So Many Forts!

There are a number of forts around San Francisco and surrounding islands that have been preserved for tourist attractions.

Walk #19 Crissy Field and Fort Point

Crissy Field was originally marshland before becoming a military airfield. In the late 1990s, Crissy Field underwent a restoration, and today it is a popular playground. There are many historical highlights on plaques around the field. For instance, the first airplane flight around the world landed on Crissy Field in 1924. Walking towards Fort Point, I pass the Warming Hut where you can stop before heading to the Golden Gate Bridge. On this particular trip, I was heading to explore Fort Point. Built at the outbreak of the Civil War, it was once referred to as “the key to the Pacific Coast”, however, it never saw battle despite its state-of-the-art construction. It was going to be torn down to make room for the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, but instead, the bridge base was redesigned to arc over it, allowing for the fort’s preservation as a national monument.

Walk #50 Fort Funston

Maycee and I dropped David off at work because he was going to have a long day, and then we proceeded to this oceanfront park. It is located south of Ocean Beach and is quite difficult to get to with public transportation, but offers a lot of available parking. It is a historic site scattered with the ruins of various artillery batteries but also features gorgeous bluffs. A lot of hang gliders use this area because it provides a lot of gusting winds. We did not have a clear vie, but without fog you can see Point Reyes to the north and Farallon Islands to the west.

This week I also started to volunteer for Friends of the Public Library at their bookstore in Fort Mason! They have a great mission. Check out their site Friends of the Public Library!


Books v. Movies

Have no fear I am still here! Over the past week Maycee and I have been getting settled into our daily routine, but have not been doing a lot of exploring. I have been catching up on some much-needed reading. I recently finished the book, Hidden Figures, and watched the movie. I wanted compare, contrast, and offer my opinions.

Book synopsis (from the back):

Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as ‘human computers’ used pencils, slide rulers, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women. Originally math teachers in the South’s segregated public schools, these gifted professionals answered Uncle Sam’s call during the labor shortages of World War II. With new jobs at the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton, Virginia, they finally had a shot at jobs that would push their skills to the limits. Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black  ‘West Computing’ group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens. Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement and the Space Race, Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden – four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades as they faced challenges, forged alliances, and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their country’s future.

I gave this book a 3 out of 5 stars, but this was not due to the essence of the story. I learned so much about this part of history that I had not previously known. I loved reading about strong women during this time when the status quo was they stayed home and raised the family. The lives of these women was so fascinating and they really have gumption. The reason I knocked off stars because I found the writing a little dry at times. It is mostly likely because I do not have an engineering or math science background, and I got bogged down by the terminology. If you have the love all things math, history, or simply non-fiction, this is definitely a must-read book for you! I think that we should encourage our daughters, nieces, and granddaughters to read this book or see the movie. It paints a fantastic picture that math, science, and engineering that be cool and ground-breaking!

The movie stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, and Mahershala Ali. It only follows the book during the space age from Project Mercury to John Glenn’s orbit in space. It does not include the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) before it became NASA, but I know that Hollywood only has so much time for films. It still remains true with following the lives of the three influential women in the history of math, engineering, and space exploration. It shows how these women not only fought against racial discrimination, but also gender discrimination in the workplace. I am thankful to these and many other women who paved the way for future generations!

Final Decision: This one is a real toss-up for me! I absolutely love reading, but in this case the movie wins out by a nose for my preference. I just could not get past the engineering jargon!


Bookstore Crawl

Many people are familiar with doing a bar/pub crawl, but in all my nerdy glory I chose to partake in a bookstore crawl around San Francisco. I was not able to hit all of the local, independent bookstores; therefore, I see another round in my future.

Browser Books

Nestled in Lower Pacific Heights on bustling Fillmore Street, Browser Books has been a leading literary seller since 1976. sf_browserbooksThis classic small room bookstore leaves you feeling like you are in your own library. Tall stacks of fiction will leave you perusing for your favorites or finding something new. Out of the corner of your eye you may spy a title or cover on one of their nicely displayed tables. If you are looking for used books this may not be the spot for you, but you will find recent releases. They also publish books so if you are looking for some local flavor just ask. Hit one of the many restaurants or cafes to refuel before hitting the next stop.


Green Apple Books

This gem will take you away from the center of the city in the Richmond district.IMG_2138 There are two store fronts because it has expanded since its start in 1967 (yes, it is celebrating its 50th anniversary!). Today the store covers 10 times its original 750 square feet! The vibe is that of an old library, full but not overcrowded, and the staff is very helpful. They feature a wide range of used titles, but also have new if you are looking for the latest bestseller. This is one local bookstore that you should not miss.

