Locomotoring

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Archive for the ‘Bay Area’ Category

Edgewood Park, a cloudy day in June 2022

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The quintessential park – grasslands, chaparrals, Bay views

Edgewood is our neighborhood county park, the one whose trails and flora we are trying to learn by heart. It claim to fame are its wildflowers. This hike is not fun on a hot summer day, but this weekend in June, it was cloudy and not crowded, turning the hike into an unexpected summer surprise. This time, we started at the Sunset trailhead where parking is less challenging. From junction sign 21, we took the detour on Clarkia; then at 22, we got back on Sunset; at 13, we took Ridgewood; at 15, Franciscan; at 12, Live Oak; at 17, we walked up the hill to enjoy the view; and then took Ridgewood back to Sunset trail. The entire hike is a little more than 3 miles and no more than 200 ft of climb. Between junction signs 15 and 12 on Franciscan trail, there was a profusion of coyote mint. And monkey flowers were in bloom throughout.

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Written by Sachin

June 13, 2022 at 8:21 pm

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Pulgas Ridge Preserve, June 2022

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From the top of Dusky-footed Woodrat Trail

Pulgas Ridge Preserve is another beautiful open space in our neighborhood! From the parking lot, we took the Cordilleras Trail to Dusky-footed Woodrat Trail to Hassler Trail to Dick Bishop Trail to Blue Oak Trail returning back to the parking lot, a total of 3.8 miles. Elevation change is no more than 400 ft. Much of the climb up is through the woods and rather pretty. The park is dog friendly, and the dogs were all clearly excited to be there. Monkey flowers were in bloom everywhere. It does get a bit noisy for about a third of a mile when Dusky-footed Woodrat Trail gets close to Hwy 280.

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Written by Sachin

June 5, 2022 at 5:17 am

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San Bruno Mountain, May 2022

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A foggy morning on Summit Loop trail, a lonely bench

The recommendation for San Bruno Mountain Summit Loop Trail came from the book Peninsula Trails by authors Jean Rushmore, Frances Spangle and Betsy Crowder. On a fogless day, you can see a lot – Daly City, Colma, the Pacific Ocean, and the Santa Cruz Mountains, San Francisco, the Bay Bridge, Oakland, Mount Diablo, and the San Francisco Bay, planes taking off from San Francisco International Airport – you can also see all this without hiking by simply parking at the San Bruno Ridge Trail parking lot.

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Written by Sachin

May 29, 2022 at 6:37 pm

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Jean Lauer Trail, April 2022

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The artifacts of US Air Force base visible from much of the trail

Jean Lauer trail is short coastal hike in Pillar Point Bluff County Park. It is a flat and mostly accessible trail. We went walkabout a bit beyond the main trail. Wildflowers from mustard family were in bloom.

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Written by Sachin

April 25, 2022 at 9:23 am

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Walk in the woods, Apr 2022

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Somewhere near Little Basin Road off of CA Route 236

We had intended to do the Eagle Rock trail. When we reached the designated parking, we found it closed. We walked about a bit, for a mile or so, searching for the trail, and eventually realized we were on someone’s private land. We were puzzled and decided to head out. Once we got out, we noticed a sign saying that the campground was closed due to hazardous conditions from 2020 fires. Silly us, it took us a while to realize we weren’t getting a prize here – a trail all to our ourselves!

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Written by Sachin

April 25, 2022 at 5:30 am

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Thornewood Open Space Preserve, Apr 2022

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Looking up on Bridle trail

First, we did the Schilling Lake trail recommended by POST. The parking lot on La Honda only has space for six cars and is often overcrowded on weekends, it helped us that this was the Tax weekend as well as the Easter weekend. On our way back, we decided to explore the Bridle trail. This trail is almost entirely shaded by Redwoods. Overall, approximately 3.5 miles and elevation change of approximately 400 ft. The trails go along streams and small waterfalls and could be nice, albeit cold, in winter. It had rained yesterday and portions of the trail were a little muddy.

