Sunday, October 14

This, my last day in San Francisco started early and was a full one indeed.

I arose at 5AM with the idea of having my coffee and then doing a dry run to the Airport where I had picked up the rental car 10 days earlier. I had an early flight going out on Monday and I wanted to be sure I knew exactly where I had to go to drop off the car.

This turned out to be a no brainer. The directions to the rental car drop off were well signed and clearly worded. Finding this out was reassuring.

So, I did a 180 on US 101 and headed back north to the apartment to pick up my day pack, cameras, etc. Then I drove out to Baker Beach.

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It was cool, foggy and invigorating at the beach - and very quiet.

I walked to the gun emplacements and picked up the Coastal Trail and headed north toward the Golden Gate Bridge.

I saw a number of interesting plants on my walk. Some I was familiar with, some not.

This photo shows the dried fronds of the Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum), a plant that is worldwide in distribution.

Obviously a legume of some type, but that is all I can tell you.

In spite of the fact it is a nasty invasive, I have fond memories of the Ice Plant (Carpobrotus edulis) from my early days in San Francisco when we used to go to the beach and tromp around on the bluffs of "Lands End".

In several parts of the world, notably Australia, California and the Mediterranean, all of which share a similar climate, the Ice Plant has escaped from cultivation and has become an invasive species. The Ice Plant poses a serious ecological problem, forming vast monospecific zones, lowering biodiversity, and competing directly with several threatened or endangered plant species for nutrients, water, light, and space (State Resources Agency 1990).

In the early 1900s C. edulis was brought to California from South Africa to stabilize soil along railroad tracks and was later put to use by Caltrans for similar purposes. Thousands of acres were planted in California until the 1970s. It easily spreads by seed (hundreds per fruit) and from segmentation (any shoot segment can produce roots). Its succulent foliage, bright magenta or yellow flowers, and resistance to some harsh coastal climatic conditions (salt) have also made it a favoured garden plant. The Ice Plant was for several decades widely promoted as an ornamental plant, and it is still available at some nurseries. Ice Plant foliage can turn a vibrant red to yellow in color.

The Ice Plant is still abundant along highways, beaches, on military bases, and in other public and private landscapes. It spreads beyond landscape plantings and has invaded foredune, dune scrub, coastal bluff scrub, coastal prairie, and most recently maritime chaparral communities. In California, the Ice Plant is found in coastal habitats from north of Eureka, California, south at least as far as Rosarito in Baja California. It is intolerant of frost, and is not found far inland or at elevations greater than approximately 500 feet (150 m).

Source: WikiPedia

Although out of focus, this will give you a good idea of the plant habit and interesting color spectrum.

Invasive, indeed! Any other plant would have a tought time competing with this solid mat of Ice Plant.

This is a plant I have actually purchased to grow in the landscape - Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima). But, it too is an invasive weed, albeit a pretty one.

Man, what a groovy stairway!

Looking south towards Sea Cliff and China Beach.


More interesting native plants - evidence ongoing restoration projects in the area are having a positive impact on floral diversity as well as the bird population.

On my way back to the car via Lincoln Blvd I was suddenly in the middle of numerous wheeled vehicles of the non-motorized variety.


All these folks turned out to be contestants in the San Francisco Oyster, Great Urban Race

Perhaps the most scenic city The Oyster visits, this 3rd annual race continues to dominate the race scene. With a ton of historic landmarks and challenging topography, The San Francisco Oyster proves to be a fun challenge for the teams.

The San Francisco Oyster benefits the Transportation and Land Use Coalition (TALC).

There are three race options for our teams: The Oyster (traditional course with men’s, women’s and co-ed divisions), 6 Pack (the traditional course, but designed for 6-person teams like corporations or team building exercises. Three people are on the course at any given time while three rest, rehydrate and strategize) and the Family Fun Division (a shorter course consisting of 3-4 legs and 10-15 miles) .

With a variety of divisions, unique setting, various athletic modes and some brain teasers, The Oyster is perfectly positioned to please elite athletes to weekend warriors.

Source: Oyster Racing Series

My route back to the car took me past the gun batteries. I had no luck finding out what a "CN Chamber" was.

Battery Chamberlin 1904-1948
General Information: This Endicott-era battery was completed and armed in 1904 with four 6-inch guns mounted on disappearing carriages. The battery was built to protect underwater mine fields laid outside the Golden Gate during the time of war against mine sweepers and moderate-sized warships. These guns had a range of 9 miles and could fire at the rate of two rounds per minute. The original guns were dismounted in 1917 for use in World War I, but the battery was modified to receive two 6-inch guns on simple barbette carriages in 1920. During World War II, the Sixth Coast Artillery (Harbor Defense) Regiment, Battery "D," manned the two guns at Battery Chamberlin, which were placed under camouflage netting to hide them from potential air attack. In 1948, the Coast Artillery Corps was deactivated, the battery disarmed, and the guns scrapped during "Operation Blowtorch."

