Posts tagged travel

Bodega Bay, CA – 5/29/17

Drove through rolling landscape towards Bodega Bay. Doubleclick any photo to enlarge.

Spent the windswept afternoon, exploring the cliff-bottom beaches overlooking an assortment of sea stacks – those weird  pillarlike masses of erosion-resistant “rock detached by wave action from a cliff-lined shore and surrounded by water.”

Arch Rock

Goat Rock is huge – connected to the coast by land turned into a parking lot.  This whole Sonoma Coast area has lots of beaches, but not for swimming due to the dangerous rip currents.

Goat Rock

Never saw the seals nesting – too windy to walk all the way. There’s a great Kortum Trail on the cliff-top meadow above the beaches, but the wind was wild. And the views were spectacular:

Next stop, Bodega Head, where there were reportedly pods of whales. I swear wildlife hides when they hear us coming. But more ridiculously windy views:

Drove down around to Hole in the Head, a beautiful beach area where Pacific Gas & Electric began excavations in 1958 to build a nuclear power plant – next to the San Andreas fault. Public protest and opposition to this is considered the birth of the anti-nuclear movement. In ’64, the Atomic Energy Commission gave a negative review, and the project was abandoned – leaving a nice little pond and an apt nickname for this stupid plan:

Ended the night with dinner at Lucas Wharf, where we would have had a sunset view if it weren’t so overcast:

 

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Muir Woods 5/29/17

Left San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge:

We drive through the rainbow-painted Robin Williams Tunnel:

on the way to Muir Woods National Monument. Muir Woods has been protecting old growth coastal redwoods since 1908. Most of the redwoods in the monument are between 500 and 800 years old. The oldest is at least 1,200 years old, and the tallest is 258′. Redwood Creek runs through the valley, nourishing the trees.

“God has cared for these trees… but he cannot save them from fools. Only Uncle Sam can do that.” John Muir, 1897

The trails are beautifully groomed, and much of it is wheelchair accessible. It’s hard to appreciate how tall these things are – picture a 24 story tower.

United Nations Conference on International Organizations, meeting in San Francisco to sign the UN charter in 1945, met in this Cathedral Grove to honor the memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who had died just weeks before.

We were here:

Found a little resting spot along the creek, for trail mix and some words of tribute to the redwoods:

This is a detour around a section of trail that crumbled into the creek:

The trail back crosses the creek and climbs the cliff on the other side, so you’re looking down onto the creek, and the trail we’d been on.

Next stop, Muir Beach Overlook, with its WWII era stations to watch for an invasion:

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Painted Ladies, Golden Gate Park, Cliff House + 5/29/17

Stopped to enjoy the sights on the way to Golden Gate Park. Look, a cable car! (never rode one – the wait to board was insane, and the bus prices were much better!)

Rode past Japan Town, and waited for a bus by a tree-stump chair (doubleclick any photo for full size):

Victorian homes along the way were impressive, especially the one with giant tree festooned in wind chimes:

Reached Alamo Square, a hilltop park that looks out on the famed Painted Ladies Victorians, built 1892-1896 – well known from the opening credits to Full House.

Another bus, and we reached Golden Gate Park, 20% larger than NYC’s Central Park, at over 1,000 acres – and 3 miles long! Hiked a short way through fuscias to the Conservatory of Flowers:

Inside were all kinds of tropical plants, plus a butterfly den:

Interesting sculptures in the dell outside the Conservatory. Segway tours of the Park are popular:

Golden Gate Park is home to so much:

We walked past the crowds at the Academy of Sciences, and into the DeYoung art museum, which is hosting an exhibit on the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love 1967.

The deYoung, and its special exhibit, were very expensive (and time consuming), so we checked out the lobby, and took the free elevator to the tower’s observation deck. Also experienced our first “All Genders simultaneously” public restroom – no urinals, all private stalls, all genders sharing the mirrors/sinks. And the universe did not implode.

Next stop – the Park’s Japanese Tea Garden – gorgeous!

More sculpture by the deYoung, on our way to the next bus:

Headed towards the Pacific side of San Francisco, walking up the hill along the ocean.

… towards the Cliff House, an historic (1858) restaurant with ocean views.