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Written by Sachin

April 18, 2022 at 6:46 am

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Calero Park from Rancho Cañada del Oro, April 2022

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Field of vetch under an oak tree

From the same parking spot as Rancho Cañada del Oro, this 4 mile hike is through the neighboring Calero Park, following Longwall Canyon to Needlegrass to Bald Peaks trail to Little Llagas Creek trail. This is part of the POST recommended Rancho Cañada del Oro hike, with the climb going up the wrong way, on the shorter and exposed Needlegrass trail. The only shaded portion of the hike is the Little Llagas Creek trail. Top of Needlegrass has stunning views of the mountains and if one knows where to look, the view of Loma Prieta, the highest peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Although we were too winded to appreciate. Note to self – pay attention to trail markers next time. This time again, after the hike, we took our lunch on one of the benches on Whole Access Llagas Creek Loop Trail looking at the field of lupines and vetches and poppies.

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Written by Sachin

April 10, 2022 at 7:08 pm

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Windy Hill Hike, April 2022

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On the way down from the summit

We followed the recommended POST hike, from Spring Ridge Trail to the Hamm’s Gulch Trail, to Bay Area Ridge Trail, and the Anniversary Trail to reach the summit and a descent via the Spring Ridge trail to the Betsy Crowder Trail. We saw a number of new flower species on Hamm’s Gulch. The trail was all shaded until we reached the end of Hamm’s Gulch and then it is almost entirely exposed until Betsy Crowder trail. This direction is a whole lot more pleasant than going up Spring Ridge and coming down Hamm’s Gulch.

It is not common to have a trail named Betsy, it is named after local conservation activist Elizabeth “Betsy” Swann Crowder.

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Written by Sachin

April 8, 2022 at 12:00 am

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Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve, March 2022

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What a beauty! This is on the Ancient Oaks Trail near Bo Gimbal Trail intersection.

Followed the POST recommended 3.6 mile trail from the Ridge Trail, to the Ancient Oaks Trail to the Charquin Trail back to the Ridge Trail. The parking lot was full and we parked by Highway 35. The wildflower season was at its peak.

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Written by Sachin

April 7, 2022 at 11:31 pm

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Rancho Cañada del Oro, March 2022

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An exceptionally beautiful park in spring.

While we had intended to do the 5.8 mile Bald Peaks trail recommended by POST, we accidentally ended up on the 4.3 mile Mayfair-Longwall canyon loop trail. The climb took us through Blue Oak woodlands. It was stunningly beautiful. Occasionally we would see signs for cattle grazing. We found ourselves discussing how the land might have been before the settlers.

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Written by Sachin

April 7, 2022 at 10:00 pm

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Hiking Edgewood Park, March 2022

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Near Clarkia Trailhead

This is one of the best places to see wildflowers and it is in our neighborhood park too. We have walked this park dozens of times, from the main park entrance or Sunset trailhead, but this time we started from Clarkia trailhead. We followed Clarkia to Sunset to Ridgeview to Franciscan to Live Oak to Serpentine back to Sunset and Clarkia (23, 22, 14, 13, 15, 12, 17, 20, 22).

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Written by Sachin

March 26, 2022 at 7:12 pm

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Hiking Huddart Park, March 2022

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Huddart Park is a lovely park for picnic and the wooded trails are great on a summer day. The trails are uneven dirt trails, but in Redwood forests, trails are always easy on your feet. At this time of the year, the streams carry water and delicate green ferns grow by the trails. We did a short hike around the Zwierlein picnic area following Crystal Spring Trails, Canyon Trail, Campground Trail and Dean Trail (from marker 21 to 17 to 13 to 15 to 24 to 19 to 17 and back to 21).

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Written by Sachin

March 26, 2022 at 10:04 am

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Cowell-Purisima Coastal Trail, March 2022

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Quintessential view from this trail. There is no beach access.

