ADT: Foresthill to Folsom, spring 2015

unnamed creek below Foresthill

unnamed creek below Foresthill

This spring I re-hiked the American Discover Trail section 4, Foresthill to Auburn, and part of section 5, Auburn to Folsom. My purpose was to create a GPS track for ADT-4, which I had already tried twice and failed to do. I used my new iPhone 5C to create the track, but I hadn’t yet figured out how to maximize battery life, so it ran out about 2/3 of the way through. So I returned yet again to finish off the last 1/3 to Auburn. I’ve glued the GPS tracks back together using Adze on my Macintosh. Of course any time out on the trail is time well spent, and in re-doing this section, it has come to seem quite familiar and is now a favorite.

The ADT splits from the Western States trail just downstream of Ruck-A-Chucky campground, and then rejoins at the Mountain Quarries Railroad bridge. The ADT goes up on Foresthill ridge and then gradually descends back to the confluence of the Middle Fork and North Fork American River. Part of the route is along (new) Foresthill Road, part along (old) Foresthill Road, and the trail itself is partly on (old, old) Foresthill Road. The walk along Foresthill Road is quite unpleasant, with traffic whizzing along at 65 mph or more, and even the less trafficked (old) Foresthill Road is not pleasant. I looked for an alternative route to (old) Foresthill Road, but unfortunately there is not one. Several possible trails start off but then veer away. I will explore more in the future to see if there is a bypass for Foresthill Road. If you want a more natural experience, stick with the Western States trail, which descends and crosses the river, possible only at moderate to low water, of course.

I had been calling the river between the confluence and Folsom reservoir the American River, but apparently it is traditional to call this section the North Fork American River, all the way to the junction with the South Fork American River, now under Folsom reservoir.

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Winter 2014-2015 Update

Wouldn’t it be easier to date things, and follow the seasons rather than arbitrary calendars, if the year changed on the Winter Solstice? Then I’d only have to write Winter 2015, rather than trying to distinguish between last year and next year by writing 2014-2015. Yes, it is something I think about only once a year, but I’ve been thinking about it my entire life.

Life is busy as ever:

  • Sunday Streets San Francisco has started up again, and this year I’m volunteering as a captain for several of the events. It makes for longer days, but more service. March 8 was Embarcadero.
  • I have started spending time with my friend Lea again. Though we’ve kept in touch over the years since about 1984, we haven’t spent much time together since. Fun!
  • On winter break in southern Nevada, I rode with Joe Herbst to an area he calls Valley of the Kings, off North Shore Rd in Lake Mead NRA, visited friends Pitchfords, Donna, Howard, Jeff, Lance & Lorelle (and Vicki and Gus), and of course spent time with my family for the holidays.
  • For circle dancing, I attended the Gwyn Peterdi circle dance event in Oakland, Big Heart Tribal Gathering with teachers from all over northern California, two regular dances in El Cerrito, and an afternoon dance in Davis. For contra dancing, I attended the Contra Carnivale weekend in San Luis Obispo, and five regular dances in Sacramento. And one historical dance, the PEERS Victorian 12th Night Ball.
  • I did only one backpack trip, from Foresthill to Auburn on the American Discovery Trail.
  • I’ve been participating in the Food Literacy Center book club, which makes sure I devote at least some time to book reading instead of just keeping up with professional reading.
  • I saw nine plays, most in Sacramento but two in San Francisco.
  • As stated in my Fall 2014 post, I’ve been tidying my possessions, freeing myself of things that no longer bring me joy. Unfortunately I slowed down before I was finished and have stalled, but I will get back to it. The items I have left are those which didn’t easily fit into a category. I just gave away my old backpack to a friend, and that felt good.
  • I attended the Davis-Boulder Active Transportation Mini-conference in Davis, and helped Elle with a Traffic Skills 101 course.
  • For Sacramento Beer Week, I visited two breweries that were new to me, Yolo Brewing in West Sacramento (not far from Bike Dog Brewing) and Oak Park Brewing in Oak Park. Unfortunately the “week” was busy with other activities and I only made my favorite Track 7 Brewing twice, and next favorite New Helvetia Brewing once.

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Theatre: Winter 2014-2015

Though I’ve seen a few play multiple times, most particularly Into the Woods, I had never seen a play in two different theatres over a short period of time. Last fall I saw Ideation at San Francisco Playhouse, and then this season at Cap Stage. The performances were somewhat but not remarkably different. Actor Carrie Paff played Hannah in both! Two favorites this season, Tree at San Francisco Playhouse, for the though provoking staging and deep feeling, and In The Heights for the incredible energy of the story and dancers. Nine plays for the season.