Next to the Cliff House are the ruins of the Sutro Baths (1894-1964), a massive public bath house, and freshwater swimming facility. It included 6 saltwater swimming tanks of varying sizes, shapes, and water temperatures, tiers of bleachers seating thousands of spectators under glass and steel. This is all that’s left:

There are delightful hiking trails from this Lands End visitor center, down to the ruins or along the cliff:

Then you round a bend in the trail, and get this:

Next bus – past another interesting church:

Back downtown to Union Square :

… and the historic St. Francis Hotel, which was badly damaged in the fire following the 1906 earthquake. The staff provided meals to the people displaced by the 1906 catastrophes right in Union Square, bottom photo on right:

Classy lobby, bar, and a famous grandfather clock, admired by Shirley Temple in the photo. The plaque describes the hotel’s history of washing guests’ coins so they wouldn’t soil their elegant gloves. And they still provide that service. Really.

Finally, found Maiden Lane, which houses the only San Francisco building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It had been an art gallery, shop, many things, but is currently unoccupied. It has a curved stairway/ramp, similar to his design for NYC’s Guggenheim Museum:

I think that’s enough ground covered for one day.

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Alcatraz Evening tour 5/28/17

Alcatraz Island, a mile out from San Francisco, became a military fortress in 1858, then a Civil War prison in 1861. The island is home to the oldest operating lighthouse on the west coast, first built in 1854. Alcatraz served as the notorious federal penitentiary from 1934 until 1963. While the national historic site is free, the ferry ride will cost you – and they book up early! These are from the waiting-to-board area. Doubleclick any photo for full size.

Views from the ferry:

Approaching Alcatraz:

This “Indians Welcome” graffiti is from the 18-month occupation by the Tribes of All Nations group from 1969-1971, protesting The Indian Termination Act, which forced Native Americans to move to cities and assimilate, in an attempt to end the special relationship between the U.S. government and Native nations. They also demanded reparation for the many treaties broken by the US government and for the lands which were taken from so many tribes. During the occupation, President Nixon rescinded the Indian termination policy, and established a new policy of self-determination, in part as a result of the publicity and awareness created by the occupation. Graffiti remains, and is regularly repainted by relatives/descendants of the occupiers, to preserve this piece of the island’s history.

Some buildings are in disrepair; others are being renovated.

Alcatraz has some lovely gardens on its slopes:

More Native graffiti:

The tour includes a free audio-guide, told by a narrator and by actual former inmates and guards. Chilling and fascinating. No attempt at rehabilitation, only punishment. “Break the rules and you go to prison; break the prison rules and you go to Alcatraz.”

The hallways between cells are named for famous streets, like Broadway and Michigan Avenue. The cells housed some famous prisoners, like Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, Robert “The Birdman” Stroud, and even Whitey Bulger ’59-’62.

We learned about a lot of escape attempts. If you could dig your way out of your cell, you faced the most dangerous challenge – swimming the frigid choppy waters to San Francisco. A total of 36 prisoners made 14 escape attempts, two men trying twice; 23 were caught alive, six were shot and killed during their escape, two drowned, and five are listed as “missing and presumed drowned.” One escape used this spacer to spread the uncuttable bars apart:

Inmates did take up hobbies to pass the monotonous time – including crochet (pink!) and painting.

Here’s the guards’ uniform:

Most prisoners were assigned to work in various jobs on the island – laundry, factory, etc, and did get some recreation time outdoors:

Prisoner accounts said that when the wind was right, they could hear the sounds from the city in their cells, especially the sounds of celebrations on New Year’s Eve.

A dummy was used to hide one escape, made through that tunnel carved under the sink through the ventilation grate:

Prisoners did go to the mess hall for meals; the kitchen knives were stored on this rack with outlines, so guards could tell immediately if a knife was missing:

Prisoners who broke the rules at Alcatraz were placed in The Hole, a block of bare cells, secluded in total darkness for 23 hours/day. Birdman spent 6 years in solitary in The Hole.