We ended up going all the way from one end to another and coming back. That made is a nearly 7 mile hike, near all flat and nearly all exposed. We started on the north end. There is perhaps more place is sit at the northern end, so if doing a picnic lunch in the middle, it might make more sense to start at the south end.

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Written by Sachin

March 21, 2022 at 5:58 am

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Hiking Pearson-Arastradero Preserve, March 2022

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A beautiful oak on the Paseo del Roble trail near Arastradero lake

Our intent was to do the recommended 3.7 mile scenic loop recommended by POST, but we ended up going a little longer. We first did the Redcap loop trail. Then we went on to Juan Bautista de Anza Trail to Meadowlark Trail to Acorn trail to Arastradero creek trail to Paseo del Roble to Wild Rye trail before descending back to the de Anza Trail. The parking lot appeared quite busy on the weekend!

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Written by Sachin

March 21, 2022 at 5:42 am

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Sequoia Audubon Trail, Feb 2022

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At the start of the trail

It was a delightful 1.5 to 2 miles roundtrip trail along the marshes. It was an absolutely gorgeous day by the beach when the inland was cloudy and cold. We took our binoculars to watch the birdlife and found some common Canadian geese. January and February had not seen much rain this year after a lot of rain the previous two months and as a result, some of the vegetation had started to dry out already. There were a lot of cattail. A few of the yarrows were in bloom, but plenty were getting ready. There was not much shade along the way, and it was surprisingly warm.

There is parking right at the start of the trail, but south Pescadero beach is perhaps a better spot to park if combining with picnic lunch. At the beach, you will see people fishing and there are a number of benches to enjoy the ocean view.

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Written by Sachin

March 20, 2022 at 6:59 pm

Visiting Ano Nuevo SP, Feb 2022

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An elephant seal family with a male, eight females and eight pups (seven seen).
A lone seal hanging out, they often use their flippers to move wet sand on themselves.

Año Nuevo State Park is one of the largest elephant seal rookery. It is a short walk, about 1.5 miles roundtrip, but set aside 2 hrs because it is really fun to watch these seals when they do decide to move. As per the docent, the best time to come here between December and January, especially the days where it is wet and clammy. There is a lovely picnic area right at the entrance and plenty parking.

Written by Sachin

March 20, 2022 at 6:40 pm

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Hiking in Uvas Canyon, Feb 2022

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At the start of the waterfall loop

We had intended to do the 3.5 mile waterfall hike as per POST recommendation but ended up taking the detour up to Knobcone Point which added an additional 0.8 miles to the total. When they say steep, they mean steep. We practically crawled up to Knobcone, but the reward was a lovely picnic table where we had our lunch. I enjoyed the flatter contour trail part of the hike where the air smelled of California/mountain laurel. Much of the hike is shaded, the ground is packed dirt and also steep downhill on Alec Canyon.

Written by Sachin

March 20, 2022 at 12:45 am

Atelier Crenn from an year ago

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Third time is the charm for the photos, with the latest renovation, there is now a hint of light for the lens. Not that photos matter or even the menu matters. A dinner at Crenn is like a series of short adventure trips for the uninitiated. No baby steps, you jump straight into it – sky diving, canoeing the rapids, zip lining, bungee jumping and so forth. Imagine you have been handed a schedule that looked like the following,

Sky, gravity & wind
River, foam & paddles
Canopy & pines

Frankly, even if the schedule came with a video of the activity, you will only know the motions and not the sensations.

