Tag Archives: san francisco

Mega-Monuments

Muir Woods National Monument Map and Park Information

The first time I stepped into the hushed shadows of Muir Woods, dusk had already stretched one long arm around the towering trees.

Zach and I had spent most of that day on bikes, riding from Fisherman’s Wharf on down to the Golden Gate Bridge and then across and up the road to Sausalito. When we met up with his dad back in San Francisco in the late afternoon, we decided that there was just enough time to get to Muir Woods. Everyone had cleared out by the time we arrived, and there was “just enough time”. Not a moment more.

Coastal Redwoods 2, Muir Woods National Monument; CA

On my second visit in 2008, my friend and I arrived earlier in the afternoon to a more crowded park, but the stately Coastal Redwood trees seemed to inspire a “quiet” in those walking the trails beneath them. There was none of the scampering and screaming one sometimes encounters on flat, public trails. Instead, there seemed to be an attitude of reverence… an appreciation of being out of one’s usual “element”.

Needles; Muir Woods National Monument; CA

With the tallest redwood stretching 258 feet above the forest floor and the oldest one dating back at least 1200 years, there is plenty to inspire awe within this national monument. President Roosevelt segregated the land in 1908; its name honors naturalist John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club and a pivotal figure in the establishment of our national park system.

Me and a tree; Muir Woods National Monument, CA

Further inland are Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks – to be explored on a future trip and the Mariposa Grove of Yosemite National Park. The California Coastal Redwood, found only within a narrow band along the Pacific coast, is the tallest tree in the world. The Giant Sequoias are known for their massive diameters.

San Francisco Things To Do on raveable

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Landmark Design with a Point

Transamerica building; looking up

One of San Francisco’s most prominent landmarks, the Transamerica building rises to a majestic point 850 feet above the surrounding streets. While the futuristic building is an urban eye-catcher from any angle, the natural beauty of the Pacific impacted its design. In the late 60’s the city planning commission nixed a requested 300 additional feet that might have compromised views of the Bay from Nob Hill.

View of Transamerica building and Coit Tower from Pier 39

The 212 foot spire pyramid shape was also designed with a view towards allowing light and air to reach the streets below in the manner of a towering tree in a city park.

Transam triangles

A prime example of the marriage of design and effective earthquake engineering, its exterior quartz panels are constructed for lateral movement in the event of seismic activity. A 52-foot deep foundation of steel and concrete allowed the building’s upper floor to sway nearly a foot and withstand the World Series Quake of 1989.

transamerica building

It takes all of a thirty-day month to wash its 3,768 windows. Surprisingly, only two elevators reach its 48th floor, but then there’s only so much room at the top  —2,025 cozy feet of space to be exact. The observation deck was closed after 9/11, but four cameras were installed to allow access to a “virtual observation deck” via monitors in the building’s lobby 24 hours a day.

The Transamerica building is both a landmark with a view and a landmark that is a view  —from almost any point in the San Francisco area.

San Francisco Things To Do

The Hotel Vitale-Embarcadero has views of both The Ferry Building and the waterfront and is within walking distance of San Francisco’s most impressive skyscrapers.

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Buskers by the Wharf

It has to be love…

The attention span and focus of their audience is minimal. Most passersby are looking for lunch.Or the next ferry to Alcatraz.  Street performers, or buskers, must relish the act of performing enough to ignore being ignored. Exposing a bit of soul-felt art in hopes of an answering smile, a bit of applause and hopefully, a dollar bill or two… This is not for the faint of heart or those desiring a steady income.

Street performance is encouraged along San Francisco’s Wharf waterfront. The Fisherman’s Wharf Street Performer Program regulates twelve designated performance locations in the public access Port area in recognition of the cultural contribution of such open air shows.  Miming, street dancing, instrumental performances and even operatic arias are but a few of the offerings one might wander past on a trek along the Embarcadero. The eclectic and energetic ambiance fits San Francisco -with her fluctuating temperatures, inclined streets and varied cultural pockets, very well.

Updated from February 1, 2010.

San Francisco Things To Do

There are numerous hotels in Fisherman’s Wharf, such as the stylish Hyatt at Fisherman’s Wharf and the Argonaut Hotel, both within a couple blocks of all the action.

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