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.

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Water Wings and Rubber Duckies PART THREE: Into S. Francisco-No left turn! How can it rain upsidedown? Orchids and Boats.

Into San Francisco for a half-day adventure.  Planned to travel by foot and bus to see some sights. Rain pelting the truck made Kurt and I laugh, changing our plans for a retreat to indoor sights in Golden Gate Park. Took HWY 101 through the park, thought the rain was letting up and planned to break from that idea and head to the Wharf.  There is no way to make a left hand off that road. NO LEFT signs became a running joke.  I’ve mentioned how frightening driving in SF is, in previous posts.  I’m learning the major arteries, now, it’s a little less scary (unless I have to park on the street, that’s another story.) 

Made a RIGHT, turned around, headed into GG Park and found the CONSERVATORY OF FLOWERS, which I’ve visited before, but wouldn’t ever tire of. 


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A peek of blue sky, the first and only in three days.  Almost hurt my eyes:


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Snapshots from within:


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Oh the orchids:


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Buddha’s Hand:


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A Model of SF landmarks made entirely from reused/found objects (eg: keyboard letters, cassette tapes, etc.)


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Bug eating plants:


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Rain let up, unbelievably.  Made a dash for the Wharf. Parked at my super top-secret spot (no tiny, hillside spots to maneuver the beast, I mean truck into.)

View of Golden Gate bridge from Fort Mason walkway:


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Hey little guy!  Ampitheater steps:


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Working boats, which I find fascinating:


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Foldable bike, how cool is this?  Wonder how it rides?


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Departed SF at planned 2 PM for fear of hitting nasty traffic. Glad we did. Found a couple pockets of traffic in spots along Hwy 80.  Always seems a little sad to wind up a roadtrip on a busy, five lane freeway.  Got Kurt back to the airport.  Memorabe trip completed, with thoughts for the next adventure brewing, as usual.

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Water Wings and Rubber Duckies PART TWO: “Car Hiking,” More rain, Playing Ravens, Oysters, More Rain…

Where did I leave off?  Woke up on day two of Kurt and my trip to West Marin County.  It was, yep you guessed it, raining.  Biggest rainstorm in a long time, per locals.  I attributed it to his visit and joked we should rent him out to drought-stricken countries as a rain charm. 

A nice, long, leg stretching hike was not  in the cards for the day. We decided to “Car Hike.”  Headed north to Bodega Bay, what was supposed to be a quaint, cute little town in search of neat things to look at and oysters for lunch.    Didn’t find either.  Too touristy.  Found oyster stands for take-out. We wanted dine-in.

Passed through Tomales.  Saw this gallery with goofy signage. Looked like it was once a bank?


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Puttered around Point Reyes Station, looking for lunch, bummer this Chinese Chuckwagon was closed. I would have tried it! 

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None of the restaurants looked appealing, too fancy. Went for sandwiches and, get this, COKE IN A BOTTLE!  Just like Grandma Frank had…

Pretty little garden outside a studio: 

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 Onward to the Point Reyes Peninsula, hoping for a break in the rain, for a short hike to  Chimney Rock Trail.   Stopped at a little beach on the way and found it covered in beached Jellyfish!  How odd! 

Why the mass casualties?  They were interesting to look at:

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 Pelicans.  They look so pre-historic. I find them graceful, though others may disagree:

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 The drive out the peninsula I took back in October 2008. Posted here:

Then it was socked in by fog.  This time it was raining.  Go figure…Emerald green, barren of trees (except a handful of ones planted around the farm houses)  one might wonder, “How did I get to Ireland so quickly?”  I put The WATERBOYS on the IPOD to match the landscape.

The peninsula has farms on it, some working, others falling back into the Earth as this one:

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Took a wrong turn and wound up at Drakes Beach, being pummeled by waves.  Foam was literally flying up into the parking lot.  (We drove through a bunch for fun.)  Mother Nature was having fun stirring up the ocean.  The power in that water amazed me.

