Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sea Kayaking in British Columbia - July 14th

Tuesday, July 14th
Everyone was on time for a hearty breakfast at 8:00. The kayaks were ready for us to slide into the water at 9:00, and we already felt like old pros as we donned spray skirts and life jackets and helped each other steady each kayak as we scrambled off the low dock into the boats. We got ourselves into formation with Dan at one end and Mike at the other for the paddle west across the Christie Passage to Balaklava Island’s southern end at Nolan Point. We skirted the very small sparsely forested Jerome Island, an old Indian burial ground, more accurately designated a place of the dead. It was the practice of the people who lived here originally to put their dead in cedar boxes on the ground or simply hang the bodies on tree branches and let the ravens take them away.
We strung out in a long line, paddles bobbing, dipping, and dripping as we made our way leisurely toward the northwest between Balaklava and the nearby Lucan Islands. In the Browning Passage vertical rock cliffs drop down deep underwater, and we paddled within a few feet, exclaiming at the sight of sea anemones and brilliantly colored sea stars clinging to the rock wall below us in the clear water. This spot in particular is a destination for scuba divers from all over the world for some of the best cold water diving available anywhere.
Several miles later as mid day approached we landed at a pebble beach called Bob’s Landing, although no one could tell us just who “Bob” was. Beyond the sloping rocky beach we could see two huge logs lying on the bank, bound together with thick strands of rusty steel cable. The cleared land behind was smooth and grassy, sloping gently away from the shore, leveling off, and then slanting down to an old sorting pond where lumbermen had floated their giant logs. Perhaps it was “Bob” who had supervised the building of a big boom rig here that could lift the logs in bundles into the small bay to be towed to some distant sawmill. The lumbering operation had been abandoned for a long time, and thick clusters of tall foxgloves hid the old logging road, showing their brilliant stacks of bell shaped flowers and nodding gently in the breeze.
On our return trip we rounded the southern end of Balaklava and skirted the eastern shore toward the north for awhile before “sandwiching” again for the crossing to Hurst. The tide had turned and was flowing with the strong breeze down Christie Passage. My GPS clocked us at 7+ kph as we made the crossing. We were drifting south about as fast as we were paddling east and our vector brought us to a point a bit beyond the entrance to the bay at God’s Pocket. As we paddled between the slopes of the island and the rock outcropping close to shore the buildings and dock were a welcome sight!
After a change of clothes and a few glasses of nice red wine provided by SKA, Steve got out his guitar. He strummed and sang while I tootled on my tin whistle for awhile on the sunlit deck before another sumptuous dinner.