  • 2015-03-13 Green Valley: In the Heights (Lin Manuel Miranda)
  • 2015-03-11 STC: Julius Cesaer (William Shakespeare)
  • 2015-03-06  City Theatre: The Cradle Will Rock (Marc Blitzstein)
  • 2015-02-15  SF Playhouse: Tree (Julie Hebert)
  • 2015-02-05  Cap Stage: Ideation (Aaron Loeb)
  • 2015-01-23  Geery Theater: Love Letters (A. R. Gurney)
  • 2015-01-22  Big Idea Theatre: Cloud 9 (Caryl Churchill)
  • 2015-01-04  SF Playhouse: Promises, Promises (Music by Burt Bacharach, Lyrics by Hal David, Book by Neil Simon)
  • 2015-01-15  B Street B3: The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence (Madeline George)


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Fall 2014 Update

Keith Haring art at FAMSF de Young

Keith Haring art at FAMSF de Young

Note: slideshow at bottom of post

My life is so busy that two things are true: 1) I can’t remember what I’ve done the previous season, except for a few highlights, without consulting my calendar, and 2) I’ve fallen way, way behind on my ideal of posting a seasonal update four times per year. My last time was Summer 2013.

  • I’m back at work as Safe Routes to School Coordinator at San Juan Unified, as of August. Funding is still flakey, but I’m still getting work done, and still enjoying it, particularly the bicyclist lessons.
  • I attended the Harvest Moon contra dance weekend in Santa Barbara, which is a weekend full of dancing and seeing friends from all over who come for the same reason I do, high level, high energy dancing and good friends, including Teralyn. This is my favorite contra dance weekend, though others come close. I also attended the 12-hour TDOGS Twirl contra dance in Hayward. Unfortunately, my energy didn’t quite hold out the entire 12 hours.
  • A lot weekends were spent in San Francisco and the bay area, five just this quarter. I go for dancing (sacred circle dancing, historical dancing, and contra dancing, mostly), museums, theatre, bicycling, hiking visiting friends, eating good food, conferences, etc.
  • I attended two Sunday Streets events in San Francisco, volunteering with both Sunday Streets and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Freedom from Training Wheels program, which is probably the most fun I have, seeing kids make that first successful balance, and then pedal, without training wheels.
  • I was lucky to find out at the last moment about the San Francisco Tweed Ride, and join them. A great group of people to hang out with, and ride, and drink beer at the end. They take costuming much more seriously than I do. I then finished the day off with SFBC’s Winterfest, a huge gathering of bicycle advocates. Some of the same people, and more beer.
  • This year I have a membership in the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF), which are the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park and the de Young in Golden Gate Park. I saw the Houghton Hall exhibit at the Legion, art and objects from an English country manor, with a tie-in to Downton Abbey, and the exhibit of Keith Haring at the de Young, a remarkable collection of advocacy art.
  • I assisted two League Cycling Instructor (LCI) Seminars, in Rancho Cordova and San Francisco, and helped Elle instruct a Traffic Skills 101 in Sacramento.
  • I repeated my backpack of the American Discovery Trail section 8, from Walnut Creek to San Francisco, this time keeping an accurate GPS track.
  • Some Wednesdays I’ve been joining Claire Bromund and her compadres for wine at various Sacramento wine bars and restaurants. I’ve also been frequenting my favorite breweries, first Track 7, followed by New Helvetia and Bike Dog.
  • I attended Walk California’s Best Foot Forward Summit, helping develop a strategic vision for the organization and all its partners. Intense, but worthwhile.

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Theatre: Fall 2014

It is often hard to pick my favorite play or musical from a season, as I strongly enjoy nearly every one of them, but I have to say that Motown: The Musical stood out above the rest. It was so full of good energy and good memories for me (I’m of that age when Motown was what we listened to). The acting and singing were superb. Eleven plays for the season.

  • 2014-12-11  New Helvetia Theatre: Marry Me A Little (music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, conceived and developed by Craig Lucas & Norman Rene)
  • 2014-12-10  Sacramento Theatre Company: Kate (Rick Foster)
  • 2014-12-05 Big Idea Theatre: Jungle Book (Rudyard Kipling, adapted by Briandaniel Ogelsby)
  • 2014-11-20  New Helvetia Theatre: I’m Getting My Act Together (music by Nancy Ford and book and lyrics by Gretchen Cryer)
  • 2014-11-06  Cap Stage: Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy, adapted for the stage by Helen Edmundson)
  • 2014-11-01  San Francisco Playhouse: Ideation (Aaron Loeb)
  • 2014-10-30  Green Valley Theatre: Rocky Horror Show (music, lyrics and a book by Richard O’Brien)
  • 2014-10-03  City Theatre: The Uninvited (Tim Kelly, from the novel by Dorothy Macardle)
  • 2014-10-02  Big Idea Theatre: Exit Interview (William Missouri Downs)
  • 2014-09-27  SHN Theatres: Motown, The Musical (a book by Berry Gordy)
  • 2014-09-26  SHN Theatres: Pippin (Stephen Schwartz and a book by Roger O. Hirson)
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ADT: Walnut Creek to San Francisco 2014-11