The Great Overland Book Company

Located in the Inner Sunset neighborhood this is the quintessential old school used bookstore. It is has two levels, but is very quaint. IMG_2139They offer anywhere from literature to old newspapers. If you want to make a visit you had better go sooner rather than later as they will closing shop in a next 8 weeks. I spoke with the owner who said they could find the right kind of buyers (i.e. poets), but they did not have the funds to purchase. This makes me sad to see a independent bookstore have to close up for good. I was glad to have made it here, and browse through their shelves before it is no longer 😦


Borderlands Books

Next, I headed over to the Mission district, and my first stop was at Borderlands Books. They specialize in mystery, science fiction, and horror. IMG_2140My first impression was how neat and organized. They offer both new and used book selections. After nearly closing last year, they appealed to the community for sponsorship, and they did not disappoint. They raised $30,000 and remain open to offer a unique selection that you cannot find at other book shops. It is wonderful to see the community take pride in local business, and support reading. If you are needing a little pick me up there is a cafe next door!

Dog-Eared Books

IMG_2141Some of you may have already heard of this bookstore also in the Mission district of SF. I know when I was researching local bookstores this one was always popping up. They have been supplying new, used, and remaindered books to SF since 1992. It has a unique, cool-funky vibe with abstract art to give it local flavor. They specialize in off-beat, small press, and local literature. You will certainly find great deals here!



Aardvark Books

You can hop a bus or stroll to the Duboce Triangle to experience this great bookstore with an adorable name. IMG_2142John Hadreas started Aardvark Books in 1978 with the pure vision of a local bookstore. It still offers a wide range from literature to non-fiction at great deals! You may be visited by a orange kitty as your browse or you may spot him curled up on a chair.


Russian Hill Bookstore

Russian HillComing back to my beloved neighborhood of Russian Hill it a must to stop at the local bookstore. Russian Hill bookstore, established in 1993, not only offers books but also note cards, children’s toys, and board games. They recently moved locations on Polk to bigger and brighter store next to Bow Wow Meow. The selection is one of the best in the SF area however, I may be partial since it is my local bookstore. I can get lost in their literature stacks to find old or new authors.

There are plenty of other bookstores that I need to visit for the first time or again! Let me know some of your favorites around the country or across the world!


Chicago…and Books

I was thinking about what I should write about today and, it hit me how much I missing Chicago especially in the summer. Now don’t get me wrong I am not missing the hot and humid weather. I do miss our view from the 76th floor and walks along Lake Michigan. I thought I would reminisce by telling you about my favorite local bookstores in the Chicago area (not ranked in order). Feel free to leave comments about some of your favorite local bookstores. I hope to hit as many used bookstores in the states and abroad much to my husband’s chagrin 😉

Myopic Books

This beloved used bookstore is located in Wicker Parker. This is the type of place to get lost in browsing through their collections on a cold winter’s day, and I have countless time! MyopicBooks-b7c32168Whether you are a fan of fiction or non-fiction, this is the place for you. Although it is one of Chicago’s largest used bookstore, it feels like an old treasure with its creaky stairs that lead you to shelves upon shelves of books. Once you have collected your finds, I would suggest a stop at Mindy’s Hot Chocolate for a sensational treat!

Uncharted Books

This local bookstore is nestled in the neighborhood of Logan Square. It opened in 2012 and offers a varied selection of literature and non-fiction. uncharteAs you enter the store don’t forget to say hello to Ramona to the store dog. Then, relax, wander up and down the aisles exploring all this charming bookstore has to offer. If you want to take a rest to read there are plenty of chairs around for your leisure. If you wish to continue shopping local, stop down the street a ways at Shop 1021. This is a very cute shop with a lot of unique gifts for any occasion.


This was the closest new and used bookstore to where we lived, therefore, I frequented this one the most. afterwordsThis is a two-level bookstore that has children, YA, and local flavor on the first floor. To get the meat of the store take the stairs down into the basement, I know you are probably saying “It will be musty,” but it is well lit and odor-free! This is one of a few independent bookstores left in downtown Chicago. With over 70,000 new and used volumes you will be sure to find what it is you are looking for or something you weren’t expecting.



Open Books

This gem of a bookstore offers two locations: West Loop and Pilsen. openbooksThis is a nonprofit bookstore that puts forth its efforts to improve the literacy in Chicago. They not only have a great selection of used books from literature to nonfiction, but they are also trying to enhance the lives of our future. If you are in the Chicago area, I would highly suggest taking advantage of their Garage Sale at their Pilsen location when they discount their already reasonable priced used books. This is a great deal, especially for teachers, because you can purchase a box and fill it at a discounted price. Let us continue to encourage reading for ourselves and future generations!

Powell’s Bookstore

When we first moved to Chicago we lived in Hyde Park on the south side of Chicago where this great little bookstore is located. You may be familiar with the Powell’s in Portland, but this Chicago’s own taste of that used bookstore. Powell’s Book Chicago has been operating for over 40 years and have quarter million used books. They have a large selection of academic and scholarly books because of its close proximity to University of Chicago, but have no fear you will find plenty of used literature. powells_booksIf you are in or around Chicago at the time of their Midnight Madness sale, I would suggest attending for 50% off books. The catch is you need have either their tote or shirt which they will let you purchase at the time. It takes place from 9PM-Midnight sometime in September/October. Plan to wait in line, but it is worth it and you may make friends while waiting.