Found the right road and walked out the Castle Rock Trail to see the view.  Battened down the hatches, again, in rain clothing, hats and boots.  The walk out the peninsula is pretty, passes an old house (still in use), a working wharf, an old lifeboat station and a beach Elephant Seals were hanging out on.  One was trying to get on the beach. It appeared he was using the force of the waves for a little ‘help’ moving forward, waiting for each to come ashore before moving forward.  These are BIG BOYS.  I’d use the water to my advantage as well!   Hard to see, though, without falling off the edge of the cliff.  Thus, no pic to share.  They just didn’t come out well. Need a better camera.

Looking south:


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 Looking north. The lighthouse around the corner:


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Found the end. What a sight! 

Hundreds of ravens playing in the air curents: 

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 They would rise, dip, soar, flip over, repeat. Was a real treat to witness their antics.  Some say Ravens are incredibly intelligent birds as well as being prone to playing.  I believe them.  If I were a bird, I might want to be a Raven. Watching them made me think of the ‘flying dreams’ I haven’t had in ages.  Hoping for one soon!

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 Walked back to the truck as the sun’s last light faded.   Found a fabulous little restaurant in Inverness.  Was quintessentially quaint, homey, the type of place I’d visit for after-work beers and appetizers with friends. (I’m embarrassed to say I’ve forgotten the name. It’s next to the post-office should you go looking for it.)  Had OYSTERS!  I surprised myself and LOVED them!  I once tried them, back in grade school, on the East coast.  Blech!  Now…mmmm…I shall indulge as much as I can while living close to the Ocean. What a treat. (Cooked, haven’t tried them raw, not sure I can be that adventurous.) 

An evening of cribbage (just learning, wasn’t sure if it was the wine or the sleepies that made me seem an inept math dunce), declined to Yahtzee as our brains tired.  A warm bed in the hostel, again, welcomed sleep. 

NEXT DAY:  Onward south to San Francisco via Muir Woods. 

The land was flooded.  There were compact car-swallowing puddles everywhere.  Still raining but hoping to avoid “Car Hiking.” 

Twisted and turned along the PCH:

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 Above Muir Beach:

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 Looking South towards SF:

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 Hit Muir Woods.  Hustled past the throngs of people and found some solace on a lovely (wet) hike that went up the river, through the woods, past some redwoods. Every conceivable hue of green flashed by. Was 210% humidity.  A good legstretcher, though. We needed it.

Kurt and I next to a smallish redwood:

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 More mossy-wet goodies:

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 Left the park and rolled down towards the Marin Hostel (again, too wet to camp). 

Found Rodeo Beach at the end of the road.  Incredibly, the city of SF lies just around that point. One would never know:

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The stove at the hostel was broken.  Sigh…we’d have to go out for dinner.  The memory of last nights oysters still fresh in our mind, we headed to Sausilito for more.  Found a great restaurant called FISH.  Spendy…really spendy…oh the food was so good, though.  No oysters, though. Just couldn’t bring ourselves to spend twice what we’d spent the night before.  You’ve gotta love SF prices…

Back to the hostel through the very cool one-lane tunnel that goes under the 101.  San Francisco planned for the next day.

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San Francisco sun to the Arctic Tundra (AKA MN)

What’s new?  In MN having a delayed but very welcomed trip to see family.  Battling a monster of a head cold. Have gone through two (count-em) two boxes of Kleenex.  I could guide that sleigh, alright!  Having much couch time.  Missing out on sister bonding and seeing long-lost friends.  finished a couple knitting projects, though.  Will post pics when I get back to CA and my laptop.  Really, I am thankful to be here.  Just wishing I could be more interactive.

Saw my first Great Snowy Owl in the cornfield above  my folks house, yesterday. Was spectacular.  My uncle informed me the yung’uns are forced farther south, these days, to find food.  Reminded me I forgot to ask for binoculars for Christmas this year.  Doh!

