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Nature Near and Far

Had a couple of fun trips in August, one a 3-day camping trip to the Giant Forest of Sequoias in Kings Canyon National Park in mid-month, and this past Saturday a day trip by bicycle to an overlooked corner of shoreline in the north bay, Pt. Pinole Regional Park.

We went to see the Giant Forest because I’d been itching to for a few years, since I started telling the story of Burnette Haskell and the radical labor movement in San Francisco in the 1880s. Haskell and his comrades had burned out after a fevered period of organizing (he was one of the founders of the Coastal Seaman’s Union in 1885) and decided to move to the country, in this case the southern Sierra Nevada, and start a commune. Like countless radicals of the 1960s and ’70s, these guys were following a similar trajectory but far earlier. There is a good book on their story called “Cooperative Dreams” that I read some years ago, that tells the remarkable story of how their attempts to homestead in the Giant Forest thousands of feet above the Kaweah River were thwarted first by a recalcitrant Federal Land Office that wouldn’t approve their claims, and then in the dark of night in 1890, Southern Pacific Railroad inserted language into the federal bill that was going to create Yosemite National Park that also established Kings Canyon National Park, thereby divesting the Kaweah Cooperative Commonwealth of its land.

The Kaweah Cooperative Commonwealth colonists pose in front of the Karl Marx tree in the Giant Forest.

Reputed to be the largest tree in the world, in terms of sheer square footage of wood, is now known as the General Sherman Tree, but when the Kaweah folks had the land, they called it the Karl Marx tree. So of course I had to go and see it in person!

The tree is in fact unbelievably huge. And what was so remarkable was that there are dozens and dozens of massive trees, and after a while, it was the whole forest that left us amazed again and again. Towards the end of our hiking around we came up on a tree called the Lincoln tree (annoyingly a lot of the trees in the Giant Forest are named after U.S. presidents and famous people, one huge closely-packed grove was dubbed “Congress” by… the Congress!). Here I am at the left-hand base of the Lincoln tree–can you see me?

Where's Waldo? I mean me?

Continue reading Nature Near and Far

Critical Mass Goes Deep (into the southern neighborhoods)

Uphill on Potrero crossing 16th Street, August 2010 Critical Mass in San Francisco.

So I’ve been piling up all the photos from my various trips the past month. Before I go into a long sequence of photos in the next post, we had an incredible Critical Mass last Friday night. It was led on an unprecedented route–my congratulations to the folks who made the effort to get the ride out of its rut for a 2nd consecutive month (I rode in the back and had no idea who was out front doing such a good job!). We went south, weaving through the South of Market to pop out on to Potrero and then much to everyone’s surprise, after a long cruise south past General Hospital we did a short jog right and left on 25th, Hampshire, 26th and Bryant to make a big left on Cesar Chavez.

You get a sense of how huge our rides are from this shot, looking south on Potrero.

One minute we're taking up the whole of Cesar Chavez right near the freeway entrance...

...But after a siren indicates an approaching emergency vehicle, Critical Mass riders easily clear the road in seconds.

We went south into the Bayview. One of the occasional obnoxious comments hurled at Critical Mass over on our blog or in the always-insufferable SFGate comments is something along the lines of “why don’t you take your ride into the Bayview instead of going through North Beach, the Mission and/or the Haight every month?”  Well we had a fantastic ride down there, first taking Bayshore Blvd and Oakdale, turning on Palou, south on 3rd Street for a while, and then a big westerly turn on Williams.

Continue reading Critical Mass Goes Deep (into the southern neighborhoods)

San Francisco Summer Notes

First off let me say that if you’ve recently discovered this blog, or had some reason to go back through my older entries (it starts back in 2004) during the past year and a half or so, I apologize for all the lost photos and truncated entries that were littering it. I had no idea! So having noticed recently that I had 1,100 broken links, probably over 1000 of them photos that were no longer showing up (due to moving the blog from one host to another a while back), I finally spent the requisite dozens of hours to fix it.

The blog is fixed! All the beautiful photos are back! All the writing is complete! Check it out! (If you’re especially fond of photo-rich entries, they really get going in 2006 and keep gaining ground from then.)

Second day of our first heat wave all summer. It says it’s 90 degrees out there! I went up to the top of Twin Peaks yesterday around 5 pm, first time in weeks that I could even see it for more than a half hour at midday. The fog has been relentless (on the bright side, it’s free air conditioning all summer!). Here’s a few shots, two from Twin Peaks, and one from the freeway as we returned from a trip to Kings Canyon a week ago, with the big fog hanging over the City.

The late afternoon light really makes San Bruno Mountain look great, and it was so clear that Montara Mountain behind it in the distance stood out too!

The fog has hung over us all summer! This view from east of the Bay Bridge, across the Port of Oakland towards SF.

Continue reading San Francisco Summer Notes