Category Archives: Summer 2015

Heron’s Head Hike with Karen & Armand – 24 August 2015

Many thanks to Karen & Armand for Monday’s hike in an out of the way place. We don’t get to Bayview-Hunter’s Point that often so it was an adventure just getting there. The closer we got the larger the trucks sharing the streets with us but thanks to Siri we got to the church on time and even a little early. Then the adventure continued on the walk out to Heron’s Head, the Bay Natives Nursery complete with chickens & goats and then have a moment to linger in the sunshine with a veranda lunch at the Mission Rock Resort. The VIMEO VIDEO of the hike follows these photos.

We met a fellow who was giving his four toy poodles some exercise on the dog run, he turned out to be John Robinson who is running too . . . for SF Sheriff – Reeve of the Shire for the City and County of San Francisco.

It is remarkable how this small, bay filled peninsula has developed its own ecosystem since it was laid down in the 1970’s. Slated to be Pier 98 Shipping Terminal, it was never completed and the peninsula was left to winds and tides with a salt marsh appearing. The Port of San Francisco returned the area more to nature by removing over “5,000 tons of concrete, asphalt, metal and other debris, created a tidal channel to improve circulation, and constructed upland trails, bird viewing areas and a fishing pier.” It’s heartening to see how soon nature with a little help from her friends will renew and rejuvenate the landscape making it welcoming for man and beast.

Then at the end of the head, it seemed “almost” the middle of the Bay, was a fisherman who shared the blue of the day and a view of his catch with us as we got into the fabric of the scene.

Karen emphasized that this was just an introduction to the area, that the richness of birding would come later in the year with the migrations of fall and winter. SF Port includes A FIELD GUIDE TO 100 BIRDS OF HERON’S HEAD on their site. Karen had her own paper copy, maybe a collector’s item, since I couldn’t find a way to order it from Heyday Books. You can print your own if and as you need it.

On the way back, we noticed great piles of concrete rubble and wondered if this was what was left of Candlestick Park. Is this what’s left of the WHERE all that history once occurred: Richard Nixon throwing out the first baseball on the opening day, April 12, 1960, all those Giants and 49er games, the Beatles final full concert on August 29, 1966 and Paul McCartney performing the last scheduled event there 48 years later on August 14, 2014?

We’d all been looking forward to the BAY NATIVES NURSERY just across from Heron’s Head where a variety of native plants are for sale as well as for viewing – chickens and a herd of “working goats”. Unfortunately for us most of the goats were out on assignment but we did get to see just a few munching in their enclosure. Working Goat # 102 is one handsome fellow with a bravo beard.

EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park Gives ecology education programs for K-12 during the school year. Also open to the public but sadly not on Monday when we visited.

Every good hike deserves a neat finale, here we enjoy a bay view and some frutti di mare at the Mission Rock Resort.!lunch/c205k

And now on with the HIKE . . . . Music for the first part is Erik Satie’s Je Te Veux (1902) played by Jean-Yves Thibaudet followed by J.S. Bach’s Partita # 6 in E (1731) played by Igor Levit.

Post Script and Notes:

On one side of Heron’s Head is India Basin to the south and to the north is Lash Lighter Basin. India Basin has an exotic air and we wonder how it was named. According to Wikipedia, the name first appeared on the maps in 1868 and the best guess is that it was named for the India Rice Company which docked their ships there in the 19th Century.,_San_Francisco The curious name “Lash Lighter Basin” refers to a pattern of marine transport – a system called LASH or Lighter Aboard Ship. Some ships are designed to carry special barges (lighters). The barges can go to smaller docks or go on inland waterways “loading cargo in those places and then carry it back to the ship which lifts the barges aboard, with their cargo, and transports them overseas. Discharge of cargo is accomplished in the same manner.” The good scow ALMA, built 121 years ago at an India Basin shipyard made a historic visit on November 2, 2012. India Basin was the site of bay scow schooner construction from the 1870’s to the 1920’s by “family-owned businesses operated by English, Scandinavian and German immigrants. These flat bottomed ships were ideally suited and designed to ply the sometimes very shallow waters of San Francisco and San Pablo Bays. Originally fitted for sail operation some were later adapted for marine engines but with the rise of trucks in the 1920’s this unique tradition died. The main cargo for these craft was hay, the motive power of the 19th Century replaced in the 20th Century with oil & gas.

‎ This remarkable document from 2008 is background for the Bayview-Hunters Point Redevelopment Plan. It is well worth a perusal with clearly, well written, remarkable history of this area. It has some more technical charts and specifics that are probably not of interest but these are skipped over easily so we can continue to enjoy some fine writing and fascinating descriptions. Old photos in various places add to the feast.

