Author Archives: zorrozappato

Italian Street Painting in San Rafael, CA – 24 & 25 June 2017

What could be better than music in the air and art at your feet both sharing the sunlight of a summer’s day? Begun by Youth in Arts in 1994, the Italian Street Painting Festival has been an event in San Rafael, California for 23 years. Youth in Arts provides a remarkable spectrum of art classes & workshops in painting, dance, storytelling and music among other arts. The street painting is amazing both for the beauty, power & sophistication of professional artists and the remarkable art of children – full of insight, whimsey and wonderful naiveté. This is a link to the website for the Kerrville (Texas) Chalk Festival. It has one of the best brief descriptions of street painting – chalk art festivals.
I was also amazed to realize how many street painting celebrations occur in California.

Here’s a Vimeo video of the two days showing the beginnings and some of the completions of these splendid, ephemeral artistic salutes. The music is J. S. Bach’s Little Fugue in G Minor, BWV 578 maybe sounding just a bit different in a jazz version by the Jacques Loussier Trio.

Italian Street Painting, San Rafael, Califorrnia – June 24 & 25, 2017

Street painting has “a long tradition in Europe and is thought to have originated in Italy during the 16th century. Italian mandonnari were vagabond artists noted for a life of travel between festivals, and were the visual arts counterpart of minstrels. They often lived solely from coins tossed onto or next to their drawing as homage to the Madonna and possibly their skill.” “Parallel to this tradition in Italy, street painters began appearing in London in the mid-19th century. These artists were called “screevers, a term that refers to the written message that generally accompanied their works.” You’ll perhaps recall Dick Van Dyke as the chimney sweep, singer and street artist, Bert, in “Mary Poppins”. Kurt Wenner is the dean of street painting and the “ambassador” that brought it to the United States when he introduced it at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in 1982. It was established at the Santa Barbara Mission in 1985. He is known as the “Da Vinci” of street art. From the twistedsifter website: He was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and produced his first commissioned mural at 16 and by 17 was earning his living as a graphic artist. He attended both the Rhode Island School of Design and Art Center College of Design. Later, he was employed by NASA as an illustrator to create conceptual paintings of future space projects. In 1982 he pulled-up stakes leaving NASA, sold all of his belongings and moved to Italy to study classic Renaissance art. He has become famous as the master of 3D Sidewalk Chalk Art. Along with this huge trove his website and blog stretch the imagination.

The theme of this year’s festival was as you might surmise, 50 years since 1967, “The Summer of Love”. Toward the end of day, I shot a short video of the scene with “The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius” as background. The bell of the San Rafael Mission chimes as the sun begins to set and everyone takes a last walk-around starting to realize that all this effort, all this beauty will be washed away tonight like some Buddhist Monks destroying their mandala – maybe not so permanent as we’d thought.


Gary Yost, Marin’s and Mt. Tam’s amazing filmmaker comes through once again with this insightful journey collaborating with artist Genna Panzarella, “a healing tribute to Marin’s mystical Mount Tamalpais.” MOUNTAINS MADE OF CHALK, FALL INTO THE SEA, EVENTUALLY Subtitled – “A Meditation on Impermanence”

And from Gary Yost, FUN ON THE MIDWAY @ MARIN COUNTY FAIR from 2016

Dogs and Cats while Potlucking with Michael – 12 June 2017

All good things come to an end so we’ll have some other good things to look forward to. Our hikes started in a rainy Roy’s Redwoods on March 6th which had been buffeted by winter storms closing the trails, needing to opt for plan “B”. This ultimate hike in the hills above Marin City was a very different scene with dried grasses all around and many spring plants now gone to root. The meeting spot was high on the hill with an immediate overlook of the Sausalito waterfront, Strawberry Point, Tiburon, Belvedere, and Angel Island. Since we’d driven most of the way to the top, it didn’t feel like we’d quite earned the view but we decided to enjoy it nonetheless and for the purists, why not enjoy a little guilt along the way as well?

Adding to the scene along the trail were a number of dog owners and dog walkers, we’d found the Bay area mecca for dog walking! Many “four legs good” companions joined us on our walk. They were friendly and inquisitive as we passed by sniffing out the intelligence and sometimes happily mingling with this new
passing pack of “two legs hoping to be good enough.”

Dramatis personae in the parking area

A bit up the trail Michael leads a discussion about the origin of Marin City during WW 2 as a shipbuilding center in the war effort. This enormous internal immigration of workers west mostly from the south began this housing community for shipyard workers. “During a 6 month period in 1942, Marin City went from literally non-existent to a city with more residents than Sausalito itself.” Jeannie also recalled hikes the group has taken in the area, all memorable and some almost immortal. VIMEO video of our free ranging discussion:



Lisa mentioned a book that gave rich detail about the Great Migration. Here is a link about Isabel Wilkerson, author of the award winning book, “The Warmth of Other Suns” which I think is the one she was remembering.
Here’s the Smithsonian article by Ms. Wilkerson summing up the message of the book with particular clarity, eloquence and passion. This is the best account of the Great Migration that I’ve read


Dog walker with a mixed affinity group as we head up a hill.

A tree becomes a chair awaiting the weary hiker

Great Bay views from a shady stand of Monterey Pines and Cypress trees.

We’re looking down on the area where Marinship Corporation was located on the left side of the photo and across the boat filled Richardson Bay are the Tiburon hills and at the point Belvedere “Island”. Across Coyote Straits is Angel Island with Mount Caroline Livermore topping the scene at 788’. You’ll recall that Ms. Livermore is one of the heroines of Marin conservation mentioned in the last hike-log, “Exploring Shoreline Park with Michael”. U.S. Route 101 can be seen in the lower part of the photo making its way up the Waldo Grade toward San Francisco.

This link in the excellent FoundSF details the amazing changes in Sausalito beginning in 1942 with the construction of Marinships. There is a well written summary and the Industrial film “Tanker” is put together professionally well. It’s reminiscent of many films of early 40s with its music & voice over including many photos and films of the time. It’s 47:25 minutes long, so a bit of a commitment but if you want to just dip in for the flavor that’s just fine, they’ll be no exam at the end.

We decided that just sight-seeing was not enough and since we were beginning to feel peckish – where were we heading for the potluck? Look for the sloping roof on the very right of the floating-home series. It has a distinctive triangular shaped and framed front deck. Louise and Eamon volunteered to be our hosts for this potluck most generously since we’re quite a rowdy bunch. References to this area of Sausalito is usually the “houseboat community” rather than floating homes.

At the overlook we tried not to overlook the yellow blooms at our feet. Canyon Dudleya, Dudleya cymosa, is in the Stonecrop Family, Crassulaceae, Reny Parker writes in her “Wildflowers of Northern California’s Wine Country …” “A loose oval cluster of succulent leaves form the base for a fleshy stalk with smaller, intermittent, thick alternate leaves. The bloom, a yellow to red little urn formed by the five narrow, lance like petals, is apparent atop this native found on hot rocky cliffs.” Our location fits. “The species gets its name from Stanford University botany professor William R. Dudley (1849-1911). Another common name is Live Forever.” p. 75.

