Leilani Marie Labong
Because my meager oar-rific experience consists of renting kayaks by the hour in Lake Tahoe and, um, being up sh*t creek without a paddle—an all-too-familiar occurence in my life—I'm thinking about checking out the Bay Area PaddleFest this weekend at the Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area in Fremont. Think of it as speed-dating for people interested in courting the kayak, the canoe or the paddleboard. The schedule is jam-packed with on-land and on-water clinics that range from the super basics (The Forward Stroke and Cartopping 101) to more advanced pursuits (Rolling Class and Kayak Fishing).
My boyfriend and I have definitely worn down many a tire tread driving to the perfect little redwood pocket known as Butano State Park, just off Highway 1 at Pescadero Beach. So, imagine our surprise when, after an hour-long drive from the city on Saturday, we roll up to the park entrance and instead of the usual newts and banana slugs and towering redwoods hailing our return, we find bright orange barricades and a sign that says, "Closed for the season." What happened next launched the flying pigs from their pen in a frozen circle of hell: I did not panic. I did not curse my luck. I simply—and calmly—stated the obvious, "It's time for Plan B."
A recent SFGate article announces that the efforts to preserve California's most beloved alpine lake will soon receive—barring any hicups as the bill passes through the senate—$415 million to, among other worthwhile pursuits, eliminate a dangerous infestation of Asian clams, quagga and zebra mussels and remove erosion-and-sediment-and-fire-causing deadwood from 33,000 acres of surrounding forests. As always, the snarky commentors on SFGate bring up good points, especially @shutterbuggery who says, "The problem is too much development, too many casinos, too much of just about everything human. You can't turn back the hands of time—especially with introduced species.
If you're thinking about shaking your tail feathers to the electronic dance music at PacificSound's Sunset Party opener this Sunday, April 25, at Stafford Lake Park in Marin, consider putting safety and the environment first by taking the bus there. Not just any bus, mind you. I wouldn't suggest you jump on Golden Gate Transit in scant party attire and a few open bottles of booze. TransportedSF's tricked-out biodiesel buses, which seat 40 adults each, come complete with dancefloor, state-of-the-art sound system and film projector.
A certain British photographer friend of mine, who shall remain anonymous, recently told me that while America has certainly its faults (we won't go into his phonebook-length list of USA grudges), the National Park system was not one of them. Since I'm a card-carrying member of National Park Service's America the Beautiful Annual Pass program, said British photographer friend was preaching to the choir. During National Park Week, April 17-25—that's, like, now, peops—entry into all of the the US's 392 National Parks is free, gratis, on-the-house.
Despite our tricky topography, the editors over at Bicycling Magazine have bestowed upon our fair metropolis the distinction of sixth-best city in the nation for cycling, bested on the West Coast only by the likes of Seattle, Eugene and Portland. To whom, or what, do we owe the pleasure? Perhaps it started with Puck, the devilish bike messenger on the Real World; maybe it's the city's green heart, sensitive as it is to earth-minded commuting options. Or the health-smart population, eager to get in 20 minutes of exercise to make the eight hours in front of the computer a little more tolerable.
My bike has a flat tire. It has had a flat tire since the rainy night of my last pilates lesson in February, when I ran over a glass shard biking home from Hayes Valley. My brother has a perfectly functional bike collecting dust on his balcony simply because it got a flat tire too, years ago, and he was too lazy to patch it up. Now it has two flat tires.
My boyfriend Mark and I decided to make the most of this past sunny Saturday, sandwiched, as it was, between two cold, windy days. We headed over the GG Bridge for Bon Tempe Lake in Marin, part of the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed. We usually do the straightforward Shadyside-Sunnyside loop around the lake (about 4 miles), but just to stir things up a bit, we created a longer, much more incline-tastic circuit: Rocky Ridge Road (45-minute uphill trudge) —> Berry Trail —> Sky Oaks —> Sunnyside.
I love tidepooling at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve near Moss Beach, but it is no easy feat to get my beloved out there to explore these unusual aquatic habitats with me. Not because he isn't just as amazed as I am to observe live starfish, hermit crabs and sea urchins in the rocky reefs, but because, as a staunch champion for the cause of helpless creatures great and small, it pains him to watch me poke the otherworldly sunburst anemones with a stick. I, too, strive to be a defender of helpless creatures great and small, but the prodding—it's like an involuntary reaction. Spot anemone with tentacles wide open, vulnerable; proceed to jab with stick. Needless to say, don't follow my abhorrent example.
This Saturday's official Golden Gate Headlands Marathon, Half Marathon and 7-Mile (yes, that is a trademarked title) has been sold out for awhile now, but these days the debts are high and the funds are low, so no one can blame your for putting that $40 that you might have spent on entry fees toward oh, you know, rent and groceries. Still, this doesn't mean you can't run the route on your own time. Sure, you'll miss that infectious runners' camaraderie, the free-drink stations, the souvenir t-shirt, the race number to proudly display on your refrigerator. But, picking your own sunshiney day to run on near-empty trails is priceless, both literally and figuratively.