Here was what the menu said on Nov 22, 2017,

Plum kambucha
Kir Breton
Fish & Chips
Geoduck, Sea Urchin & Citrus
Seeds & Grains
Caviar, Monkfish & Koji
Brioche & Housemade butter
Abalone, Cabbage & Smoked Creme
Matcha Tea Service
A-5 Wagyu, Porcini & Bearnaise
Harbison, Buckwheat & Truffle

Nopal Elixir
White chocolate avocado cremeux
Mesa Crisp
Sapote Ice Cream & Maracuya
Vanilla Bean Guanabana & Crystallized Tobacco Leaf
Recreation of Agave, Coconut & Iced Pulque
Mignardises

Think of the elixirs and tea services as brief rest stops in between the adventure courses. I had been experimenting with home brewing kambucha last year, but that only made me wonder how did Dominique manage to get kambucha to taste good, let alone great. Thanks to a recent trip to Mexico City, at least the dessert menu ingredients like Sapote and Guanabana were familiar. Harbison? Your Googling is as good as mine. Her pastry Chef Juan Contreras, a Los Angeles native, has been with her for a while but this was the first time we noticed an influence from south of the border.

The menu also showed a hand-drawn Ocotillo, a desert cactus. We had seen Ocotillo in bloom earlier that year during the trip to Joshua Tree National Park. From a distance, they look like red tipped 20 ft tall grass. When the earth is dry, the stems are leafless, grey and thorny. The leaves sprout whenever the earth is a little moist. I took that to be the representation for the dessert menu.

Some of the photos …

Kir Breton, this is the only repeat adventure from last two times. Champagne cocktail served in a white chocolate shell with creme de cassis on top.

Fish and chips

White chocolate avocado cremeux

Sapote Ice cream & Maracuya

Vanilla bean guanabana & crystallized tobacco leaf

Recreation of agave, coconut & iced pulque. Pulque is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented sap of the agave plant. It has the color of milk, somewhat viscous consistency and a sour yeast-like taste.

Written by locomotoring

December 30, 2018 at 10:46 pm

Strandbeest and Theo

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My first experience with Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest, aside from youtube videos and his TED talk, was a model kit. This is a 3d printed kit of Animaris Ordis Parvus that we bought from his website. It’s very sight gives joy. Yesterday, I noticed that the elastic holding the backbone had disintegrated, my poor strandbeest with a broken back and in captivity and it made me a touch sad.

In Theo’s words:

“Since 1990, I have been engaged in creating new forms of life. These forms are not made of protein like the existing life-forms. Theirs is another basic stuff: yellow plastic tubing. Skeletons made from these tubes are able to walk and get their energy from the wind, so they don’t have to eat. Their habitat is the beach where I was born. They evolved gradually, over several generations. As they developed, they became more adept at weathering storms and coping with the sea. My ultimate wish is to release herds of these beach animals on the shore to make their own way through life. By redoing the Creation, so to speak, I hope to become wiser in my dealings with nature that is already there. It presents me with the same problems the Real Creator must have come up against. Strandbeest is a testimonial to my experiences as God. I can assure you that it’s not easy being God, there are plenty of disappointments along the way. But, on the few occasions that things work out, being God is the most wonderful thing in the world.”

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Written by Sachin

October 5, 2016 at 1:40 am

Chantal Guillon – land of macroon wonder

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Chantal Guillon in Palo Alto Downtown Store front
Blood orange macaroons Guava macaroons

Written by locomotoring

June 29, 2015 at 3:41 am

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Freedom Wings

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Osmanthus in Oakland was our pick for lunch after the naturalization ceremony in Oakland’s Paramount Theater. Pizza is what we would have celebrated with but with the gluten intolerant microbiota, we decided on Asian cuisine instead. And a modern pan Asian restaurant to celebrate the occasion was perhaps even apt. Of the 1097 fellow Americans who took the oath representing 55% of world’s nations (yes, a whopping total of 109 nations!) over two third were formerly asian.

Oakland, thank you for supporting restaurants like Osmanthas (and Juhu Beach Club and Asmara and …) . And thank you for restoring the Paramount theater and hosting this celebration there. It is an important milestone in our lives and it is extraordinary to share the experience with 1000 others in this stunning old Art Deco theater. It was a solemn occasion with speeches and presidential videos (w/ camera flashes and twittering and cheering!).  Throw in 15 minutes of Charlie Chaplin on the big screen next time or even Walt Disney cartoons and lets us feel the true glory of this beautiful venue, Might even lull the crying babies!