Lots of yellow along the trail as we’re in the presence of Hairy Cat’s Ears (on the left), Hypochaeris radicata, in the Sunflower Family. Lilian McHoul who loves to reference the meaning of the Latin writes that the generic name means “little Pig”. “Pigs are said to like the roots. The specific name refers to the basal rosette of leaves.” Michael pointed out that the leaves look like bites have been taken out of them or very toothy. “The plant is 18 inches tall; the leaves are basal and hairy. There are several branched stems. The flowers are borne singly at the top of the stems and are twice as large as a similar plant, Smooth Cat’s Ear, Hypocaris glabra.” P.32 in “Wild Flowers of Marin”, 1979.
The Dandelion (on the right), Taraxacum, perhaps needs no introduction but its history and symbolism are intriguing. “The common name dandelion is given to the members of the genus. (from French dent-de-lion, meaning lion’s tooth) Like other members of the Asteraceae family, they have very small flowers collected into a composite flower head.”
We can appreciate that both blooms are in the cat family, both felines at heart.

Las Pilatus Nursery writes that “Blue Flax is a 2-3 foot perennial with delicate leaves and true blue sky flowers from Mar. to Sept. Native to middle to high elevations, Alaska to southern California. (Linum lewisii)–linum-lewisii Barb found this little bloom with some wonderfu colors with itsl delicately etched markings.

Michael is going to be a speaker at a coming “Bay Nature” magazine event. His friend who founded the magazine, David Loeb, mentioned that the last time Michael spoke he seemed a little GLIB. This is how Michael is preparing.




Rod takes a moment to give, Pogo, one of Louise’s dogs a good neck rub.

When the hill is too hard to climb, there are options with this dog walker.

This walker has quite a spread of breeds. With Mt. Tamalpais in the background having the big white Pyranees seems apropos, The Australian Shepard in the middle (I’m sincerely hoping) is calm and attentive in the morning sunshine, The Brindle Greyhound completes the trio

The last remnants of the morning fog have lifted as we return to the parking area and look out to the horizon and heading down to Issaquah Dock . . . and the potluck.

Jeannie always gives us such clear and well-organized descriptions & directions in her Footloose Hikes information write-ups, many thanks for her dedication (read dogged) and excellence!

Issaquah Dock sounds just right. Many thanks to Don McLaurin, who does tours of this area for Road Scholar, for sharing some great information with me about the “pretty little 114’ ferry with twin smokestacks and pilot houses said to be revolutionary for its times.” It was launched in March 1914 with “great fanfare” on Lake Washington only to get stuck in the mud – her 9’ draft was too deep for the launching site. But after that slightly ignominious beginning she served ports on Lake Washington for 4 years and was used in-between schedules as a cruising dance hall and party boat, she had a beautiful maple dance floor. The Washington State Ferry System put this privately owned ferry out of a job. She was then purchased by the Rodeo/Vallejo Line of San Francisco Bay in 1918 at the end of WW 1. Thirty years later in 1948 she was retired from SF Bay service and “mothballed” in Vallejo. How she got to Sausalito is a variegated story: was it a scrap collector or artist Jean Varda but for sure it was Donion Arques who ended up with the ferry and found a slot for her along Gate 6 Road. She gradually sank into dereliction while sinking into the bay but providied a homestead for some of the passing hippies and artists in the meantime. She was eventually dismantled and in 1977 the dock that would bear her name began to be built.

Issaquah is a city located in an area of Washington State southeast of Seattle called the Squak Valley. The name comes from a Native American word for the area “osquowh” meaning “the sound of water birds”. The town was called Gilman from 1892-1899 when the name was changed to Issaquah. Early a coal mining area and later a lumber town in more recent times its proximity to Seattle made it a good address for Boeing and Microsoft who both have been active in its cultural development and diversity. Costco moved its global headquarters from nearby Kirkland to Issaquah in 1996.,_Washington#History

“In approximately 1948 Jean Varda and British-born artist Gordon Onslow Ford acquired an old ferryboat, called the Vallejo. They permanently moored the Vallejo in Sausalito, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, and remodeled it into a studio for Onslow-Ford with a studio & living quarters for Varda, using materials scavenged from the closed-down wartime shipbuilding operation. The writer and Zen Buddhist popularizer Alan Watts took over Onslow-Ford’s space on the ferryboat in 1961.” Film by Agnes Varda, the 1967 “Oncle Yanko”, describes Jean Varda’s artistic life there and captures beautifully the Sausalito houseboat community of the time. Agnes Varda was his cousin. By dipping into this documentary you’ll get a rare view of that time 50 years ago. (18:56)

We enter the gateway to Issaquah Dock – most impressive architecture and a fun nod to the original ferry’ wheel houses.

Keeping in touch with the earth on the water. We were amazed and delighted to see the gardens along the dock with plantings and colors in great variety.

We were all quite taken with the creativity and amazing array of floating homes on the Issaquah Dock. The gorgeous day made it all the better.

Cats rule.

Quirky and eclectic

Perhaps a tribute to Jean Varda’s mosaics.

Our destination at last, you’ll recall the “in the distance” view that we enjoyed from the hills above Marin City as an “appetizer”.

A delicious spread of many dishes awaits us inside including Inge’s Pickleweed Poke, doffing her hat to our previous hike at Pickelweed Park in San Rafael.

Scott readies his ice cream maker on the back deck for his peach/nectarine extravaganza.

In-between we get to tour this lovely floating home. Kit took this great shot of Louise and Eamon, our generous and lively hosts, on their front deck. Many thanks to them for all their generosity of time and place. We all felt so welcome and relaxed in your home – what a great visit and swell potluck!
They also were most generous hosting our spring potluck 2014 in their previous San Rafael home. You’ll remember the chickens. Should you want to take that tour you can go to , then at the top highlight “Browse by Season” for Spring 2014 and 9 June 2014
entitled “Tucker Cutoff Trail with Jim” should be the first to come up. Was Scott’s fabled ice cream first enjoyed by our group on this hike?

On the other end of the deck, Kit also took this great photo of our two Annes.

Cats rule here as well on the deck in the sunshine, thanks Kit!

We see the skyline of San Francisco through the sailboat masts of Sausalito

Sunflowers, Moonflowers and Sea Stars

Here’s a VIMEO video of our Issaquah visit with music done by the Monterey Jazz Quartet in 1963, called “In a Crowd.”


Issaquah Dock Potluck

Thanks very much indeed to Michael, our leader so knowledgeable, creative and full of whimsey for a great Spring Footloose 2017. You stretch our minds and we scratch our heads, “Where is Michael now?” Oh yes, the Brazilian Pantanal, got that email “Greetings from Matto Grosso Brazil” where he was exploring the twin cities of Varzea Grande and Cuiaba and went out on a mountain bike ride at 6 AM. Thanks to Armando Quintero, Jim Coleman and Don McLaurin for seamlessly leading us on four of our hikes in this series while Michael was away, you each brought such special insights and enthusiasm – a bravo grande to you!

P.S. Michael invited a guest, Kyra, who was able to come to the first part of our hike in the Marin City hills. She kindly offered to take my picture on that hewn seat in the hills – thank you very much! Kyra works as Development Specialist for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in San Francisco.

