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… And now for something completely different …

Click below for more street stencil photos

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PARK(ing) Day SF

Friday was PARK(ing) day in San Francisco, where folks convert parking spaces into actual mini-parks.  There were several dozen locations about town, and I decided to hop on my bicycle and visit the 7 nearest home.

It didn’t start well, with the park at Fulton & Masonic gone missing (odd, since it was sponsored by the SF Bicycle Coalition & FixMasonic.org), and the one on Cole & Beulah consisting only of a couple of potted plants in the street, and a garage sale on the sidewalk.

Lower Haight PARK

Down in the Lower Haight on Scott St., however,  two gentlemen had a nice little park set up, with a sisal(?) rug, plastic chairs, water and lemonade.  We chatted for a few, and I continued around Duboce Park and on to the park at Noe & Market.

 
Hula Hoop lessons at Noe & Market PARK

This was a fun park, with astroturf and a nice woman (Adriana?) giving hula hoop lessons.  Lets just say that I’m not a born hula hooper….

 
Library PARK at Market & Duboce

A left on Market and a few blocks down the supposed park at Market and Church was also gone missing but shortly after that at Market and Duboce, was the best of the parks I saw, a full-fledged library (with WiFi!).  I sat for a few and read some bicycling-related pamphlets and enjoyed sitting on turf as cars and trolleys rolled down Market St.

 
Hayes Valley PARK

Heading north now on Octavia I found the Hayes Valley park, smack in the middle of the business district.  Although it was a nice park, featuring little totem poles made by a local artist, the people running it were too busy talking to each other, and paid their guests little/no attention.

 
View from Alamo Square Park

I found myself wishing I’d printed out a bigger list of the parks, since many were downtown and it was a short ride away, but I didn’t, so I slogged up the Hayes St. hill, stopped for a moment at Alamo Square to admire the view, and rode home.

PARK(ing) Day is a fantastic idea, and I’m glad it’s catching on in other cities.  Next year I will be more organized and try to visit as many as possible.

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At Sarah’s mother’s suggestion, Sarah & I checked out this fantastic free exhibit of 56 of Robert Cameron’s aerial photographs. Some are printed extremely large (8×10 feet), and all are very interesting.

Cameron, publisher of a number of books, (all titled “Above San Francisco” “Above Paris” and so on) has made some spectacular photographs over his lengthy career (he’s now in his mid-90s), and he selected these 56 to showcase the western US, both in its beauty and its flaws. A nice pamphlet guides the viewer through each photograph, although the writing style is a bit strange, with very short sentences that often don’t flow very well. C’est la vie, it’s a photography exhibit, not a literary review!

The Presidio Officer’s Club, like most things in the SF Presidio, isn’t particularly easy to find, but I’d highly recommend checking out this exhibit while it’s still here – the price (free) is certainly right, and its a great perspective.

Exhibit Website (although the exhibition site doesn’t say so, the show has been extended through mid-September)

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Sarah & I went to see the Masterpieces of French Jewelry at the Palace of the Legion of Honor yesterday and had a fine time of it.

After a tasty breakfast at the Sea Breeze Cafe, we drove to the Legion. As we passed by Sutro Heights Park, Sarah saw a woman in the jewelry classes she’s taking, also on her way to the show via the bus, so we gave her a ride. This turned out to be a good thing, as the Legion of Honor (and the De Young Museum) are free during the month of May for any customers of Bank of America or MBNA and one guest. With Sarah’s MUNI Fast Pass, we got a $2 discount on the other ticket, so all told, 3 admissions cost us only $8!

Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker”

The show features some staggeringly beautiful and finely-crafted jewelry from the turn of the 20th Century through recent times. I definitely preferred the Art Nouveaux and early Deco pieces. Some of these by Lalique were simply breathtaking! It’d difficult to imagine how long it took to construct some of these detailed works, and also difficult to get one’s head around the sheer quantity of diamonds and other precious stones incorporated. Sarah was particularly impressed, since she’s 1 week into an 8-week, full-time, intensive jewelry-making school.