buckeye nuts

buckeye nuts

I repeated the American Discovery Trail section 8 from Walnut Creek to San Francisco, this time successfully creating a GPS track, though the track was just an excuse to get out on the trail again. I love this ADT section for its combination of fairly remote backcountry with an urban experience. This is my third time. After my first trip in January 2014, I re-walked it in March 2014 in an attempt to create a track, but messed it up. And forgot my journal, which is largely why I never did a post on that trip. But the photos are good!

I started after a Sunday evening circle dance in El Cerrito, then BART to Pleasant Hill, and then walked for about two hours to Lafayette Ridge, arriving about 2:00AM. I camped under a spreading oak, and sunrise came soon. Monday I continued the route through Briones Regional Park, the EBMUD Briones watershed, and Tilden Regional Park. It is hard to say whether this year is drier or wetter than last year. There are wet areas, mostly in the canyon bottoms, and a little furze of green growth coming up, but the hillsides are largely still brown and waiting for rain. Fall is well along, with some fall color still present and some leaves gone entirely. Since I was hiking on a weekday, I saw very few people on the trail, three before Tilden and only about 15 within Tilden, very much different from my prior weekend trips where I passed many people and Tilden was crowded with hikers.

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Why I go to San Francisco for musicals

I just came back from a weekend in San Francisco where I saw two musicals, Pippin at SHN Golden Gate Theatre, and Motown, The Musical at SHN Orpheum Theatre. Pippin was great, Motown was spectacular. The only modern-music musical that I’ve seen that surpassed it was Beautiful, the Carole King biography, also at SHN.

Many though not all of these national traveling shows come to Sacramento, most often hosted California Musical Theatre’s Broadway Sacramento at the Sacramento Community Center Theater, which has the tagline of “superb acoustics, unobstructed views,” though some are also hosted at California Musical Theatre’s Music Circus at the Wells Fargo Pavilion. Most of these come through for only a week or two, rather than the five to eight weeks they play in the bay area, and many never come.

So why do I go to San Francisco? Well, let me say up front that I go in part because I love San Francisco, I’m happy when I’m there, I do a lot of things including going to the ocean, to museums, to listen to Irish music, to visit friends, to ride my bike, to eat good bread (Arizmendi and Acme), and I could go on for pages.

But the main reason I go is that I can hear the musicals, and the plays. I don’t think I missed a single word or line in either Pippin or Motown. The sound is crisp and clear. It is loud enough without being too loud. In contrast, Sacramento Community Center Theater sucks. The sound is muddy. I often miss key dialog. In order to overcome the acoustic weakness of the hall, the sound gets cranked up way over the capabilities of the sound system. I have attended several plays and musicals that were so painfully loud I thought of just walking out. In fact, two of the professional community theatres in Sacramento, Capital Stage and B Street Theatre mainstage have considerably better sound quality than the Sacramento Community Center Theater. Maybe the comparison in unfair, as these are small theatres, but when I can pay $32 for a ticket and hear great sound in a small intimate venue with sufficient bathroom capacity, why would I want to pay $43 to $95 (and higher for the popular shows such as Wicked) for muddy sound, in a huge impersonal venue with insufficient bathroom capacity?

In the San Francisco theatres, sight lines are good too. From my seat in the balcony, about two feet of the top of the SHN Golden Gate stage was cut off. I remember seeing Wicked in Sacramento, and more than a third of the stage was cut off from my seat. I missed a lot of action that happened at the edges and top of the stage. And I was in one of the more expensive seats, the Grand Tier rather than the Second Tier. I wonder if people in the Second Tier could even see the stage.

SNH Golden Gate Theatre was built in 1922 and refurbished in 1979, and seats up to 2200. SHN Opheum Theatre was built in 1929 and restored in 1998, and seats 700. Sacramento Community Center Theatre was built in 1974 and seats 2,398, which is larger than any of the theatres in San Francisco. You would think that would allow them to sell lower priced tickets, but the ticket prices are the same or higher.

The concrete bunker that is the Sacramento Community Center Theater will never have good sound, no matter how much is spent on renovation. The only solution is to tear it down and start over. I’m sure the convention center would like to expand into that area. There are a number of empty or developable lots around downtown. In fact the city owns a number of potential locations. Or at least did, until they gave away the properties to the Kings.

So please,

tear down the Sacramento Community Center Theater

and give us a new great place to see musicals, plays, and other cultural performances.

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