Thanks everyone for your enthusiasm and thanks for “listening”. Hugs, Lew (alias “Z”)

Exploring Shoreline Park, San Rafael with Michael – 5 June 2017

Traffic was light on 101lending a welcoming feeling to our penultimate hike for the 2017 spring season. We were here previously in March of 2013 when we explored Pickleweed Park as well as hiking on the Jean and John Starkweather Trail. Our hike today is along San Rafael Bay. San Rafael Bay is described in the Wikipedia entry with the lovely word “embayment” of San Pablo Bay. San Pablo Bay is in turn the northern part of the greater San Francisco Bay – all of it a bit like a Russian nesting (matryoshka) doll.

The Starkweathers moved from San Francisco to Marin in 1956 to raise their family and fell in love with this area. John was a professor of Medical Psychology at the University of California in San Francisco and a community leader. Jean supported John through graduate school at Northwestern in Illinois and then raised their three boys with him in the city followed by their move to a new home in Marin’s Terra Linda. It was those three boys that got her into community and conservation activism when a nearby hillside and haunt of the boys was about to be developed for housing. “One of her sons asked her what would happen to the burrowing owls living there. Jean decided to find out” – video interview with Jean Starkweather

Jean Starkweather is part of a memorable tradition of women’s conservation activism in Marin and the San Francisco Bay Area – she’s in great company. Here are just a few examples.

On our hike at Ring Mountain we read of Phyllis Ellman known as the ‘Mother of Botany” who led local conservationist groups to save the area from massive development. This location, the only place on earth where the Tiburon Mariposa Lily is found, was purchased by the Nature Conservancy and deeded over to the Marin County Open Space district in 1995. She was described was as “very knowledgeable and very dogged”. Her work continued in Sonoma County when they moved to Glen Ellen where she became a “founding mother” of the Bouverie Preserve Environmental Education Program . Two of our hikers, Inge and Kit working with 4th graders, are volunteers in this program.

Elizabeth Terwilliger “pioneered environmental education in Marin County. A legend in her time, she led school trips for children until she was 87.” She would come each year to Stinson Beach School where Pat was teaching Kindergarten to share her love of and enthusiasm for nature bringing along many examples of Marin fauna. Two others in our group, Rowena and Jeannie, volunteered in her program and hiked with her. While she accomplished so much more, she is often remembered for getting then President Regan to raise his arms in her “patented” V is for Vulture stance.

In 1961, three University of California wives from the East Bay, Mrs.Kay Kerr, Mrs. Sylvia McLaughlin and Mrs. Esther Gulick “saw an Oakland Tribune illustration depicting San Francisco Bay mostly filled in and turned into a narrow shipping channel by 2020. Making phone calls, writing letters, holding meetings and collecting $1 from each of thousands of Bay Area residents they created the ‘Save San Francisco Bay Association’ beginning a successful movement to save the Bay from destruction.” They achieved a legislative moratorium against filling the Bay, closure of more than 30 city garbage dumps along the shoreline. (The area of our hike included many dumping areas for San Rafael. ) A halt to the practice of dumping raw sewage into the Bay and establishing a permanent state agency to regulate shoreline development and public access both became a reality. This Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) was the first-ever coastal zone management agency and a model for many others around the world.” videos – We’ve hiked in both of these areas.

In the 1930s, Sepha Evers, Caroline Livermore, Portia Forbes and Helen Van Pelt saved many of Marin’s open space treasures and founded Marin Conservation League which continues their activist tradition today. They worked with others to expand Mt. Tamalpais State Park from its 200 acre nucleus, created Tomales Bay State Park, and assisted in the creation of Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore. The MCL website highlights “one of the most dramatic chapters in MCL history was the battle to stop 8790 acres of Richardson Bay from being filled – by bull dozing the Tiburon hills and depositing the fill into the bay – turning it into a town for 10,000 people. Today it is the Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary.
Another of their signal victories was stopping the commercialization of Angel Island when developers had plans that neither respected the nature of the island nor its important history. Caroline Livermore said of their 14 year campaign to preserve the island, “We really saved it from becoming a cheap Coney Island, which a Nevada firm hoped to develop.” Or can you imagine a resort hotel and yacht harbor in Bolinas Lagoon? It was another developer’s dream derailed.


We circle up before the hike and share the moment. Yes, some dogs are aboard today and you can spot Matt’s poodle, Izzy, peaking out at us.

In the parking area where we gathered and spotted the FLAGship. The Marin County Library sponsors this bus which provides “Storytimes, kid’s songs and games, puppets, crafts another fun kindergarten-readiness activities . . . offers education and health workshops to adults and their children 0 to 5 years old.” All this is at various scheduled times across the county.
Another aspect of the Flagship program is “Trips for Kids” –

The final photo show us talking with the parking attendant who has her chalker in hand, always good to get to know your neighbors.

Getting out on the trail we begin to add the darker blue in the sign to that of the Bay to the not quite cerulean sky, ok not even close but I like the sound of cerulean.
What colors do you think?

Michael identified this brilliant, glowing native plant array as Salt marsh dodder, Dodder Family (Cuscutaceae). Cuscuta salina Engelmann var. major
Peter R. Baye has written a remarkable guide to “Tidal Marsh Plant Species of the San Francisco Estuary” which describes the dodder among many others.
First, a brief introduction to him from our favorite magazine, BAY NATURE, giving you an idea of his remarkable grasp of the subject and his out-of-the-box thinking.
His guide is an amazing compilation, a large number of plants – all with fine photos, clear identifications and other markers. He notes whether the plants are Native, Rare or Invasive. Our salt marsh dodder is found on page 33. Pickleweed is on 9,10 & 11. Spartina is commonly known as “cordgrass” frequently found in coastal marshes. The name comes from the Greek as spartine meaning rope or cord. It also refers to a restaurant in Los Angeles and in Spartina 449, an upscale women’s handbag and accessory company. I think that the first meaning was the intended.

We pass an unusual sign requesting consideration especially from 8 PM to 8 AM, quiet zone/zona de silencio.
Making one small change at Muir Woods brought an enormous difference. . . . Suggestions to enhance your soundscape – thoughtful and helpful. I recall on some walks we’ve had quiet zones (QZs) which has helped us a lot to get into the natural world we’re walking through. There’s a 1:32 sample. Just came across this site, lots to listen to. I think it brings me back to my early days feasting on radio programs not all natural sounds, of course, but listening brought a special attention that I sometimes don’t hone when I’m watching something.

The dog contingent and their leash holders.

Looking out on San Rafael Bay we see the Marin Islands and spot a passing paddleboarder. Long history, try 1781. Crossing the Atlantic on a paddleboard.

Back to these small islands which are conveniently named East Marin and West Marin. “The Marin name comes from a Coast Miwok man known as Chief Marin after whom Marin County was named. (and continuing in the wiki account) He is thought to have hidden out there in the 1820s after escaping from Mission San Rafael, before being recaptured and incarcerated at the Mexican San Francisco Presidio.”

In the 20th Century, Thomas Crowley, bought the islands at auction in 1926 for $25,461 in hopes that they would become the western terminus of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Instead they became a family vacation spot for more than 60 years. The Crowley family of San Francisco attempted unsuccessfully to sell them in 1984 asking 4.25 million. They later donated them to the federal government.” – Well written recollection of a Marin realtor who grew up in the area and go out the islands frequently the 80s including a helicopter video fly over of the islands when they were for sale. Michael suggested there might be a mystery about this but I couldn’t find it as yet.