“Its size was approximately that of a regular cell-9 feet by 5 feet by about 7 feet high. I could just touch the ceiling by stretching out my arm… You are stripped nude and pushed into the cell. Guards take your clothes and go over them minutely or what few grains of tobacco may have fallen into the cuffs or pockets. There is no soap. No tobacco. No toothbrush, The smell – well you can describe it only by the word ‘stink.’ It is like stepping into a sewer. It is nauseating. After they have searched your clothing, they throw it at you. For bedding, you get two blankets, around 5 in the evening. You have no shoes, no bed, no mattress-nothing but the four damp walls and two blankets. The walls are painted black. Once a day I got three slices of bread-no-that is an error. Some days I got four slices. I got one meal in five days, and nothing but bread in between. In the entire thirteen days I was there, I got two meals… I have seen but one man get a bath in solitary confinement, in all the time that I have been there. That man had a bucket of cold water thrown over him.” – Henri Young testifying his experiences in “The Hole” at Alcatraz during his 1941 trial.

In 1963, due to the costs of maintaining/repairing Alcatraz, the prison was closed:

We stayed for a presentation on Shivs & Shanks – the weapons prisoners made and how they used them – usually to intimidate other prisoners:

The final presentation was on the revolutionary design to the cell doors – guards could open/close them from a contraption at the end of the cellblock. No more standing in front of cell juggling keys and getting attacked by an inmate.

In the dark, our docent explained the doors and treated us to the intimidating sound of the cells slamming shut:

Fascinating – highly recommend the evening tour. And still shaking my head at the inhumane treatment.

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San Fran’s Beat Neighborhood and Coit Tower 5/28/17

Where it all began – visited North Beach to see City Lights Bookstore, founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1956, who published Alan Ginsburg’s Howl which led to the landmark obscenity trial (poetry = not obscene). Scenes from City Lights:

Scenes from the neighborhood:

Then off to Coit Tower, with its impressive WPA-era murals and even more impressive views. The hills, the stairs, even some streets are just named staircases!

View from the hill – Golden Gate Bridge:

Coit Tower and its murals:

And the views:

From here, you can see how squiggly Lombard Street is:

Walked down from Coit Tower through hanging gardens:

And we found ourselves in Levi Strauss Square – went in to see their little history display in the headquarters, including Albert Einstein’s leather Levi’s jacket:

Then we walked along the waterfront to Pier 39 – a crazy crowded outdoor kitchy mall, plus sea lions!!

I think the sea lions come to watch the crowds of tourists:

Dinner was clam chowder in a sour dough bread bowl. Loved the chowder, not a huge fan of sourdough. It’s sour!

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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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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Zimmerman House, Manchester NH 12-18-16

The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH gives tours of their Zimmerman house, one of just a handful of Frank Lloyd Wright designs in New England, and the only one open for public tours. It’s a gem, built using 4 materials – glass, cypress wood, brick, and cement.

The two-bedroom, 1 level home is built diagonally across the lot, with a steeply overhanging roof, high cement-framed windows on the front, all enhancing privacy. The back wall is nearly all glass, bringing the gardens and yard into the design, so that the small “Usonian” home feels expansive.

This is the model of the house, inside the Currier Museum, where you gather for the tour:

And this is the house itself:

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The carport is well-shielded from the snow:

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The front glass door opens on a brick wall – privacy! Turn right and the brick hallway leads you to the open floor-plan living room, with Wright-designed built-in furniture:

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The back glass walls of the house – too bad we visited on a gray, snowy day, and couldn’t experience how the sun lights up the house.

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Here’s the Museum’s photo of the back of the house, from the garden on a sunny day:

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And the Museum’s photos of the interior:

table

dining area

Wright designed this 4-person wood music-stand and uphoulstered stools for the Zimmerman’s musical gatherings. The vertical slot wood piece in the corner hides their stereo speakers – and the open floor plan allows the music to fill the house.

music

music alcove

master

master bedroom

kitchen

galley kitchen

The design is a work of art, architecture, and arithmetic! Windows and floor (radiant heat underneath) are 4′ squares. Horizontal surfaces – seating, shelves, are in increments of 13.”

Down the street is another Wright-designed home, not open to the public. This one is a study in concrete, as seen from the tour van:

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Now onto the Museum itself, and its exhibit on Mt Washington, with lots of paintings by artists of the Hudson River School:

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cog railway

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The Museum also has galleries of glass, like this Tiffany collection:

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And this lovely Childe Hassam piece:

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The Cafe is in what used to be the courtyard of the original entrance, with amazing mosaics framing the doorway:

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The opposite wall features 2 pieces reminiscent of a colorful mosaic, by Sol Lewitt:img_9431

The ladies’ room floor ain’t bad, either:

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And we cross the Merrimack River on the drive home:

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