Friday, May 25, 2012

Shark Expedition!

 I titled this blog post about Tiburon, California "Shark Expedition" because tiburon is the Spanish word for "shark".  The name was probably inspired by the prevalence of locally native leopard sharks in the waters that surround this area.  It is now a commuter town linked by fast ferry service to San Francisco. It is also along the San Francisco Bay Trail used by hikers and cyclists; therefore, some of these hikers and bicyclists also use the ferry to take them back to their San Francisco starting point. 
 A town in such a scenic location also has its share of tourists, and a colorful downtown has restaurants, shops, and other services to meet their needs.
 There are informational placards located downtown that give some historical information and photos of the village.  Note the black horse silhouette in the lower left corner of the placard.  I will explain about that later. Visitors can also pick up printed brochures outlining "A Walking Guide to Historic Tiburon" that is published by the Heritage and Arts Commission.
 This photo shows the town's very short, and uncongested Main Street.
 Window shopping is always an enjoyable past time for ladies in a place as unique as Tiburon.
 My group of ladies was headed for Sam's Cafe.  According to the brochure, it was built in the 1920's and is the oldest continuous use restaurant in Tiburon.  The original owner was Sam Vella, who was an immigrant from Malta.   The saloon was fully operational during Prohibition.  This was made possible by a trap door in the floor, that was built to provide access to boats bringing in whisky. 
 Since Tiburon enjoys a Mediterranean climate, our group enjoyed sitting out on the deck over the water,  watching the boaters come and go.
 Just a few steps from Sam's Cafe is the dock for the ferries.  This is the ferry to Angel Island State Park.  Part of the Angel Island State Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its Immigration Station that detained, inspected, and examined about 1,000,000 immigrants.  It has been called the "Ellis Island of the West".  Perhaps Sam from Malta, the 1920's founder of nearby Sam's Cafe, felt this would be a good location for an eating and drinking establishment.  Apparently, he was right, as it is still going strong after almost a century!
 The white building in the background behind the sailboats is the Corinthian Yacht Club.  These boaters are VERY EXCITED about the upcoming America's Cup Sailing event taking place in the not too distant future.  We saw one piece of waterfront property being advertised as "America's Cup Ready", that was for sale for over 5 million dollars!
 The name of this boat, Tamalpais, is also the name of the mountain that has the record of being the tallest peak in Marin County.  Locals just call it Mount Tam. 
 Since Tiburon has a waterfront location, it is not surprising that they would have "fire boat", in addition to the normal fleet of fire trucks.
 When I posted this photo on Facebook, one of the comments from a friend who said he used to catch this ferry every morning to go to work in San Francisco, described it as "the best commute in the history of work"!!  I can certainly understand why.
 This church with the Christian symbol of a cross,  on the hillside overlooking downtown Tiburon, caught my eye.  Making the commute to worship there on Sunday mornings might be described as "the best commute in the history of worship!!"
 My group of ladies enjoyed seeing their reflections in the water of the fountain located in the town plaza. 
 The sculpture and fountain entitled "Coming About"  was installed in 2006, and gives a nod to the strong sailing ties of Tiburon by using a nautical term and a design resembling a sail.  I read that the fountain, sculpture, and plaza cost $500,000, so perhaps we should have dropped silver dollars in it, instead of just nickels and dimes!
 These street post banners that say "Historic Ark Row" are not talking about the area where transplanted Arkansans lived who moved to California.  Rather, they refer to the 1890's recreational houseboat lifestyle enjoyed in Belvedere Cove by sea captains, Bohemian artists and summer residents.  In winter, the arks anchored in the Tiburon lagoon.  After 1900, the craze for arks waned.  Some docked along the lagoon shoreline and were converted to permanent local housing.  Tiburon is very close to Sausalito, which is well known for its many houseboats.
 This row of brown seaside housing units may have been designed to be a reminder of that "ark" way of living in times gone by. 
 The buildings shown in this photo show the waterside decks of the businesses and offices that line Main Street.  Looks to me like this would be a very nice place to work!
 A worker could just shout out across the water to nearby Sam's Cafe to place their order for lunch!
 Now to tell you about the black horse symbol on the historical placard.  In 1938, a Cavalry horse called "Blackie" was put out to pasture in the village of Tiburon.  For decades, the horse could be seen in what came to be called "Blackie's Pasture".  Apparently, some very influential folks became quite attached to that image of seeing Blackie in his pasture.  Sadly, Blackie died in 1966.  But he was not forgotten!  In 1969, a group of philanthropists and volunteers called "Blackie's Brigade" started working toward the goal of turning his four acres of land into a public park designed to look like a farm pasture.  Eventually, their efforts paid off, and the accomplishment was celebrated with the placement of this bronze  sculpture of Blackie that was dedicated in 1995.  You can read more history and visitor information at and   .     Reading the history of Blackie's Pasture made me smile, and I know that likewise, you will have "miles of smiles" when you take this same "shark expedition"!  Tricia 
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Golden Gate Bridge Expedition!

