Category Archive: parks

Lola vs. the duck pond

Kevin and I spent the past amazingly gorgeous and warm Sunday at McLaren park in our neighborhood.  It’s a quick 10 minute walk from our apartment and it really is one of the hidden gems in San Francisco.

We started out with a walk around the duck pond

Lola keeping a close eye on the ducks swimming in the pond

We let her sit at the edge of the pond and when Kevin called her to get her to start walking away with us he said “Okay Lola, let’s go” but of course the only word she heard was “Okay” and, in an instant, she jumped head first into the duck pond!  It happened so fast I wasn’t really sure what happened until I saw Kevin pulling her out of the pond!

Wet dog

Trying to shake off some of the pond scum.  Let’s just say we didn’t let her get close to us the rest of the afternoon and gave her a bath outdoors the minute we got home.

The park has some great trails and boardwalks throughout along with so many picnic tables hidden amongst the trees.

Kev and Lola on the boardwalk

A beautiful old tree

The hillside

Once at the top of the park (it was a pretty steep climb up from the street level) we spread out our blanket in a small field of wildflowers and soaked in some sun.

My idea of heaven, a blanket on the grass in the sun

The view from where we were laying

Me and K trying to get a tan!

A photo I took from an old tree stump–me, Kevin and Lola laying out on the blanket, enjoying each other’s company

Thomas & Ashley’s visit

Right on the heels of my trip to Napa with Jess, Kevin’s brother Thomas and his girlfriend Ashley came up for a 2-day visit!  They were here early the morning of Monday 4/18 and left super early Wednesday morning (ahem, 4:30am wake up call!) but it was an adventurous two days to say the least.  This was Ashley’s first time visiting SF so we pulled out all the stops for her visit.  🙂

We spent the afternoon enjoying the concrete Seward slides (see our first visit to the slides here) in the Castro.  At first we only had a few scrap pieces of cardboard to slide down and they weren’t too useful when the slides were dewy so we were actually on our way back to the car when we spotted a brand-spankin’ new computer monitor box in all its glory just calling out our names.  So after some slick maneuvering by Thomas (who, in essence, rummaged through this random person’s trash for our sliding enjoyment) we were on our way back to the slides to get some extreme sliding in.

Thomas and me

Kevin and Thomas (check out Kevin’s signature arm placement in this and the next photo, haha!)

Kevin and Ashley

The sliding was so extreme that on one ride down Thomas was propelled to his feet and then flat on his face!  The craziest part was that none of us even noticed Thomas flying through the air and all we saw were his arms and legs flailing up while on his back as the end result.  I’m still not quite sure how it happened.

There’s Thomas lying down in the slide!  “Help me, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”

Me and Kevin

Awesome action shot of Thomas mid-slide

We then took a drive to our favorite part of Golden Gate Park, Stow Lake and Strawberry Hill.  It was a bit drizzly and foggy but we made the most of it with a walk around the lake and a hike up the hill.

Thomas and Ashley sitting on the bridge over the lake (this was taken with a “miniature” mode on our camera, so cool!)

The green, green lake and its surroundings

Well hello Mr. Squirrel!  He was anxious for some treats, too bad I tricked him and only wanted to take his photo.

Ashley & Thomas

Me & Kevin

Kooky brothers


Thomas and the waterfall

Bluebird amongst the fire red leaves

We then made our way through the Presidio and ended up exploring some of the abandoned bunkers on the coast.

Great view of the Golden Gate Bridge in all its foggy glory

So apparently our camera also has a fish-eye lens mode–didn’t realize Kevin took this photo in that mode until later, hilarious!

Ashley, Thomas and the GGB

See how drizzly it was?  Water was covering Kevin’s glasses.

We had a lovely evening introducing Ashley to the world of Indian Pizza at Zante Pizza.  YUM!!!

The following day while I was at work the three amigos went to explore the Marin Headlands.  They were trying to find the entrance to an underground bunker that apparently hasn’t been sealed shut and only a handful of people have been successful finding but, unfortunately (or fortunately?) they didn’t find it.  Kevin is determined to find the thing.

Green, green everywhere in Marin!

One of the bunkers they explored

They met up with me at work and we went to dinner on Pier 39 at Wipeout Bar & Grill (just “okay” food, nothing to write home about…luckily I get a discount there because I work so close to the pier).  We then had a nice long walk along the piers and made our way to Ghirardelli Square so that Ashley and I could share a super delicious chocolate fudge/peanut butter sundae.  Mmm, mmm!

