May 29, 2009

Golden Gate Bridge Turns 72

Happy Birthday! Here are some new favorite shots you will enjoy of this beauty. What lines, what construction, what color! She doesn't look a day over...

And yes, these are all real and barely - if at all - touched up photos that anyone visiting this beautiful landmark can snap themselves. All around the bridge are wonderful trails and paths to bike, walk or cruise with a group and take picture postcard photos.

May 22, 2009

Memorial Day at our National Cemetery

The Presidio of San Francisco has one of the most beautiful national cemeteries in the United States. This landscape of white tombstones sits on a broad hillside overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay.

Did you know the United States has 128 national cemeteries in 39 states (and Puerto Rico) as well as 33 soldier's lots and monument sites?

Many national cemeteries started out as post cemeteries at frontier forts. San Francisco's National Cemetery had its first burial in 1850 and became a national cemetery in 1884. If you visit the Department of Veterans Affairs website you will find lists starting with the original fourteen national cemeteries established in 1862.

More than 3 million Americans, including veterans of every war and conflict—from the Revolutionary War to the Gulf War—are honored by burial in VA's national cemeteries. Approximately 17,000 acres of land from Hawaii to Maine, and from Alaska to Puerto Rico are devoted to the memorialization of those who served this nation.

This Memorial Day, May 25, 2009 we honor our fallen soldiers and remember their efforts in the protection of this country.

A beautiful and serene memorial honoring World War II soldiers - in all the armed services - who perished and now sleep in the American coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean.

May 15, 2009

My love affair with the San Francisco Ferry Building

One of the best decisions ever made by a city government was to restore San Francisco's Ferry Building. Located at the end of Market Street, the thoroughfare that crosses much of the city and separates the financial district from the industrial.

During the 1970's this waterfront area had already become part of a deserted section of town, and the ferry terminal almost dangerous depending on the time of day that you were there. In those days, the train station and the Transbay Terminal which housed the Greyhound Bus line were also somewhat unsettling and certainly not a destination for tourists. One needed to enter and exit the area quickly due to pickpockets, panhandlers and other nefarious types loitering about.

Today the San Francisco Ferry Building is a jewel at the top of Market Street, at the Portal of this great city. Reconditioned historic trolley cars from all around the world ferry visitors and locals alike along Market Street and past the ferry building everyday now.

As part of this renaissance for the Embarcadero, today the entire waterfront area has been successfully refurbished. The name “embarcadero” derives from the Spanish word embarcar, identifying it as the place to embark. With this area famous for its maritime history, going back well before California became a state, the waterfront of San Francisco has been heavily used by the shipping industry.

During the 1849 California Gold Rush, many ships were scuttled and deliberately sunk off shore by men determined to find gold in the hills. Equally deliberate was the act of shanghaiing men from San Francisco, and forcing them to work on ships sailing without a full crew into the Pacific Ocean and points east.

Major work on the Ferry Building and the Embarcadero began with the tearing down of the elevated Embarcadero Freeway after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. This visibly opened the waterfront buildings and shined sunlight on the area, making it much more welcoming to visitors.

Besides the exterior restoration that took place, inside the Ferry Building you can now walk the entire length of the building and see one of the most beautiful interiors of any city building – the golden dome of City Hall is a close second.

Walk inside the Ferry Building and you will discover defused light shining on gorgeous stalls of organic foods, gourmet olive oil, bread, cheese, mushrooms and chocolates. There are fabulous restaurants, coffee shops, a tea room, ice cream counters and wine merchants. You can find beautiful gifts of local handicrafts, books and every kitchen gadget you didn’t know that you needed.

Besides all of these wonderful local businesses, one of my favorite aspects of the building and its evolution is CUESA. CUESA is the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture and simply astounding. With their entry to this space, visitors and locals alike can enrich their world with little effort. My love for this place continues to grow and if you get a chance please come visit the San Francisco Ferry Building. If you cannot visit in person, then start your own love affair by going to CUESA’s website – their weekly email will inspire you, I promise.

May 9, 2009

Fun Ways to Tour San Francisco

A fun way to see the City by the Bay, also known as the City of St. Francis is this vintage touring car driven by Mr. Toad's tours. This particular car was original used in Yellowstone National Park - one of my favorite landscapes.

All of Mr. Toad's touring cars are pre-1930s and run on propane, so they are very earth-friendly. Contemplating our imprint on the environment is something important to me, here is a great book that I read you might want to bring on your visit here.

But don't forget that San Francisco is a very walkable city besides having great transportation choices. Maybe the best thing to pack when visiting besides your camera, is a good pair of comfortable shoes!

Come visit anytime and consider some of these ideas for touring the city:

  1. Rent a bicycle from Blazing Saddles or maybe a tandem bicycle for 2
  2. Take Muni, the public transit system
  3. Rent a Yellow Go Cart with GPS
  4. Hire a limo
  5. Take a Cable Car tour or charter one for a personalized experience
  6. Go on an Urban Safari
  7. Ride in a Zeppelin high above San Francisco in your own Airship!

May 2, 2009

Virgin Airlines with Green Fairies Onboard?

Virgin America is proud to be the first to offer Absinthe on their flights...yes, the potent potable that may cause blindness, speaking in tongues or cause you to see a green fairy (think William Shatner in this classic Twilight Zone episode).

This email arrived and my first thought was to look up and ask the travel gods - who else thinks this might be a bad idea? Having experienced the effects of Absinthe in a famous town square in the city of Prague, my opinions are biased.

This strikes me as something a more sophisticated passenger list might appreciate on international flights, in say, Virgin Upper Class? Is it being too cynical to imagine that we will soon see a "celebrity" flying from LA to NYC ordering this stuff then getting themselves escorted off the plane in handcuffs upon landing?

This is a difficult discussion though because there are clearly two sides to this. Now that Absinthe is legally available in the United States, should we offer it on a plane where we have people already looking around suspiciously at passengers who "look different" from themselves? If you are on a flight with a loud and crying baby, and you drink Absinthe, will the baby turn itself into a happy green fairy or a mad and angry green fairy? Do we want to find out?
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