Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Gaudi's work in Barcelona doesn't disappoint

Barcelona, the capital of the autonomous community of Catalonia and Spain's second largest city with a population of approximately 1.6 million, is a great city for exploring on foot -- tiring of that, there is an extensive public transit system. Before husband Ralph and I arrived in that beautiful city on the Mediterranean Sea, I had drawn up an itinerary that was fairly dense, but also allowed time to just sit and people-watch. I expected the weather to be on the warm to hot side, so before we left I looked at a thrift shop for a couple of lightweight skirts that I could wear for our four days in Barcelona, but then leave behind to save weight for our hiking days on the Camino Norte (posts to come!).

Finished by 2026? Sagrada Familia 
Interior of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia: Order tickets from home!

A Gaudi rock tree in Park Guell 
Must see: Gaudi's Park Guell

Much to see free in Park Guell

We set out on our first full day -- with rain jackets. Instead of walking to Montjuïc, the hill on the southeast, to see the views of the city below and to visit the National Museum of Art of Catalonia (Museu Nacional d-Art de Catalunya), we decided to buy a two-day pass for a "hop on, hop off" bus. As we rode through the city, the rain increased and the canvas cover on the top of the bus proved inadequate. Water was soon splashing down on the seats and passengers started to move to different seats that were still dry. No one "hopped off" -- including us.

Panoramic view of Barcelona from Park Guell
Lame as it may seem to ride around on a tourist bus, we were tourists, and our crisscrossing of the city helped us get oriented more quickly than we would have if on foot dodging rain puddles (and we went to see the museum later).

Much of our focus was on seeing Gaudi's Sagrada Familia and his Park Guell and both were well worth our time. We had ordered our tickets for an orientation, tour, and a ride up in the Passion Tower (you walk down) of the church and that saved waiting.

We did not have advance tickets to the Park Guell and encountered long lines when we arrived late morning. We didn't want to wait two hours, but we learned that a large section of the park is open to the public for free and it's a treat to wander along the many paths past inspiring sculptures and amazing vistas.

Rather than repeat what has been said elsewhere in dozens of books, articles, and so forth, see if these photos inspire you to include Barcelona in your next (or first) Camino trip.

Next post: visits to a famous music hall, the Rambles, and Montserrat.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Enjoy Wilderness Adventure Day with Sierra Club's Sierra magazine

Press release: Sierra Magazine’s Wilderness Adventure Day

Head for the Sierra in June!
 SAN FRANCISCO — Sierra magazine, the official publication of the Sierra Club, is excited to announce its annual outdoor event, Wilderness Adventure Day, in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains near Lake Tahoe. While the Sierra Club’s many programs inspire people to explore and enjoy our planet, this unique opportunity provides a fun-filled day outdoors that includes product demonstrations from Sierra magazine partners created to enhance the guest experience and inspire future purchase decisions. 

Beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 6, families are welcome at the Sierra Club’s flagship Clair Tappaan Lodge to enjoy guided history trail hikes, wetland science walks, kayak clinics, yoga classes, product giveaways, gift bags, food, and live entertainment....all for FREE! Throughout the day, event sponsors will be hosting product demos and participants will be able to use the products on their outdoor adventures. Sponsors and products include: LOWA boots, LEKI trekking poles, Bergans of Norway packs and tents, Sea Eagle kayaks, Farm to Feet socks, and If You Care household products. Sierra is also proud to partner with Sports Basement, Gateway Mountain Center and Summit Lotus Yoga.

“Our goal is to capture nature’s magic by letting guests explore its beauty,” says Sierra ad director Ben Warner. “We created this consumer-facing event in support of the Sierra Club’s mission to get America outdoors to explore, enjoy, and protect the planet. Hosting it at the Clair Tappaan Lodge allows us to show our readers and supporters the beauty that nature has to offer while bringing our brand mission to life.”

To register, please log on to sierraclub.org/wad.

Weekend food & lodging packages are also available at clairtappaanlodge.com, or by calling 530-426-3632. The Clair Tappaan Lodge is located on Donner Summit near the Pacific Crest Trail in Norden, CA. Nestled in the mountains of Tahoe National Forest, the rustic lodge has been the halcyon home of countless adventurers, offering unparalleled access to lakes, hiking, biking, and rock climbing.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Parade -- on water?