The West Marin Island became the largest egret and heron rookery in the San Francisco Bay administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Kit to got to go out
to the West Island area recently and the rookery has sadly disappeared. This is similar to the loss of the long-standing egret nest area in the Redwoods above Audubon Canyon Ranch in Bolinas that had been active since the 1940s. The arrival of bald eagles in the area is one explanation but John Kelly, director of conservation science at Audubon Canyon Ranch said, “That is one theory, but we do not have an exact answer yet.” This also could be an explanation for the loss
of the West Marin Island rookery.

Statuesque Great Egret in the the lagoon next to our trail. It’s the symbol of the Audubon society.

Clearly waiting for some kind of a gotcha, or perhaps just a bit of skepticism – ah, you’re a hard audience.

Last school days at Redwood High School for this school year, a bravo way to handle a restless class.

Michael asks us, “What is the northern most part of San Francisco?” Izzy has other interests.

The boundaries of three counties converge on Red Rock Island – San Francisco, Marin and Contra Costa. The San Francisco County portion is an incorporated part of the City-county of San Francisco. Leaving your heart in this part of San Francisco would be kind of lonely and probably not what Tony Bennett was envisioning.

We walked along reinforced levees constructed of riprap on both sides of the trail.
Maybe the sound of the waves hitting the levee is yet another kind of Rap music. This looks like it was some solid, Ozymandian installation now doing second duty as riprap. Recycling where once was a dump.

The path has some helpful signs with descriptions and explanations

I waited quite awhile for a good angle to photograph some snowy egrets when this beauty swooped in and perched in the Toyon “hedge” directly in front of me. Pays to be patient and let nature come to you as Armando told us one time.

Here’s a Snowy having a fine feather fluff. From a BAY NAURE article by Rob Lee: (Egrets are also herons; their name derives from “aigrette,” the gorgeous nuptial plumes for which they were hunted almost to extinction in the early 20th century.) Actually, I think this may be more a cleaning moment rather than part of a courtship pattern but that will have to be determined.

Here’s a VIMEO VIDEO that I made of some snowy egrets in the lagoon set to a bit of J.S. Bach, Partita No. 6 in E Minor, played by Igor Levit.

Toyon “berries” or are these buds about bloom? They’ll become red in the autumn – the signature plant of Hollywood. A large number of Toyons had been planted on the lagoon side of our path. Returning in the fall to see them blazing with red berries will be memorable.

Returning to Pickleweed Park, we picnicked on two joined picnic tables that just fit the group. It felt like medieval moment feasting at a long refectory table at some castle or monastery with good friends pledged to the trail. Plenty of good spirits as well, all that was missing was the mead.

From the other end of the table we added yet another view of Mt. Tamalpais, the distinctive profile of Marin on the horizon.

P.S. Should want to remember our previous Pickleweed Park hike, here it is for your perusal. Best thoughts and hugs from here, Lew (alias Z)

Indian Valley Open Space with Michael – 29 May 2017

As we gathered at the Indian Valley parking area, we realized that we were one of three hikes heading out into the open space. It was Memorial Day and a number of groups had the same idea. This being Indian Valley how about extending the meaning of the day to native Americans as well? Normally, Monday is a quiet zone in the week and we Footloose Folk can have the trails to ourselves. At the same time wishing for our usual private pocket of nature, it was a happy discovery to see so many people enjoying nature – “out and about” as our Canadian friends like to say. Realizing this, Michael got us to the church, er, the restroom on time and then introduced the hike. This was followed by heading out on a road less traveled as we hung a right to the Ad & Gloria Schwindt Trail – a wise choice.

In fine form, Michael starts the day –

We heard the sounds of yelping just as we were starting the trail and thought that they were probably made by a group of teenagers pretending to be coyotes. But on more listening we realized that they were coyotes pretending to be teenagers.
Scott spotted one of the parents walking across the field in the first photo below about to head into the coyote brush. Michael speaking to the group as a pair of equestrians ride by. Finally, Michael points to the cirrus clouds moving in the sky cover and asking what they mean?

Inge spotted her favorite flower along the way, the Yellow Mariposa Lily, Calochortus luteus, with many blooms near the trail. “This species is found on the coastal prairie, grasslands and some open forest floors. It is native to California and is endemic (limited to California). “Like other Mariposa Lilies it grows from a bulb, with most of the growth occurring in winter, followed by spring flowering and summer dormancy.”
Another very rare member of this family is the Tiburon Mariposa Lily, Calochortus tiburonensis, found only on Ring Mountain endemic to a single serpentine outcrop in California’s Marin County.

We met many dog walkers along the paths on the hike who had taken their owners out for some sunshine, shade and the delectable perfumes along the way.

Some medics arriving on the trail to take out a hiker who collapsed along the way. Michael brought one of our three nurses, Rowena, to the scene and she ascertained that the person was stable and that help was on the way. This particular medical help was in an easily accessed location but there are many rescues in Marin County that are much more challenging and complex. The Marin County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue performs many life saving missions each year.

Inge commented that we were walking in the shade of a California Bay forest. Many younger trees along with some of the older veterans some showing fire scars and some along the creek undermined and fallen with the raging water of the winter rains.

Pointing out a bracket fungi or “artist’s conk” on a California Bay tree with a soft white underside, he said was definitive for a dying tree.

Now we’ve joined the Indian Valley Fire Road and are stopping to smell not the roses but a blooming California Buckeye’s sweet perfume.
Flowers of Marin is back after a hiatus, a very useful site.

Elderberry bush in robust bloom. These flat-topped are Blue Elderberry flowers clusters whereas the more pyramidal or cone-shaped flower bloom is the Red Elderberry flower cluster – Michael’s nemonic device for this is red pyramids. Notice the distinctly serrated leaves. Ah, four types with the additional Black and “Sutherland Gold” which I’ll have to sort out. Red Blue poisoning from elderberry juice.

Some late blooming wildflowers along the road, Michael points to a hillside of Linanthus androsaceus or Lepitosiphon androsaceus (False Baby Stars in Reny Parker’s book “Wildflowers of Northern California’s Wine Country” on p.117.)
Curiously, it is a native plant in California and Pennsylvania.

Lillian McHoul writes of Linanthus androsaceus (syn. that it is from the Greek linon for flax and anthos meaning flower. And Reny Parker writes, “In mid to late spring a profusion of perky pink flowers in open or shaded areas in woodlands and chaparral are most likely the pretty annual. . . .Each flower is a small upright trumpet of five colorful petals with the throat of the trumpet generally violet at the base and yellow above.” P. 117

Another flower on the same hillside was Red Ribbons (Clarkia concinna) in the Evening Primrose Family. Reny Parker writes, “Another common name is Lovely Clarkia but I was told that it’s not fair to use that name as all Clarkia are lovely.” P. 126 Mary Elizabeth Parsons writes in her “The Wild Flowers California” (1897), “in June these charming blossoms may be found in the company of maidenhair fern fringing the banks of shady roads or standing in glowing masses under the buckeye-trees.
In them Nature has ventured upon one of those rather daring color combinations of which we would have hardly dreamed, and the result is delightful. The petals are bright rose-pink, while the sepals are of a red pink.” P.242

Sonoma Sunshine, Blennosperma bakeri, in the Sunflower Family, Asteraceae. Reny Parker writes, “Closely related and very similar in appearance to Common Blennosperma, Sonoma sunshine is a much more pleasant descriptor than its generic cousin’s moniker. An endangered species, its bracts are yellow and the lower leaf lobes are entire or three lobed. The lobes are longer than those of the Common Blennosperma. You may find this annual herb in vernal pools and wet grasslands.
P. 89

Still another lovely was in this patch, Ithuriel’s Spear or Grass Nut (Triteleia laxa) in the Lily Family, Liliaceae. Parker writes, “Named after the spear of Ithuriel, an angel in Milton’s Paradise Lost, it is also known as Wally Basket. . . . Bees and butterflies love this blossom. . . . In the mid to late spring as the grasses begin to golden, this bright blue purple flower provides the only contrast color over vast stretches of gold. Spear head like flower buds open to reveal six petals forming each vivid flower. Clusters of flowers sit atop leafless stems.” P. 167

A former quarry, a long time healing. The exposed greenish rock at the base is serpentine, California’s state rock.

