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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