March 13, 2015
Getting To And Hiking The Alexander Zuckermann Bicycle-Pedestrian Path
While I was up in the San Francisco Bay area last weekend, I went over to the east bay and hiked that portion of the new Bay Bridge Trail that is open to the public. Officially it is the Alexander Zuckermann Bicycle-Pedestrian Path. The part everyone is excited about is the path that is constructed along the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge which will eventually allow bicyclists and pedestrians to have direct access to Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island. Currently, public access to the path stops just as it gets to the suspension portion of the bridge just east of the Yerba Buena tunnel.
But you don't get to bike or walk on that new path unless you find one of the trailheads in the real world environments of Emeryville or Oakland...or the bus stop on the Bay Bridge itself. The bus stop has been there all along, I'm sure, primarily to serve Caltrans employees who work on the bridge. Go to ACTransit.org if you want to figure out how to take advantage of the easy way.
The Bay Bridge's own website offers up a nearly useless map. The map has been shrunk so that no street names are readable with no link to a readable version. Your tax dollars at work. TrailLink has a better map, but you have to register to use it, and it only shows one entry point - the one I used. The Oakland Wiki has a similar map and you don't have to register to use it.
The trailhead that I did not go to is in Oakland at 37.82198, -122.301379, AKA the parking lot at Maritime Street and Burma Road.
The trailhead I did go to is in front of the Emeryville IKEA store at 37.829521,-122.292555. The current imagery at that link puts it in shadow, but it's there. The trailhead on the easterly (IKEA) side of Shellmound Street is for pedestrians and bicycles. Over on the westerly side of the street is another access point that joins the bike path that goes along there. They join immediately after the easterly branch crosses beneath the Shellmound/40th Street viaduct.
There are several bus routes that will take you right to the trailhead (or to IKEA, which is its own kind of hike):
- The AC Transit 31 bus from MacArthur BART station
- The AC Transit 57 bus from MacArthur BART
- The AC Transit Transbay line C which also connects to MacArthur
- The AC Transit Transbay line F, also connects to MacArthur
- The AC Transit 26 bus from West Oakland BART station
- The Shellmound/Powell line of the Emery Go-Round which is free, privately owned and connects to MacArthur.
Or, you can do like I did, and just walk the 1.8 miles from MacArthur BART. Head west on 40th Street. As you near the trailhead, 40th will go up on a viaduct that curves to the right and comes down as Shellmound Street. The trailhead is RIGHT THERE to your right. Even the blind can't miss it. If you get to the first driveway for IKEA, then you have gone too far! Turn around! Walk back the way you came a hundred feet or so and wake up and pay attention to the world around you. How in the hell did you miss that?
There is also a crosswalk at that first IKEA driveway which you can use to cross over Shellmound Street to get to the twin trailhead on that side of the street, but why expose yourself to traffic like that? The IKEA, BTW, offers restrooms and water fountains, but comes up pretty short in the hiking supply department. I'm sure you could find a water bottle in there, if you wanted to take the time to look for it. There is a Trader Joe's about half a mile north and you will have passed various retail opportunities on 40th Street.
Once you get to that IKEA trailhead, this video will give you some idea of what you could see along the path:
Here's a link to all my still photos from the hike which was about 10 miles round trip from the MacArthur station. Samples:
Currently the path is open from 7 AM to 6 PM and they say that CHP begins clearing it at 4:30. I was on there after 4:30 and saw no sign of CHP, but a couple of local police (or sheriff's deputies) bicycled up the bridge about then. This photo was taken at about the spot where the path from Oakland joins the path from Emeryville.
This is the last porta-potty before the bridge. I didn't spot anyplace to get potable water anywhere along the trail, so bring all you need.
As far as you can go for now. Access to the islands is supposed to happen this summer.
Old equipment under the old Bay Bridge atop one of the support towers. It looks electrical and I wondered why this equipment needed to be this far out from the shore.
Lots of landscaping along the way before you get to the bridge. Under the biggest snarl of overpasses there is a riparian habitat with all the plants and animals one might expect to find there - except not a lot of water fowl. Of course, buried beneath those highways I don't know how an egret is going to see it, much less get to it.
This seems to be the access to the tunnel out to the toll booths. I did not descend. There were no signs telling me to stay away or inviting me in.
On the viaduct facing east on 40th into Emeryville and Oakland. Pedestrians on one side (north and east), bicycles only on the other side.