Sea Kayaking in British Columbia - July 13th

Monday, July 13th
The sun was up at 5:30 a.m., long before we were. We walked a short distance along the waterfront to a local coffee shop for breakfast at 7:30, and back a block to the government dock by 8:00. The 20 foot tide was close to its lowest point, so the metal ramp down to the floating dock was steep. The aluminum hulled 60 foot motor launch Hurst Island was waiting for us. The crew of two plus the twelve passengers made short work of carrying boxes of food, supplies, and personal luggage down to the boat where it was passed from hand to hand aboard and stowed below decks.
By 8:30 the big twin diesel engines were pushing us slowly away from shore, turning the reflections of the shoreline trees and grey overcast sky into undulating green and silver abstract paintings. Once clear of the inner harbor the engine sound rose to a throaty roar and the wind across the open deck increased to gale force as we went ripping across the still surface. Small islands loomed in the distance and scrolled past in rapid succession. The huge propellers slashed the water into a churning turmoil of spray and whirlpools that were quickly sucked into the bubbly wake streaming out behind us, but out to the sides the sea was so calm that it bounced back the grey-silver sky like a pool of cliquid mercury. Float bulbs of kelp we saw bobbing on the surface were easily mistaken for the heads of harbor seals at a distance. The occasional real seals we did see ducked out of sight quickly as the sped closer.
Forty minutes later several bald eagles watched us warily from the tops of spruce trees as we rounded the point at the end of Hurst Island. The engine roar subsided to a low rumbling as the God’s Pocket Bay came into view. The rock walls of the cove drop sharply into the water on one side of the densely forested island. A hundred yards away the other shore slopes more gently toward a tree covered rocky outcrop. Some of the rustic buildings of the resort are perched over the water on pilings the head of u-shaped bay while others cling to the slopes above, connected by boardwalks and steps.
The tide was just starting to flow in, and the ramp connecting the walkways with the floating dock descended to it at a steep angle. Everyone pitched in to unload the supplies and baggage. Boxes of food disappeared into the cook house, and we hauled our suitcases and backpacks to our assigned cabins.
After lunch we gathered on the dock for an introduction to the tandem kayaks, the thick lifejackets with multiple buckles, the spray skirts that keep water out of the openings, and exit strategies to be followed in the unlikely event of a capsize. Dan and Mike, the two guides provided by Sea Kayak Adventures assisted in sliding the kayaks one at a time off platforms that were only a few inches off the surface of the water. Easing down into the kayak’s two openings and checking to make certain that the spray skirts were stretched securely over the rim of each cockpit, one by one we paddled out to cluster at the opening of the bay.
Dan and Mike herded us into a side-by-side line not much more than a paddle length apart and told us to remain in this “sandwich formation” while we crossed the mile-wide
Christie Passage to the next island. In case strong winds or currents moved us up or down the channel at unexpected speeds, this formation would guarantee that we’d stay together as a single group.
We paddled along rocky shores and once in awhile through thick beds of kelp as we skirted the west shore of Balaklava Island. We watched lots of eagles watching us pass while they perched on bare branches keeping an eye out for salmon swimming too close to the surface. Although the air was a chilly 55 degrees I found out quickly that a warm flannel shirt and a windbreaker were way too much clothing! As we approached the Christie Passage on the way back we could see that the wind had picked up quite a bit, raising moderate waves and small whitecaps. Once again back in sandwich formation we all made the crossing without incident, but were very happy to have the spray skirts when small cold splashes sloshed across the tops of our kayaks.
Everyone was happy to have the luxury of hot showers and clean clothes waiting. The sun was hanging just above the ridges of Balaklava and the air was cool so we all crowded into the cozy meeting hut for a few glasses of nice red wine before the dinner bell clanged a summons to a mouth watering dinner of fresh caught salmon in the dining hall.

Sea Kayaking in British Columbia - July 12th

Sunday, July 12th
Kim, who checked us into the motel last night is manning the desk again this morning, but passes off the duty to someone else to drive us in the motel van out to the airport to pick up a rental car. On the way, she entertains us with tales of spending seven months on a fishing trawler modified for pleasure use.
She and her husband cruised from the south end of Vancouver Island up the inside passage all the way to Alaska with no particular destination in mind, stopping in out of the way harbors and villages. She recalled vividly pulling in to one northern anchorage. He husband, a former member of the Canadian Coast Guard, contacted the local Coast Guard station and discussed the weather forecast with them. He was advised that a series of severe storms was sweeping in from the northwest, and that if he didn’t leave immediately there was a very good chance that he’d be stuck there until spring!
The left right away, but the first of the storms caught up with them anyway. The winds reached hurricane force and the seas built until the wave heights were more than twenty feet. Her husband, an experienced seaman stayed at the wheel, and sent her below where she’d be safer. Kate told us that she spent the better part of a day and a night in a lower bunk with her back on the mattress and her hands and feet braced against the wood framing of the bunk above to keep from being tossed and slammed around inside the heaving cabin. She obviously survived to tell the tale and the boat proved itself to be very seaworthy, but she did confess that she and her husband have given up cruising!
The drive north on Highway #19.Vancouver Island’s main road from Victoria to Port Hardy is a long one. The most spectacular overlook along the way was out across the Seymour Narrows of the Discovery Channel. The distance across the narrow channel is only about 700 yards, and much of the entire tidal flow from the Georgia Straight rushes through here at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour! Ripple Rock used to be submerged only 9 feet below the surface at one point, creating enormous whirlpools over 30 feet in diameter which could, and did swallow whole boats. Over the years 119 boats were lost here, and several unsuccessful attempts were made to dynamite the top off the obstruction. Finally in 1958 tunnels were dug under the seabed and up into the rock and more than 1300 tons of explosive were placed to blow up the rock.
Today the narrows is navigable, but care must still be taken by smaller boats to avoid the still wicked currents and eddies.
There are high mountains in middle of island, a few with patches of snow lingering in late July. Far up the slopes there are large sections where lumber companies have done clear cutting of all the trees. Reseeding has been carried out in those areas, but the result is a patchwork quilt effect of trees of different heights and different shades of green. In places on the steeper flanks of some mountains you can see avalanche paths through forests on steep terrain.
As you approach the north end of Vancouver Island the high rocky mountains give way to foothills with gentler slopes, in some places with second growth forest and in other places covered with older cedar, hemlock, spruce and alder. Port Hardy is a small town with a tripartite industrial base of fishing, logging, and mining.
This far north in July the sun doesn’t dip below the horizon until almost 9:00 p.m. so I had time to go for a three mile run before dinner. The motel was directly across the street from a swath of grass and a narrow rocky beach. Off to the right several piers jutted out into Port Hardy Bay. Rusty fishing boats and a 35 foot long Athabascan cedar wood canoe repeated themselves in the dark slow ripples beneath them. A paved path led along the waterfront and through a small park where tall cedars cast long shadows in the setting sunlight. I jogged slowly uphill through a neighborhood where many residents were out and about, chatting with each other on sidewalks or sitting on front porches. Most of them were First Nations people, the term that now describes better than the word “Indian” the people who have lived here for thousands of years. I saw some beautifully carved totem poles in front of the elementary school and the community center. A bit farther up the hill the pavement stopped and the unpaved one-lane washboard road curved off into the dark woods, so I headed back to the motel and a delicious dinner of cedar planked salmon.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sea Kayaking in British Columbia - The adventure begins