The area along the fire road and the adjacent seasonal creek provided a welcoming environment for this California pipevine or California Dutchman’s-pipe. Michael pointed out that the pipe shape would be that of a Meerschaum pipe. “The larva of the endemic California pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor hirsuta) relies on the California pipevine as its only food source. The red-spotted black caterpillars consume the leaves of the plants, and then use the flowers as a secure, enclosed place to undergo metamorphosis. The plant contains a toxin which when ingested by the caterpillars makes them unpalatable to predators.” Note – one of these main characters is coming onto the stage at the top of the photo.

Michael shows us close-up a pipevine swallowtail caterpillar:

We turn off on the Waterfall Trail looking for a lunch spot, that waterfall was about two months earlier this year. We stop to admire some dandelion flowers
gone to beautiful white seed orbs about to be blown away by the wind.

Further on as we walk up the little stream, Michael spots some water striders in the pools and is able to bring up a talk he made on them on KQED, NPR pulling it up on his iPhone. 10 June 2010 They’re called the Jesus bug in Texas which hatched the discussion of which disciple walked on water.

Just over a small bridge that has a horse forbidden sign, Michael spotted and identified an unusual wildflower called Gay Wings, Polygala californica in the Milkwort Family.

And just over the trickling stream our picnic spot appeared. Looks very comfortable as long as there’s no poison oak.
Michael’s latest on his KQED Perspective series:

Easy conversation over lunch. We started remembering Drive-in movies for some reason and Sue Morris was recalling their family going to the San Rafael Drive In on one occasion with their four year old son. Disney’s “The Shaggy Dog” (1959) She remembers that her son found it very frightening and started screaming prompting a walk back to the refreshment stand for some distracting, quieting popcorn. Then Kit was remembering going to see Zeffirelli’s “Romeo and Juliet” with three girl friends and feeling positively gushy about the film. Michael mentioned that he heard about a woman who went to see a Shakespeare film but didn’t know about the author. When asked how she liked it she said, “It was ok but it was really full of cliches.”


Stalking the Wild Egrets in Santa Rosa with Michael – 15 May 2017

What better way to treat a beautiful spring day than a visit with Michael on his home turf in Santa Rosa. Having just returned from leading two trips in Bhutan, he was still fresh from his Himalayan adventures. The prospect of spotting egrets on a median in the middle of a Santa Rosa street was curious, not our usual approach to bird watching. It would be easy to be just the least bit skeptical.


Taking a stroll around Michael’s back yard I began to think that perhaps we’d already achieved our goal with this exotic creature. Had we found our answer already, was the treasure hunt over so soon?

Michael shared his customs return while we were gathering for the hike. He was the lucky one, two, three, four, FIVE to be taken aside for the full luggage search.
He opened up his suitcase and the inspectors laid out some curious objects: a number of large, wooden fertility symbols that are hung outside houses in Bhutan to keep away evil spirits and to “be fruitful and multiply” – all done in bright red. These were a gift of Michael’s long time friend and guide on these Bhutan forays.
Next came out the flaming hula hoop though not flaming at the moment but a part of Michael’s hula hoop diplomacy when he takes trips to many parts of the world.
And finally, there was the can of bird’s nest soup which he brought back for his son Hunter who has enjoyed previous exotic foods on Michael’s other trips. By this time the other customs inspectors were coming over to have a look at this exotic assemblage – nothing like something to break up the day. It was all passed except for the bird’s nest soup so that will have to be another time and an another place for Hunter. The bird’s nest soup was a bridge too far.

Wondering about egrets lurking in the shrubbery we pass our first traffic circle which should get a prize for cuteness, well-cared for gardens and for outsized directional signs..

We stopped beside a picket fence and Michael talked about some of the plantings. The one in the corner is a Virgin’s Bower vine, Clematis ligusticifolia, “called ‘pepper vine’ by early travelers and pioneers in the American Old West. They used it as a pepper substitute to spice up food since real black pepper (Piper nigrum) was a costly and rarely obtainable spice.”’s-Bower) I was reminded that I’ve avoided vines in my garden and that they add a context and transition to the plantings.
Further down, Michael talked about the white Foxglove blooms, Digitalis purpurea. The wiki entry mentions “it is not clear why the flower should be called foxglove, other etymologies have been offered. Henry Fox Talbot (1847) proposed folks’ glove where folk means fairy. Similarly, R.C. A. Prior (1863) suggested an etymology of foxes-glew, meaning ‘fairy music’. However, neither of these suggestions account for the Old english form foxes glofa.” Michael mentioned the medicines that are extracted from the foxglove plants called digitalis. Used for patients with heart conditions – it is prescribed for those who have atrial fibrillation.
Lastly, he talked about the name of the yellow blooms, Yarrow (Achillea milleforium) which is white or in this Moonshine variation a vibrant yellow. Michael who loves words and their origins asked what hero was remembered in the name? It’s Greek mythology’s Achilles. The wiki entry for Achillea mentions that his soldiers used yarrow to treat their wounds i.e. the names allheal and bloodwort. The Achillea millefolium wiki adds some other common names for it. “..called
plumajillo (Spanish for ‘little feather’) from its leaf shape and texture. In antiquity yarrow was known as herbal militaries, for its use in staunching the flow of blood from wounds. Other common names for this species include gordalado, nosebleed plant, old man’s pepper, devil’s nettle, sanguinary, milfoil, soldier’s woundwort, thousand-leaf, and thousand-seal.”

Santa Rosa has a tradition of marking and investing in many historical districts but no Egret Historical District as yet.

We continue in the West End neighborhood and immediately come across a remarkable building both historic and architecturally significant, the Issac De Turk Barn located in the park of the same name. The building is completely round as compared with other historic “round” barns which have corners with octagonal or other shapes. De Turk was born in 1834 in Berks County, Pennsylvania but his parents made their way west moving first to Indiana (1838-59). Both he and his father were horticulturalists. DeTurk moved out west to Santa Rosa, California planting a small vineyard in 1859. This was followed by a continuously expanding winery business with size of vineyards and scope of wine production increasing exponentially. He purchased a 1200 acre vineyard in what is now the Sonoma Valley and in the early 1880s produced 400 thousand gallons. He is described as “the Gallo of his time.” Here in his obituary they note that he was a member of the Sonoma County Horsebreeder’s Association and the owner of the “celebrated stallion” Anteeo. It was for this very valuable horse that he build his barn. Be sure to click on the orange image of the camera for a wonderful video of the barn’s reconstruction, reclamation and fascinating history.
In the spirit of Achilles as we walked past, there was a fellow focused on his Yoga exercises. Some of us remember another man meditating on a bench in our Haight-Ashbury hike-log.

