Wednesday, October 3, 2012

DAY 42- Golden Gate Park, Cliff House, & Sutro Baths...

I decided to commute into San Francisco city with Mona and spend the day sightseeing the HUGE Golden Gate Park.  The park is situated near the downtown area.  The edge of it starts in downtown and then spans all the way to the Ocean Beach on the other side.  It’s about half mile wide (north to south) and a little over 3 miles long (east to west).  It’s touted as being 20% larger than Central Park in New York and it consists of 1,017 acres.  The park started out as nothing but “outside lands” in the 1860’s which consisted mostly of unwanted sand dunes.  The park was started under the guise of recreation; it was really the hopes that if they could stabilize the sand dunes that they could eventually develop it and expand housing to the area. Check out Wikipedia for more info, but it really had a somewhat checkered past.  But with all of this going for it, you could easily see that visiting this park could be an all-day affair.

At about 9am, I started into the south east corner of the park near the Haight-Ashbury section.  You may recognize the Haight-Ashbury as the site of the “Human Be-In” of 1967 preceding the Summer of Love which led to Free Love.  I was hoping to explore this section of San Francisco if I had time later on in the day.  But I really was interested in exploring the Golden Gate Park today. 

I was told to start a little later in the morning because there are a great deal of homeless people that sleep in the east section of the park and some of the younger homeless can get a little rowdy.   By 9am most of the homeless people are awake and packed up for the day.  But as I entered in you could see people walking out of the park with full shopping carts.  Most of them returned my good mornings.
Photo- The Children's Playground area look like a fun area for kids to play.

It was rather amazing walking into the park because within moments you are enveloped in trees and paths; you almost lose the noise of city traffic.  People are running and walking; getting their exercise for the day.  One of the first interesting sections of the park that I came across was the Children’s Playground.  I skirted around the edge of this because it said no adults allowed without a minor.  I just took a couple of pictures of it but I could imagine that this playground area would be filled up later in the day.  There was a wonderful sandstone like building that was surrounded by potted red blossomed plants called Sharon Art Studio that wasn’t opened yet but appeared to be an area where kids could experiment with art.
Photo- The entrance to the wonderful little Shakespeare's Garden.
Photo- Inside the Shakespeare's Garden, a lovely walk under trees
with a sundial in the middle.

I walked by an area that had two large baseball diamonds with stands.  There were signs for an AIDS Memorial Grove which looked like a forest from the outside area as I walked by.  I continued on and discovered a Shakespeare’s Garden.  I walked into a wonderfully arranged mature garden area where there were nice benched sitting areas, a walk arched by trees with a sundial in the middle, and a little cement patio area where three men appeared to be working on rehearsing some kind of play while I was there.
Photo- The Bandshell on the Music Concourse.

Photo- The Scott F. Fitzgerald Statue with a dedication to the Star Spangled Banner.

My favorite section was the Music Concourse, where there was a music Bandshell which is called Spreckles Temple of Music which was built in 1894 for a California Mid-Winter International Exposition.  The area also has several statues of various musical geniuses scattered about like; Verdi, Scott F. Fitzgerald, and Beethoven- just to name a few.  There are also 4 fountains and a gridded array of pollarded trees with benches sitting among them.  I sat down and had a little snack and watched a group of people doing their Tai Chi exercises.  It was very peaceful watching them and hearing the fountains in the background.
Photo- Groups of people doing their Tai Chi exercising.  I've been told that this is
a common sight in San Fran where over 45% of the population is Oriental.

Not far from the Music Concourse is the California Academy of Sciences which is touted as one of the largest natural history museum in the world.  It was not open yet and I chose not to wait.  Their current exhibition was called “Earthquakes” and being in the area that I was the thought of going in an exhibit about earthquakes just made me think too much about the possibilities of something happening while I was in the area.  I was very much playing with the idea that ignorance is bliss.
Photo- The very modern De Young Museum.

Immediately to the north of the Music Concourse is the DeYoung Museum which is a fine arts museum originally opened in 1921 but was totally rebuilt in 2005 after the earthquake of 1989 had severely damaged the building.  Now can you understand my ignorance is bliss attitude?  I’m right in the center of earthquake territory.  Of course, this Art Museum did get the memo that I would be in town and was of course, closed for the day.  Go figure!  But I did very much enjoy walking around the very modern building and its unique landscaping.
Photo- Stowe Lake the largest of the lakes in Golden Gate Park.

