Archive for the ‘FAIRFAX-to-SAN RAFAEL’ Category
China Camp State Park borders the San Pablo Bay. Less well-known than the San Francisco Bay, San Pablo Bay has its own low-key charm.
The lagoons and picnic areas around China Camp are great places to stop for a beer, some food, or just to soak your feet (if not go for a swim). Plus, the trails in the surrounding hills draw mountain bikers from around the region.
The name of the park derives from the 1880s Chinese shrimp fishing village that once thrived here.
Note: right pant leg tucked carefully into sock.
One more picture from the fair last weekend.
Here’s a video clip of Obi-Wan using some Jedi mind tricks in STAR WARS episode IV.
May the Force be with you.
The company I’m working with this summer, Alta Planning + Design, is deeply involved as a consultant in a $25 million federal pilot project to test the effectiveness of using federal funds to increase the modal share of bicycling and walking. The mechanism to accomplish these goals is infrastructure improvements and public education.
So I spent a day at the Marin County Fair sharing information about the program with fair goers.
- The Netherlands invests about $39/resident on bicycling and walking compared to $1.50/resident for the U.S.
- Their share of bicycling trips is 27%; ours is 1%.
Formerly known as Shaky Grounds, this cafe has a new name so I decided to stop in for a visit. The place is now run by espresso drinkers (and World Cup futbol fans) so I immediately took a liking to the atmosphere.
Mojay’s Cafe is on the 4th St. bike route so it’s a convenient place to stop if you’re riding east-west through San Rafael. The menu seems to have a little bit of everything, including Italian Panini. The tenant next door also happens to be a bike shop: Summit Bicycles.
Okay, okay, so how’s the espresso experience you ask? Well, I give it very high marks:
- The presentation is excellent: my espresso was served in an elegant and appropriately sized cup and saucer. On my first visit, the espresso even came with a mini-biscotti and a small spoon (all without having to ask). This was a nice touch and shows a better understanding of espresso culture than one normally finds around here.
- The 100% organic espresso tasted just right and had very good crema.
- Fresh drinking water is available from a self serve station and Wi-Fi is free.
Now, we’ll see if Mojay’s can deliver all this consistently. If so, I may have found my new favorite espresso stop.
For the first time in my life, I was pulled over by the police while riding a bicycle (during my morning commute).
I’ll explain in a moment, but first a short digression:
- I usually go out of my way to ride conservatively because I see so many bicyclists riding recklessly, which only invites motorists’ anger. (Of course, it’s equally true that many, if not most, motorists drive irrationally, impatiently, and aggressively in terms of how they interact with bicyclists).
- I like to think I see the folly of both sides and so whether I’m piloting a car or a bike, I try to keep the other in mind and set a good example.
Nonetheless, on this day, I rolled through a stop sign fairly quickly after seeing no on-coming cars. Local law enforcement was hiding on a nearby side street. I didn’t see the squad car, but I heard the siren from behind a few blocks later and knew I was busted.
I gave my best Idaho Stop defense and after producing my driver’s license was mercifully only given a short lecture and let go with a warning.
If you’ve never heard of the Idaho Stop law here’s an elegant little video.
I recently discovered a fantastic blog, Tokyo Green Space, which examines ways that biodiversity and urban form coexist in Tokyo. It inspired me to take a closer look at the dialogue between nature and urban design in my own backyard.
On a lunch time bike ride to the Civic Center, I made these pictures of the ground floor garden inside Wright’s famous architectural commission.
An earlier post included images of the outside of the building.
After cruising north to the Civic Center during a week-day lunch break and finding no bike parking out front, I brought the Ebisu inside and, of course, made a quick picture. Here are a few more:
March showers bring April flowers…just down the street from the dog park!
Not sure the species, don’t think they’re native.
Cape Daisies, originally from the South Africa, according to my botanist friend, Laura.
It’s Spring…the hills have never been greener!
Great views from the ridge, some extending to downtown San Francisco. Lots of dog walkers and hikers — not many bicyclists up here, though.
The purple line marks paved roads. The green line marks the fire road connecting Ridgewood Rd. in San Rafael to Fawn Dr. in San Anselmo.
Show on map (note the view of Mt. Tam)
After reading the first few chapters of David Byrnes’s Bicycle Diaries, I’ve become hyper-aware of the aesthetics of the local suburban landscape. Byrne writes about the underlying paradox of this landscape in the book:
My generation makes fun of the suburbs and the shopping malls, the TV commercials and the sitcoms we grew up with — but they’re part of us too. So our ironic view is leavened with something like love…These suburbs, where so many of us spent our formative years, still push emotional buttons for us; they’re both attractive and deeply disturbing.
