Growing by the Bay

Category: parks

Grasses in the Point Pinole Meadow

Grasses in the Point Pinole Meadow

The fishing pier is a popular destination at Point Pinole, as are the eucalyptus forests and the bluff overlooking San Pablo Bay and the salt marshes. But the grassy meadow in the middle of it all is one of my favorite spots, and many types of birds agree. I think most of the grasses are nonnative but, especially at this time of year, they are attractive, particularly in the slanted rosy evening light. P6175346.

Ferry Point, Richmond.

Ferry Point, Richmond

Ferry landing at Ferry Point, Richmond.

Ferry landing at Ferry Point, Richmond.

In recent decades Richmond has been aggressively developing its waterfront. Brickyard Cove, near Ferry Point, was once the location of a brick-making plant that used materials quarried from the nearby hillside. It is now an enclave of luxury homes and condominiums, along with a lively marina housing the Richmond Yacht Club, all set cheek to jowl with the industrial warehouses and tanks lining the city’s nearby deepwater harbor.

Ferry Landing framing San Francisco skyline.

Ferry Landing framing a glimpse of the San Francisco skyline.

Yet vestiges of the old waterfront remain, for now. One is Ferry Point, where the skeleton of an old ferry terminal remains, alongside a fishing pier maintained by the East Bay Regional Park District as part of the Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline. The pier was opened to the public in 2002.

Point Pinole pier.

Point Pinole

Point Pinole meadow and woods

This is a test of making a post sticky for a tag. At the moment this is only a test. Soon I will elaborate this tag.

Point Pinole pier and toyon bush.

Point Pinole pier with toyon bush in foreground.

Muir Woods

Muir Woods

I visited Muir Woods yesterday (in the company of a couple of beautiful women) via the main entrance and found it quite crowded — the only parking was a good ways down the road from the auxiliary lot. That’s one of the reasons we normally enter from the Pantoll or Bootjack trails. But the main redwood grove by the entrance really is quite spectacular, and I took a few pictures..

I’ve been taking pictures in Muir Woods for decades, but I feel it’s a difficult subject: it’s both very low (and quite green) light and also — perversely enough from the photographer’s standpoint — high contrast. Probably the best as a general rule would be a low ASA setting, a small aperture, and a very long exposure using a tripod. I didn’t have that luxury however, as I was just shooting with my trusty Canon A630. Still, these low-res samples might capture something of the feel of the day. (Expand to full screen or click through to the Flickr page for better views.)

Why are you on the computer

limantour max

when you could be enjoying outdoor activities? According to Forbes magazine, if you live in SF you ought to be outside right now.

You see, what Forbes did was, well, let them tell it:

Using research from the nonprofit organization Trust for Public Land, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, we gathered data on parks spending per resident, park land as a percentage of city land, recreation facilities, air quality, precipitation, sunshine and temperature extremes for 40 major cities.

No minor cities for Forbes! So what did this research tell them? Just guess!

Both Seattle and Jacksonville entered into the top 15, and even cities known for inclement weather, like Minneapolis and Boston, ranked high. Still, it was San Francisco, home to both Frisbee-tossing hippies and endurance-athlete venture capitalists, which ranked first.

So there you are. Now get out there and lets see some endurance-athlete Frisbee tossing.


Photo Wednesday: Muir Woods

muir woods

This view of Muir Woods in Marin County is from soupboy‘s photostream.


Presidio Trust changing the nature of the Presidio

build your own presidio theme park

The oversight agency for the Presidio proposes to construct not just the massive Fisher Art Museum but a 125-room hotel and new movie theaters as well, right in the middle of the park. Traffic would be directed to a hundred-space underground parking garage beneath the museum.

According to the Chronicle, The report acknowledges that the preferred scenario would create some parking and traffic problems and would significantly change the area, which is currently a historic landmark district.”

This whole business has been an inside job, of the kind the city specializes in, like the fake merger a decade or so ago between the Chronicle and the Examiner. That was supposed to give us an expanded morning paper and keep competition alive with an afternoon one (it actually gave a few months of an extra page of comics, followed by years of staff layoffs from the consistently diminishing Chronicle and the shredding of the Examiner leading to its transformation into a giveaway).