We walk past more history with project, classic automobiles along the way. Matt continues to look for passing or roosting egrets not forgetting our mission in life.
Larry mentioned to me that Rod used to own one of these and that they were designated “Fairlady” or Datsun Fairlady 1500. The racing version of this car is pictured as # 6 in the following series.

Inge is taking some close-ups of Matilija Poppy bush, gorgeous delicate blooms on a native bush that needs lots of room.’s-Matilija-Poppy) Mary Elizabeth Parsons in her book “The Wild Flowers of California” (1897) writes, “ The Matilija poppy must be conceded the queen of all our flowers. It is not a plant for small gardens, but the fitting adornment of a large park, where it can have space and light to rear its imperial stems and shake out its diaphanous flowers. It is justly far-famed, and by English gardeners, who now grow it successfully, it is regarded as a priceless treasure, an people go from many miles around to see it when it blooms. It is to be regretted that our flowers must go abroad to find their warmest admirers.” P. 66 Named for the famous Irish astronomer, Dr. Romney Robinson, the Matillija poppy (Romneya coulteri) was named because of its abundance in Matilija Canyon which is above Ventura in the mountains. On a more mundane note, some call it the Fried Egg Plant.

As we continue to walk through the neighborhood, we quickly pass a fellow who had a cautionary rock in his garden noting there was an “attack tortoise” but it was inside the house cooling down from the sunshine so no one came to undue harm. The owner said it was being cared for by his daughter. I wondered how such a slow motion confrontation might proceed. Cave Testudo
But as we moved down the street past Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, we began to see small white specs in the trees. Our hearts beat faster realizing that we were not just tilting at windmills after all . We spot some nesting birds in the Live Oak in the foreground, the Sycamore behind and in the distance a Great Egret landing in a Eucalyptus. The neighborhood has been very tolerant and protective of this unique phenomenon that began in the 1990s. This article speaks of 216 nests in 2016. This year a volunteer in the neighborhood said that 350 had been logged.

This gentleman, Steven, is one of many volunteers who keep track of the rookery and save baby birds who have fallen out of their nests and are unable to return. The Madrone Audubon Society puts down rice straw at the base of many nesting trees to facilitate a safe landing. Steven said that there were four main types of nesting birds this year: Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Cattle Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons.

Steven had left with a previously fallen Snowy egret when this bird tried unsuccessfully to claw back to its nest. Fortunately, Steven had left his phone number and Kit called him about the newly fallen bird. He returned and was able to carefully corral it after some hide and seek around the eucalyptus. Here he checks up into the foliage for other possible customers and then carefully shows the bird to some of our group across the street. He took the birds to the International Bird Rescue facility in Fairfield, CA on 4369 Cordelia Road, Fairfield, CA. 94534 Phone 707-207-0380, or 707-207-0395

Earlier in the day, Steve had saved another fallen egret which he’d put in a rescue box. He kindly brought it over to show us.

Looking up in a sycamore tree we see a nesting Great Egret.
The Great White Egrets get the top floor and the pent house suites.

Looking up at the main rookery area in a eucalyptus tree. It was binocular kind of day. Background and history of the rookery Splendid action photos A quiet ballet, the rookery is actually filled with calls, clicks and cries – quite a vibrant cacophony. Sound on this from the rookery, passing cars and a musical background.

P.S. An enjoyable bird watcher website that goes back to 2006 and is current, this particular entry is about when to CAPITALIZE the names of birds.

Abbott’s Lagoon with Jim Coleman – 15 May 2017

Abbott’s Lagoon is a favorite flat hike through grasslands that lead to the Pt. Reyes Great Beach. Writing in BAY NATURE in August 2012 the estimable Jules Evans says, “A visit to Abbott’s Lagoon always proves rewarding and never fails to offer a fresh experience. I’ve strolled down to the main lagoon dozens of times over the years and each visit is unique and memorable.” In an interview by Paul Epstein in BN, January 2016, he asks David Lukas about his favorite trail at Pt. Reyes. DL: My favorite spot is Abbott’s Lagoon because there’s intact old growth coastal chaparral there, and a sense of openness to the sky, and openness to possibility – with the beach tantalizingly far off.”

This scene greeted us in the Abbott’s parking area beckoning bewitchingly on this Goldilocks Day last Monday.

Matt checks reception by the trailhead and points out that the sign has a “no drone clause”. “Launching, landing or operating unmanned or remote controlled aircraft in or onto Point Reyes National Seashore is prohibited.”

Jim is listening to Kit who is enthusiastically relating an exciting experience en route to Abbott’s this morning, She had a close and personal experience watching a coyote stalking some wild turkeys and then finally opting to “scout” a herd of cows before being scared off by the herd leader. Roz has found the perfect chapeau and some of us are having a group meeting. not Kit’s coyote but in the family and just down the road
How about “herd leaders” to which I hadn’t given much thought.

Jim introduces us to this amazing location and is telling us that the lagoon is divided unlike Gaul into two separate parts. He’s also talking about the exotic grasses brought in by agriculture for this area that have almost displaced the native grasses tended so carefully by the Miwok Natives for two thousand years. “Less than one percent of California’s grassland is still intact today. The northern coastal prairie, which extends into Oregon, is the most diverse type of grassland in North America. Pristine patches of this vegetation still grow at Point Reyes on either side of the San Andreas Fault.”

Jim plucked up a few grass samples as we started the hike identifying some of the common agricultural grasses. From left to right we have “rye, oat, barley and brome” which sounds suspiciously like a rock group escaped from the Haight. Great history of the transition from native grasses to the exotic European grasses. Looking at these grasses from the farmer’s point of view since we normally just rue the loss of the native grasses.

We’ve seen Owl’s Clover (Castilleja densiflora) (Castilleja exserta?) in a number of areas this spring. Lillian McHoul writes in her WILDFLOWERS OF MARIN about it with another name, Orthocarpus densiflorus, when it was included in the genus Orthocarpus. “From the Greek orthos, upright, and carpos, fruit.” The CNPS website notes that “the plant is an annual about a foot tall with a hairy stem covered in thready leaves. Although this species is variable in appearance and easily hybridizes with other Castilleja, it generally bears a brightly-colored flower cluster of shaggy pink-purple or lavender flowers that resemble clover (but they are not related). … this is a hemiparasite which derives some of its nutrients directly from the roots of other plants by injecting them with haustoria; this is the reason for its small reduced leaves.”’s-Clover)
And because you were curious: – it wasn’t some kind of Roman building after all.

California’s only native thistle, the Cobweb (Cirsium occidentale), there were a number on the verge showing their cobwebby appearance. “spreading spines which are laced, often quite heavily, in fibers resembling cobwebs.”

a cobwebby discussion

We passed many areas with velvet grass which is a very invasive exotic and is very soft to the touch – there’s some kind of lesson in that.

