Adventures in flying; bumming around The Presidio in San Francisco

March 6, 2009

Thursday: takeoff from Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) around 2:00 PM (got there 11:30 AM). Fall asleep (short night's sleep, stayed up packing and awakened early for pre-fast breakfast). Wake up about 2:45 PM to announcement that we've received clearance to land at MSP. mm?? Fellow passengers relay explanation: backup electrical system shortage, but too much fuel weight to land safely, so we've been circling and now will attempt to land. Flight attendant informs us that fire trucks will be awaiting us but are not expected to be needed (they weren't).

By the time they're ready to fly again, connecting flight from Salt Lake to Oakland has already left. Options: stay in Salt Lake overnight or get direct flight to San Francisco at 9:15 PM. Finally leave MSP 9 hours after arrival, on the direct flight. Surprisingly, they were mostly relaxing and even productive hours: did some good reading, napping, e-mailing (deleted 400 messages!), conversation with my grandfather, half an hour of work, and a free dinner care of Delta.

I missed the last Bart at midnight, but thankfully the friend I'm staying with generously offers to come by the airport.

Walking trail in the Presidio
Click for direct link to Google

Friday (today): Stroll down to the Interfaith Chapel at the Presidio. No one home, that's okay. Marvelous, sunny, green morning. Did I say its green out there? Calla lillies in bloom. Wildflowers everywhere. American robins, Anna's hummingbirds, and song sparrows are calling (also seen: one northern mockingbird). Wend my way down to the organic Acre Cafe for a scone and coffee, then stroll through a small gallery of beautiful artwork, and downstairs to the United Religions Initiative (URI) office. Hang out for a bit, then stroll down to the Golden Gate Promenade. The map above does not show the foot path I took from Halleck (goes under the 101) across to the east of the end of Marine Dr. Slowly walked up that way, taking in the crisp sea air (chilly without a jacket, but far preferable to cold Minnesota with a coat!) and observing many species of birds. 

Main Post Chapel View from Infantry Terrace Dr Great blue heron Common raven

In the marsh, there were many gulls (ring-billed and western) and I think a brown pelican. Also coots, some sort of tern?, red-throated loon, greater scaup, and a single female red-winged blackbird. More hummingbirds. A great blue heron. American crows had been flying overhead, but I look up and realize that I'm finally face to face with a raven for the first time. It is calling quietly from 20 feet away (oddly quiet call, perhaps a youngster?). Not far along, I come up 10 feet away and gaze in wonder at another majestic Corvus corax. What a beak!

Then down to the Marine Sanctuary Visitor's Center (not terribly exciting). Small flock of white-crowned sparrows there. High-tail it back to the URI to join folks for lunch; we went down to the Jewish Community Center for excellent, though pricey, fare. And conversation about peace-building and the power of music. (I was with 2 facilitators of URI's Moral Imagination project and a member of the President's Council). Back to URI, hanging around chatting with folks for a bit, helping fold table tents for tomorrow's Circles of Light fundraising dinner (the raison d'être for my presence in SF).

Out to the Exploratorium. Realize it is too similar to the Science Museum of Minnesota, so continued around the Palace of Fine Arts (which is undergoing renovations; in the lagoon: lesser scaup, mallards, trumpeter swans, and gulls) and back to the Lombard Gate, where I am to meet someone tomorrow morning. Back to my friend's place. One hour later back down to Lombard Gate for dinner at the Curbside Taqueria, where I had a good Tex-Mex dinner of chicken enchiladas with rice and pinto beans (good thing I didn't have a burrito). Absolutely stuffed (there were complimentary chips & salsa too, which I cannot resist easily; much better than reviewers claim), I slowly made my way back to the house and the computer and here I am.

11 trunked-tree Palace of Fine Arts Palace of Fine Arts, collonade

I contemplated going to the Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39, but I'm rather conservative about going out at night alone unfamiliar easy target? So here I'll stay. About 9 miles walking today, on a slightly-sprained knee, possibly the most since Amsterdam in 2007. Not much doing today: just fresh air, greenery, a few minutes with friends old and new (@URI), good exercise, terrific food, and few worries. I needed this.

complete photo album