Thought I’d post some pics from a quickie four day trip I took last week, went up into Marin county via Petaluma (which I fantasize about living in) Stayed at the Point Reyes Hostel.  Got rained on.  Saw some ocean, though.

Crossing one of the many bridges onto Hwy 101:

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Stayed at the Point Reyes Hostel, a gem, cheap, great kitchen and common area.  Met a couple sisters road trippng from Portland.  They were having quite the adventure!  Woke up to rain, lots of rain, a constant drizzle of cold rain.  Did some quick hikes to pretty places but couldn’t ramp up for a long one.

Limari Beach:

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Explored the quaint, cute town of Point Reyes Station, grabbed supplies at the grocery, and pointed south through eucalyptus tree-lined roads passing through verdant hills and farms.

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Mistletoe with no one to smooch…

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This area is known for dairy farms.

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What a beauty. Lots of homes of this style:

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STINSON BEACH:  Was very crowded when I passed through in Oct. Nearly had it to myself this time.  Revealed a few treasures:

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Beach Flotsam and Jetsam:

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“Mine?”  “Mine?”  “Mine…mine…mine!”

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The ocean is still a strange and wonderous thing to me.  I spent some time just sitting and contemplating it’s force, it’s movement, and wonderng where the rock I held in my hand started out?

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Went to MUIR WOODS  next. Spent just a short bit there.  Was really dark and (yep…misty).  They have miles and miles of trails I plan to return to.  Some have stunning ocean views.   Everything was so green, moist, mossy, lush.

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Was too dark for good photos of the tree groves.  This one may be too dark to see well:

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Last two days I spent in SAN FRANCISCO!  Sun. was a full day of biking, the highlight of the trip. Sat. night was nothing to sneeze at, though.  I went to the famous CASTRO THEATER in the Castro district, where my all time favorite yarn shop, IMAGIKNIT is ( and was VERY good.  Bought one skein of “unreleased” Malabrigo DK weight yummy, squooshy, mushy merino that, I think, will become a lacey beanie and one skein of Lornas Laces Bulky in “Mixed Berries” to become slippers.

The film was “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” which I’d never seen.  What a silly, fabulous love story!  The theater is beautiful, ornately muralled and draped in velvet.  A man played a hurdie-gurdie organ before the show started.  It was wonderful.  Then, I got lost trying to drive to the hostel, for 45 minutes.  SF is NOT for driving.  If I lived there (and boy would I love it, for a short time) I would park the truck and never move it (except for road trips, of course).

Spent all of Sun. exploring SF on my bike, something I was looking forward to the whole trip.  The weather cooperated, it was chilly enough for neoprene shoe booties and a wind jacket, but…dry!

Biked across the Golden Gate bridge. Something REALLY cheesy.  I could tell hard-core riders were using the bike lane for their daily training rides.  They must have known I was a touron.

Still…there was no wind. It was a blast!

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This little guy got a lift from his papa:

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Wound through some pricey neighborhoods,  a stretch of parks, (SF really knows how to do parks) hit the PCH, then entered Golden Gate Park.  What a blast!  The main drag was closed off on the (east?) end and boy the locals know how to have a good time.

There were kids on trikes, kids on training wheels (leaning on the one closest to the ground, of course), kids on big wheels, kids on scooters, people on tandems.

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There was a Lindy-Hop dance:

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There was  a roller-rink, 80’s music booming, with people, on skates, flipping, dancing, and one kid who kept riding his big-wheel around.  Check out this guy’s red furry skates!

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I was half-way through my ride, the sun was getting low, I was REALLY getting cold.  I ate my Luna Bar.  I did what most of SF seems to do (I love how bike friendly this place is) and found the bus.  Using the bike rack on the front of the bus for the first time made me nervous.  I sat near the front because:

A) I don’t know the streets by name and need to see out the window so I know when to pull the cord to get off.

B)  It was reassuring to see my handlebars peeking through the windshield.

Made it back to the truck, loaded up, and pointed east for home (kind of home).

I was so happy for the bike ride, the dry weather.   Can’t wait to return for more!