1849 at the start of the Gold Rush.

The Church has a labyrinth inside, under this stained glass rose window, and the same meditative walking path in a courtyard outside.

This mural honors the founding of the United Nations, and the hope for peace.

The Church also has an AIDS memorial chapel, with an AIDS quilt, artwork, and a many-paged book of remembrance with the names of those who died from the disease.

Inside the Church is this work of art in light – Jacob’s Dream. And as you watch, shadowy figures climb and fall the length of the light-rod ladder.

We head down the other side of Nob Hill, on our way to Russian Hill. Little architectural delights are all around. You can double-click any photo to enlarge:

Here’s a good view of downtown with the Bay Bridge:

Some of the hills are so steep that drivers/pedestrians can’t see over the top. They actually have road signs saying “hill.”

Next – we find Macondray Lane, a little walking-path alley with a hidden garden that serves as the front yard for a few homes.

Now we’re climbing up Russian Hill, and pass Filbert St (between Leavenworth & Hyde Sts.) which is the steepest street in the city, at a 31.5% grade. Trucks, tourbuses not allowed – no “runaway truck” ramps here!

Here’s how they have to build apartment garages on these slopes:

And climbing gardens:

We finally reach famed “crooked” Lombard Street – built to zigzag down around jutting gardens to slow the traffic. But the tourist traffic with selfie-sticks crowds the area:

We head down to the nearby San Francisco Art Institute, founded in 1871, with its Mediterranean-tiled fountain, and student art. Lots of photography – their photog department was founded by Ansel Adams, and hosted Annie Liebovitz. One room has a giant fresco created by Diego Rivera.

Closeup of Rivera’s fresco “The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City,” 1931. That’s his self-portrait backside in the center, sitting and watching the work:

A little rest back in the room- thank you, public transportation! Then a walk to dinner in Chinatown, the largest in the US:

Chinatown Gate

Hey, we’re at the Barbary Coast!

Final find of the night – the “spot” where Sam Spade’s partner Miles Archer was “done in” by Brigid O’Shaughnessy in The Maltese Falcon! Right across from Dashiell Hammet Way!


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Hale Reservation, Storrow Pond Trail 5/7/17

Hale Reservation is a private, non-profit educational organization that manages 1,137 acres of woodlands, including four ponds and over twenty miles of trails in Westwood and Dover, MA. Its motto is “Acres of Adventure.”

The essence of Hale Reservation can be found in Robert Sever Hale’s original desires for the organization he began in 1918 – “to provide education which will develop intelligent, capable and responsible citizens” and to use the land “so long as it is charitable and benevolent in nature.” Here’s the Hale Memorial Building:

The Storrow Pond Trail is pretty benevolent, with a good trail leading to a wildlife/pond viewing deck. The trail, and Storrow Drive in Boston, were named for James J. Storrow, an activist Boston Brahmin/investment banker who helped found General Motors, created the Charles River Basin as a public recreational area, and was the 2nd president of the Boys Scouts.

There are a well and chimney on either side of the platform:

Picnic tables along the dam that created the Pond:

Flow from the dam:

Bridging the dam’s sluiceway:

Below the dam:

Bizarre fungus climbing a tree stump:

We hiked an unmarked trail along the far edge of the pond, until we came to this bridge across the brook that fills the pond:

Not quite Monet’s bridge over his waterlilies at Giverny. But maybe Monet never saw this kind of bridge over skunk cabbage.

View from the bridge:

Sound and view from the bridge:

Great stone wall along the brook:

View back to the dam-side of the pond – note the cement dam on the far left:

The trail continues into the woods, and crosses under power lines:

Some of the features are marked on the trail, and some, like this camping hut, are not:

The trail continues:

to Noanet Pond, where the summer camps’ beaches are located:

Not beach season, so a goose took advantage of the quiet:

Crossed another stream, or the same one in a different spot, on the way to the car. Love that skunk cabbage in the middle:

We’ll have to try more trails at Hale Reservation.

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Morse St to Camp Everwood, Sharon 4-30-17

Parked at the wooden fence where Morse Street meets Lakeview Ave, Sharon. There’s a trail marker and map.

It opens onto a lush meadow, with trails branching off.

Branching left eventually brings you to the King Phillips Rock area. We headed towards the right into the woods where fiddleheads are about to unfurl.

And skunk cabbage is in full bloom.

A log blocks the trail, but is easy to step over.

Boardwalks cross the streams and swampy areas.

Beautiful stone walls:

Cushy moss-covered rock:

The trail leads right by some backyards:

Site of a small forest fire, or lightning strike:

Boardwalk crossing another brook:

Strange fungus:

We reached Camp Everwood:

Most of the Camp is across the street from Lake Massapoag:

They have this nice trail through the woods, towards the crosswalk to their beachfront:

This bridge crosses a big stream coming out of the Lake, a nice home for ducks.

Is that big stream really Canoe River?

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