The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

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Trip to Angel Island – Mt. Livermore Hike with CJ

Took at trip to Angel Island State Park last week, meeting a friend I first met as a brand-spanking new grade school teacher, so very long ago.

Angel Island once belonged to the Tiburon Penninsula. Pre-bay-time, water flowed through a gap in this peninsula carving out Raccoon Straight. This fed out to the ocean then some 40 miles away.  In time, the bay filled in.  Water levels rose and the coastline moved inward to it’s current spot.  Fascinating…

Here’s a map showing its position in the bay:

Photo below shows  the island on the return ferry.  I put it here to give a view of what it looks like.  At water level the perspective is strange, not seeing the bay’s landmarks surrounding it.

Last time here I came with my sis, Karen. We took bikes over and rode the Perimeter Road. This time, CJ and I hiked a five mile loop to the tippy-top, 788 feet above seal level. We took the Northridge Trail to the top and the Sunset Trail back to Ayala Cove.  Bay Area Hiker has a detailed description.

In true summer form, fog lay thick on the city side.  Only later in the afternoon did the sun burn some (but not all) off.


The GG Bridge:

Looking down upon the former military buildings Karen and I pedaled around and explored:

Looking across the straight, San Pablo Bay to the north:

The landscape on this hike is diverse.  It takes you through chapparal, scrubby brush, grassland, stands of lovely, gnarly oak, bay’s, and hillsides of vines/flowers.  If you visit bring layers. The wind can be harsh. We had perfect weather all day.

Once finished, a treat of unexpected  live bluegrass music welcomed us at the Cantina.  Shared  local oysters polished off the day.  Yum!

There…there’s the city peeking under the fog around the edge of the island:

Just watched a film on the Barbary Coast Trail in SF. Taking a guided walk may be my next urban adventure.

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Mission Murals and Upside Down Birds

Happy New Year!  This post I write from my sister and BIL’s home in MN. My week here with family is nearly over.   Lofty ambitions I had to catch up on blogging but a busy trip I’ve had.  I forgot to pack my USB card gadget so I’ll have to share family pics later.

In the meantime, here’s a little sun and color to warm up the cold, gray, MN sky I’ve been under this week.


Slowly I’m learning my way around San Francisco.  Learning to navigate a city this big is something I not well versed in.

One of my fave yarn shops, ImagiKnit, beckoned so I made the pilgrimage. After a satisfactory soak in ‘yarn-fumes,’ a stroll I took toward the famed murals of the Mission District.

What I found:

The Women’s Building:

The Women’s Building  is a woman-owned community center.  It offers social services, social justice advocacy, community groups, and arts and wellness activities/events.  What a resource!  The outside is swathed in huge murals:

Sharing an important message:

And just plain beautiful to gape at:

There are tours one can take of the murals.  Might be a good idea to do so and really learn about what I’m looking at.  The next stop I stumbled upon as well.

The Clarion Street Project:

Located between Mission and Valencia Streets and 17th and 18th Streets, where once a lagoon spread out, the Clarion Alley Mural Project started in 1992.  Led by 6 local volunteers, they enlisted artists to promote social solidarity and cross-culture communication.  Works are diverse in style including folksy, abstract, and more concrete images.

This Website gives more detailed info on artists, the project’s mission and several photos of the murals.

It was a lot to take in. Many I couldn’t decipher.  But that’s the point, I think, to get the onlooker thinking and perhaps filling in some of the blanks.

And what’s up with the upside down bird?  This one I came across many blocks away from the sign from the alley.

Each time I venture  into the city I come across something  intriguing, that makes me come back for more.  Anyone know what the bird is about?

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Too Cool to Skip – Ferry Plaza Farmers Market – Street Entertainment – Hello Sailor!

This is news from August.  I’ve mentioned I’m behind, no?

The Ferry Terminal building, in San Francisco, houses a farmers market on Tue, Thur and Sat.  I chose to go on a Saturday.  It was a zoo (almost claustrophobia-inducing crowded) but very fun.

