"All good things are wild and free." --Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sharks and Squirrels at Candlestick Point

Photos by Nico Zernik Traxler

Last Sunday a great group of people met up to walk Candlestick Point State Recreation Area, maybe thirty or forty people, including children. Some folks brought bicycles for their kids, others brought kites, and everyone had something for the picnic.

It was interesting and inspiring for me to hear so many people say, "I never knew this park was here," which goes to show that there are so many great places to explore in San Francisco.

One highlight of the morning was walking down the long pier and meeting a fisherman who had just caught a shark! For most of the kids, they'd never touched a shark before, or posed with one. The shark was released back into the water.

Consider coming down to Candlestick Point State Recreation Area for your next urban hike. Google a tide schedule and shoot for high tide. Bring a lunch and a hat; it's just about always sunny and beautiful.  The trails are flat and snake all over the place, and being by the water is refreshing.


In this Sunday's Chronicle, the water quality was pretty poor around here, getting a "grade" ranging as far low as a "D". I'm not clear on what this means, but I presume one should wash hands after handling fish or sand at the shoreline, don't eat any fish you might catch, and don't go swimming.


Ann Menneguzi, Supervising Ranger for Candlestick Point, told me in a recent email conversation, "This park was on the closure list," but because of groups like the California State Parks Foundation, it is open. "But this park is still understaffed," she wrote, "and no new funds have been identified for operations here." She recommends visiting www.calparks.org if someone wants to volunteer at Candlestick Point. "Look for the Park Champions link to see when our next Park Champions day is scheduled."

View Larger Map

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Reminder--walk at Candlestick Point this Sunday!

We will meet in the southern end of the main parking lot, by "Windsurf Circle" at 9:30 am this Sunday, August 26th. There is a restroom right there, and water spigots. You'll see me, my husband, and our three year old, plus Anne Menneguzzi, a park ranger, and other folks undoubtedly. I'll distribute maps and all can go at whatever pace they like.

We'll meet around 11 o'clock at the Jackrabbit picnic area, more or less, for lunch. If someone is having their birthday party there we can picnic down by the "mudflats" beach. Whatever works! :-)

See you tomorrow, and don't forget to bring a blanket and some snacks! :-)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Circle of Moms Top 25

Hill Babies has joined the fray! There's a little contest going on right now from Circle of Moms for blogs written by moms in Northern California.  I see it as a fun word-of-mouth kind of information dissemination.

To see all the blogs or to nominate a new blog before August 30th, the deadline, check out the link for  Circle of Moms Top 25.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

10 Great Hikes Throughout San Francisco

I just wrote an article about ten places to hike in the City, covering one hike in each of the ten main districts. The compilation was a challenge, as there are so many places I like to explore, and there wasn't enough room to include even half of them. (Perhaps there should be a part two?) For ideas about where to wander with little ones in San Francisco, from Land's End to Telegraph Hill, from Alamo Square to the Visitacion Valley Greenway, please check out the link below to OnlyInBayArea.com.



Grandview Park, aka Turtle Hill, of SF

Friday, August 17, 2012

Upcoming Hike for Kids and Caregivers!

You are invited to come for a walk at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area with friends, kids, and people newly met. I'm doing these monthly hikes just as a way to move my body, meet interesting adults, and let my kid play with a big old gang of kids the old fashioned way, outside. All ages welcome. Free and unsponsored.
Hanging on the beach at Candlestick SRA
Sunday August 26th, meeting at 9:30 AM. Why so early? Because 9:30 am on that day is the peak of HIGH TIDE, and down by the water that means it's pretty special--extra lovely and smells wonderful. :-) 

Meet near the bathrooms at the main parking lot off of Hunters Point Expressway (it's actually a south of the indicator on the map below, FYI). You'll see the group. I'm going to make and Xerox maps for everyone, pointing out some local sights and where our picnic spot will be.

The terrain is flat, and the trails are wide and smooth. If your kid rides a bike or a trike, that would be great way to explore. I'll be on foot, going at the speed of my three-year-old.

The hike is meant as a group thing, but with map in hand you are totally able to go at your own pace. One can always rendezvous for the picnic.

Food and water
Sun protection
Layers of clothing
Fun and optional: kites, bikes, trikes, rollerblades, skateboards

Parking is free (exit at Candlestick Park off of 101 and head towards the water, following signs towards Hunters Point Expressway). For public transport, see: http://tripplanner.transit.511.org 


Anyone who wants a five-star hike could explore nearby Yosemite Slough, a tidal channel that has been polluted, but is now receiving a $14 million dollar restoration. The Slough is a fantastic place for bird watching come fall, and home to the endangered clapper rail.

One of the beaches at Candlestick SRA
Group Hikes in 2012
1        May—McLaren Park’s southern slope

   June—Bayview Hill
   July—Visitacion Valley Greenway
   August—Candlestick Point State Recreation Area

Possible Future Hikes
Glen Canyon, Mt. Davidson, Lands End, Heron’s Head, Grandview Park (on the Green Hairstreak Butterfly corridor), Sign Hill in SSF, Russian Ridge, Rock City on Mt. Diablo! Basically SF and close by. Everyone is welcome.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Spiral of Potrero Hill

“What is art /
 But life upon the larger scale, the higher,
 / When, graduating up in a spiral line
 / Of still expanding and ascending gyres,
 / It pushed toward the intense significance
 / Of all things, hungry for the Infinite? / 
Art's life—and where we live, we suffer and toil.”
---Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh (1856), Book IV, line 1150
Child walking the spiral of Potrero Hill
Fifty thousand years ago humans began drawing spirals, beautiful and simple, a curve drawn from a central point, looping around and around a center point. They have an archetypal resonance, something deep and ancient, although they are found in commonplace things--the cross-section of shells, flowers petals, seed clusters, birds soaring on thermals, or water going down a drain.
One day my child and I found a magical spiral made of stones in a hidden spot in San Francisco.
The Spiral of San Francisco

We had been visiting my mom on Potrero Hill, and went to my favorite childhood open space, where I used to ride down grassy slopes on cardboard. My friends and I called this place “The Field,” but now it's known as the Starr King Open Space, a protected environmental area thanks to the organization of contemporary neighbors. It's three and a half acres around Carolina and 23rd Streets, De Haro and 24th Streets, and where Carolina intersects with Wisconsin Street.

 It was late summer and the grass was dry, the poppies golden, and the views from the serpentine outcroppings incredible and clear, sweeping across the valley that the City appears to be. We wandered up the hill, past the grove of eucalyptus trees rattling in the wind, and towards the back part.

In the far southern end of The Field, almost at the fence that borders neighboring yards, a large circular pattern of serpentine-looking stones appeared in the grass. It was a spiral, maybe fifteen feet in diameter, much like the labyrinth of rocks in McLaren Park, both having great artistic value and a spiritual nature. I followed its path curving in, then followed it out. 

Meditative Aspect

Walk the spiral any way you like, but if you do it in a meditative way the experience is only better, in my opinion. Humans impart meaning, and many believe the spiral symbolizes life, death, and rebirth through its motion. One might focus inwardly when walking towards the center, and focus on expansion when walking outwards.

Final Note

As with any spiritual place, care and respect ought to be given to this spiral—perhaps by adding a stone to its walls, or finding something out of sync that has blown in, like a candy wrapper or a broken branch. Enjoy it while it lasts in this ever-changing city of hundreds of thousands of people. It is one artistic and spiritual destination, a contemplative space in the midst of frenetic energy. And blessed be. 

Relevant Links

At a serpentine outcropping, facing southeast