I also enjoyed this bit from the Talking Heads co-founder on the joys he experienced after switching to a bicycle as his main mode of transportation around New York City:
As I got a little older I also may have thought that cycling was a convenient way to get exercise, but at first I wasn’t thinking of that. It just felt good to cruise down the dirty potholed streets. It was exhilarating. That same sense of liberation I experienced in New York recurred as I pedaled around many of the world’s principal cities. I felt more connected to life on the streets than I would have in a car or in some form of public transit: I could stop whenever I wanted to; it was often (very often) faster than a car or taxi for getting from point A to point B; and I didn’t have to follow any set route. The same exhilaration, as the air and street life whizzed by, happened again in each town. It was, for me, addictive.
I had a similar epiphany when I starting riding my bicycle again after a long lay-off as a graduate student in Berkeley.
Marin Coffee Roasters is an ideal place for a shot of espresso. There’s sunny, outdoor sidewalk seating and it’s on a major bike path connecting San Francisco to West Marin (click here for a jpeg of a bicycle path map courtesy of the MCBC site).
I broke my month-long coffee fast here which may have skewed my perceptions, but I rank this as one of the best espressos I’ve had in Marin.
I’m a little surprised because my understanding is the owner doesn’t roast on site, but rather receives his beans from the 25lb. San Franciscan roaster at the Fairfax Roastery. Read the rest of this entry »
- If you’ve heard of either of these cult sci-fi films, especially THX-1138, it’s time to face the facts. Ready? Let’s say it together: You are a nerd!
- And if by chance you’ve heard of both Gattaca and THX-1138, I can confidently predict you also know a few things about D&D.
Btw, the Civic Center has a farmer’s market every Thursday and Sunday year-round.
The view from the the top of the secret (or not-so-secret) bike path connecting San Rafael to San Anselmo that I mentioned here. From the San Rafael side, the path connects with Fawn Drive in San Anselmo.
I’m returning from the farmer’s market and the Ebisu’s rear rack is filled with leeks, carrots, and onions; the front bag with a dozen eggs, a head of cabbage, a turnip, and a shallot.
Oh yeah, congratulations to the Super Bowl champions — the New Orleans Saints!
On the right, is an alternative version of this image. On the left…well…I just like the way the colors of the shirt match the vegetables. (Click on the images for a larger view.)
These images of the farmer’s market basking in sun from just a week ago are now but a distant memory after yesterday’s dusting of snow on Mt. Tamalpais (click here for some older posts and images of Mt. Tam).
- Laziness. It’s a lot of data to collect. Plus, others (e.g. coffeeratings.com) are already doing in-depth reviews of local espresso and doing a very good job of it.
- Seeking the perfect espresso is often such an unrequited search that my reviews reflect the inevitable disappointment. (Lattes and cappuccinos are another matter — these seem to be the drinks that local roasters and baristas take the most pride in perfecting.)
I think I’ll just highlight espresso spots that are convenient for cyclists, continue to make images of these drinks, and offer some quick observations. I’ll reserve full reviews only for the rare and extraordinary experiences.
A visit to the Civic Center farmer’s market in San Rafael (open every Thursday and Sunday year-round) makes for an enjoyable little 13 mile loop ride starting from Fairfax. Bring a bike with a large front basket for all your market goodies.
Riding to San Rafael (via San Anselmo) is straightforward. But upon entering San Rafael you must pick your way through downtown to Lincoln Ave. without the benefit of a dedicated bike lane. I usually cruise down 4th St. to Lincoln, which leads to a path that goes under Highway 101 and provides access to the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Civic Center.
The fun part of this ride is making it into a loop — something impossible in a car because there’s no road connecting the Terra Linda neighborhood of San Rafael with San Anselmo/Fairfax. But a narrow paved trail (at the end of Freitas Parkway) connects to the Sleepy Hollow neighborhood making this loop possible, provided you’re traveling by foot or bike.
This short-cut which starts around the 10-mile point is very steep (as you can see in the elevation profile), but relatively short (and I’m often tempted to walk the bike.)
The amazing thing about the ballot victory at the polls last November — in addition to the north bay finally getting some fixed rail transit — is that the measure included full funding for a $91 million, 70-mile bike and pedestrian pathway stretching from Larkspur all the way to Cloverdale (70% of which is class 1 pathways, meaning bike/ped only — no cars)!
The beginnings of this infrastructure is visible in the image above.
(Full disclosure: I helped lobby for the ballot measure as the Marin Field Rep for Greenbelt Alliance). The Marin County Bicycle Coalition (MCBC) deserves tons of credit for their work spearheading the lobbying.
The voter approved SMART train (which by 2014 will connect Sonoma and Marin cities to the Golden Gate Ferry in Larkspur) is taking shape .
This image was made on Lincoln Avenue in San Rafael going north toward the Civic Center with Highway 101 on the right. The train will enter downtown San Rafael in the concrete canyon wedged between these two roadways.
The Japanese have a word to describe the blurred part of a photograph: it’s bokeh. Connoisseurs of fine lenses will actually debate the quality of the bokeh produced by different lenses.
I kind of like the bokeh in this shot.