Sculpture at the Legion of Honor

Since we paid nearly nothing to get in, we didn’t feel the need to visit the other galleries at the Legion; although they have many fine works, we went through the whole museum a few months ago when they had a (very good, but crowded) Monet exhibit.

Land’s End, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, has trailheads right next to the Legion of Honor, and we decided to have a little hike in this, one of my very favorite places in San Francisco to hike.

Right off the bat I saw a Western Kingbird (LIFER) perched atop a tree. Naturally, I didn’t have my SLR with me, so couldn’t get a photo of it. Too bad, since it was close by and in good light! In the Lincoln Park golf course green were Western Scrub-Jays, Brewer’s Blackbirds, and American Robins, foraging in the grass.

A busy bee on a non-native Iceplant

We walked down El Camino del Mar a short ways to the signed junction with the Coastal Trail. The NPS has been doing a lot of work on the trails in this area recently, most of it for the better, and there are now nice signs with the directions to the Presidio, Golden Gate Bridge, Cliff House, and other nearby attractions.

Going west on the Coastal Trail, we enjoyed great views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin Headlands, and closer in, China Beach, Baker Beach and the densely wooded hills of the Presidio.  Brown Pelicans soared overhead, along with a lone Red-tailed Hawk, and while looking at a gull on the ocean, I spotted a pair of Pigeon Guillemots next to it.  We climbed a few stairs, then descended many (this walk is by far easier the way we did it, rather than the opposite way, due to these stairs!) and soon came to the spur trail to Land’s End.

Mile Rock “Beach”

Land’s End is one of my favorite places in San Francisco; situated on the very northwestern tip of the peninsula, it has great views north across the Golden Gate to Marin Headlands, as well as nice vistas of the bridge, and a small rocky beach. There’s also a low stone labyrinth that’s fun to walk – although only a few inches tall, it’s large enough to require a couple of minutes to get through. To get there, you walk down at least a hundred steps to a small plateau, from which you can continue down another dozen or so stairs to the (very rocky) beach, or go around the plateau to a nice vista. Today we did the latter.

The center of the labyrinth at Land’s End

On Mile Rock a short ways offshore, there were a few dozen Brant’s Cormorants, and at least one Pelagic Cormorant that I identified only when it took off and showed its dual flank patches.  Land’s End is often quite windy, however, and today was no exception, so after I walked the labyrinth and we took in our fill of the views, we trudged back up the dreaded stairs and continued west on the Coastal Trail until it meets a spur trail by the VA Hospital, which took us back to the parking lot at the Legion of Honor.

This is a wonderful little walk that I’ve done many times and look forward to returning to again and again – it’s a “must-do” for any nature-loving visitor to San Francisco IMO!

Birds seen (12 species):

– Brandt’s Cormorant
– Brewer’s Blackbird
– Brown Pelican
– Common Raven
– Pelagic Cormorant
– Pigeon Guillemot
– Red-tailed Hawk
– Red-winged Blackbird
– Rock Pigeon
– Western Gull
* Western Kingbird
– Western Scrub-Jay

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Yohei Art opening @ KidRobotSF

So Sarah & I were walking home from a leisurely fish, chips and pints at Martin Mack’s when we saw a cool King Tut-dressed Dunny in the window of Kid Robot (a store we love to hate and spend entirely too much money at). We went in to see how much it was and found ourselves in an art opening with free beer and dips – yay! The artist, Yohei has some pretty cool stuff, mostly with mixed Japanese and bicycle themes (think koi atop a single-speed bicycle and the like). His prices are more than reasonable, so we picked up a little print for our growing bathroom art wall of unusual stuff, as well as a T-shirt of a bicycle locked to a bamboo pole. Good stuff – hope to catch more openings there in the future.

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