“Originally cloaked in native grasses and coastal sage scrub, Hunters Point is well-watered possessing several streams and subterranean springs, several of which are still active. The presence of fresh water, a relatively mild climate, and nearby tidal flats, made Hunters Point a popular residence for indigenous California Indians.” P.7 “Several middens were known to have existed on the shoreline of the peninsula, giving Hunters Point its first European name, Punta de la Concha or “Point of the Shells” P.8 “Throughout the entire Spanish period, Hunters Point remained uninhabited except for Mission cattle that were pastured in the area called Potrero Viejo, or “Old Pasture.” P.9 “In 1827, a British expedition commanded by William Beechy arrived on the ship HMS Blossom. Captain Beechy’s chart of San Francisco Bay – the first to survey the coastline in detail – mislabeled Punta de la Concha as Point Avisadera, a name that remained on the charts for the next three decades.” P. 9 “In 1850, a real estate speculator John Hunter began trying to sell lots in an entirely new city called “South San Francisco” on the peninsula that now bears his name.” P.10

As usual the site FOUND SF has some great history of the area with photo illustrations that fill in some more of its intriguing history:

Scott pointed out the former Alameda Navy Yard across the Bay from the point at the end of Heron’s Head. The view from our lunch spot, Mission Rock Resort, gave an even better angle to appreciate the berthed WW 2 aircraft carrier, USS HORNET, now a museum.

EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park Gives ecology education programs for K-12 during the school year. Also open to the public but sadly not on Monday when we visited. We saw a couple of light brown, almost blond praying mantises. They’ve always been green on our hikes before.

North Beach Romp with Ruby – 10 August 2015

Many thanks to Ruby Petersen Unger for Monday’s terrific walk . . . hike around vintage North Beach and to Kit for sharing it so generously with us.
A Vimeo video is at the bottom.

Ruby has worn and wears many hats but maybe none so special as this one doffing to the Rainbow Trout. Ruby does tours for special causes and Kit won this tour for us at a charity auction. Among her other roles, Ruby was one of the hosts, Ms. Nancy, on Romper Room that remarkable and enduring children’s TV program that ran from 1953 to 1994.’s_television_series_(United_States):_All

She shared some of the details of various architectural styles and the growth of San Francisco as we gathered in Washington Square, North Beach.

Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe had some wedding photos taken on the outside steps here after a civil service at San Francisco’s City Hall, January 14, 1954.,_San_Francisco
and a little sustenance along the way –

What is this all about? Done at Grant Avenue and Filbert in 2002 at a “.. public casting event at Upper Grant Ave. Fall Fair” by Daniel Macchiarini, sculptor and artist. His website presents a really impressive list of his work including a sculpture at Burning Man in 2000. His father Peter was also a sculptor who worked under Beniamino Bufano and Ralph Stackpole.

Then the next cool discovery was finding the site for the Telegraph Hill Dwellers which has a treasure box of material about the area. I loved the “Neighborhood History” part in this link:

Another part on this site was the link to SEMAPHORE which is locally produced newspaper/magazine that goes back to the beginnings of the Telegraph Hill Dwellers (THD) in 1956 and continuing to 2012 – not sure if it is still being produced. But in Spring 2004 edition there was a specific reference to the footplate/plaque. If you scroll down to page 20 there are some fascinating details all about it. Hint: the beginnings of a famous San Francisco bookstore. Semaphore_10-2004.pdf
We’ve just walked by Mama’s and the Liguria Bakery:

San Francisco skyline hardened by fence but softened with fennel . . .

Waiting in line to see the restored tower murals on the stairs . . .

Ruby pointed out that there are calculated themes in the murals, stories to follow and appreciate. Here we have a terrible crash with casualties and just above the accident scene is a bank and the Pacific Stock Exchange making reference to the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

Bravo for Labor Day and the union label.

Ruby is talking about Alfred Hitchcock’s film DARK PASSAGE which had scenes shot here at 1360 Montgomery Street

On one side of 1360 Montgomery an art deco tribute to the Western Span of the Bay Bridge complete with Bougainvillea – it’s not all about the Golden Gate.

Pyramid with wings or maybe fins – inspired by Ruby’s hat.

New Original Joes for lunch:

Roz’s write-home-about tennies.

The “red brick colored” building is Garfield School: (neat video on this site that goes well with the romps)
“Man cannot live by bread alone; he must have peanut butter.” James A. Garfield

From the top of the parking garage you can see almost forever but for sure to Oakland and Alameda.

and a VIMEO VIDEO of our walk together:

P.S. Here are a few links to our stroll down and up the Filbert Steps – the “other” side of Telegraph Hill.