Walking Into The Fog- A Trip To Ocean Beach

The ambling has been continuing lately, its just the writing about it that has been absent. A busy and immensely distracted summer. But ‘Ambles carries on, with an eye towards a book deal. “Stairway Walks Of San Francisco- 6th edition”…..give me a break.

We live on the west-facing side of Nob Hill. And as this is home and office, I am here most days. And from my perch, I live with the fog. At times it envelops, at other times, it is…..out there, to the west. I find it alluring in a way, a bit of a tease, the way it advances, then retreats, and repeat. I like the fog, just not a week of it without sun. Like the predictable cycle of the fog, us San Francisco dwellers repeat each summer our complaints of its arrival, as though it is a new and unheard of phenomenon. But I must say, this summer, the complaints were louder, and I would agree- it seems to have been, until a few weeks back, a particularly cold and foggy summer.

In the heat of it one day(?), we,  instead of following the natural inclination to flee this cirrus invasion, dove into it,  heading west for a journey along Ocean beach and its surroundings. Here’s the route:

We journeyed out on the 1-California. The sun was out on Nob Hill, but very quickly, the battle between sun and fog was on, and by the heart of the Richmond, the sun wasn’t even trying. As we lumbered up from 32nd Ave to the Legion of Honor, (my favorite Bay Area museum), it occurred that this grim day might be better spent inside, soothed by the likes of Ingres and Manet. The Museum would have to wait. Continue reading “Walking Into The Fog- A Trip To Ocean Beach”

Urban Ambles Travels Part 1- Desert Ghosts and Route 66

It was time to get away. A recent gig completed, and the current job picture still rather absurd,  it seemed like a good time for a Roadtrip. This trip was a bit more ambitious than last year’s. It again included a trip into the Mohave Desert, but also stops in the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and back in California; Big Sur. This is part 1 , the trip en route to the Grand Canyon. This segment takes us south from San Francisco, through the Mohave Desert and into Arizona, traveling long stretches on old Route 66, through the requisite abandoned places, scrappy enclaves of artists, and some of the delightful oddities of Route 66.Here is the Mohave Desert /Route 66 segment of this journey, (click on it for larger view):

Ghost City

Our first stop took us to California City. It sits in the high desert, north of Edwards Air Force Base. What, never heard of it ? It’s actually  the 34th largest city in the country in terms of area. So why visit a place that, per the map below, looks like just another sprawling bland suburb:

The reason for the visit is that it hasn’t quite turned out that way, here is what it actually looks like from the air. The streets are there, but nothing else- click on the photo to see a larger view:

Continue reading “Urban Ambles Travels Part 1- Desert Ghosts and Route 66”

California Road Trip-Part 2: Route 66 and Other Blue Highways

The second part of the road trip took me from Bakersfield down into the desert. The route takes us down into the LA area, then east on Route 66, and then on to Palm Springs. After a few days of R&R, the leg continued north, some more time on 66, then up into the Mohave National preserve. Here’s the route (and if you missed Part 1, its right below this post): Trip Map-2


If  El Camino Real represents the primordial, this route reflects a more recent past, the automotive past and the immense changes that have occurred in Southern California in the last 75 years. As most everyone knows, Route 66, i.e.  the  “Mother Road” ,was a conduit for midwesterners answering the call of a paradise, real or imagined , in California. Some vintage postcards reveal the era of road travel at that time- the roadside attraction (gas,food,lodging) en route, and the promise of California, orange groves and endless sunshine.

Route 66-3
Wigwam Village
Route 66
Fontana??- Really??

Old Route 66 through the inland empire can be generally  traced from Colorodo Blvd. in Pasadena, and eventually out on  Foothill Blvd all the way to San Bernadino. For the most part of course, little remains of the original road and its abundant roadside attractions, but some do still exist, which makes for a fascinating contrast.

Most of this route is the same , mile after mile of mind-numbing sprawl. But every couple miles, you trip over something, either the result of an expressed devotion to preserve it, or the result of a lack of economic development in the area. some communities embrace their 66ness, others have completely eradicated its presence

Unlike much of what one sees today , many of the old attractions bursted with whimsy, vernacular expressions of the uniqueness of the place, or  of what the building offered, up to and including actually becoming what it sold. En route to Route 66, I stumbled on two great examples:

Shoe Repair- Bakersfield, CA: Watch your head
Shoe Repair- Bakersfield, CA: Watch your head
Drive Thru Donuts!!!!- La Puente, CA
Drive Thru Donuts!!!!- La Puente, CA

Continue reading “California Road Trip-Part 2: Route 66 and Other Blue Highways”