In back by the water, mostly prepared food stands tempt tastebuds:

Out front are the produce stands:

The first scheduled ferry arrived here in 1898.  At its peak 50,000 commuters passed through. Imagine if more used the ferry today instead of cars.  By the 1950’s the ferry was almost obsolete.  Office space filled it in.  To add insult to injury a huge freeway was built in front of it in 1957.  The 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake damaged that ugly freeway, causing its removal in 1991.  Thank goodness!

The building underwent a renovation and now serves the community as a place to gather, eat, and purchase local foods and wares.

The inside is striking:

Its marble and steel construction survived two major earthquakes (1906 and 1909).  This building is built completely over water. Its website states it’s the “largest such foundation for a building over water anywhere in the world.”

A tiled floor mosaic upstairs:

Arts and crafts are sold in the park across the street.  This fellow’s name is Santiago. He’s from Columbia.  He crafts self-tanned leather into bags and jewelry using all found objects for the hardware and decoration (think nuts, bolts, silverware, etc.) The bags were so unique.  When describing his methods, the love and passion he has for his craft made me wish I could shell out the big bucks to purchase a purse.

Instead, I bought a simple red leather bracelet, adorned by a metal washer and a leather tie.  I love it, especially knowing whose hands lovingly produced it.

Probably the most fun part of that day was watching the street performers.

This man played a collection of trash cans and buckets:

The funniest one:

What a mind to come up with this contraption:

This guy jumped out of his leafy screen.  It worked on me.  So simple. So clever.  So interesting a collection of leaves on a city sidewalk do not look out of place to one walking by.

And this young lad was fantastic. He even danced:


Another highlight was the Public shore “trail” I walked back to Fisherman’s Wharf on.  Signage guides one along the piers.

Came across this. The photos don’t capture it’s grandness or the sound of all those flapping flags.

The Pallada is a Russian Training Ship based out of  Vladivostok in the Russian Far East.  Said to be the fastest large sailing ship in the world, it’s capable of speeds up to 18 knots (a conversion table told me that 27.1 mph). They were on a trip to North America to commemorate the 270th anniversary of the first Russian exploration of Alaska.

On board I walked around and read the info. placards and gaped upwards in awe.  Noting fuzzy segments on some of the ropes made me curious.  None  of the sailors spoke enough English to answer my question of, “What are those?”  Finally I came across a bilingual local man speaking with a sailor.  He translated for me.

The big fuzzy patches on the ropes are to protect from friction by other ropes, BTW, in case you should ever wander onto a Russian boat, with no English speakers aboard, and wonder the same.

An exercise commenced.  Sailors climbed up the masts and across each sail.  Together they unfurled the fabric.

What a spectacle!

Every time I venture  into the city I come across the coolest things.  Just wait until I get around to posting the Mission murals.


Fun in Berkeley – Canvas AND Fiber As Art – A Verb For Keeping Warm

I’ve been wanting to get into Berkeley.

Last week the stars aligned and my friend Amy and I were able to meet up in Berkeley for supper. We dined on the yummiest Indian Food at a place calledViks Chaat Corner.  Part grocery store, part restaurant, my taste buds hummed.  I recommend it.

While the poor Amy was stuck in famous Bay Area rush hour I poked around the Fourth Street neighborhood and perused the shops, some big in name (Crate and Barrel Outlet, MAC, Anthropologie) and some small boutiques.  I really wanted to see the campus.  Once I reached that neighborhood, though, the lack of reasonable parking turned me away.  I’d take the bus and bring a bike should I go again.  Introductory sights:

Storage POD?  With landscaping?

Came across the Fourth Street Studio. Part working studio space as well as a gallery for local-only work, I had a blast wandering through seeing the finished artwork displayed and works in progress.  After asking the owner permission to snap a few pics, she explained the philosophy of the space is to promote diversity in media and styles as well as community in the space.

Success, I’d say!

I did a lot of painting and drawing in high school/college.  These days I draw a bit, mostly while on vacation, hardly like I used to.  Seeing all the supplies laid out made my fingers itch to hold a brush.