Saturday, July 11th
The alarm goes off at 5:30, and as I sit up bleary eyed, as I always do whenever I wake up, the first grey of a summer morning is already beginning to lighten the sky. We packed late the evening before, so all we have to do is get dressed and cart our luggage out to the rental car in front of my sister’s house.
Even this early on a Saturday morning the traffic is moderately heavy as we approach the toll gates for the Oakland – San Francisco Bay Bridge. Our $4.00 is taken by the man in the tollbooth without comment to a proffered “Good morning!”, and we keep pace with all the other cars flying along at 15-20 mph over the posted speed limit. The top two thirds of the towers on the suspension side of the bridge are invisible in dense low lying fog as we thread the maze of splits and off ramps and successfully negotiate our way onto Highway 101.
We turn in the rental car, collect our luggage, and trundle on down to wait our turns for the thrill of going through security. It’s not especially a thrill for us; only the minor inconvenience of taking off shoes, emptying pockets of loose change, extracting the laptop from its case and the camera from the backpack, but the stainless steel parts of Jane’s artificial knees invariably set off the alarms when she walks through the security gate. The thrill is for the security officers, who suddenly look more alert. More than once I’ve seen smiles of satisfied self-importance as they usher Jane to a nearby glass booth to begin the ritual of the waving of the magic wands as she assumes a wide stance and stretches her arms out to the sides while the guard confirms that there really isn’t a bomb hidden in either of Jane’s legs.
Once through security and we have collected and repacked scattered belongings and put our shoes back on, we head down the long corridors to the waiting area. We stop to buy some breakfast from one of the vendors that feel justified in charging at least triple what any reasonable person would pay for comparable items anywhere else. I extract a slightly stale cinnamon bun from its clear saran shroud, only to find that it has been baked with about three times too much sugar to be palatable. Perhaps that explains the treble price. I take a few bites just to have something in my stomach before I set it aside. I mistakenly assume that at least the coffee will be good. If you find the bitterness of quinine, combined with a hint of slightly burned plastic and the acidity of mild heartburn then you would have labeled the coffee delicious. My coffee cup, still mostly full, followed the remains of the cinnamon bun into the trash can. At least I had a good book to read while we waited for our flight to begin boarding.
The climb up through the fog into brilliant sunshine lifted my spirit as well as my body, and I sat in the window seat wit my head turned as far as it would go to the left to watch the ground far below and the anti-solar glowing point with the tiny shadow of the plane in the center racing across the countryside to keep up with us. It was exactly 10:00 a.m. as we passed over Redding where we had been just a few days before, and I could see the city’s famous Sundial Bridge, the Sacramento River winding through town, and Shasta Dam where the river’s falling waters turn the turbines and generators that provide power for much of northern California.
As we descended into the Seattle-Tacoma Airport, dysphoniously tagged with the name “SEATAC”, I was impressed with how the waters of Puget Sound embrace the edges of the city. During our long layover we had the chance to explore this city within a city. There are several thousand residents, all transient, either scurrying between concourses and flights or providing food, shopping, security, ticketing, custodial, and transportation services to others.