Thomas had to get an obligatory sourdough bowl and clam chowder; Kevin in front of the Chowder Hut

The “Penny Mist” boat docked near Fisherman’s Wharf

Two old(ish) men playing checkers on the corner of Beach & Hyde

We had to drop those two knuckleheads off at the airport at 4:30 in the morning the following day (yikes!) but we wish they could’ve spent at least another day or two exploring the city with us!  Until next time (hint, hint!)  🙂

McLaren Park & Ocean Beach

Lola got her share of outdoor adventures in early April with visits to McLaren Park and Ocean Beach within days of each other.

Sometimes we forget that in our funky little neighborhood is a gem such as McLaren Park.  On April 4 we took Lola for a 10 minute walk and ended up in a beautiful open space to play catch and work her out.

Lola’s glamour shot

Me looking over Lola’s shoulder

I love this girl (can’t you tell?)

And so does Kevin 🙂

On April 9 we were craving donuts like nobody’s business so made a trip to Donut World in the Inner Sunset to satisfy that craving.  I hadn’t had donuts since we moved here almost two years ago and boy was that first bite of the chocolate old-fashioned donut (a favorite for both of us!) like pure heaven.

We then made a drive out to Ocean Beach in the Outer Richmond for some beach time.  It was super windy that day but the skies were clear and the beach was pretty empty so we enjoyed a nice walk along the beach.


Lola in action

Such a beautiful beach (if it wasn’t always so chilly!)

Sandy trails

Lola in action take 2

Me and Lola (and my hair, yet again, looks terrible. Thanks Kevin for having my back!)

The funniest thing was that Kevin taught Lola to be obsessed with birds on this walk.  We wanted to get a photo of her running through the birds but she’s never been much of a bird lover so weren’t sure we could do it.  Kevin kept encouraging her “Go get the birdies, go get the birdies!” and after a few attempts she got the hang of it and quickly became obsessed with chasing them.  At one point she even ran through so many groups of birds so far down the beach that we couldn’t even call her anymore, we had to chase her down the beach!

We didn’t quite get the shot we wanted but I guess that just means we’ve gotta try it a few more times (and I’m sure Lola won’t argue with that!)

Mom & Steve’s visit

My mom and her boyfriend Steve came up for another visit (see their past visits here and here) from April 1st-3rd and we had a nice time.

Friday night I joined them in Los Gatos at Jessie’s work, Enoteca La Storia (a super cute wine bar) for some champagne and cheese (a lovely combination 😉 ).

Jess hard at work and me hard at drinking 😉

Jess nommin’ on some goodies

The spread (or what was left of it)

Mom & Steve (in shadows, wah!)

The only scraps we left on the cutting board

Mom, me and Steve through the window

After Jessie’s shift ended we ventured to another wine bar in downtown Los Gatos, Cin-Cin, for dinner.  The restaurant offered small plates and they were fantastic!  We then took a stroll down the main strip and landed at the Dolce Spazio Dessert Cafe for some gelato. Mmm, mmm, mmm!

Beautiful blue sky on the drive to SJ

Afterwards we drove back to San Jose to check out an art walk that happens on the first Friday of every month in downtown San Jose called South First Fridays.  Only a couple of galleries peaked our interest: the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles and another gallery that I didn’t catch the name of that featured pieces about size (from microscopic to ginormous).

Me and Jess in front of some beautiful quilts

One of my favorite pieces.  If you look closely…

…you’ll notice that the artist carved the alphabet out of the tips of these pencils.  Incredible!

I felt like I walked straight into a Dr. Seuss book with these funky tree sculptures.


On Saturday, mom and Steve came out to SF for some exploring.  Our first stop was lunch at Chilango Mexican restaurant.  Now I’ve always been a fan of Mexican food (I mean hello, I’m half Mexican) but I have never fallen so deeply in love with a Mexican restaurant as I did with Chilango.  Their food is in traditional Mexico, D.F. (the capital) style and it is SO AMAZING!  A little pricey but holy hell it’s worth it.

Okay, I’m done drooling now.

My mom and I giving Chilango two thumbs up!