Join me tomorrow when I take you on a tour of the local San Francisco bookstores I have discovered!


Marina Green and Palace of Fine Arts

Welcome to Walk #18 along Marina Green and the Palace of Fine Arts. This our favorite area to walk because it combines water views and green space. It was especially fun to learn the history about this space.

In 1915, San Francisco was the host of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. This fair covered 600 acres and 2 1/2 miles of water front property to showcase the grandeur of San Francisco and celebrate a great American achievement: finishing the Panama Canal. Only 9 years earlier, San Francisco had suffered a damaging earthquake, but the city overcame challenges to rebuild in time for the fair. Between February and December, over 18 million people visited the fair. Visitors attended scientific and educational presentations, “traveled” to international pavilions, and enjoyed riveting displays of sports, racing, music, and art. The Palace of Fine Arts structure was scheduled to be torn down after the fair, but it was so cherished that is was made a permanent fixture of the San Francisco skyline.

We ventured onto a narrow jetty that is the site of Exploratorium’s wave organ. This “wave-activated acoustic sculpture” consists of 25 organ pipes built at various levels around a multi-tiered stone terrace. The pipes emit a range of sounds at different tides, although some of the pipes have been clogged, making the distinctions difficult to hear. Maycee was not a huge fan of this activity because of the unusual noises 😉

David started his pain fellowship today. We are so excited for him to embark on this new adventure. I will continue my adventures around San Francisco! I am looking forward to hosting friends and family over the next year.


Sights Around San Francisco

How quickly a week goes by! While David was putting the finishing touches on his studying before his anesthesia boards, we did get to do some sightseeing. We didn’t follow any predetermined routes but blazed our own trails!

We started by returning to the Presidio to explore different areas of the park. We walked along the Mountain Lake Trail until it met up with Bay Area Ridge trail. The Bay Area Ridge trail is currently closed to dogs due to coyote activity. We luckily had kept Maycee home for this trip so we could explore this section. We found out more about the history of the Presidio which is the result of the largest landscaping effort by the U.S. Army. They planted trees over a period of 14 years (1886-1900) in an effort to make the area appear larger and more continuous and to modify the force of the wind in the area. Reforestation takes place in small areas over a number of years to keep the forest going. In 2008, artist Andy Goldsworthy erected a sculpture called Spire to pay homage to the historic forest and the reforestation efforts. The sculpture is 97 feet tall is made up of 37 logs from the reforestation removal.

We continued along the trail until we reached the National Cemetery Overlook. It was such a stunning view and certainly made me appreciate the lives that men and women of our military sacrifice to keep us safe. It was the first national cemetery established on the West Coast.


Later in the week, Maycee and I took a walk along the north end of San Francisco. We visited the Municipal Pier. Built in 1931, it was designed to create a protected cove for swimming and other water recreation. Although it was built strong, decades of standing against winter storms and pounding waves has put this historic pier is trouble of closing. It provides views of Golden Gate bridge, Alcatraz, and Fisherman’s Wharf. Hopefully enough donations will come through to save this landmark.

Hope everyone had a great weekend! I would love to hear from you. Please leave comments about parts of San Francisco you would like to see or learn about.


Road Trip to SoCal

It’s a new week! I know it has been a few days since I last posted, but David and I made a last-minute decision to road trip to visit his sister and brother-in-law in the San Bernardino Mountains. We have visited many times, but this was the first time we were driving. It was a long haul but worth it for the relaxation with nature.

They have a house with 42 acres of land, and many nearby trails. On Friday, we drove down the mountain then hiked six miles back up to their property on Old Highway 38. The trail has been named John Elliott Trail after a local man who bikes the trail every day to monitor the conditions of the trail. Many of the bridges have been washed away over the years. If you do not mind crossing small creeks, you will get some amazing views as you hike up or down the trail. We rewarded ourselves after the hike with delicious bacon cheeseburgers at a local restaurant.

The next day, Lindsey and I decided to hike the San Bernardino Peak Trail. The trail head begins at 5,960 feet elevation, and it is 7.9 miles to the summit while gaining 4700 feet of elevation. We did not make it up the summit this time around, but we hiked about 3.5 miles up for a total hike of 7 miles. We would like to return when the heat is less to make it up to the summit. The views are amazing as you climb higher and higher. The altitude is definitely not something to take lightly, and it will take some training to get in shape. I hope to find some trails close to San Francisco to explore!

I hiked a total of 13 miles over the weekend and my muscles were complaining on our road trip home, but my heart was full after an amazing weekend spent with family. Maycee got to enjoy her first adventure on the mountain, and she absolutely loved it! She also got to meet the cats for the first time. She enjoyed chasing them a little, but eventually they tolerated each other, at times!

Cats and Dogs