Posts In Category Volksmarching and Walking
To combat weightiness in our schools, TAMU has challenged Texans to Walk Across Texas. Walking in either teams of eight or as individuals, Texans are challenged to walk for eight weeks straight to establish the habit of regular exercise. The district has accepted the challenge…kinda.
The district formed teams: Blalack MS, Furneaux Elementary, CLC (Administration), Landry Elementary, Nutritional Services, Rainwater Elementary, Riverchase Elementary, Bea Salazar Alternative High School, Sheffield Elementary, Standridge High School, and the district Techies… but for some odd reason the district never submitted the teams to TAMU so we’re walking on our own.
Rather than eight members, my team has ten. About half of the team is in training for a half-marathon; the rest of us are casual walkers. Thus far, my school has walked 761 miles in four weeks.
I joined TAMU to participate in the 52-weeks challenge. To keep track of my miles and routes, I use Daily Mile. I’m rather proud of myself. I went from three miles per week to six. I’m hoping to be up to ten miles a week by Thanksgiving.
The challenge is working. I simply had to walk last night. The stroll through the crisp night air relaxed me and allowed me to view my neighborhood through new eyes. Normally I zip through the neighborhood, intent on reaching home. Instead, I smelled the aroma of a neighbor’s dinner (grilled chicken) cooking and watched the different street lights blaze my walking trail.
Should you choose to participate in Walk across Texas/your state or if you use Daily Mile to track your own progress, look me up. If you’re in the area and would like to join me, please do! It’s easier when friends share in the training.
Beaux Arts Beauties and Cathedrals of Culture
Length: 1 mile
BART Stop: Civic Center
I followed the crowd crossing the street. I ended up on the library side of the street. The
library is a huge, oddly-laid out building. The library stairs were littered by locals eating
lunch, visitors, and the homeless taking a nap. It was a relief to enter air-conditioned air
after all the smells of urine on the library steps. Not every floor is easily accessible. I had
to study the library maps. I ended up outside twice to get to a different floor but the geometric skylight is amazing.
The Friends of the Library hold a sidewalk sale on Wednesdays. I didn’t have the luggage space to haul books back with me to Texas. Otherwise I’d have saved a bundle on my favorite authors.
Limited by luggage, time, and money, I circled the Main Library to take a gander at the Pioneer Monument in lieu of building my home library.
Although the tourbook recommended a visit to the Asian Art Museum, odd sounds lured me to cross the street the other direction. Cheers. Groans. Ululating. What was going on?
Passing a huge statue pitching an exhibit at the Asian Art Museum, I drew nearer to the sounds but still couldn’t figure out what was going on. There was a huge crowd. There were vans for catering and for sound systems. I could see the top edges of two large screens but a tall man blocked my view of the screens. (It’s not easy being short!) Maneuvering to a place under the trees, I was finally able to figure out what was going on: the World Soccer Games were being broadcast on the Civic Center Plaza temporary screens.
Uninterested in soccer, I crossed the street to City Hall where I was greeted by temporary construction barriers. I rounded the building. According to the guidebook, I was across the street from the War Memorial Veterans Building.
For some strange reason, the War Memorial Veterans Building houses the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery which houses free exhibitions of contemporary artists. Entry is free! In I went to find the “Now and Then” Exhibit featuring works reflecting the history of San Francisco. It was an interesting and thought-provoking exhibit.
The curator recommended that I check out the interior of City Hall. She showed me where I could enter, bypassing all the construction barriers. I decided to follow her advice after I had looked at the Symphony Hall. The guidebook said that the Symphony Hall was grand at night. During the day, it’s still impressive.
Crossing back to City Hall, I was able to enter after going through security. I passed by
several couples in white, preparing to be married at city hall. Children’s art decorated the
foyer. Children ran up and down the stairs and couples posed for wedding photos. It was a lively city hall!
I couldn’t exactly follow the directions of the guidebook because of the construction. It took me a while to find my way to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. I wasn’t very impressed although I did see my first city public toilet across the street.
I was lost. I kind of knew the direction I needed to head to find the Civic Center Bart Station
but I would have to retrace my steps to find my way again. As I retraced, I happened upon a small “green” art gallery not mentioned in my guidebook. All the art in the gallery consisted of recycled and re-used “findings”. It was nice. It was free. And I’ll probably never be able to find that art gallery again.
I headed home to my hotel, sure that my explorations had resulted in my walking more than the mile stated in my guidebook.
I had selected the Civic Center Walking tour because the Farmers Market at the United Nations Plaza occurs on Wednesdays and Sundays. I’d be visiting friends on Sunday so my only chance to experience the Farmers Market would be on Wednesday.