It was a short half hour flight to Victoria, whose airport is about a half hour drive north of the city at the edge of the charming waterside town of Sidney.
Our friends Sabra and Gayle met us for a mellow dinner on the outside terrace of a restaurant at the water’s edge looking out across the Haro Straight to the San Juan Islands, and far beyond, Mt. Baker in the State of Washington.

Click here for a video of the flight and the trip on Vancouver Island

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Running In the San Francisco Bay Area - July 8th & 9th

Wednesday, July 8
My sister and her husband were fortunate enough to have bought a house in Oakland BEFORE real estate prices went crazy. They have lived there many decades, and have always extended their hospitality whenever we have visited from Virginia. While visiting this July I have always started my training runs from here.

This morning I headed up the gently climbing road toward the Golden Gate Avenue intersection that everyone for miles around just calls "The Big Tree". Ocean View, Acacia, Cross, and Golden Gate all crisscross here, and slightly offset from the middle of the intersection stands an old eucalyptus tree whose trunk must be at least six feet in diamter. It appears unchanged since I saw it daily from the Key System bus I rode to Tech High in the mid-1950's. Actually, it is a bit less full, since virtually all its leaves and most of its branches were burned away in the Oakland firestorm of 1991 that laid waste to over 1,500 acres and burned 3,354 single-family dwellings and 437 apartment and condominiums to the ground. It took several years before The Big Tree, its root system still intact, was able to grow enough new leaves to look normal. Today it appears pretty much the same as if it had never been burned.

My next running challenge was the long steep hill of Broadway Terrace. It climbs straight up the slope toward the top of the ridge, and before I had gone a block I had to slow to a shuffle, and then to a walk. I followed the old bus route, through the neighborhood where I had a paper route so long ago that I remembered one customer who had invited me into the house to see the newfangled television set they had just purchased so that they would be ready to receive TV signals when the first TV station in San Francisco, KGO-TV, was completed and began broadcasts for four hours a day!

As the street leveled out I was able to resume my run along Moraga Avenue toward the old firehouse. It was closed long ago, but I can still remember the shiny brass pole just inside the main doors, and seeing the firemen slide down it to the waiting trucks. I always thought that it was cool that the roof of the firehouse was made to look like there were flames coming from the peak.

The firehouse is right next to Montclair Park which used to be a dark swamp. The WPA - Works Progress Administration, formed to create jobs for the unemployed during the Great Depression, built stone walls, paths, terraces, and a nice duck pond. The weeping willow trees that used to grow all around the pond are gone, as is the tunnel under the embankment where the Sacramento-Northern trains (also long gone) used to run but the park is still pretty, and well used.

The train tracks may be gone, but on the opposite side of where they used to be is Montclair Elementary School where I attended kindergarten through sixth grade. In fact the "temporary" portable classroom where Miss Milne taught me in 4th grade is still there 60 years later, and still in use.

A couple of blocks away is the Montclair Shopping Center. When I attended Montclair Elementary School, the shopping center had a big horse pasture next to the park, and several streets were still undeveloped vacant lots with water-filled sinkholes. La Salle Avenue, the main street, still look pretty much the same even though virtually all the stores have changed.

Heading back past the school down Mountain Boulevard toward my sister's house again I jogged past the quaint slate-roofed cottage that is the Montclair Library. Mrs. Glover the librarian has long ago gone to her reward, but I still owe her a debt of gratitude for encouraging my interest in books that has lasted me a lifetime.