Chicken wings lunch plate with honey ginger glaze.

Dry-fried chicken wings lunch plate with sichuan peppercorns

“Ms Grant” – a gin, ginger, lime and castilian bitters cocktail and “Plum Manhattan” – a rye, vermouth, umeshu, sour cherry bitter cocktail.

Also the basa fish with fermented black beans and “kiang ton” spareribs. Every dish was done expertly with the usual play of textures. Dishes were served with this delicious Japanese style pickled cabbage that elevated this simple vegetable to fine cuisine. The flavors in their fermented beans and sichuan peppers were memorable enough that my taste buds can recall with clarity after 24 hours!

Thinking about the wings now, I would say that only thing that could have made the chicken wings better is if they were Pok-Pok’s. But at the time, after a wonderful glass of Plummy Manhattan, I was happy.

Written by locomotoring

June 25, 2015 at 6:16 pm

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Starting 2015 with lunch at Chez Panisse Cafe

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Nibbled at the edges of this excellent sourdough, thus convincing ourselves that we were managing to stay on the right side of our gluten quota.

“Bob Cannard’s chicories with crème fraîche, ginger, roasted beets, and chives”. Ginger-y creme fraîche! Bless Alice Waters. Chez Panisse salads are to die for.

“Shaved winter vegetable salad with Dungeness crab and citrus vinaigrette”. Mildly citrus-y vinaigrette with perfectly crunchy carrot and fennel shavings.

“Fish and shellfish fritto misto with snap pea and cabbage salad, cress, and saffron mayonnaise”. The fries felt like eating cloud! What? Each bite was feather lite crispiness on the outside and melt in your mouth on the inside. Mayo was made even more indulgent by the addition of saffron. The tart cabbage salad with green and white florets of cauliflower and peppery baby cress provided an excellent counterpoint .

“Black truffle and ricotta cheese soufflé with roasted Belgian endive, cardoons and cress.” Don’t let the picture fool you, this soufflé was like a puff of air in its lightness. Cardoons and endive were both braised and roasted.

“Bittersweet chocolate custard with crème Chantilly and almond biscotti” with sightglass espresso.

Written by locomotoring

January 3, 2015 at 11:05 am

Saltwater and champagne by the bay

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Saltwater happened to be located right opposite our cottage.  We started our outdoor dinner with the raw deal where we were served the same variety of oysters raised in different waters – indeed they tasted different.

Salmon tartare

Smoked tuna with a celery, pine nut, berries and tangy creamy sauce

Back at our cottage to share a bottle of champagne.

Written by locomotoring

June 2, 2014 at 6:55 am

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Marin and its happy cows

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Cowgirl is a great place to pick up local cheeses – some of them are such limited production and they don’t even make it to their Ferry Building location in San Francisco. 

Their cheeses are made with milk from happy Jersey organic cows from John Taverna’s dairy, located in Chileno Valley in Marin County. On this trip, we tried a couple new ones:

  • Inverness: Cowgirl describes this as full flavored, tangy lactic curd with a dense, creamy mouth feel. This is aged for two weeks to create a delicate version of St Marcellin style cheese.
  • St Pat: This is cowgirl’s spring seasonal cheese. This creamy semi-firm cheese is wrapped with nettle leaves that grow wild in Marin. Cowgirl describes this as mellow, soft, and full of smoky artichoke flavor.

Written by locomotoring

June 2, 2014 at 6:28 am

Meandering about Abbotts Lagoon trail

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This photo is from the Point Reyes lighthouse and if one kept walking on this beach in a straight line, one would reach Abbotts Lagoon. Attempt this crazy route only if you are equipped with heavy woolens on a summer afternoon.

Some kids were being kids while their parents had beached themselves nearby.

Written by locomotoring

June 1, 2014 at 9:35 pm