SAN FRANCISCO URBAN HIKE February 26, 2003
Saving this concrete and asphalt hike for wetter weather when local trails are muddy, I convinced my long-time companion to join me on this fine urban hike. Decades ago, under the auspices of the local Sierra Club chapter, we led these hikes through what many will say is the most beautiful city in the world!
I always wish to revisit locales of hikes I have done years ago, since there are new things to see. I knew the City by the Bay has changed plenty, and a good digital camera is the best way now to compare present with past.
We carpooled from the Central Valley to Pittsburg, CA, where a Bay Area Rapid Transit station is the furthest extension of this modern transport system, eastward. I had been able to drive Highway 4, which has been one roadway I have never been along till now.
The BART fare was some $4.55 each way, and I enjoy using mass transit. We enjoyed a comfortable ride, but I was apprehensive about the cloudy weather, which was to bode ill for our photography. The forecast had declared it would be a beautiful day, but they would be incorrect, if sun and blue sky were the appeal.
Now, with a new computer, I am able to work with higher resolution image files, and I thought to give a good test to my software. I was determined to shoot hundreds of photos this day, despite the light.
We disembarked at Embarcadero Station, and viewed the interior of the nearby Hyatt-Regency Hotel, which is an impressive bit of design. Then we hiked southwest along Market Street, to take a short detour to the Sierra Club headquarters.
Going back to Market Street, we walked to the United Nations Plaza, where a farmers market is ongoing. We entered the city library, which was the best I've ever seen. Supposedly a hundred computers are available for public access to the Internet.
Moving onto City Hall, we admired the gold painted trim. A renovation had been in progress during my last visit.
Walking north on Van Ness Boulevard, otherwise Highway 101, I took pictures of the interesting buildings and businesses. Because of the relatively dim light, many of my photos didn't turn out very sharp. Usually, they don't require a steady hand during the mid-day. And then we were on the move, worried about rain, so I had to shoot quickly.
In a couple miles, we came to the Bay's edge. My companion likes chocolate, so we visited Ghirardelli Square. We sampled the squares of chocolate caramel in a shop, and she took a piece of hard chocolate for home. We walked eastward to Fisherman's Wharf. Here I felt much safer, with hundreds of tourists snapping pictures, or using video cams, as we did.
Moving along the Wharf, I shot plenty more photos. I had better light once when I was shooting film, but once you have CD burning, storage is almost free. I would have shot only maybe 40 MB of memory on a trip like this, but with a new system, thanks to my frugal ways over the last year or so, I can shoot higher resolution images with even more abandon!
There is a free city museum here, which features relics from the not-too-distant past. Boxes with displays requiring the insertion of a quarter or so provided some pre-1960's era entertainment, with some items I recalled from my younger days. Some hilarity was salvaged from the "Fun House," once located at Ocean Beach.
I had to change memory cards, then we toured Pier 39. Shops, sea lions, and the carousel made for fine photo subjects.
We made a side trip to Coit Tower, and the views were a bit gloomy today. Not worth the $3.75 for the elevator ride to the top! Continuing through North Beach, I continued to snap photos, then we went to Chinatown for even more pictures. Digital photography is like a new set of adventure for me. I imagine I'd eventually reshoot all the major, scenic features in California with my Coolpix, as some small project for my collection.
Getting a bowl of Wor Won Ton soup at one of the many restaurants, I thought to wait a bit and avoid the rush hour, with the crowds on BART. While there was still light to shoot, we sauntered through the Financial District. As luck would have it, it began to sprinkle lightly as we were finishing with our outdoor loop. We then came back to the rapid transit station just before 6 p.m., and bumbled about getting our tickets from the machine.
We had to stand during the 70 mph ride under the Bay, then got seats as commuters debarked. The trip takes about an hour to get back to Pittsburg, and it was well night when we got there.
Motoring back to our carpool point, we were grateful that the hike and drive were uneventful, and called it a good day.
We did some 5 miles, with maybe 800' gain. I shot some 220 images, and spent only about $17 dollars on the BART tickets and food. I wore four top layers all day, as it was colder than I expected. Maybe, in another year, we'll have better conditions, with sun, and glorious, diffuse, highlighting, as the Pacific air will bring.
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