Friday, June 27, 2014

San Francisco

Last week I took an impromptu trip to San Francisco. My girlfriend called and told me she wanted to go visit her grandson and family and I asked who she was going with. "I'm calling to see if you want to go?" "Okay when?" "Tomorrow" she relied……ah okay. So I quickly tied up loose ends and we met to figure out just which mode of transportation to take…

 We opted on the train up California's central valley where all your nuts are grown, ( pun intended) hour after hour of pecans, walnuts, pistachios wizzed by.

I have to say I loved taking the train, I read and slept and looked out the window at the dry hillsides…

 and sometimes bodies of water so large it felt like we were on a ship. I looked in the ditches at the blackbirds and marsh birds, herons and egrets as we clickty clacked our way north.

We stayed in a comfortable Victorian apartment three stories up and off the main street,

 where it was surprisingly quiet just about a block away from the hustle and bustle.

We stayed in the Mission District so naturally we visited The mission. This one is called The Mission San Francisco de Asis, but is mostly referred to as the Mission Dolores.

This mission was the 6th in the chain of California missions, founded in 1776 by Father Serra.
As with all California missions, it is Spanish in style, having been the decision by the King of Spain at the time to build them and civilize the native people. grumble, grumble  All politics aside, the missions are beautiful, I'm sure their *mission was sincere but I can't get over how we forced ourselves on this country.

I happen to be reading Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder by Kent Nerburn. If you haven't read it you might want to, it's very interesting and enlightening.

I love this statue of Father Serra  out in the garden/cemetery, really the most sincere part of the mission. He looks reflective, a pose perfectly in tune with the setting.

A pirate perhaps!

Next stop Golden Gate Park and the Conservatory of Flowers an amazing Victorian, wooden greenhouse with an absolutely stunning array of tropical plants.

Hundreds of, orchids in every form and color colud be discovered hanging, trailing and clinging…

in a most artful and beautifully arranged display.

Strange and VERY strange plants stared out from every crevice and corner.

Carnivorous pitcher plants, just waiting to close their traps..

Some kind of death flower, I can't remember if it was an orchid…..these oddities abounded, I loved this place, the collection was remarkable.

bromeliads, tillandsias, waterlilies ferns

Hanging pitchers…. The plants are cup shaped to collect water and detritus in order to lure their prey. One of them had a sticky sweet  substance around the rim that looked like mildew to attract small birds who liked to eat it, the bird subsequently eliminated in the cup and the plant was fed. Nature never ceases to astound!

Plant ladies :)

Next stop, de Young Museum…. there was a Modernism show in the main gallery we decided to pass on it but we did go up the tower which is free and it gives a 360 degree view of the city.

I love this shot of the man who never stopped washing the windows and the little girl who never stopped adding her hand prints. He looks armed and I wondered if he wanted to spray her and just get it over with :)

The iconic bridge in the fog..

 I looked into The Japanese Tea Garden but there are so many wonderful gardens to explore it's hard to choose…..we skipped it and decided on the less formal arboretum. What an alluring tree though, if we had more time, I'm sure we would have been easily seduced!

The arboretum was wonderful, I've never seen such a collection of impatiens. It is too sunny and dry here to grow this African native that seemed completely happy growing by the bay.

We walked for hours, and it felt good, we looked at a rather rangy collection of California natives way out on the perimeter of the huge garden, the matilija poppies were about 8 feet tall, swaying and fluttering in the in the wind like Spanish dancers in ruffly, white skirts.

I spied a Night Heron hunting by the light of day….

A strange and beautiful bird that blended so well people stopped and asked what I was photographing.

He moved on the water like an automaton, ever so slowly lifting a foot closing the toes and without so much as a ripple, gently taking a step, thi chi style.

A sudden quick stab at the water and dinner!

Oh, and there was the baby, the delightful baby and his wonderful parents. We even got to babysit for a few hours one night, it was lovely!

Thank you for visiting, I'm sure many of you have visited San Fran, we had a lovely stay but it's always nice to be back home.