Fisher had this deal lined up from the beginning, and there was no way his buddies on the trust were going to cross him. That’s just the way things go in the city by the bay.


Lampton Cliffs County Park, Cambria, central California coast

Just down the road from the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve in Cambria on the central California coast is a small country park called Lampton Cliffs.

lampton cliffs county park, cambria

The park features a wooden stairway providing convenient access to a sheltered, rocky inlet.

Stairs to Pacific shore at Lampton Cliffs County Park, Cambria

Near the park is an open area that is marked as an ecological study zone. This is fenced and closed to the public.

ecological study area at cambria on the central California coast

I don’t know what kind of ecological study the University of California is doing here, but the ecology of the nature reserve seems imperfectly balanced — there were at least a couple dozen deer lounging in the meadow.

deer, cambria, ca


Mount Diablo tarantula

Each fall the tarantulas come out on Mount Diablo to mate. We saw a couple this year and read about a couple of cyclists — Mt. Diablo is popular with high-endurance mountain bikers — who got so distracted by a pair of mating tarantulas that they crashed into each other and had to be hospitalized.

It looks like this fellow might have been captured and taken home by someone. But what do you do with your tarantula after you get him home?

Golden Gate Park Windmill

windmill in golden gate park, san franciscoI don’t think I have an image of the Murphy Windmill in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park right now. The image at left is of another windmill in the park, the Dutch Windmill (thanks to Sarah in the comments below for pointing this out; click on the image for a larger view). Named after Samuel G. Murphy, who donated $20,000 to the city in 1905, the windmill once pumped 70,000 gallons of water an hour into an irrigation system that was instrumental in creating the park from its sand dune base. Over the years the windmill — which is extremely large; the photo below, for comparison (also clickable), is of a windmill in Bruges, Belgium — had fallen into considerable neglect. Fortunately, a civic-minded group known as the Campaign to Save the Golden Gate Park Windmills has rescued the decaying landmark.

You can read about the restoration in a March 2005 San Francisco Chronicle article by Kathleen Sullivan. Here is an excerpt:

Mark de Jong, a 43-year-old Dutch contractor whose speciality in Holland was historic restoration, lives only a couple blocks away from the windmill with his American wife and three children.
“The first time I saw the windmill, I thought: Wow, that needs work,” recalled de Jong, who emigrated in 1994.
De Jong, who comes from the land of 1,000 windmills, was impressed by the size of the building.
“In Holland, windmills are about half that size,” de Jong said….

golden gate park windmill

For another picture of the Bruges windmill, see my blog at

Port View Park, Oakland

carol at 7th street pier, oaklandThe main feature of Port View Park in Oakland is what locals call the Seventh Street Pier. It’s a popular fishing pier that offers good views of the nearby Bay Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. The Port of Oakland Container Terminal is also nearby — not a bucolic feature, but not without interest since the Port of Oakland is the main Bay Area shipping destination. (San Francisco’s piers are no longer major destinations, except for cruise ships. Because the city is on the tip of a peninsula it is inconvenient for ground shipping, whereas Oakland is well served by train and truck routes.)

In the late 19th century there was an enormous pier near this one called the Long Wharf (it opened in 1871). It reached nearly to Goat Island (Yerba Buena Island). Trains ran out the pier to connect up with sailing ships, a process that was fazed out around WWI.

In September, 2004, the park was in effect expanded with the addition of 38 adjacent acres called Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. I haven’t seen this new addition but according to Waterfront Action it features “spectacular views of the bay and shoreline, shorebirds, nearby maritime operations, San Francisco and Oakland skylines, and marine traffic at the estuary mouth;a dramatic observation tower; picnic and barbeque facilities; parking, restrooms, and water fountains; historical exhibits; an amphitheater; free viewing scopes; fishing pier and platforms; the only beach in Oakland; and nearly three miles of pedestrian and bike paths, some of which are part of the Bay Trail.”

map to middle harbor park

Some rights reserved 2022 Tom’s Garden. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons (attribution, noncommercial, no derivs: 3.0) License (US), although some of the work this blog incorporates may be separately licensed. Text and images by Thomas Christensen unless otherwise noted. For print permissions or other inquiries please request via