December Reflections 2

T is for tower.

Coit Tower, San Francisco

Coit Tower, San Francisco

Final restoration of the stairway and upstairs murals was completed last month. What a treat to see this San Francisco icon in its 1930’s glory once again.

To learn more about Coit Tower click here. For information on free walking tours see “Coit Tower Murals” here.

Wordless Wednesday


163 Steps to Wow

In the tourism trade my back yard is known as a Destination. Folks save their money and time away from work to visit the beautiful Bay Area of California. I work at not forgetting just how lucky I am to be here. One of the things I like to do is explore like a tourist. Yep, grab the map, a camera, some good walking shoes and GO.

The San Francisco Chronicle recently had an article about staircases worth seeking out that spurred just such action.  Destination: the 16th Avenue steps in the Golden Gate Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. There are actually quite a few staircases you can climb on 16th Avenue — the one to seek out is at the intersection of 16th & Moraga.

The weather during the summer can be cool and overcast, even foggy. But those conditions cannot dampen the incredible beauty of what awaits. Here are 163 steps that say, “Wow!” from below and above.

This plaque says it all. Can you imagine the fun this committed group of 300+ neighbors had banding together to create such a gift?

Each step reveals a new wonder, a new creature or flower.  I stopped along the climb to snap the segments of stairs. Here is the first set.

And up through the swirling waters

and schools of fish

and starfish, sea turtles, shells and more!

Here flowers begin to intersect with the sea.

And up. . .

and up some more. . .

Not there yet. . .

and the scene moves above the sea and land to the sky

and up we continue. Here van Gogh shows his influence.

And on we go to the final section of stairs.

At the top we turn to look toward Ocean Beach. The fog hides the sand, but it is a spectacular view anyway.

Only by completing the entire climb can you appreciate the rich beauty of each section of the staircase. It was completely dazzling.

What beauty can you find in your neighborhood?

Golden Gate Diamond Anniversary

At last the mighty task is done;

Resplendent in the western sun

The Bridge looms mountain high;

Its titan piers grip ocean floor,

Its great steel arms link shore with shore,

Its towers pierce the sky.

From the poem “The Mighty Task Is Done,” Joseph Strauss, 1937.

In addition to remembering our men and women of the armed forces, we in the Bay Area also celebrated the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge. Construction began on January 5, 1933 and on May 27, 1937 the bridge was opened with a pedestrian day. Thousands of people turned out to walk across the bridge for the first time. The bridge opened to auto traffic on May 28, 1937.

Officials celebrated the bridges’ 50th anniversary with a pedestrian day. With about 300,000 people on the bridge, the roadway flattened — a bit spooky! Rather than repeat this event, the 75th anniversary celebration concluded with a fireworks display from the Golden Gate Bridge. All auto and foot traffic was closed for the pyrotechnics to begin about 9:30 p.m. and last for approximately 20 minutes.

Here you can see Coit Tower and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on the extreme left as the fireworks began on the Golden Gate Bridge. Click on image for larger view.

On October 19, 1968 the Golden Gate Bridge became the first bridge in the world to offer one-way toll collection.

The one-billionth car crossed the bridge on February 22, 1985.

On opening day, Joseph Strauss said, “This bridge needs neither praise, eulogy nor encomium. It speaks for itself. We who have labored long are grateful. What Nature rent asunder long ago, man has joined today.”

Quite a party for quite a bridge. Happy Birthday!

Click here to see a video of the spectacular fireworks!

Note: Acknowledgement for the use of some of these quotations is given to “The Golden Gate” by Peter Beren and Morton Beebe, Insight Editions, © 2012.

Moon Setting Over San Francisco

The air was swept clear by a strong wind over night and the moon setting over San Francisco was a spectacular way to begin the day.

6:16 a.m.

6:17 a.m.

6:18 a.m.

6:21 a.m.  What looks like a hill is actually a bank of fog on the coast. Have a great day!

The Chop Challenge

Last week there was quite a buzz among the Postmark’d Art group about Chops. No, not the kind you eat, the kind you use to sign your art. Jane Davila had a wonderful story she shared about obtaining one while she was teaching in Korea earlier this year. That prompted the question of where one could find someone to make a chop right here in the United States. Sherry Boram found an on-line source which she shared; Kay Laboda found an article on-line with great history and how-to information and a second site which details how to carve your own Chop. Then Sherry remembered that Marjorie DeQuincy uses a Chop to sign all her fabric postcards. “So Marjorie,” wrote Sherry, “do you know any place on your side of the country for Chop-hungry artists to get their fix?”

Well, that did it for me. Marjorie lives near me so I picked up the phone and had a long chat with her about obtaining a Chop in China town in San Francisco. As always, Marjorie had all the inside skinny for me.

Armed with her insights, my husband and I headed to San Francisco last Wednesday morning. We landed parking on the street (unheard of!) and walked by these charming sea creatures. Not there strictly for aesthetic beauty, they keep the skate boarders from battering the cement structure they are on. Note the more blah fixtures on the cement structure just beyond the turtles.

I haven’t been to The City to explore for some time so I detoured to stop by the Ferry Building to see what they had that I couldn’t live without.

Bingo. . . I found a bottle of Sherry vinegar that I’ve been searching for. The trip was already a success! The Ferry Building is such an icon of this city. And so is the view behind the building — the Oakland/San Francisco Bay Bridge.

Onward…Marjorie was explicit about walking straight up Grant Street, the tourist entry to China town. Here we are at Grant and Bush Streets.

Just two blocks up the street I came across Vincent Zhao seated at a card table in front of 555 Grant Ave. He was working on a painted name piece for a woman named Colleen. His sign said $1 per letter but when he finished he announced, “Three dollars, please.” She got a deal! My turn. I told Vincent what I was looking for and selected the Rooster blank from his inventory on the table. I paid $30 for the Chop and a dragon’s blood stamp pad and agreed to return after having some lunch.

Just a little further we came across the Four Seas Restaurant. The menu looked interesting — Chinese cuisine plus dim sum. When I stepped inside the entry to the steep stairway that lead to the restaurant I saw this plaque and decided it was worth a try:

It was Wednesday so we assumed that the hubbub from the rear dining room was the Rotary Club. Another sign at the reception area said that the restaurant has been there since 1960. How could we go wrong? The food and service were good. And there was a delightful group — 40 elementary students plus four adults — dining when we arrived. The whole dining room joined in on Happy Birthday when it was sung for one of the students. When they left, they were in single file and alphabetical order, making it easy for the adults to ensure everyone was accounted for. Amazing.

When we were done with lunch I was eager to get back to Vincent to see what my Chop looked like. And here it is:

and the set:

and Vincent:

As we were leaving China town I noticed this window display:

I know that the color red is considered good fortune but sleeping pigs? I’ll have to look into this.

I’m glad I took the Chop challenge and I can’t wait to use my Chop!