Saturday, June 30, 2012

Shoreline Shores!

Fridays, I have come to realize, are AWESOME! Especially when work is finished, the weekend hasn't yet started, and it's lovely weather for a walk.

Rather than going home for a nap, I decided to drive a bit out of my way and go for a walk by the bay.

Shoreline at Mountain View Park is a familiar haunt. I once attempted windsurfing and sailing here while in summer camp! Aquatic sports aside, the lake itself always seemed beautiful to me and in the softer light of late afternoon it surely is. The breeze off the water, the geese feeding, the birds chirping, the squirrels darting in and out of their tunnels, it all makes the week melt away on a sigh.

The park has a charm to it. It's manicured with benches strategically placed. It blends the wild and the tame together; it is at the edge of Silicon Valley and the indomitable San Francisco Bay. I like the juxtaposition. The children run and play on the playground and along the paths, adults sit or stroll, just beyond the lake bikers ride the paved trail along the bay. I mainly meandered and took pictures, which was great fun and very, very relaxing. The mild weather made it a pure pleasure.


Younger trees

Path connecting the man-made lake with the trail along the bay!

Strategically placed bench, amidst windblown trees!

It's summer now in California, and wild grass has turned golden. I loved the colors of the afternoon.


Edge of the Silicon Valley. Somewhere near here is the Google complex.

This park also boasts a historical site and an afternoon isn't quite perfect without a bit of culture. It was a treat to photograph Rengstorff House in the fading light!


There are some beautiful flowers planted close to the house. This vibrant Hydrangea was the only instance of bright pink among the more natural greens and browns of the park.

Next to Shoreline Lake and Rengstorff house is a golf course. I decided to trespass along the edge to get a better look at the Rengstorff windmill and also see what the golf course looked like.

 I quickly realized that I wasn't the only trespasser there...

A giant gaggle of geese was grazing amid the grass of the golf course. :-)

Pelicans?! Oh my! You can see the gaggle of geese grazing on the opposite shore!

The afternoon was wonderful. I'm truly glad to have spent the rest of a hectic day in the gentle breeze and beauty of Shoreline at Mountain View Park!

Driving back to my life on the mainland, I passed by Shoreline amphitheater, where I've seen a lot of amazing concerts! Here you can see the blue of the Santa Cruz mountains in the distance!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

On a clear day, you can see forever in San Francisco!

There are days and there are DAYS. Today was one of the latter. A terrific DAY!

I left home early and got into the city mid-morning, with time to spare before the museums open.

On impulse, I decided to start my day with a slight diversion. This windy, uphill road leads to...

The San Francisco skyline!

On a clear day, you can see forever! Or so it seemed from the top of the Twin Peaks! The drive up to the city was beautiful, but you have to know how rare clear weather is to really feel the magic of seeing the skyline devoid of fog and the sky clear of clouds.

I could see everything...Barges on the bay. Birds. All the rows of colorful houses. Van Ness avenue. The financial district. Temple Emanuel. UCSF. Everything! It made me catch my breath, though not quite as much as the ambitious hikers and cyclists who made it to the top of the mountain without a car!

I sat and ate some breakfast with the view!

Packed cherries and apricots from the Farmer's Market!

I spent a bit of time at Twin Peaks, walking around the vistas and smelling wildflowers that grow on the hills...


View of the San Francisco Bay looking south.

The Golden Gate Bridge!

The Moon!

Being one of the highest points above the city, Twin Peaks has practical aspects to it as well. When I looked up at the functional towers, guarded off by the functional fence, I saw the moon, still out and about in the morning.

 Leaving the vista behind, I drove into the Sunset district for a morning pastry that I have sorely missed!

Et voila! A cornbread blueberry muffin from Arizmendi Bakery on 9th street!

Having eaten, I decided to head to the museum early and beat the other museum goers, but fortunately that was not to be. Some cyclist race was in progress and Legion of Honor drive was cordoned off by police officers and barricades. So I drove away, wanting ocean views and sunlight on my face.

Again I was diverted by police officers who were making sure that stray cyclists weren't being run over and after asking when the race would end, I decided to stop nearby. It so happened that nearby was Land's End, which was a true delight! For the first time (unbelievably!), I explored the Sutro Baths!

Adoph Sutro's famous Cliff House! 

A family of cypress trees!

The Sutro Baths!

The ocean was beautiful and it was so peaceful at this edge of the city. The seabirds love it. I don't know if in this picture you can tell, but that rock is covered in them.

Seagull resting (or maybe nesting?) on a rock!

Steps leading down to the Sutro Baths.

Sutro Bathhouse Ruins

For some reason, perhaps the weather and the spirit of the day or perhaps because I was longing for some freedom and felt it here, the Sutro Bath ruins reminded me of other places I've visited... Monet's garden at Giverny, Chantilly, the beauty of Caesarea's ruins in the sunshine. Somehow, this place, on this day held otherworldly magic. 

The Bath water is no longer clean, but the color is gorgeous and I caught a familiar reflection casting shadows!

In places, the ruins show rusted nails and pieces of iron sticking up at odd angles. These are left, but not forgotten. For the California History buff (cough, cough), there is a beauty to these ruins. The glamor of the 1890s is now a wasteland and a refuge for seagulls and tourists. To me it somehow seems poetic.

 In places the iron rots in shards that look up to the sun and face the sea.

And lovers carve initials. 

It's a beautiful place. Sad. Wonderful. And it was an unexpected wonder that I was meant to see today.

After the Sutro Baths, I headed to the Legion to see, one last time!, the Victorian Avant-Garde. It really is true, that when you practice looking more than once, you really start to SEE. In additional to looking, I listened in on a docent tour and heard about Rosetti's belief that a woman held his soul if only he could find her and new insights about Whistler's caricature of his former patron. When his creditors came to call, this is what they found...

James Abbott McNeil Whistler, The Gold Scab Eruption, Frilthy Lucre. 1862.

The disgusting creature playing the piano is Frederick Leyland who was once Whistler's great patron for whom he designed the exquisitely lavish peacock room. The house the creature sits on is the artist's White House, which was designed by his architect and artist friend Edward William Godwin. Because his patron refused to pay him for the Peacock Room, Whistler went bankrupt and lost his White House and most of what was within it. He had this to say about who he felt was responsible.

It was wonderful to hear a docent speak and get an even more enhanced insight into the exhibit. It was easily one of my favorites of the past several years.

One of the last paintings you see is called Midsummer by Albert Moore. 

Nothing compares to the vivid orange of this work. Certainly, none of the other paintings by this artist. I absolutely love it! It was interesting to learn that fire and heat may not be the theme of the painting at all. In fact, the docent pointed out that marigolds (which are strung in garlands and hung behind the central figure's head) are actually a symbol of grief. Is the central figure fainted or asleep? Is she sad or peaceful? I think the idea was that we aren't meant to know, only to consider and feel and perhaps be surprised with a revelation of ourselves.

It was a magical day. On the way home I loaded up on all my favorite Russian treats, with some to share. 

To Good Weather and Free Parking in San Francisco... I thank you for this day, from the bottom of my heart! :-)