I visited my stone guy yesterday and I have itchy fingers, I'm looking forward to studio time! We are tending milkweed in our home garden " The Butterfly Project" as we're calling it and so far it is a booming success, more on that later.

Wishing you all a joyful summer!

Love, Ro


  1. I went to SF for the first time last year, Golden Gate was beautiful! We went to the top of the tower also, and opted only do the Japanese tea garden since we were short on time. I would like to spend a couple days in the park to see more next time. The picture of the window washer looking at the girl made me laugh. :)

    1. I would too, like to spend a few days exploring the park Jean, it is beautiful! The tower is pretty impressive, I bet the tea garden was also. The window washer will never be out of work!!! :)

  2. you have me wanting to take a train ride….

    love that tai chi bird.
    and so glad the death plant did not reach out and grab you.

    and you know….the mission photos make me want to say a quiet amen and hallelujah….hail mary….


  3. You have a pretty nice train up where you are! I liked it, you can walk around, go upstairs, stretch a bit, take a nap if you like and naturally see the scenery.

    The heron was a bonus along with the strange plants, little shop of horrors came to mind!

    It mission is a solemn place indeed. You could say all those things and be right at home.

  4. Oh boy--what a trip!! Thanks for sharing the photos--and that heron!!!! Like he was waiting for you. :-) Beyond wonderful!!!! And gardens teeming with their own wonders...I'm impressed at what you saw and experienced in such a brief time. :-) AND managed to read and play with a baby!!!!

    You're an amazing traveler, Ro-of-the-Rails!!!!!!!!!!!!! And you're wonderful for offering us a glimpse into this experience!!!!

  5. Isn't that little heron something Caroline, what a treat! I was thinking of shiny little minnows. It was go,go,go you would have wanted to see all those plants too, such fun.

    Thank you for visiting!

    My maiden initials are RR…..insert train whistle :)

  6. I love visiting you along the trail, Ro—you always visit lovely places, the kind of places I would love to visit when I roll out of my cave once in a while. Hanging pitchers—nature's earrings!—pretty Plant Ladies; Little Miss Sticky Fingers; amorous trees AND Tai Chi heron—love it! =)

    Really looking forward to hearing more on your Butterfly Project, too. I do love me those flutterbys.

    We've had such a gloriously rainy June that it's like a rainforest out in our veggie garden right now. Our potato plants are flowering beautifully; our tomato plants are past my waist and laden with a bounty of green fruit, waiting for the sun to kiss them red. The birds are delighting in their daily strawberry snacks, and I can't even find it in me to mind very much. Even the rosemary, surprisingly, which I kind of shoved in the ground as a last minute experiment have taken root and are reaching for the light. My favorite thing, though, is that our gnarled crabapple tree, which seeded its own offspring a few years ago (which we decided to let grow naturally) has finally joined branches with its tall, straight, fast-growing progeny and has created the loveliest little canopy in the corner of our backyard, the perfect spot for me to sit, write, or simply listen to the manic sparrow who has taken up residence in our garden this year (and whom I hope to send south—VERY FAR SOUTH—very, very soon)! Mother Nature at her glorious best.

    Have a gorgeous weekend, Ro. So glad you enjoyed your respite.


    1. Thanks for the book recommend, too. Just reserved a copy at our library. (I see it's the first in a trilogy, too—can't wait!)

  7. It's always fun to get out and explore Ash, thank you for visiting! Don't you know it on the pitchers, you could fill them with rain water :)

    Your garden sounds just lovely, soaked and joyous and you do too! How I love a crabapple a perfect perch for ground birds like you and ask the boisterous sparrow, he's screaming THANK YOU U U U U ! I know what you mean, we do a great bit of sharing with the birds, who can resist a red, ripe, sweet treat.

    The book is not only interesting but well written, I think you will enjoy it too.


  8. Oh, I don't know how I missed this San Fran post. Just loved your pictures and dialog that went along with it. I love a good impromptu trip...and you took the train, how wonderful. I think the best thing about that is being able to get up...walk around! How long did it take you? ;-)