The last point of interest on this nostalgic run was Lake Temescal, which long before even my time served as the water supply reservoir for the City of Oakland. It has been part of the Oakland Parks for many decades, and this is where I learned to fish, and spent many long summer afternoons hanging out at the beach and playing on the floats at the swimming area. Very early one morning in September when the air was chilly, the water still warm, and a thick layer of fog hung over the lake, Paul Maxwell and I, riding our bikes from Montclair to school at Clarement Junior High School stopped for the thrill of skinny dipping in a forbidden part of the lake.

By the time I had completed the loop I had put more than six miles of pavement under my running shoes.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Roaming Near Redding - 3

July 5th

Click here for the video

After a leisurely Sunday breakfast, the three of us climbed in the pickup and headed out of Redding. Not far from town Bruce turned off on an unmarked dirt road and less than a quarter of a mile later pulled over to the side and stopped. We could see that there was a deep gully ahead with a narrow wooden bridge across it. We walked to the bridge, and looking down saw rushing water cascading from an upper pool down over jagged rocks at the bottom of the chasm. We made our way cautiously down through scrubby underbrush and jumbled rocks as near as we dared to the edge of the dropoff, and admired the cataract of Montgomery Creek Falls.
I was reminded of the Robert Southey poem that I was required to memorize in my high school drama class because to read it you had to exercise breath control:
The Cataract strong
Then plunges along,
Striking and raging
As if a war waging
Its caverns and rocks among:
Rising and leaping,
Sinking and creeping,
Swelling and sweeping,
Showering and springing,
Flying and flinging,
Writhing and ringing,
Eddying and whisking,
Spouting and frisking,
Turning and twisting,
Around and around
With endless rebound!
Smiting and fighting,
A sight to delight in;
Confounding, astounding,
Dizzying and deafening the ear with its sound.
Collecting, projecting,
Receding and speeding,
And shocking and rocking,
And darting and parting,
And threading and spreading,
And whizzing and hissing,
And dripping and skipping,
And hitting and splitting,
And shining and twining,
And rattling and battling,
And shaking and quaking,
And pouring and roaring,
And waving and raving,
And tossing and crossing,
And flowing and going,
And running and stunning,
And foaming and roaming,
And dinning and spinning,
And dropping and hopping,
And working and jerking,
And guggling and struggling,
And heaving and cleaving,
And moaning and groaning;
And glittering and frittering,
And gathering and feathering,
And whitening and brightening,
And quivering and shivering,
And hurrying and scurrying,
And thundering and floundering,
Dividing and gliding and sliding,
And falling and brawling and sprawling,
And diving and riving and striving,
And sprinkling and twinkling and wrinkling,
And sounding and bounding and rounding,
And bubbling and troubling and doubling,
And grumbling and rumbling and tumbling,
And clattering and battering and shattering;
Retreating and beating and meeting and sheeting,
Delaying and straying and playing and spraying,
Advancing and prancing and glancing and dancing,
Recoiling, turmoiling and toiling and boiling,
And gleaming and streaming and steaming and beaming,
And rushing and flushing and brushing and gushing,
And flapping and rapping and clapping and slapping,
And curling and whirling and purling and twirling,
And thumping and plumping and bumping and jumping,
And dashing and flashing and splashing and clashing;
And so never ending, but always descending,
Sounds and motions for ever and ever are blending,
All at once and all o'er, with a mighty uproar,
And this way the water comes down at Lodore.
OK, now take a breath!

Back on the highway, a short drive and a few miles off the main road again, we cruised through French Gulch, a booming mining town during the California Gold Rush back in 1849. The town was named for the French Canadians that mined gold there during the gold rush. Located on the Oregon Trail, it was the largest of northern mines. During it heyday it boasted 4 saloons, 2 hotels, a post office and 2 mercantile stores. Today the population hovers right around 100.