We then took a nice drive through the Castro, starting out at the Seward slides (see a video of me and Kevin going down the slides here, with Kevin’s crazy drop straight on his rear at the bottom of the slide), then winding our way up through the beautiful neighborhood and finally ending at Corona Heights park.  Mom, Kevin and I went for a brief hike up to the top of the rock formations and really enjoyed the views of the city.

Beautiful colored rocks against a bright blue sky.

A random little “village” we came across.  These little houses were maybe 6 inches tall, so cute!

Me and Kev at the top of Corona Heights

For dinner we shared our love of Ethiopian food with mom and Steve and they quickly became fans!  We went to Cafe Ethiopia in the Mission which we had tried before and definitely loved (except for one of the waiters telling us, at the end of our meal, that “there are people waiting to eat”, we got the hint!)

Dig in!!

We had a really nice visit (and lots of yummy food to boot!) with mom and Steve.  Looking forward to their next visit!

Lake Merced & Earth Hour 2011

Mar 26–Lake Merced

Kevin and I spent an afternoon walking around part of the huge Lake Merced in the southern part of the city.  I discovered it with a friend when we decided to do a 3 mile loop run a few weeks prior and wanted to take Kevin and Lola there.

I know, we’re terrible doggy parents, always making Lola pose in front of the weirdest statues (this one, if you can’t tell, is of three penguins).

Kevin & Lola at the end of the path surrounded by strawberry bushes.

I know my hair looks terrible.  Unfortunately, Kevin didn’t think to tell me before he snapped this photo!  Hahah.

Mar 26–Earth Hour 2011

The first time I heard about Earth Hour was when we were in Australia in 2008 and although I had never participated in it I thought it might be fun to do it this year.  So at 8pm on the 26th we shut off the lights and hung out by candlelight.

But of course we couldn’t just sit there and stare at each other in the dim light.  We had to do something.  And do something we did!  We spent a couple of hours messing around with flashlights, lasers and the camera to take some cool photos.  Kevin was the genius photographer behind all this and I “wrote” in the air with the light.

The first one was written with me facing the camera so I had to write backwards and in cursive–not the easiest thing, let me tell you!  But I think it turned out pretty good.

This second one we used a laser pointer and I wrote Lola’s name facing her.  The hard part was getting Lola’s body to be lit up so after I finished writing her name, Kevin flashed a flashlight on her for just a second so that her body could be captured in light (otherwise she would’ve been too dark to see).

I’ve determined that we should honor Earth Hour more often so that it will get us off our rears and do something fun like this!  🙂

Hike in Almaden Quicksilver Park

So far we’re 2-for-2 with our goal to hike as many Saturdays as possible!  We went down to San Jose on Sat. 3/5 to meet up with Jessie to explore Almaden Quicksilver Park which isn’t too far from her place.  The total hike was 3 miles and although we could have kept going we had to leave it at 3 miles because Jess had to work that afternoon. We all really enjoyed exploring the small corner of the park we saw and are definitely excited about returning to check out more.

And we’re off! Me, Jess and Lola hitting the trail

Jess and Lola checking out the creek

Kevin got this great shot of the creek

Me and Lola hanging out

The Buena Vista Trail

Jess, Kevin and Lola on the Buena Vista Trail

This led us to the end of our hike: The Buena Vista mining site. We had a good time exploring the remains of this mining site.

Some of the remains of the site, old concrete structures with massive bolts left behind

Creepy look at the long way down the brick wall

Kevin went exploring a little farther as me and Jess took a break and he got this shot of us from the hill across the valley

Then I got this shot of Kevin as he was jumping off the 8 foot brick wall.  Pretty cool!

Here is it zoomed in

Pretty manzanita trees

Berries and blue sky

Lola in flight

Kevin had the day off of work and school on Friday 3/4 so he and Lola came to pick me up from work and we took a little trip to Levi’s Plaza.

This is one of Lola’s favorite parks because there’s a nice, calm river that she loves to run around.  And it’s just at the base of the huge staircase up to Coit Tower so it’s a nice little refuge after the strenuous walk up those stairs.  We only went up about half way this time (see the post from our last trip up to Coit Tower here, includes a video of Lola running around the park) but it was a good little workout nonetheless.

The highlight of the trip was that Kevin took some awesome photos of Lola in flight as she leaped across the river!

I can’t stop cracking up after looking at these photos of her mid-air!  Too funny.

