Spent a recent Sunday afternoon hiking the newly-constructed Bay Bridge Trail, a 4.3-mile one-way out-and-back route which stretches from Emeryville almost all the way to Yerba Buena Island, by way of a multi-use (both pedestrians and bicyclists) paved, surface trail . The trail opened to the public on September 3, 2013, the same day the new span opened to vehicular traffic.
From Emeryville, the Bay Bridge Trail runs along the approach freeway to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and then alongside the eastbound lanes of bridge traffic, on a steel-girdered suspended walk/bikeway which, at present, dead-ends about a third of a mile east of Yerba Buena Island, though an extension all the way to the island is in the pipeline, awaiting the completion of some deconstruction work on the old eastern span which is currently blocking the path’s right-of-way.
The trail begins along Shellmound Street in Emeryville, just outside the IKEA parking lot and garage (parking at IKEA is technically not allowed; but ain’t nobody messed with my car, which I parked in the garage, before flagrantly crossing the lot and meeting the trail, without so much as a gesture, step, or even head-fake to suggest that I was going to shop or browse inside the store).
The first part of the trail passes beneath the complex web of concrete flyover ramps that is the I-80/580/880 Bay Bridge freeway interchange, and then runs for a couple of mostly-unremarkable miles alongside the eastbound lanes of I-80, as they touch down into Oakland from the Bay Bridge.
Right where the roadway and the Bay Bridge Trail pass out over the choppy blue-green waters of San Francisco Bay, the old and new bridges diverge, the old eastern span cutting off to the left a bit, the new span barreling straight on ahead.
For almost two miles, the view from the Bay Bridge Trail is dominated by the old eastern bridge span, which towers high above the path, just yards from the new span. The old bridge is actually quite a fascinating structure to see up close. Eventually you get to a point where immediately south of you is a huge void of open air and water- where sections of the old span have already been removed, allowing sweeping long-range views of the bay, the peninsula, and behind it the Santa Cruz Mountains. Here the old roadway ends abruptly at a sheer cliff of steel and concrete, hundreds of feet above the restless waters of the bay. Teetering at the brink of this drop-off sits a gigantic yellow piece of construction equipment, just daring the bridge to give out beneath. But it doesn’t.
Soon, sometime in the next year or two, the Bay Bridge Trail will be extended the final 1/3 of a mile to connect with Treasure Island, and at some point in the more distant future, all the way to San Francisco, completing a trans-bay crossing that has long been in the minds of countless Bay Area bicyclists and pedestrians.
Until then, we have what exists of the Bay Bridge Trail; and that’s still pretty cool.
Everyone knows that Dream Candlestick is dead at last, right? You did get the memo, yes?
Earlier this week, I threw the Peanut in the car and headed down to walk the outer perimeter of Candlestick Point and check in on the ongoing demolition of its namesake park.
Truth be told, San Francisco’s historic Candlestick Park, once proud home to both the Giants and the 49ers, as well as the site of countless storied concerts over the years, has been dying a mercilessly slow death for the past 25 years.
The first major blow came on October 17, 1989, when the Loma Prieta Earthquake, a 6.9 oblique slip-fault rupture which radially dispersed an extensive wave of catastrophic damage- carnage structural, geological, and human- across the San Francisco Bay Area and much of California’s Central Coast region, interrupted Game 3 of the World Series, so far baseball ‘s only ever so-called “Bay Bridge Series“, between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics, sending fans ducking and running for cover as the earth shook the stadium recklessly, like a snow-globe with a busted synapse or three.
Then, on Halloween 1996, two years after Candlestick Park had been awarded 1999’s Super Bowl XXXIII, the game was pulled and re-awarded to Miami, out of concerns that insufficient retrofitting had been done to secure the park in the wake of Loma Prieta. So that was another big blow for the ‘Stick.
Then, for the 2000 baseball season, the Giants abandoned the Candlestick for the newer, swankier pastures of world-class Pacific Bell Park (now AT&T Park), a brand-spanking new, properly-retrofitted, fully-modern, cutting-edge ballpark, located conveniently within walking distance of downtown San Francisco (as opposed to Candlestick Park, which, in addition to sitting on the outer fringes of the city limits, situated squarely in the heart of the city’s poorest and most crime-ridden district, was never in its entire existence adequately served by any public transportation worthy of mention).
The final blow to Candlestick Park’s long life as one of San Francisco’s most beloved and venerable institutions was cast on Monday, December 23, 2013, when the 49ers triumphed over the Atlanta Falcons, winning 34–24 to secure themselves a playoff berth, bringing closure to a storied 53-year era.
After the 2013 season, the 49ers would sell out, moving forty miles south to Santa Clara, to live as puffed-up, hollow big-shots in the monstrous, sterile, bloated, and hilariously over-priced and over-hyped Levi’s Stadium. Though in all fairness, it must be acknowledged that San Francisco, the city, choked pretty hard, pig-headedly attempting to call the bluff on the 49ers organization’s repeated threats to relocate to another city if a proper stadium was not constructed to house the team, only to find out that they weren’t bluffing after all.
And that was the end of Candlestick Park’s life as a sporting institution; but just as a body does not disintegrate into nothingness at the precise moment of death, the corpse of Candlestick Park endured, a withering and decrepit structure that had almost run out of stories to tell.
But there was one more story for Candlestick Park. On August 14, 2014, in a most fitting end for the stadium, Paul McCartney played an epic 3-hour concert, here in the very same venue where the Beatles had performed their legendary official final concert, 48 years earlier, on August 29, 1966.
So that was it for the ‘Stick. The demolition commenced in November 2014, when they started tearing the seats out and selling them off to fans eager to own a piece of history; and in March of 2015, the demolition became visible to those outside the park, as the wrecking ball was finally brought to bear on the outer walls. There ain’t no coming back from that shit.
The rapid decomposition of the carcass had begun at long last; and soon all that will be left of Candlestick Park will be the phantoms of memories, the fading roar of ghost-crowds, and the echoes of wooden bats cracking and splitting, radiating out across San Francisco Bay, in memory of what was.
I love San Francisco. I love it; and I have for the past 18 years. And I hold myself to be a fan of both the Giants and the 49ers.
That said, as much as I love and cherish everything San Francisco, the sports teams that really get my blood pumping will always be the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots, because that just simply cannot be taken out of a true Bostonian.
No matter what they build or tear down out here in California.
I’m tired of people just rounding all dogs down to “public nuisance”, as if it’s somehow reasonable and equitable to paint them all with the same brush.
As it is, our hounds are for all intents and purposes banned from National Parks across the board (only allowed on paved trails, or tied up in campgrounds- woo-hoo!!). So can’t we just throw them this bone?
The battle rages on. See here for the latest on the dogs vs assholes battle for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Look- there’s a lot of land out there (even here in San Francisco); so let them run wild. We’ll pick up the dog shit.
But more than anything else, what this early peaking of the waterfalls portends is that a pretty dry summer in the high-country is in the offing.
Sure, the Mist Trail is all jammed up with day-hikers soaking up the sprinkles and slipping their way up the stone stairs; but the smart money says that the sun will set on this party long before the folks stop dancing on top of the waterfalls.
But this being what it is, let it be said here and now that Yosemite’s waterworks are currently in their full spring swing; and the park’s air temperatures are just about at levels that make you want to pounce in the water.
Of course, as always, the water temperatures will likely make you think better of the idea.
But after all, that is just Yosemite’s version of air/water equilibrium, and so far that has not changed. Yet.
So it’s kind of now or never, folks. For this year, anyway.