The smell of urine was startling. I passed my first two street performers as I headed towards the stairs leading up to the sunlit plaza from the dark cave of the BART: Civic Center Station. One street performer tortured the red violin each time he scritched the bow across the untuned strings; the other recited prayers. Both had begging bowls prominently displayed.
As I left the station, my ears were greeted by classic rock. To the right, sitting in a circle monument was another street performer but this guy had talent! I listened to him as I surveyed the Farmers Market.
Delicate white orchids in pots, freshly cut flowers in bundles, plums, peaches, apricots, home-grown honey in jars and straws, deep red cherries, artisan bread, fresh herbs, almonds, bright-eyed fish on ice and more were displayed prominantly in white and blue tarp-covered stalls where vendors offered free tastings of their wares. Well, except for the fish.
I’d skipped breakfast. It was 11AM, California-time; it was 1PM, Texas-time. I was hungry. I bought three ripe red plums. Freshly prepared food stands sat at the of the food market. I bought one spinach-and-cheese tamal and pork tamal. Lunch-time!
Behind the food stalls was a chained off-space filled with other munchers, watched by eager pigeons. Two officers patrolled the Farmers Market; smiling street cleaners patrolled the streets; homeless men muttered to themselves; office workers stood in line at the food booths; a four-year old girl in a pink dress tried to feed the pigeons her popcorn. We all enjoyed the sunshine, the food, and the company.
Fortified, I was ready to begin my walking tour. I got out my tourbooks and studied the maps. I oriented myself and headed towards the Main Library and the Asian Art Museum.
Goal: The Civic Center Station
Wednesday was my first full day in San Francisco and I was on my own. My friends were all at work (as I knew they’d be) but I was empowered by two guidebooks and the BART train schedule. My hotel was a few blocks from the BART: Colma Station. It was a bright sunny day (little did I know at the time how rare that would be!) and I was determined to conquer the BART.
The walkway to Colma Station had been pointed out to me when I was picked up at SFO Airport the night before. It was down the hill and across the street. At night, it could easily be seen as a wide passage between two lit buildings. During the day, it was not so well lit although easily visible. The path to the station was lined with trees. The stairs were bordered by tall trees and overhung with bright orange flowers.
One of the first things to surprise me was that the pedestrian crossing buttons at the street corners actually work. They don’t always work here but San Francisco is a pedestrian’s city. The lights provide enough time for a normally-abled person to make it across the street. They flash when the time is running out (the downtown street crossing lights even countdown time before it becomes dangerous to cross the street).
As I entered the Colma Station, I noticed the smell immediately. A lot of the San Francisco I visited smelled of urine because of the large homeless population attracted to the temperate climate. Signs to the left and right pointed to machines to buy tickets for the BART and MUNI. Ahead of me were stairs that I later learned led to short-term parking. An attendant sat in a glass cage with sign prominently displayed: Attendant has no cash.
I had no idea how much to spend for the train. How much would it cost to travel San Francisco for 6 days? The signs indicated that cards were reloadable so I put in $20. Surely that would keep me busy for at least a day!
Colma Station is pretty close to the end of the line. There were train platforms on either side. One side led into the city; the other led towards SFO. My goal was downtown.
The trains of San Francisco are loud! Why didn’t anyone warn me? Doesn’t anyone measure those things with decibabl meters? Aren’t there noise laws?
How would I know which station to get off? The station signs aren’t easy to see unless you already know what you’re looking for. (Another thing I learned as I explored San Francisco was that San Francisco is not easy to navigate unless you already know what you’re looking for.) Some of the trains have conductors who announce the stops. Some of the trains have conductors who speak loudly enough for passengers to hear the stop announcements. If you ask someone who looks like a native (look for a long scarf), the natives are kind to visitors and will answer questions and provide guidance. questions.
By following the stops outlined on the train schedule, I was able to disembark at the Civic Center station. Time to start exploring!
In a little over a week, I’ll be flying to San Francisco. I would say that it’s my first visit to California but that would be a lie. My parents took me to see the Redwood forest when I was a little over a year old; I don’t remember much of the trip.
I’ll be in San Francisco for six days. Some of the time I’ll spend with friends; some of the time I’ll be on my own. Since San Francisco is a pedestrian’s paradise, I’m planning on using the public transportation system (BART and MUNI) to get around when I’m not with friends.
In anticipation of walking fun, I’ve ordered a few things.
- new walking shoes – common walkers advice: never wear the same shoes two days in a row
- Streetwise San Francisco Map - a laminated city center street map of San Francisco, CA; a folding pocket size travel map with BART map, MUNI line
- City Walks: San Francisco: 50 Adventures on Foot
- Walking San Francisco: 30 Savvy Tours Exploring the City’s Distinctive Enclaves, Colorful History, and Back Alley Intrigues
- City Walks with Kids: San Francisco: 50 Adventures on Foot - used