Hike in the Presidio

Kevin and I made a goal to go on a hike as many Saturdays as possible.  So on Saturday 2/26 we went on a 5 mile hike through the Presidio in San Francisco.  The Presidio is a 1,500-acre urban national park at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge and although we had driven through it many times when we had visitors in town, we hadn’t explored much of it on foot.  We followed the map in a book we checked out at the library and, although there was a bit of a detour due to construction, we followed it pretty close.

There was rumor that it might snow in San Francisco the day of our hike but, as you can see, it was a super clear day over the Golden Gate Bridge!  We couldn’t have asked for better weather.

There were lots of old canons and army memorabilia out for people to see.  We thought this beautifully decorated canon was quite the sight:

Then we came upon an old army hospital:

Lola went galloping up the stairs…and ended up on the balcony, looking down at us:

So I ran up to join her for a photo opp on the balcony of the old army hospital. 🙂

Around the back of the hospital we found these two cottages which were built after the 1906 earthquake for refugees:

Nice little set up they had there!

I took a photo of Lola from the inside of the cottage and it wasn’t until later that I realized what she was doing at the time.  Nice way to show your respect for a piece of history, Lola!

Lola on the back steps of the hospital

Officer’s Row

Then we got stuck for a few minutes due to construction.  We were going to try to bypass the construction by zipping through the national cemetery but because dogs aren’t allowed we had to come up with another plan.  We decided to hike through the forest behind the cemetery to try to meet up with the path again (instead of taking the 2 mile detour back the way we just came!)  Luckily, it worked out perfectly and we saw some cool sights along the way.

Me and Lola hiking through the forest

We saw a couple of cool churches:

And here’s part of the national cemetery with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background:

Then we happened upon this weird pile of wood.  After contemplating what its purpose was and after Lola climbed on top of it (typical), we finally saw a sign describing it.  Turns out it’s a gray fox habitat!

Then we saw these huge block letters on poles out in the middle of a field.  One line we were able to make out said “resolve conflict with song” and we had no idea what the heck the purpose of it was.

Then we saw another sign which said that it’s a habitat for a bird.  Here’s a close-up of some of the letters, they were filled with straw.

I guess there are a ton of these artistic habitat displays that people can check out and they’re part of the Presidio Habitats Exhibition.  They’ll only be up through May 15th of this year so we gotta check out the rest!

Beautiful old brick building

“I live on the corner of Upton and Upton”–good lord.

A lone crane out in the field

Fallout shelter: Cool, now we know where to go.

Lola found this random mini castle out in the middle of the Presidio. So I had her pose in front of it since she’s like our little princess.  🙂

At the base of Golden Gate Bridge

View of the coast

The last third of the hike was along the Bay Trail which took us through Crissy Fields and along the beach.

Kevin made me and Lola go through this 4 foot tunnel that was filled with about an inch of water instead of taking the long way around. Crazy guy.

I can’t get enough of this view! And the bridge looked even more amazing on such a gorgeous day.

It’s true what they say about Dolores Park…

Don’t know what I mean?  Well then take a gander at this Dolores Park Bingo card:

On Saturday 2/5 we were lucky enough to spot some of those wonders: speedos, dog crap, ice cream cart, tiny dog, giant dog, tightrope walkers, and the “cold beer, cold water” guy.  Not enough to make a Bingo, but pretty darn close.

Documentation follows:

Giant happy dog (AKA Lola)

Happy yogis doing crazy stunts in the park

Disco Stu walking the tightrope

And an extremely intoxicated anonymous dude making a fool of himself

And there’s this young lad named Kevin being entertained by all of the sights of Dolores Park

Rainy day at Golden Gate Park

On Saturday 1/29 we decided to spend the gloomy, rainy day at Golden Gate Park with Terri, Scott and their two pups Madeira and Ihna!  We had a yummy picnic with meats, cheese and crackers along with fruit, veggies and homemade hummus.  And what picnic in the park could be complete without red wine drunken straight from a plastic mug!  🙂

Terri opening up the bottle of wine

Scott getting some kisses from Ihna

Madeira relaxing after a good round of fetch

Me and Kevin’s mandatory photo opp 😉

After lunch and playing fetch with the dogs we went on a nice little hike on Strawberry Hill.  Terri and Scott are quite the hikers (we went and hiked Mt. Diablo with them back in July, see the post here) and although Strawberry Hill isn’t much of a hike, it was nice to enjoy the fresh air and the gorgeous views amongst the occasional cold raindrop.  🙂

Terri, Scott and the pups after the hike