Origin of Name: Battery Chamberlin named in honor of Captain Lowell A. Chamberlin, First Artillery, who served with distinction in the Civil War and continued as an artillery officer until the 1890s. He died in 1899.

Access and Current Condition: Battery Chamberlin is located at the north end of the Baker Beach parking lot. In 1977, the National Park Service received a 6-inch gun and disappearing carriage from the Smithsonian Institution and installed them in gun emplacement No. 4. Demonstrations of this 50-ton rifle, similar to the original armament, are conducted on the first Saturday and Sunday of each month from 11 am until 3 p.m. An underground cartridge room also is open for inspection and contains photos and small exhibits on the coastal defenses of San Francisco.

Source: NPS

Placed to protect the Bay, only a few of the original guns remain.

This interpretive sign explains how the "disappearing gun" worked.

A disappearing gun is a type of (mainly coastal) artillery, which can be retracted (or recoils after firing) into a protected housing or bunker. It is now mostly historical. The advantages of the system were concealment and cover from enemy fire, especially during the reloading stage.

The gun was usually moved into the pit or protective housing by force of the shot's recoil, and was raised again by releasing energy stored in a hinged counterweight. Some also used compressed air, while a few were built to be raised by steam.

Source: WikiPedia

"In 1977, the National Park Service received a 6-inch gun and disappearing carriage from the Smithsonian Institution and installed them in gun emplacement No. 4. Demonstrations of this 50-ton rifle, similar to the original armament, are conducted on the first Saturday and Sunday of each month from 11 am until 3 p.m."

Above photo from WikiPedia.

Overview of the Battery.

Every gardeners nightmare! I came across this slug while poking around the back of one the battery storage buildings.

When I got back to the Baker Beach parking lot it was still foggy and atmospheric - a good spot to work on a water color.

By now it was around 9:00am and I had been up since 5:00 AM. Time too eat! I jumped in the car and headed up to the Avenues and found a place to park on Geary near 20th Avenue. This neighborhood is know as the Outer Richmond District.

I walked towards Clement Street, knowing I would find the food I was craving - a hot, steaming bowl of noodles and broth to take the foggy chill out of my bones.

On my way there this window sign caught my eye. For only $20-$50 an hour you can have your budding young genius get the instruction they deserve.

At one point I stuck my hand absentmindedly into the pocket of my wind-breaker. Feeling something unfamiliar I fished it out and found - of all things, a totally desiccated juvenile Garter Snake. How it came to be there I have no idea.


Back to my NoodleQuest. The Thanh Thanh Cafe looked promising and "Quickly" caught my eye and jogged my memory as I wandered down the street. I remembered hearing about some scandal associated with a local politician and this place which is one of the largest tapioca milk tea franchises in the world.

A little digging turned up this.

...Take, for example, the feud between Irving Street tapioca shops Quickly and Wonderful Dessert & Cafe. Their rivalry became so embittered that it became the breeding ground for one of the biggest political scandals in the city's history.

It all began in the summer of 2006. Wonderful had been serving drinks at 2110 Irving for about 13 years without major problems. That is, until Quickly, the Starbucks of the tapioca business, made a deal to locate next door in the same building.

Wonderful's owner, Norman Tsao, was not pleased about Quickly — a subsidiary of Taiwan-based Kuai Ke Li Enterprise Co. Ltd. with 2,000 franchises worldwide — moving in on his territory. In July 2006, a month before the new Quickly opened for business, Tsao told the city's Department of Building Inspection (DBI) that construction at the Quickly site had caused damage to the building, including cracking and holes in the wall. DBI later served Quickly and the building's landlords, Wilbur and Dolores Woo, with a notice of violation for work done without the required permit.

A couple of months after Tsao's complaint, mysterious letters and faxes were sent to city officials warning about unpermitted construction work at what is now Wonderful's new location, across the street at 2035 Irving. One letter, signed by the "S.F. Equal Opportunity Business Association," accused the application for 2035 Irving of providing "FAKE information" for its building permit. ...

Source: SF Weekly

Enough about local politics - let's eat!

Thanh Thanh did indeed have what I was looking for. I sat down and took a closer look at themenu while sneaking furtive glances at the noodle slurping couple across from me.

I decided on the House Special Noodle Soup with rice noodles, ground pork, chicken breast, shrimp, crab and squid served with fresh bean sprouts, chili and cilantro. YES!

I was not disappointed when my soup arrived.

Before digging in I decided to see if I could identify all the ingredients in my soup. I recognized everything except the strange looking white knobby thing floating near the top.

Upon closer inspection I decided it must be the squid which had been cut into this decorative shape. My teeth confirmed this.

Thanh Thanh is small with only a few tables. Shortly after I started on my soup a whole crowd of folks came and in and just about filled up the place.

Obviously Thanh Thanh Cafe is well known and it was a lucky find for me.

Thanh Thanh is located at 2205 Clement Street(between 23rd Ave & 24th Ave)
(415) 387-1759


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