March 3, 2015
Not Missing It
Boston Virtual Imaging sent someone out with a drone and a camera to document the snow in Boston. They made a tour of some of the major tourist highlights in central Boston:
In order of appearance:
- Charlestown (Bunker Hill)
- Public Garden
- Boston Common/Beacon Hill
- Commonwealth Avenue/Back Bay
- Fenway Park
- Beacon Hill or maybe Charlestown again - hard to tell when you're up that close, although the unusual house one sees on the left will identify it for someone who knows Boston better than I - but I'm betting heavily on Beacon Hill
- Charles River/The Esplanade (Hatch Shell)
- Waterfront/Harbor Hotel/that thing that used to be an elevated highway which is now called the "Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway"
February 26, 2015
The Beauty Of Los Angeles
A good video of downtown L.A. shot with a drone that shows off a lot of the architectural detail and murals that people either can't see, don't see or take for granted.
February 20, 2015
Los Angeles City Hall Observation Deck
West of City Hall is its equally tough sister agency, the LADWP. You can see the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion cowering in front of the LADWP, a bit to the left.
The Lindbergh Beacon
The beacon on top of the Los Angeles City Hall was turned on by President Calvin Coolidge from the White House during the City Hall dedication ceremonies April 26, 1928. The light was gratefully dedicated to Charles A. Lindbergh for his contribution to the advancement of aviation, and in commemoriation of man's first transatlantic solo flight from New York to Paris on May 20, 1927.
Press Photographer Association of greater Los Angeles.
In the park just west of City Hall, the park furniture is bright pink, as it should be. You may need to click the image to get the full-res version in order to appreciate the pink highlights.
January 23, 2015
Downtown Palm Springs
January 12, 2015
Ten Bridges Epic Walk
Yesterday I went on the Ten Bridges Epic walk, which crosses 10 of the bridges over the Los Angeles River. It came to about 14½ miles. Maps:
This is a detail from the photo above. These are the most recently unearthed remains of the Zanja Madre which were found in 2014. The brick probably dates from the 1880s, although the ditch itself goes back to the settling of Los Angeles. News story with photos here.
We try a shortcut along the river that is probably railroad property. It turned out to be a dead end and we had to follow our steps back and loop around.
The Vernon Chamber of Commerce. I expected something a bit nicer.
The famous hockey burger - which sets it apart from those ordinary hockey burgers that you never heard of.
January 8, 2015
Oldest Palm Tree In L.A.
The oldest palm tree in Los Angeles is this one at the entrance to Exposition Park (the Coliseum). That's the 110 in the background. Here's what the official plaque says.
This historic palm tree stood for more than twenty-five years at the entrance of the Southern Pacific station. At this railroad portal of the city it became a familiar landmark to many thousands of Los Angeles and southern California citizens and visitors from elsewhere, and was a mute witness to the growth of Los Angeles from a community of pueblo days to a great world metropolis of today. When construction of a new Southern Pacific station necessitated removal, under the auspices of the Los Angeles Examiner it was presented to the City of Los Angeles by the Southern Pacific Company. On September 5, 1914, it was placed here, where it and its sentimental associations will be permanently preserved.
December 17, 2014
From my recent visit to San Francisco.
November 23, 2014
Great Los Angeles Walk 2014
This year's Great Los Angeles Walk was all in the San Fernando Valley, proceeding from Warner Center mostly along Ventura Boulevard easterly to Lankershim Boulevard and then north to the North Hollywood Red/Orange Lines station. The organizer measured it at 17.12 miles, but I think his distances are car miles and, therefore, straighter and shorter than pedestrian wandering miles. My GPS said my mileage was 18.8. All of it was in Los Angeles proper, but the neighborhoods included Woodland Hills, Tarzana, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Studio City and North Hollywood.
The route also traversed this neighborhood I've marked in green for which I could find no name. It's bordered by Toluca Lake, West Toluca Lake, Studio City, Universal City and North Hollywood. If anyone can give me a name, I'd appreciate it.
A little rotation and perspective. North is to the right in this image and we walked from top to bottom.
A big plus for some people this year was that the beginning and end of the route were close to the Orange Line Busway, making it easy to put your vehicle at one end or the other and get back to it fairly easily after the walk. I have some advice, however, for tourists who follow after me and come to the North Hollywood station for their fist time to catch the Orange Line. That large structure with a big orange arch over the entrance to the escalators that go underground to the ticket machine area where the highlight color is orange and to the waiting platform which is also highlighted with orange where you will see NO signs at all bearing the word "Red;" yeah, that place is NOT the Orange Line. It's the Red Line and your first clue that you have gone in the wrong entrance will come after you pay your fare and proceed to the waiting platform where you will see that either side of the platform will take you to Union Station and you would get there on a train that runs on rails. So, not the Orange Line. If you're looking for the Orange Line, it's across the street. There is one sign at the Red Line station with one arrow pointing to your right as you exit the Red Line station, but it doesn't indicate that you need to cross the street. Over there is a sort of nondescript bus shelter where you will see no color orange and there are no signs saying "Orange," until you get right into the station and look at the maps. The buses are, however, labeled with the word "Orange" and have some orange trim. This will only help you if a bus is there and you can see it from across the street.
