Last Thursday D. and I took a trip to San Francisco to visit Mt. Davidson, at 928' the highest natural point in the City, and to revisit the Randall Museum. Here are some pics I took.
At the Mt. Davidson trailhead, we see a pedometer perched on a post.
The trail, through eucalyptus forest shrouded in English ivy and cape ivy.
This sign explains the presence of a huge cross at the summit.
The eucalyptus canopy overhead.
As the trail ascends around a turn, we get our first chance at a view, to the southeast.
The trail provides more and more views as it rises.
The broadcasting antennas atop San Bruno Mountain are visible to the right in between the tree limbs.
Mt. Diablo pokes above the horizon to the east, across San Francisco Bay.
Yes, it was a very hazy day.
A good look at downtown San Francisco.
We also get an up-close view of the Sutro Tower, a.k.a. Trident of Doom.
We've come here for the views, so let's take another look around.
In the foreground is the reddish rock common in the Bay Area, radiolarian chert. Its high silica content is due to the skeletons of microscopic ocean animals called radiolarians.
Another view north.
Steps lead up to a thing in the ground and another thing coming up out of the ground.
The netting on the hillside is for habitat restoration and soil stabilization.
The thing in the ground has an alarmed hatch on it.
A few yards down the slope is another thing in the ground with an alarmed hatch.
And at last we catch a glimpse of the cross through the eucalyptus and cypress.
Its stark form is very imposing at 103' high, especially in the slanting afternoon light.
The cross now belongs to the Council of Armenian-American Organizations of Northern California and is held in memory of the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide between 1915 and 1923.
Mt. Davidson has been the site of sunrise Easter services for many decades. This inscription seems to have been selectively defaced.
A look into the woods surrounding the trail to the cross, choked with English ivy and cape ivy.
Cape ivy, an invasive non-native, can grow up to 30 inches thick on the ground and runs rampant over most other vegetation, forming a solid cover that blocks light and smothers other plants. The weight of the ivy mass sometimes pulls trees down. Habitat for both plants and animals becomes ruined when large portions are occupied almost exclusively by cape ivy.
Cape ivy is difficult to eliminate because its underground stems and roots readily fragment during removal, and it can re-sprout from almost any remaining fragment. Cape ivy is not a good plant to be growing here in California.
Retracing our steps in search of more views, we see a red-tailed hawk sitting in the tree. It is soon joined by its mate, which takes to the air again after a brief rest.
Another look at the dead tree.
Looking north into the Marin Headlands.
A view of downtown and the East Bay Hills.
In a small glade down the hill we find a fallen cypress log, full of little grasses, ferns, pools, mosses, fungi and lichen in its various hollows, nooks and crannies.
The tiny community of plants living on that log was like its own peaceful miniature universe, and I could have spent hours (days, weeks) investigating every little thing about it.
Moss, ferns and lichen are found on almost every rock, due to all the moisture from the heavy coastal fog condensing onto the trees and dripping onto the plants below.
More scenes from the forest:
And all too soon we emerge back into the urban neighborhood surrounding the hill.
Has Wiry the Snowman committed reindeercide?
Our next stop is the Randall Museum, which has a lot of cool stuff.
In the foyer we see wooden animal sculptures, part of their current urban wildlife exhibit.
There is also a bas-relief sort of mural-thing on one wall.
Next we visit the Animal Exhibit, where over 100 animals are living because they can no longer survive in the wild. Flash photography is not permitted in the animal room, so a lot of my pics didn't come out that great. Here are some of the birds, in several different aviaries and enclosures.
Arcana chicken and Crested Black Polish chicken.
Great horned owl.
They also have reptiles and amphibians.
Pacific tree frog. (♪♫♪ I'm a little tree frog, short and stout . . . ♪♫♪)
And they also have various invertebrates.
Coast shoulderband snail pic (the only native local land snail; I have yet to see one in the wild because they are threatened due to habitat destruction) (yes, sorry it's blurred, no flash photography is allowed in the animal exhibit).
Mussel and byssal threads pic (the aquarium glass is very thick and blurs everything, sorry).
They have a collection of skulls. Horse:
D. guesses this is a bottlenose dolphin.
Here's a cool painting in a stairwell.
Yes, those are cut-out bats taped to the air vent above it.
We wander down to the deserted lower level of the museum, looking at an undersea mural partially painted by kids, full of unintentionally peculiar creatures.
Stiff-armed octopus (maybe it's Archie the Arthritic Octopus):
Heavily sighing unidentifiable sea creature:
(D. suggests it must be an emofish, from all the h-h-h-h-h-heavy sighing)
Vacant-eyed squid (perhaps it's hopped up on speedballs):
Cross-eyed needle-nosed fish:
more or less normal shark:
On our way out we pause by the "Living with a Restless Earth" earthquake exhibit to see the seismograph charting four days of aftershocks following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
Fifty-one aftershocks of magnitude 3.0 and larger occurred during the first day after the main shock, and every single one scared me almost as much as the main 6.9 shock. The aftershock zone stretched 25 miles, from north of Los Gatos near Highway 17 to south of Watsonville near Highway 101. There were aftershocks occurring sporadically for months afterward, thousands in all.