Next I came upon Stowe Lake which is one of the larger lake areas in the Golden Gate Park.  You can rent a pedalboat or a rowboat to go out on the lake.  There’s a large island in the middle which is called Strawberry Hill.  I took the hike that goes around and up to the top of the hill.  You can see above the trees and into the city area; some amazing views.  To the north of the Stowe Lake there’s the Japanese Tea Gardens which is touted as the oldest public Japanese garden in the U.S.  There’s an entrance fee to get in and I was still only halfway through the park.  I felt like there was still enough free stuff to see.
Photo- The view from Strawberry Hill of the downtown. 
You can just see the tops of the downtown buildings.

I continued westward in the Park.  I walked by a waterfall just off a street area I was walking on.  I walked by the soccer/polo fields.  There was a paddocks area where buffalo were resting.  My feet and legs were really starting to feel all the walking.  There were picnic areas and barbeque pits.  I walked by a couple more small lakes.  Then as I got closer to the west side I saw a HUGE Dutch windmill. 
Photo- People lounging on the beach and surfers catching the waves.

Then, I saw the “Great Highway” which is a main road that goes along the beach area.  I walked across the street with a stoplight.  I walked along the ocean beach where there were all kinds of activity.  People were resting, sunning, and playing on the beach.  There were even a few surfers catching the waves.  I sat on a bench and watched.

After a while, I decided to walk back across the street to the Beach Chalet which has a couple of restaurants and holds a visitor’s center for the Golden Gate Park.  I looked at both of the menus for the restaurants and looked over the restaurants interiors too.  I felt more at ease with the back patio area of the Park Chalet restaurant.  It was a much more casual atmosphere.
Photo- Wonderful views from the back patio area of the Cliff House.

After I ate and had a beer, I headed north along the beach and over to the Cliff House which is about ½ mile and a walk up a hill.  It was a wonderful view from the back of the Cliff house.  I then climbed a back walled area and hiked into the Sutro Baths ruins.  At one time the Sutro Baths were the height of public swimming pools; featuring 7 different swimming pools- one of which was fresh water and 6 others of salt water with various temperatures.  All of these pools were enclosed under a steel and glass ceiling that was inset into the lower beach area next to the Cliff House.  The pools were directly filled with water from the ocean at high tides and at low tides there were turbine powered pumps; keeping the water consistently moving.  There used to be a railroad that dropped off visitor’s to the Baths.  Eventually, the Baths became too costly to operate and closed.  Shortly, after that in 1966 there was a fire that destroyed the Baths.  But it was interesting imagining the place by the remains of what was left.
Photo- The Sutro Baths ruins with the Cliff House in the background.

Next, I walked down the hill from the Cliff House and over to Fulton Street to catch the 5 Fulton Bus back to near where I started the morning.  My feet were very tired by this time and I was ready for a bit of riding in the bus.  While waiting for the bus, an older man was smoking pot and offering it to the teenagers that were also waiting for the bus.  I stood on the other side farthest away from them.  He probably had a medical pass to have the marijuana which is becoming more and more common in the state.  It’s almost a joke how they get these passes that they might as well legalize it in the state.  I was told that even I could go in and get one in a few hours no problem if I wanted it.  I will admit that it was bit of a cultural shock for me coming from Utah.
Photo- The outside of the beautiful St. Ignatius Church.

The bus finally came and I rode it back into the downtown city area.  I still had a bit more time before I needed to meet Mona.  So I stopped by the University of San Francisco campus for a bit.  The University of San Francisco is a Roman Catholic Jesuit school and is the second oldest institution of higher learning in California.  The nickname for the University’s 50 acre campus is called the “Hilltop” because the campus is located at one of the peaks of the San Francisco’s hills.     I visited inside of the beautiful Saint Ignatius church which some people have said reminded them of the cathedrals in Europe.  It was very beautiful inside I will admit but I have never been to Europe so I can't say how it rates.  But I also have never felt comfortable taking pictures inside a Catholic church, a silly Catholic thing with me, so I didn’t take one except for the atrium area just inside the doors.
Photo- Just inside the doors area of Ignatius Church.

I quickly walked by and admired the outside of the Gleeson Library and a large open campus area where students were camped out on the lawn area reading their books and catching some sun.  It looked like a wonderful place to be learning.  But it was time to meet Mona and get started on the commute back to Walnut Creek which can be rather grueling at times.  I teased Mona that I must have brought her luck because it only took about an hour when she says it usually will take her an hour and a half.

No comments:

Post a Comment