Part Two:

After supper Amy and I headed a short distance to the little yarn and fiber shop A Verb For Keeping Warm.  Check out the Blog.

Specializing in naturally hand-dyed, small batch, and mostly local yarns it is very different from the usual yarn shop’s set-up.  (Lord knows I frequent enough of those.)  Flavors I’ve seen on Ravelry (Sanguine Gryphon, A Verb For…, Sweet Georgia) were all laid out to touch, squish and roll in. I did not buy  a thing.  It was a struggle.

Ysolda Teague was there for a special event, promoting the release of her forthcoming book Little Red in the City.  Amy and I flipped through the images on an IPAD and saw a few samples.

Whimsical. Classic yet quirky.  I loved near every one.  May have to acquire this book.

Amy’s exploring the shelves:

Eye-candy.   All over.  I’d like to return for more inspiration.

I was so excited to see this shop. Do stop in if you are near.  (Or even if you are arriving from afar.)

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Things I Like About San Francisco – Coit Tower

If I were truly a city girl, I’d live in San Francisco.  A fascinating place, each trip I take in (not enough) I find more that pleases/fascinates me.  Off the top of my head:  Diversity.  Constant movement.  Water.  Old buildings.  Art (organized into museums, not so organized on the sides of buildings.)  Bridges.  Trees.  Parks.  Sure I love Denver but there I feel average and similar to most every person I pass on the sidewalk.  Here, in SF, not sure how to explain it, it’s unlike anywhere else I’ve been.  Diverse. I think that’s the biggie.

Marin county, where I am now, wouldn’t be a bad place to call home.   The rolling hills, oaks, beaches, farms, the ocean, it’s all grown on me. I suspect I’m destined to someday enjoy multiple places as “home.”  Perhaps I should start playing the lottery?

This week I took a quick trip to SF to one of my fave yarn shops, Imagiknit in the Castro District.   Then, off to Coit  Tower.  I’ve been wanting to see this on all past trips to SF, including my time here in 2008 and 2009 to no avail.  Inside it, telling murals.

Stopped to see Lombard St, the World’s Crookedest St.  And it must be.  But the throngs of tourists milling about drove me crazy so I didn’t stay long.

Hills in that part of town are steep:



Built in 1933, the 210′ unpainted concrete tower was a gift from a woman named Lillie Hitchcock Coit. She gave 1/3 of her estate to the city to fund its building.  Art Deco in style, rumor has it she had a thing for firemen and wanted it to look like a phallic firehose nozzle.  I mean hey, my heart goes pitter patter with the passing of a truck filled with uniformed men.

Not the case, I found.

Lillie, as a teen, observed the volunteers of Knickerbocker Engine Co. 5 failing at an attempt to save.  She reputedly threw her school books down, gathered neighbors, and all helped out.  Made an honorary firefighter, she often rode along with them in parades.

Lillie defied social norms. From what I’ve read she (and this is in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s) smoked cigars, wore trousers (gasp!) and occasionally dressed as a man to enter male-only gambling establishments.

She must have ruffled some feathers.

The tower stands on Telegraph Hill.  The views from there are outstanding.

Inside, murals were painted for the New Deal Public Works Project.  Many students were involved.  Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo joined as well.  What struck me was the depth of political and social statements in them.  What a fascinating time the depression must have been. Wish I could time travel. Most are painted in fresco style, some were on canvas.  I walked around numerous times.  There is much to see and little bits hidden within.

The poor and destitute panning for gold, in front of a dam, with the rich looking on above them.  Note the broken down car. There’s a strip mine to the left not shown:


Note the gun:

Rivera’s infamous mural in the NY Rockefeller Center was destroyed for including images of Lenin.  Coit Tower muralists protested as picketers and via paint:

An ethnically diverse Labor march.  I’m drawn to their faces:

CA agriculture:

Wit abounds:

When finished I caught the sun starting to set and headed for the spot where the GG bridge joins the Marin Headlands in the back.  Conzelman Road snakes along and affords striking views.  There, I ended the night by watching the city lights snap on and shimmer.  Its a sight I’ve been frequenting.

One other thing I love about the city.