We turned toward the town of Weaverville, and after climbing and curving for awhile along the sinuous road we dropped down into a narrow valley, crossed the Trinity River on an old steel truss bridge, and came to the center of Lewiston, another booming mining town in the 1850's. It faded almost into a ghost town, but now has a population of about 1300. The old buildings from the gold rush days include a restaurant in the old stage coach stop where we bought marvelous hand made milkshakes. Across the street is antique shop in the mercantile store where ancient glass-tank gasoline pumps recall the earliest days of automobile travel.

Our last stop of the day before heading back to Redding was at the old Taoist temple in Weaverville.

Bruce and I both bought bamboo flutes as souvenirs of our roaming near Redding

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Roaming Near Redding - 2

Saturday, 4th of July

We got an early start on Saturday morning. We drove to the Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park, a vast grasslands region that was the ancestral homeland of Pit River Indians who have lived in the area for thousands of years. We walked along the banks of clear sloughs, wishing that we had kayaks to explore further. Off to the north we could see the flanks of Mount Shasta looming in the distance.

This was a day for roaming. Only a few miles away is the tiny town of Cassel, home of Packway Building Materials. Business there during the snowy winter months is slow, so the owners entertain themselves in their spare time making giant welded metal scuptures.The cast of colorful characters on Cassel Road includes a dinosaur, dachshund, goose, fish, snowman, penguin, skier, ant, chicken hawk and rock man. The first one they built was a 40 foot long,16 foot tall, five ton big blue dinosaur, based on the Packway Materials logo. Its body is a Readymix drum and part of another one. Chutes from a concrete mixer were for its neck. Its head is a gasoline tank and the tail is part of a sawdust collection system from a sawmill. The most intimidating sculpture however, is the giant ant.

From there we traveled on to the spectacular McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park. The park's centerpiece is the 129-foot Burney Falls, which is not the highest or largest waterfall in the state, but possibly the most beautiful. Teddy Roosevelt once described Burney Falls as the "eighth wonder of the world". As we descended the short walk down to the bottom of the falls we noted that every few feet lower, the air temperature dropped another degree or two, and by the time we reached the base of the falls the temperature had dropped from over 90 to a cool 65 degrees!

We found another cool escape from the day's heat when we made a stop to get out a flashlight and explore Subway Cave, an old lava tube formed when hot molten lava cooled and solidified on the surface, but kept flowing beneath the ragged crust. As the flow diminished the still liquid lava drained away, leaving an empty rock tube that with a little exercise of imagination could remind you of a subway.

We reached Mount Lassen in the early afternoon, and drove the circuitous road around the mountain that climbs to about 8,000 feet. The three of us left the pickup truck in the parking lot at the base of the trail that leads to the summit, and walking slowly to accommodate to the thinner air, started climbing the dusty gray pumice rock path, pausing every few minutes to catch our breath. Jane stopped to sit on a rock and enjoy the view at about 9,000 feet, and Bruce and I continued higher.

Another hour's climb brought us, still a thousand feet below the summit, to a 45 degree slope with a patch of very icy snow a hundred yards wide. A narrow ledge had been hacked out of the snow, and people had managed to inch their way across this treacherous stretch, but the day before two people had lost their footing and gone spinning and sliding down the steep incline for 1,500 feet down the mountain. One had escaped with serious cuts and scrapes, but the second had hit his head on a rock, and had to be carried out on a stretcher several miles to a spot where he could be airlifted to a hospital by helicopter. We weighed the risk against the goal, and decided not to try to reach the summit. We jogged most of the way back down, reaching the bottom in less than half the time it had taken to climb to the 10,500 foot level.

By the time we had driven back to Redding we were all pretty tired. About the time we were seriously thinking about sleeping, we heard deep thumps and distant explosions. Climbing to the upper balcony of the motel, we were able to watch a wonderful fireworks display. A perfect end to an adventure-filled Independence Day!

Roaming Near Redding - 1

Friday, July 3rd
It's a little over 200 miles from Oakland north to Redding, California, and the small rental car zooms comfortably along at 70 on the east side of San Francisco Bay. We cross the Carquinez Bridge at the north end of the bay, top the ridge, and leave the cool air behind. The Central Valley is always hot and dry in July, and the rolling hills have taken on their tawny golden summer hue. Dark green California live oak trees are scattered randomly across the slopes, and parallel paths along the hillsides worn by wandering cattle look like contour lines on a map.