Press release:
25 Years of Protecting San Francisco’s Bay

San Francisco, CA – San Francisco Baykeeper, known for protecting and defending the Bay from pollution since 1989, announces their 2nd Annual Bay Parade on Sunday May 31, 2015.  This celebration of the Bay is a high-energy event where participants swim, kayak, and row alongside SUPers, surfers, boaters, sailors and all Bay enthusiasts on a noisy, colorful parade from the Ferry Building to the ballpark.  The swim will be 1.5 miles, while paddlers will travel 3.5 miles.

According to Sejal Choksi-Chugh, Baykeeper’s Interim Executive Director, “Our annual parade is the Bay Area’s most unique celebration on the water.  It’s a celebration of the Bay – on the Bay – for the Bay.  People wear costumes, decorate their boats, bring noisemakers, and form team rivalries to make it a really fun event.”  In addition, Choksi-Chugh mentioned, “San Francisco Baykeeper is the sole on-the-water nonprofit dedicated to protecting San Francisco Bay from pollution. We are truly excited to bring this event to our community to help everyone be a part of the solution to keeping our treasure of the Bay safe to recreate in for generations to come.”


Date: Sunday May 31, 2015 – Parade 11:00 am – 1:00 pm  |  After Party 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
- Parade:  San Francisco Bay.  Short 1.5-mile course from Ferry Building to McCovey Cove.  The San Francisco Giants will feature the parade finale on the AT&T Park Jumbotron at the start of the baseball game. 
- After Party:  Anchor Brewing will throw a Bay Parade after-party to continue the celebration on shore.  The Party will be held at The Yard next to the ballpark.
Details: If you can swim 1.5 miles or paddle 3.5 miles, you can join the Bay Parade!

Aquatic costumes, decorated boats, and noisemakers encouraged.- Registration is $100, plus a fundraising commitment of $200. All proceeds to benefit the Bay.
Fantastic prizes for fundraisers.

Register:  Please visit http://baykeeper.org/bayparade for more details.

About Baykeeper
For 25 years, San Francisco Baykeeper has defended the San Francisco Bay from thousands of pollution sources. Protecting the Bay is our mission and passion.
Baykeeper is the sole on-the-water nonprofit dedicated to protecting San Francisco Bay from pollution.  We are comprised of nine staff with scientific and legal expertise, a cadre of experienced volunteers/directors, and a 24-foot pollution patrol boat that monitors and investigates pollution in the Bay.  Baykeeper’s vision for the next 25 years is a San Francisco Bay where the water is clean, the ecosystem is healthy, recreation is safe, and wildlife can thrive. 

Note from Backpack45: It would be fun to get in on this event while it's still in its infancy. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Great Combo -- Hiking and Yoga in Fairfield

This is a novel way to get in both your hiking and stretching -- combining hiking and yoga for HOGA. On Saturday, May 9, 2015, 7:45 a.m. to noon, Solano Land Trust will take participants on a hike of four to five miles with stops along the way for standing yoga poses. "Travel will be up and down rocky, steep, and slippery hills that may be full of sticky seeds and thorny plants. Some travel may be off trail." If you are in luck, you may see some wildlife also. 

Young buck at Rockville Trails: Doug Wirtz

The outing will take place in Fairfield, CA at the Rockville Trails Preserve. The poses will be led by a Certified Yoga Therapist/Registered Yoga Teacher and the lunging, reaching, and meditating will be at beginner level. 

Anyone 10 and over may attend. The event is free, but space is limited and pre-registration is required, click here for email address.

Directions (from the website) to the meeting place: There is no parking lot at Rockville Trails Preserve, so meet your guide promptly (and be ready to leave immediately) from the big red 'Ice House’ building on Suisun Valley Rd. intersection, behind La Barista Espress, Fairfield, CA. Park beside the red barn. Be ready to carpool to the trailhead.

Go to the calendar page, click here, or call John at 760-604-1800 to get more information on the meeting place, directions, and what to bring.

