In the weeks ahead we’ll be walking about 100 miles along the Costa Brava and in the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees. We’ll be following two self-guided tours offered through Macs Adevntures: Foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees and Hidden Gems of the Catalan Coast. As a shakedown I decided to put a few miles on my new hiking boots so on May 12 we put the dog in the car and drove to Briones Regional Park. The goals were to give our Carson some off-leash time, log five miles and check out the wild flowers. Briones Regional Park is a 6,225-acre park in the hills of Contra Costa County. It’s about a 20 mile drive from our house. In spring it’s a stunning park with oak canyons, and green rolling hills. The ridges along the top of the hills afford wide sweeping panoramic views. Later in the year the green grass becomes a golden brown and the temperature can be quite warm.
At one point on our hike Carson decided to get a drink in one of the cattle watering troughs and ended up taking an unintentional swim. Along one of the ridges we passed a herd of cows, and Carson did his best to hike in Joann’s shadow acting a bit shy. There were a couple of steep sections of trail where I was glad I had my hiking poles, and even so, I took my time descending the steepest sections of trail.
Over the course of our walk we logged 4.9 miles. You can see a map or our course above or view more details about the track here.
We’ll be on the trail in Spain in June. It’s time to limber up the legs. We’ve had a very wet winter, which has kept us off the muddy trails, but with a few days of sun I decided to stretch my legs in Tilden Regional Park. It’s just three miles up the hill with 26 trails ranging from less than a mile to close to 14 miles, spread out over 2079 acres. Many of the trails are dog friendly with dogs off leash, so it’s a favorite for hiking with Carson. Tilden Park also boasts a steam train, a merry-go-round, a botanical garden and a lake to swim in. And one of the roads that transits the middle of the park closes each winter for the newt migration. The newts are not dog friendly though, they are poisonous to dogs.
On October 2 we arrived in Chicago to start our “Chasing Frank Lloyd Wright” tour. We spent our first few days in Oak Park, on foot. We took Uber from the Airport to our B&B, staying at an AirBnB listed as “Victorian Gem in Heart of FLW District,” on the corner of Forest Ave and Superior. A lovely place to stay and close to many FLW houses. There are about two dozen of Wright’s houses within walking distance. We managed to visit a few. First and foremost is Wright’s house on the corner of Forest and Chicago, a block from where we were staying. Build in 1889.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s House in Oak Park.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park house.
Dining room. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park house.
Bedroom detail. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park house.
Bedroom. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park house.
Bath. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park house.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park house.
We visited this house as part of a tour offered through the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Photos were permitted on the tour, so I used my little Sony RX100 to capture some handheld images. Next door to the house is Wright’s studio, built in 1897.
And a short walk around town will take you to a number of Wright designed houses. These houses are all privately owned and not open for tours, although you can walk the neighborhood to view them and you can take photos from the sidewalk.
Frank W. Thomas House.
Arthur Heurtley House
Nathan G. Moore House. 1895. Remodeled 1920
Edward R. Hills House. 1906. (Originally build in 1876, relocated and remodeled by FLW in 1906.
Laura Gale House. 1909.
Robert P. Parker House. 1892.
The Parker house, built in 1892, is one of Wright’s “bootleg” homes, one of several commissions Wright took under the table while working for Sullivan & Adler. Sullivan eventually dismissed Wright for his transgressions.
If you happen to have the opportunity to visit Oak Park and you are looking for a self-guided tour check our this link on Curbed. There are also a few phone apps you can use. A search on the iPhone comes up with a Oak Park walking tour with the title “Frank Lloyd Wright Tour.” I didn’t discover this until recently, but I’d certainly give it a try. We used a printed guide we found in our room at our Airbnb. There’s also an app called the “Wright Guide,” which includes a comprehensive list of FLW projects. A must for any Frank Lloyd Wright Fan.
And of course there is the Unity Temple which is one of Wright’s most famous projects; a ten minute walk from Frank Lloyd Wright’s house. Keep in mind this is a operating place of worship. Visitors are welcome and photos are permitted, but you’ll want to check ahead to make sure you time your visit when you have access. We visited the temple as part of a paid, guided tour. I also returned to the Temple in the evening because I wanted to photograph it at dusk.
If you like to walk, the hills of Berkeley offer some interesting opportunities. Winding road and paths meander all over the hills. The Berkeley Paths website lists 137 paths. Plenty to explore if you just have a few hours or a few years. We’ve been here over 30 years and we’re still finding places to explore. Our adventure this day, July 25, took us to Remillard Park where we had a picnic dinner to celebrate Joann’s birthday.
We ended up playing tourist in our own back yard deciding to walk some of the paths close to Remillard Park. Some of the paths seem like hidden get-aways, meandering up and down the hills between houses.
Irene’s Birthday Wall
As we were walking down one path I wondered out loud who maintained the paths. It wasn’t long before we ran into “Joe Cool” with his broom, taking care of business.
I found myself pulling my camera out every few steps being amazed at the gardens, architecture and interesting details, for example the sign that read “Beware of Dog … And Two Giant Cats.”
We spent our last two days in Tanzania in Moshi, a town on the lower slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. Our primary motivation was to visit Sophie Augustino. Sophie recently graduated from the College of African Wildlife Management and has started a tour company, Matriarch Hill Safari. We became acquainted with Sophie a couple of years ago when my sister Laurie connected with her while doing some non-profit work in Tanzania.
Sophie did an excellent job of showing us around Moshi. Our tour included a walk to the Materuni Waterfalls, a tour of a family run coffee farm, and a walking tour of downtown Moshi. The walk to the waterfalls took us through the lush, green picturesque farmland of the Materuni Village. The waterfall is a spectacular fall with water cascading 300 feet into a pool below. A worthwhile visit if you have a reason to be in Moshi.
While the San Francisco Bay Area is home to over seven million people, there are plenty of of opportunities to step away from the crowds find some peaceful open space. One of our favorite haunts is Tilden Park in Berkeley, which is more or less in our back yard. On Saturday we had family in town and with two dogs we headed to Tilden Park to take advantage of the calm between rain storms. This is a great time of year to take a walk in the park. The hills are green and some of the trails offer spectacular views of the Bay Area. The wildflowers are also starting to bloom. We saw poppies, lupine and a few other flowers. Tilden Park is a great place to walk with dogs, and several of the trails will accommodate dogs off leash as long as your dog is well behaved. The park encompasses over 2000 acres and in addition to trails there is a botanical garden, a steam train, a merry go rounds, a golf course and a number of other activities.
Walking, paddling, meditating. What is it you do to maintain a sense of grace and compassion? In the midst of a chaotic world that would have us succumb to fear and anger what do you do to maintain sanity? Nothing seems to renew my sense of grace more than walking. I’m not sure that it’s simply the fact that I’m moving forward, one foot after the other, or that while walking, the problems of the world seem more distant.
I was out walking the dog this morning when I stopped to talk to a neighbor. She expressed concerns about where 2017 might lead us, and I was reminded of a piece I wrote in September “Keep on Walking.”
As part of my “walk” through 2017, I’m going to offer my services one day a month, pro-bono to help support social or environmental causes. With the changes we face in Washington, it’s going to be up to use as individuals to make a difference in how we act as stewards of God’s creation. I’m looking forward to the new year, to the new people I’ll meet on the journey ahead, to new connections I’ll make in the global community and to new opportunities that will arise.