Skirting east of Sacramento on the Winters Cutoff, we have all the car windows open, and the blast-furnace roar of hot air around and into the car recalls to my mind all the trips across the valley to Lake Tahoe in the old family 1941 Pontiac, back when there was no such thing as car air conditioning. As we get closer to Redding, far off in the distance we can see the outline of the dormant volcano Mount Lassen.

After some lunch with Bruce we headed north again for about an hour and a half. Bruce and I worked until near sunset, excavating and laying the forms for pouring a concrete pad on the property near the town of Dana. By the time we finished and drove the few miles to Fall River Mills, it was close to 9:00 p.m. The stores were all closed, but the old Fall River Hotel dining room was still open, and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Running in the San Francisco Bay Area - Thursday, July 2nd

Although my jetlag is fading, I still woke up this morning around 6:00 a.m. I dressed, drank some water to hydrate, grabbed a double handful of trail mix, and headed down the hill from my sister's house.

Jogging down upper Broadway, I passed Oakland Technical High School where I graduated in 1957. When new strict codes were enacted to make building safer in earthquakes, none of the high schools in Oakland met the standards, and several were torn down. The city spent several million dollars on well-hidden reinforcements to Tech, and the school still stands as beautiful as it was over 505 years ago.

I made my way along sidewalks through downtown Oakland, dodging people in business suits toting briefcases on the way to work, and all the way down to Jack London Square, which overlooks San Francisco Bay. There are several really good seafood restaurants here, a hotel overlooking the water, an and the dilapidated old Heinhold's "First and Last Chance Saloon", where the writer Jack London used to hang out. It still does a thriving business.

I cut over a few blocks and ran past the old building on 4th and Jackson Streets that used to to be Safeway Stores corporate headquarters. My Dad was head consulting architect there, and got me my first real job there running a blueprint machine and filing all the architectural plans for every Safeway Store.

Now heading uptown, I ran for awhile along the side of Lake Merritt. Originally a shallow tidal lagoon that opened into the estuary between Oakland and the Island city of Alameda, by the mid-1800's it had turned into a convenient cesspool for Oakland's sewage. Samuel Merritt, Oakland's mayor was responsible for pushing through an initiative that diverted the sewers elsewhere, and cleaned up the lake. Although the water level in the lake still rises and falls with the tides, it is now surrounded a beautiful park.

Finding my way back to Broadway I headed for my starting point. I was pleased that I had done the first 3.1 miles in only 28 minutes and passed the 10k mark at 6.2 miles in one hour and 6 minutes. Slogging along, I began to run out of steam, and stopped at a neighborhood grocery across from Tech High for a bottle of fruit juice. It didn't revive me as much as I had hoped, and I slowed to a walk for the last mile and a half. Still, I was pleased that although my marathon training schedule had called for 3 miles today, I had completed 10 miles and even with all the walking had averaged four point seven miles per hour

Running in the San Francisco Bay Area - Wednesday, July 1

I missed my Tuesday run. We were getting packed and running last minute errands, then flying from Richmond, VA to San Francisco, California, and the flight attendants don't approve of any attempts to run three miles using only the aircraft aisles!

My internal clock woke me up late, Virginia time, but it was only 5:30 in Oakland. I tried to go back to sleep for a half hour, but gave up and got out of bed at 6:00 a.m. I put on my running shoes, shorts, and shirt, and trotted down to College Avenue.
Turning north, I jogged past Claremont Junior High School (now Claremont Middle School), on past the boundary between Oakland and Berkeley, and past the Elmwood, and old neighborhood theater that is still thriving.

Soon I reached the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, and ran past the campanile bell tower that chimes the hours and whose carrilon bells still provide daily concerts.

Then across campus past Dwinelle Hall and out through Sather Gate on Telegraph Avenue.

Although it was still early, the sidewalk vendors were already setting out their, leather goods, incense, tie-dyed shirts, and other handicrafts, making jogging along the sidewalk more like an obstacle course.

By the time I'd made my way back to College Avenue and back to my sister's house, I'd covered 6 miles.