 There will be a huge waterfront festival around the Golden Gate Bridge near San Francisco this weekend, as the bridge is celebrating its 75th anniversary!  
 There are many ways to get good views of the Golden Gate Bridge.  This photo shows a time I visited with my Cousin Martha, and we went aboard for a boat tour, that took us to the bridge via water.
 It was a beautiful, clear day for capturing the blue sky above, and the blue water below the famous orange icon.
 This provides views underneath bridge. The bridge connects to expansive parks on both ends, making this one of the largest national parks in an urban setting.
 Most folks have probably read the stories or seen television programs about the building of the bridge, but there is nothing like seeing it in "real life" to make for an unforgettable image in your mind!
 On my most recent visit to the area, my Cousin Debbie and I crossed into The City about 10 am, so the top of the bridge was still hidden by a misty fog.
 When we went back across the bridge later the same day, the tops were clearly visible.  This photo shows the many ways to get across the bridge---pedestrian, car, and bicycle.
 One pays a toll when they cross the bridge going INTO The City, but there is no toll to cross the bridge coming OUT of The City.  (My cousin taught me to say "The City", instead of San Francisco, so I would not sound like such a hillbilly!)
 On going preventive maintenance on the bridge means that high speeds are prohibited.
 I have often heard Jesus Christ described as a "bridge" between God and the human race, as illustrated in the familiar verse of John 3:16 that says "For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  That verse tells about a "heavenly bridge" I am eternally thankful for!  If you would like to celebrate the 75 year history of the Golden Gate Bridge, just log onto for details.  Other helpful websites to plan your visit are, and .  I can guarantee, a visit here will give you golden memories and miles of smiles!  Tricia
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Thursday, May 24, 2012


 When I was preparing for my most recent visit to northern California, I had no idea I would have the opportunity to visit a waterside nature conservation area, and even more surprisingly, that this nature center would be within view of the San Francisco skyline (as seen in the background of this photo).
 One of my "California Cousins" explored the area with me, and our trek took us through grassy meadows, hillside steps, over wooden pedestrian bridges, along the edge of the water, and to the top of the hill!
 Along the way, we saw a wide variety of colorful "flora" (aka, plants)
 as well, as some remains of the water "fauna" (aka, animals).   The reason we had this opportunity is because another one of my "California Cousins" is renting a condo (shown in the next photograph) that actually extends out OVER the water!
 Views from here are magnificent! The "reward" for our trek along the shore and over the hills, was finding the architectural gem, called Lyford House, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  What is even MORE amazing, is that this home was built in the 1800's, on nearby Strawberry Point, as the centerpiece of a dairy farm.  It was brought to this present location BY BARGE in 1957! 
 The Lyford House is now the centerpiece of the Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary.
 With this incredible view of the San Francisco skyline and bay, you can see why it is a popular place to rent for weddings and other special events.  In addition, there are two smaller buildings available for rent for family gatherings or group meetings.  Check out their website, , for information on rental fees, and regularly-scheduled educational events that occur there. 
 Adjacent to the Victorian-era home, are well-maintained steps leading down to a rocky beach, several feet below.
 On the center's website, there were photographs of couples in their wedding attire, posing on this deck that is built out over the edge of the hill.
 This same deck also is a great place to try to spot one of the 200 species of birds that either live in this area, or stop over during their migratory flights.
 I was particularly impressed that the deck was equipped with a permanent, weatherproof field guide to birds the viewer might spot from this location.  In addition, a visitor could pick up copies of the official Richardson Bay bird list at the center's educational annex.
 The Audubon Center makes a big push to attract school field trips.  Their website lists several professionally-trained naturalists to coordinate these learning experiences.   And, having just completed a "tour of duty" as a volunteer assisting with school field trips at a nearby state park in Arkansas, I do not want to leave out the fact that there is a section on the Center's website, where the reader can find out about volunteer opportunities at this location.  Most of the nature centers I have visited around the country could not keep their programs running, without a dedicated staff of volunteers!
 The education area of the Audubon Center has exhibits, classrooms, and a wheel-chair accessible restroom.
 These tree logs provide the perfect setting for an outdoor classroom, where youngsters can be taught about nature. 
 Since there is a water habitat as part of the Richardson Bay Audubon Center/Sanctuary, these nets can be used by the students to study aquatic life.
 Sometimes the path we traveled at the Audubon Center was shaded by native tress and shrubs.
 Other times, the path we traveled at the Audubon Center was wide open to the sun and sky!  The various types of paths encountered at this beautiful location are a reminder of the words of Acts 2:28 that say "You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence."  Indeed, I was filled with joy to get to explore the paths of the Richardson Bay Audubon Center!  Start planning now to make a visit to this area an experience that will be in YOUR future path!  Log on to  or ,  for additional activities in a place that seems a world away from any metropolis.  It is a location that is sure to give you "miles of smiles"!!  Tricia 
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