Santa Barbara Sedge (Carex barbaras) was favored by the native Americans for basketry.

Jim spied this Click Beetle along the trail practicing for its next olympic jumping event. It spun off his hand in a high arc and when snagged again continued to jump even higher with aplomb. The Wiki entry states that there are 9300 known species worldwide and 965 “valid”(?) species in North America.

A PRNS biologist passed us on the trail coming up from the beach. He’d dismantled some protective fencing that had been set up to protect a hatching Western Snowy Plover. With predation of the hatchlings the fence was no longer needed here and was being moved to South Limantour Beach where a viable hatching site needed protection.

There was a congregation of Cow Parsnips (Heracleum lanatum) in concentrations we hadn’t seen before. Like many coastal plants they were growing closer to the ground than their cousins in more protected places stretching to well over your head.

Scott spotted this spider web filled with midges and was wondering, “What if the spider doesn’t like midges?”

Jim is pointing out the great differences between disturbed land to the right (man-made changes here for agriculture) and areas that have non-native grass dominance. He made the point that the disturbed land gave opportunity for the growth of native plants that had lost the competition in undisturbed areas.
We found this on various hikes with Michael when cattle are run over grassy areas breaking up the hard soil and making a place for native plants to take root along with surrounding fertilizer.
A fine example of this is the work of Tiffany Knight and Eleanor Pardini on some the dune areas of Abbott’s Lagoon. Here a “rare lupine is being pillaged by a native mouse that steals most of the seed pods. . . . The mice are a ’subsidized’ species, given a competitive advantage by human activity.
European beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria), originally planted to stabilize the dunes, has had the unintentional side effect of giving the mice cover for their nocturnal forays among the lupines. Since the beachgrass near the richest patch of lupines has been removed in 2011, the rare lupine is rebounding and the dune ecosystem – perhaps -is recovering its previous equilibrium sans mice.”
Removal of the beachgrass was actually designed to help the endangered snowy plover by multiplying its natural breeding areas. It also inadvertently helped the recovery of the rare lupine. Cf.

Next along the trail we found some Mugwort (Artemisia douglasiana) Sounds like a name that J.K. Rowling might have enjoyed – Hogworts for a start.

Jim spotted some Johnny Tuck’s blooming just up from the trail and was delighted to fine them, here he shares his enthusiasm.

Sometimes called “Butter and Eggs” in the yellow coloration, this discovery will remain Johnny Tuck dressed in white.

Just below the JTs was this lone outpost of Trifolium wormskioldii, cows clover or coast clover among its many handles.

We looked back on the upper, eastern, freshwater portion of Abbott’s Lagoon – a study in blues and greens and tans.

Lunchtime beckons with another “room with a view”

The wind was blowing smartly even in this semi-protected area so we found shelter behind this large log. It must have made its way in from the ocean in one of the heavy winter storms of years gone by.

We’re looking out on the beginnings of the western part of Abbott’s Lagoon. It has some interesting history from WW 2. It was used as a practice bombing range with dummy bombs made wooden bodies with metal heads and tail fins. If the bombardiers were able to hit a 25’ triangular target it would blossom white material indicating a hit. This detritus they assured us was washed off in the rain. As I recall, Armando told us that he dove in here while a ranger at PRNS and observed some of the remnant debris. Entitled “Tomales Bay Bombing Target” this link also includes Abbott’s Lagoon:
Along with Tomales Bay, this part of Abbott’s Lagoon enjoys bioluminescence, this article was dated in June of 2012.

Who were the Abbotts of Abbott’s Lagoon? The Winter 2014 UNDER THE GABLES newsletter of the Jack Mason Museum of West Marin History includes a well written account of early butter making in the Pierce Point area of Pt. Reyes by Carola DeRooy called “Butter Days”. As I recall, you were not encouraged to smile in these 19th Century posed photographs, serious, dignified and even solemn ruled the day. This might be your only photograph so you didn’t want to ham it up for posterity.

On our return trip, Jim was excited to spot some Pacific Reed Grass, Calamagrostis nutkaensis, on a far hill.

Jim highlights a Yellow Bush Lupine which is part of the native dune scrub community in central and southern California but can be an invasive species on the northern California coastal dunes.

Many thanks to Jim for another stellar hike.

P.S. – River Otters at Abbott’s Lagoon

Haight-Ashbury & Buena Vista Park with Don McLaurin – 8 May 2017

It’s the jubilee year for the Summer of Love in San Francisco, a time of remembering. Jubilees are usually 50 year events which cast a long shadow through history.
The importance of this 50 year anniversary is found both in Judaism and Christianity. “In Jewish tradition, the year of jubilee was a time of joy, the year of remission or universal pardon. . . . during which slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven. … The same concept forms the fundamental idea of the Christian Jubilee with the number 50 . . . the number of remission. Christian jubilees, particularly in the Latin Church , generally involved pilgrimage to a sacred site, normally the city of Rome.” Looking back 50 years for the Hippies of 1967 would be to 1917. They would have both “the poppies in Flanders fields” and “Where have all the flowers gone” to wrestle with – a huge challenge in a struggle for remission. Clean slates were hard to come by in the 20th Century and before. But the Hippies were not so much a looking-back-people preferring goals of a future world beyond war, a world of love and peace, longing and stretching for that Age of Aquarius. This is a rosy glow I know. There were downsides and slippery slopes as well or was it slickensides?

Ottorino Respighi in the second part his “Festa Romana”, Jubilee (Giubileo), portrays the joy of pilgrims as they arrive near their destination, a breathtaking view of shining domes of Rome from Mt. Mario.
Perhaps the hippie pilgrimages to San Francisco had some of these moments too seeing the skyline of the city, the enormous Bay of San Francisco or profile of the Golden Gate Bridge softened and mystical in the incoming fog.

16 San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair).m4a

“San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” written by John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas and sung by Scott McKenzie. This sweet and memorable song captures the idealism of the beginnings of the Hippie experience sharing that moment with other pilgrims of this history seeking an El Dorado of the heart and mind. “McKensies’s version of the song has been called ’the unofficial anthem of the counterculture movement of the 1960s, including the Hippie, Anti-Vietnam War and Flower power movements.”

At the end of this hike-log there’s a Vimeo video of our walk-about-the-Haight.


Our starting point was the Park Branch Library, San Francisco Public Library, Branch No. 5, the oldest existing San Francisco Public Library building. It opened on October 29th, 1909 and its renovation was completed on February 26, 2011.

Katherine Powell Cohen writes in her book “San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury” 2008, “At the turn of the 20th Century , the Haight-Ashbury gained prominence as the gateway to Golden Gate Park. Six decades later, it anchored the worldwide cultural revolution that bloomed in the 1960s. Though synonymous with peace, love, and living outside the mainstream, its history goes back long before the Summer of Love.”

Don is a San Francisco City Guide and so comes prepared not only with a wealth of fascinating information but with some visual aids as well. Here he’s talking about an earlier incarnation of the neighborhood when there was the Chutes, an amusement area with attractions and a thrilling ride.,_1902-1907
He also told us how this area of San Francisco was called “the Great Sand Waste” (also the name of a current band) prior to the development of Golden Gate Park and many other “reclamation” projects.

