Sunday, April 25, 2010

Golden Gate Park Walkabout

What a remarkable place we call home. Within minutes we can be in the a world class city. Everywhere we look there are stunning views and diversity. I feel sorry for those people who when training for the 3-day are somewhat limited in where to go. For me, it is a matter of which of the hundreds of possibilities suits my mood, time schedule and walking partners....

Stephanie and I had invited our husbands to join. As Glenn says, he is a "fair weather walker", sort of like I am a "fair weather sailor." He says, he could walk much further but why? He isn't training. Knowing that, Stephanie and I settled on a walk under 10 miles (7.1 miles according to the GPS). It was important to be sure the boys could have lunch and a beer along the way.... The perfect venue? Golden Gate Park.

Golden Gate Park is about 3 miles long. Although the Panhandle is officially part of the park, the majority of the Park runs from Stanyan to the Great Highway, and sits between Lincoln Way and Fulton Street. It covers over 1000 acres and is larger than Central Park in New York. The variety of trees and legendary. You walk through parts of the park and see areas that look like your in Jurassic not GG Park. Huge ferns and towering trees with names you have no idea of. There are museums and a Conservatory of Flowers, a Japanese Tea Room, an Arboretum, Casting pools, a lake for model boats, one where you can rent a paddle boat, buffalo, polo grounds and riding stables all leading down to the Pacific Ocean. There are those people who call Golden Gate Park an urban Oasis (sounds like one of my marketing fliers!)

For us, the fact that we could park one car near Haight Asbury and one at the Beach Chalet meant we could walk to lunch and back to our car and see it all.

We met at the Beach Chalet on the Great Highway. The slight breeze from the ocean made me wish I had brought a heavier jacket, but the forecast was calling for temps in the mid 70's. I figured once we were away from the coast things would warm up.

The Beach Chalet was originally designed by Willis Polk and built in 1924. The murals in the downstairs visitors center were commissioned as a WPA project during the depression. Inside there is a model of the park and that was a good place for Glenn and I to look at where we would be walking. There are a lot of things to see in this beautiful spot.

Once the Cihaks arrived we jumped in their car and parked on the opposite end, near Stanyan Street. The weather was beautiful, although still a little chillier than the blue skies would indicate. Off we headed on our Saturday stroll.
My phone only rang about 4 times with urgent business from a recent sale of one of my listings. After the fourth call... I turned off the phone.

Stephanie and me, Flowers among flowers.....

And our better? halves?

Glenn and Chuck have been friends forever... The Cihaks are the Godparents of our daughters and we are the Godparents of their children. Time somehow has us all running in a thousand directions, and the more complicated our lives have become, the less we have been able to just hang out. One thing I am genuinely looking forward to is having more time with our dear friends. the 3-day walk and training give us that wonderful side benefit. It shouldn't take an event to bring friend together, but sometimes... that is what happens.
The Conservatory of Flowers.
For well over a century the Conservatory of Flowers has delighted visitors with it Victorian architecture and plethora of flowers and plants.

We stepped off the road to go see the log cabin. The cabin was constructed in 1911 from redwood logs, floated down on a raft from Humboldt County. It was built to honor Pioneer Women of California and now houses the permit division of the park.

Nothing like Redwood siding!


As we walked along you could hear the sound of water pretty consistently along the way. There were path side streams that danced their way over rocks. Then there was the rushing thundering sound of this waterfall.

3.1 miles later we were at the Beach Chalet. Beer anyone? (Not me or Steph, but the boys hoisted one) The Chalet has gone through a number of transformations. Glenn and Chuck remember when it was rather dilapidated, morphing from a Bikers Bar to a disco spot, to basically not much of anything. Today it has two restaurants. This upstairs restaurant has glorious views. Downstairs there is a glassed in restaurant that flows out onto the grass where people come and sit with their children and dogs, on picnic blankets sipping their drinks and eating their lunch. It really is quiet the spot, and Glenn and I like to take our out of towners here.
After having a nice lunch we headed back out to try and find another route back to the car.

Scooting by the Soccer fields we came across a windmill being refurbished and one that was actually turning. You can't see it in this picture, but there was a bird's next sitting in one of the spokes. (Not habitable I'd say)

Some of the trees grown horizontally on the ground, with twisted trunks that reach for long distances.

LaCrosse game at the polo grounds and one of the many runners in the park.

One of the many lakes in the park.

Some how we ended up on the same route but on the other side of the street than before. The park had many yellow irises in bloom. This one in front of the waterfall.

The root of one tree pierced the strata of the hillside.

There are still some Spring blossoms in the trees in the park.

Chuck noticed this Zen circle, so I went to take a look.

Each rock placed thoughtfully on the other....

We walked over to see the Japanese Tea Garden. I have never been inside, but I remember pictures of Allison and Katie there. They visited with Glenn's Mother when they were young.

The Japanese tea Garden was built in 1892. During the turbulent year around WWII until 1952 the garden was renamed the Oriental Tea Garden.

The original family the Hagiwara family was evicted and sent to an internment camp during the war. The garden now bears their name.

The music stand also know as the Spreckle's temple of Music is located at one end of the Music Concourse between the DeYoung Museum and the Academy of Arts and Science. Today they had a dance festival going on. Lithe young dancers were waiting their turn to perform.
The DeYoung Museum in the background stand in stark comparison to the traditional monument architecture of the Band Stand.

The latest recreation of the California Academy of Science houses the Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium and the newest green building concepts. The living roof is really something to see. The solar panels become an integral part of the design trellised front of the building.

Near the end of our walk we passed the JFK tunnel. These musicians were playing, mainly for themselves enjoying the acoustics the tunnel created.
By the time ended we all looked at each other and realized what a perfect day this had been. Great weather, great friends planning an even greater walk in October. The Cihaks have agreed to cater our Wine Wars in August. Those of you who have had the honor of eating their food know... they put to shame the vast majority of caterers out there. We are VERY lucky!
So now's the time people. Get in your RSVP! You don't want to miss this!