Taking a break

Golden Gate Park

Emily and I got out for a walk to the ocean during a break between two stormy weeks, between her finals, and between the holidays.  We were treated to some spectacular clouds through Golden Gate Park.

I’m a cleaning machine!

Berlin's street sweepers with humorous sayings.
Berlin street sweeper says “I’m a cleaning machine!”

I want to get back to Europe.  I enjoyed Berlin.  I’ve signed up for German 1 at City College of San Francisco.  It will cost me less than $250 dollars for the semester.  This was an easy decision.

 

Burrows Pocket Park

Mural detail from Burrows Pocket Park
Mural detail from Burrows Pocket Park

I just got back from supporting a neighborhood beautification day at the Burrows Pocket Park in the Portola neighborhood.  This is one of the neighborhood projects that I’ve been fortunate to work with during my time at San Francisco Public Works.

The Burrows Pocket Park was created at the end of a dead-end street and was a collaboration between the Portola Neighborhood Association, Caltrans, San Francisco Public Works, and Architecture for Humanity.  This area used to be an overgrown, weedy lot that attracted illegal dumping and homeless encampments.  A quick online search of the project will show you images of what the site used to look like.  Due to the success of this project, the neighborhood was able to secure Four Barrel Coffee to open up on the street which has been a huge element to activating the space.  Projects like this work because they have a strong community group to help maintain and coordinate programing within the space.  Beautiful spaces need strong organizations behind them to keep them active.

My favorite component to this park is the mural which compliments the planting area and the muted colors of the coffee shop.  This park is a hidden gem in San Francisco, but you can check it out at the corner of San Bruno Avenue and Burrows Street.

Portola Neighborhood Association beautification day
Portola Neighborhood Association beautification day

A quote…

Berlin street scene snapped while cycling along Karl-Marx Strasse

“There are countries in which the communal provisions of housing, transport, education, and health care is so inferior that inhabitants will naturally seek to escape involvement with the masses by barricading themselves behind solid walls.  The desire for high status is never stronger than in situations where “ordinary” life fails to answer a median need for dignity and comfort.” Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety, 2004.

 

Naturally sorted stones

Em and I hanging out at Tennessee Valley Beach
Em and I hanging out at Tennessee Valley Beach

After two years of living in San Francisco, we’ve realized pretty quickly that the best way to enjoy the City and maintain a degree of sanity is to spend some time away from it.  Escaping the rapid human-created pace of the city is essential.

This past Sunday we ventured to the Tennessee Valley trailhead to do a little hiking for the first time.  It’s just a short 20 minute drive outside the City and across the Golden Gate Bridge.  We left around 10am and on the drive north we passed the electronic signs informing drivers that the Muir Woods parking lot was already full.  This recreation area is a nice alternative Muir Woods if your plan is to get outside for the weekend.

By 10:30 a.m., the parking lot at the trailhead was already getting full.  We found a parking spot and set off for the beach.  It was a pleasant 2.5 mile hike to through the valley on a half paved, half gravel pathway.  The area is marked well and is a pretty tame outdoor experience.  We grabbed a little plot of beach and laid out for awhile.   The beach was pretty amazing, and the geology of the beach smoothly transitioned from gravel to sand as you approached the water.  We spent a good amount of time sifting through the colorful pea-sized gravel as is diminished into sand. Around noon the crowds picked up and we decided to head home.

It was a great spot with plenty of other trails to explore on our next visit.  We will be back for sure.