“In 1870 California Governor Henry H. Haight’s decision to develop Golden Gate Park under the guidance of the San Francisco Park Commission spurred investors, builders and prospective home owners to build along the blocks between Divisidero and Masonic. The original purpose of the park was to feature a broad green swath from City Hall and the Civic Center to the ocean. But land was precious in those early days of expansion. A compromise was forged allowing for three, instead of five miles of parkland with a narrower, one-block wide strip for three-quarters of a mile at the eastern end. . . . The narrow strip was dubbed Panhandle Park and was used as entry to the wider, more expansive Golden Gate Park. The Panhandle was no ordinary grassy open space. It became an outdoor arboretum with living exhibits from more than a dozen countries of every continent. . . . Today the eucalyptus trees in the Panhandle, originally from Australia, are among the oldest trees in all of Golden Gate Park.” Mr. Helquist describes himself as an author, historian and activist. His fine website includes a “Politics and Passions Blog” and articles on San Francisco and Oregon history.

Don was telling us about the unique plantings in the Panhandle both at its inception and later when it became the botanical experimental garden for John McLaren who with William Hammond Hall developed Golden Gate Park. “The Panhandle is actually the oldest of the parks; at one time it was John McLaren’s arboretum. Every bush, every tree, even the Eucalyptus (now politically incorrect non-native species) were first planted in the Panhandle to see how they survived. Thus the Panhandle has the oldest trees in Golden Gate Park and 21 species of Eucalyptus.” Following the trail of Elizabeth McClintock as she identified and described the Panhandle’s historic trees in 1973. McClintock was a herbarium botanist at UCLA from 1941 – 1947. She was the curator of the Department of Botany at the California Academy of Sciences from 1949 until her retirement in 1977. “She added many tree specimens from Golden Gate Park to the herbaria after noticing they were not well documented.”

St. Ignatius Church looks over the proceedings in the Panhandle. After a series of moves in downtown San Francisco, this St. Ignatius Church building was dedicated in 1914 and continues to be the chapel for the University of San Francisco. It is a “mix of Italian Renaissance and Baroque elements and its floorpan follows that of ancient Roman basilicas.”

We joined this person who remained in deep meditation as Don was describing a historic concert here on New Year’s Day 1967 by the Grateful Dead. They had given earlier concerts here on October 6 and 16, 1966. (In Marin they gave one at Rancho Olompali, Novato, CA on 5/22/66.) Their New Year’s Concert here was followed by their “Human Be-In Concert” on 1/14/67 at the Polo Fields of Golden Gate Park. Here are the lyrics to their song “The Golden Road”:
As a fascinating aside, Oliver Sacks talks about “The Grateful Dead & The Power of Music” with a severely brain damaged patient.
Amazingly after we got up to leave 10 minutes later, our “host” remained in this quiet, quite wonderfully relaxed position. It was a moment that we might have had at our hike at the Zen Center in Green Gulch Farm two weeks ago.

This plaque dedicated to Susan J. Bierman on September 5, 2001 honors her as “a true champion, who brought the neighborhoods together in an eight-year struggle to preserve the Panhandle victory and what the nation called San Francisco’s ‘Freeway Revolt’ when, BY ONE VOTE, the Board of Supervisors rejected plans to pave a freeway through this wooded concourse to Golden Gate Park.”

Don pointed out the new Nate Thurmond Basketball courts further down in (Golden Gate) Panhandle Park, it’s not just the trees.

Some Panhandle ambience and atmosphere:

Peace symbols are across Page street while Don gives us some neighborhood detail.
Enjoying the houses of the Haight provides an intriguing and memorable experience – so many beautifully painted and with the gingerbread given wings to soar.

As we walk down the sidewalk, we see some students on their way back to school. Urban School is a private high school founded in 1966.

Don asked his friend Chip, another City Guide, to share some details about his Victorian home kitty-corner across the street. Known as “The Hippie House” it was one of the locations for Harry Reasoner’s quite famous or better infamous film, “The Hippie Temptation” which has the look and feel of a “60 Minutes” episode. Clearly, the film was a collision of two cultures with the 50s in a “call the tow trucks tangle” with the 60s – in the Haight.

In addition to the beautiful detailing of his house and home, Chip had the most attractive side walk flower gardens that we saw on the walk and his house was a match.

Don has been tracing down where Janis Joplin lived or stayed in the Haight focusing on this area, one of these houses is “likely”. “At the height of her musical career, Janis Joplin was known as ’The Queen of Psychedelic Soul’. Her performances were described as electric.”

We passed St. Agnes Church with its banner in front “Immigrants and Refugees, Welcome” – a sanctuary church in a sanctuary city.

As we passed this house, Don asked us, “Who lived here?”

Built in 1900, the Magnin house this was (is?) their family home along with some adjoining houses for family and workers. After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Don mentioned that the Magnins sold some things at this address during the rebuilding of their store near Union Square which wasn’t reopened until 1912. “In the early 1870s, Dutch-born Mary Ann Magnin and her husband Issac Magnin left England and settled in San Francisco. Mary Ann opened a shop in 1876 selling lotions and high-end clothing for infants. Later, she expanded into bridal wear. As her business grew, her exclusive clientele relied on her for the newest fashions from Paris.” This is full of rich detail about I. Magnin history, lots of sweet memories.

Don mentioned that one contractor built this entire procession of Victorians. Ok, I forgot the builder but you have won instead: – This is a superb albeit longer link about the architecture and social structure of the Haight with lovely detail and historical photos. There’s even a part 2!

Inge & Don and Barb & Scott live next to each other in the Haight so that they can take care of each other’s cat when they go on vacation. The cats know and give this arrangement their imprimatur. How convenient for us too, we could come by here for a rest stop and have a go at the ‘loo’.

The last part of our hike was at Buena Vista Park just up the street. From Wikipedia, “The park is on a steep hill that peaks at 575 feet (175 m), and covers 37 acres.”

Neat panorama of some our hike area looking over our ports of call – have we sailed in a new direction? Is this Umbria?

And, of course, it’s time to appreciate a magical four-footed addition our walk.

And at no extra cost, Don adds a shining geologic phenomenon for the end of our hike. The name is Slickenside and I remember it by recalling our children enjoying a Wham-o product when they were growing up called Slip ’N Slide. Our Slickenside is
# 11 on this list, Slickenslide in Chert (sounds like a song yet to be written). Here’s a clear explanation along with some kid context by the remarkable San Francisco Chronicle columnist, Carl Note. Pat and I arrived in California in 1962 and Carl Nolte has been with the SF Chronicle since 1961!

Thanks to Jeannie for these photos.

Our final “number” is from the “Rock Band Slickenside”.

Thanks to Inge for this parting shot.

And many thanks to Don whose hikes around the City continue to intrigue and delight. Can’t wait for the next one.

As one of our venerable hikers said, “Don is fascinating, I could listen to him all day long!”

The VIMEO VIDEO of our walk-about has “The Age of Aquarius” backgrounding or maybe it’s the other way round.
This classic by James Rado and Gerome Ragni was written for the 1967 musical HAIR. This performance is by The Fifth Dimension which had its start in the 1960s.

San Francisco – Haight-Ashbury & Upper Market

P.S. – This Monday (tomorrow!) we’re with Jim Coleman meeting at Abbot’s Lagoon, turn right at the ‘Y’ onto the Pierce Point Road.