Solano Land Trust permanently protects natural areas, working farms and ranchlands in Solano County and connects the community to these lands.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

El Cerrito Trail Trekkers to celebrate with 2nd annual Hillside Festival

Press release:

El Cerrito Trail Trekkers, in association with the city of El Cerrito Environmental Quality Committee and Park and Recreation Commission and with the El Cerrito High Mountain Biking Team, is holding the second annual Hillside Festival on Sunday, May 17, 2015 from 10 a.m. to 5 pm.

Child studying nature guide/photo credit: David Weinstein  
Activities for young and old throughout the 100-plus acre wild land area will include: nature hikes, a pop-up bike park, wildflower hikes, historical tours, talks on Native Americans and early settlers,  a drop-in Broom Bash to remove invasive plants, hands-on habitat restoration education, free native garden plants, and more. 

The event celebrates the city’s recent acquisition of the Madera Open Space with a noon ceremony. Working with Trust for Public Land, and a community campaign that raised $100,000, the city added the 8-acre site to the existing open land, tying together two previously disconnected sections. Though the event is free, donations will be sought to help pay for habitat and trail improvements.

Participants include Friends of Five Creeks, the National Park Service, the California Native Plant Society, El Cerrito Historical Society, the Community Garden Network, and more.

Date and location: May 17, 2015, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hillside Natural Area. Reception Area is the Schmidt Lane trail head, near the El Cerrito Recycling Center, 7501 Schmidt. Activities throughout the park. For schedule and map: ectrailtrekkers.org/hillside-festival.

Contact: Dave Weinstein, President, El Cerrito Trail Trekkers, 510-524-1737, davidsweinstein@yahoo.com.

(ed.: As Margaret Meed said, "Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has." El Cerrito Trail Trekkers is a perfect example of this ability right here in the Bay Area.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Mother's Day in Grass Valley

Hi all,
Just received this media release and can't resist posting it. It should be a beautiful weekend in the Gold Country, and a few hours at Empire Mine would be a fun way to celebrate Mothers' Day.

Mother's Day Springtime Event
Sunday, May 10, 2015
Park open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Special activities from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Empire Mine State Historic Park
10791 E. Empire St.
Grass Valley
CA 95945

Celebrate Mother's Day surrounded by gold-mine history, lavish early 1900s' costumes and glorious gardens. Children can pot a plant as a gift for mom. In the busy Blacksmith Shop, handmade "prairie-diamond" rings will be given to moms, and the story behind them shared. Live music and entertainment will add to the festive feel. Bring your own lunch, chairs and blankets - and picnic on the magnificent grounds. Food and drinks from local vendors will be available for purchase - and Empire's popular Gift Shop will be full of unusual, beautiful gifts (including jewelry). A memorable day for mom - and all the family.  Everyone's invited.  All ages welcome.

Admission:  $7 for adults 17 & over
                      $3 ages 6-16
                      FREE for children under 6

Further information:     Visitors Center, (530) 273-8522

Find out what a "prairie-diamond" ring is in Empire Mine's Blacksmith Shop at the Mother's Day Springtime Event, May 10th.

Visit the Blacksmith Shop to see the "prairie-diamond ring."

Have a great time! Backpack45

Monday, March 9, 2015

Oakland's Marathon for March 22

This year marks Oakland, California's 6th annual marathon. Events will include a marathon (including four-person relay teams), a half-marathon, the Run the Town Challenge*, a 5K, and the Lucky Kids Fun Run.

Registration at www.oaklandmarathon.com is open until Monday, March 16; approximately 10,000 participants are expected. You can also find a map of the course and other important information at their website. 

The festival opens at 7:30 am. at Snow Park, 19th and Harrison Streets, in Oakland. Races will start and end at the park.

Kids ready for the fun run
Age requirements are:

Marathon: At least 16 years old
Half-Marathon: At least 14 years old
Team Relay: At least 14 years old
5K: No age restrictions
Run the Town Challenge*
Kids Fun Run: 12 and under

*There is a special category called "Run the Town Challenge." Select this category to enroll in both the half marathon and the 5K at once and receive your special "Run the Town Challenge" race bib at pickup. 

You will run the 5K at 7:45 am and then run the half-marathon at 9:15 am to earn yourself a special bib, an extra medal, and a reason to say, "We Run the Town."

Go runners and walkers!