IOW, the Metro's system designer must have worked for Boston's MBTA before coming here.
And while I'm on it, I have a few more observations about the Orange Line. As expected, every sign is in both Spanish and English, except for the warning labels on the poles next to the rear doors that tell you not to hold onto them. Those are only in Spanish. Both poles, left and right, have Spanish warnings. Are we to assume that English speaking people don't ever grab those poles or that they never ride standing up?
The names of stops on the Orange Line are announced once and once only. For some reason, the recorded voice always drops slightly when speaking the actual name, so that I could almost never understand it. Simultaneously, the electronic message display at the front (which is far less sophisticated than the ones they use on ordinary buses) will also display the name of the next stop once and once only at the same time as the recorded announcement. Then the display goes blank. Why it can't be continuously displaying the name of the next stop until it's needed for something else is something I don't know.
When you're waiting in a station and the electronic display shows you the times of the next three Orange Line buses coming, those are not the times of the next three buses coming. That is only a list of the scheduled times. You might as well look at your paper schedule. There seems to be no communication link between the Orange Line buses and the Metro system so that passengers might be able to realistically gauge their travel times. Every other transit system I've encountered that electronically shows train or bus times uses real times based on real feedback, not simply a display of scheduled times.
Despite all of that I somehow managed to traverse the distance from North Hollywood to Warner Center where our walk began. The walk was far less interesting than my three previous walks which all started in central L.A. and headed to Santa Monica, routing us through a range of economic levels and historical architecture. Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley is fairly much homogenous.
This unusual building heralded a view to the east that let us know our walk was going to be downhill for the next 15 or 16 miles as we descended towards the L.A. River.
The small building on the left is the Blue Velvet Beauty Boutique on Lankershim Boulevard.
I'm not as impressed by the claim of "real falling snow" (you can just rent that from Hollywood) as I am by the idea of a 7-foot Hanukkah puppy. This is a Hanukkah tradition I'd not heard of before.
The Valley's Miracle Mile is not quite as impressive as the one on Wilshire Boulevard, but I'm sure they are trying really hard.
Memorial to Thomas G. Taylor who died fighting a fire at this location which is now a Wells Fargo bank. The full story is here and there you will find the photo of the firefighter's 9-year old son which was the basis for the image on the memorial that wraps around the corner to the right. Here's a recent news story. The fire was started by an arsonist who, as of 2013, was still in prison.
"Vape" - new dictionary word of the year. On a related note, while I was waiting for the Orange Line bus a fairly stereotypical medium-sized old lady, wearing her everyday cloth coat, and carrying some shopping whipped out her vape device, took a big draw, and exhaled a cloud of smoke that was obviously from cannabis. Then she put it away.
Related to that is this sign I saw on Lankershim Boulevard. If it needs explaining, an ounce is 28.3495 grams. Marijuana traditionally has been sold in "eighths," an eighth of an ounce, which is about 4 grams. This dispensary claims their 8ths somehow contain 6 grams, which is all fine and good, but it's what they charge for that eighth that matters, isn't it?
This was the goal at the end of the walk. Not exactly the ocean view from Santa Monica, is it? In fact, I would have passed this by except there were about a dozen walkers hanging out there chatting and taking photos.
October 22, 2014
It's The Great L.A. Walk, Charlie Brown!
Everything (almost) you need to know. Saturday, November 22, meet at Warner Center Park in Woodland Hills (5800 Topanga Canyon Boulevard) for the 9 AM departure. Walk at your own pace, relying on your own wits and resourcefulness to get to the Television Academy courtyard (5200 Lankershim Boulevard), a scant 17 miles away.
I hope that the Television Academy is an incredibly beautiful structure, because when the walk ended in Santa Monica (the last three years), getting a sunset view of the Pacific was some good motivation. The intersection of Magnolia and Lankershim in North Hollywood does not seem to have the same draw. But what do I know? I've never been to that intersection, which probably has vistas to rival any national park.
There is no fee to walk. This is not a charity fundraiser. You walk to enjoy walking in an ever-shifting urban environment. No waiver to sign, because who're you gonna sue?