30 April 2011

Cycling in Golden Gate neighborhood, California

April 2011

Did a day cycling, about 50km, in Golden Gate neighborhood, including passings of Golden Gate Bridge, Marin Headlands and Sausalito visits. The weather was nice, sunny, some wind from the Pacific.

Rented a hybrid model of a bicycle from Blazing Saddles, on Hyde Street, San Francisco.  Headed first to the marina and then to Crissy Field. It's sandy beach had lots of families enjoying the sun and a scenery (Golden Gate Bridge on left, Bay in front and Alcatraz island on right).

The next in the must-to-see-list was Fort Point building near Golden Gate Bridge. I've seen surfers there some times earlier but didn't see them now (but did see them earlier in Half Moon Bay). To me this place  became famous from Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo movie.

Then came the climax, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. Walkers on Bay side, cyclists on Pacific side and six lanes of cars humming in the middle. The bridge was quite high from the water level. Have to admit not liking high places (although hiked on the Alps many times!) and the bridge WAS high. Then there was a strong wind as well as tens of cyclists whose speed varied a lot. The bridge was almost 3km long.

After (north of) the bridge started the Golden Gate National Recreational Area. Unfortunately, the Coastal road, Conzelman, was closed due to some road construction. I had to take the tunnel on Bunker Rd through Marine Headlands towards Point Bonita. The Point Bonita had a lighthouse, directing boats and ships from Pacific Ocean into SF Bay. The lighthouse was my target there.

There are multiple species of animal living in Point Bonita region, including Seals, Sea Lions and Turkey Vultures and many others. Spotted several Seals and Turkey Vultures. Ultimate walking bridge to actual lighthouse was closed, but the scenery there was magnificent.

From the lighthouse took the same road back, climbing up all the way, but after the tunnel descended to Sausalito for a late lunch.  Cosy little seaside town, full of sail boats and especially tourists, quite many by bike from San Francisco and then returning by boat from Sausalito.  Had a lunch at Angelino, an Italian restaurant, can surely recommend to others. Saw the very first time some stand-up paddlers.

Off south from Sausalito was for climbers, not so easy task after lunch, ice cream etc.  Final view of the Bridge and San Francisco at Horseshoe Bay, then started climbing via Conzelman Rd back to Golden Gate Bridge. Tail wind on Bridge helped a lot.

After crossing the Bridge, stopped a while on Pacific side near North Baker Beach. In here, the small sandy path went on edge providing a beautiful scenery down to the beach itself. Never ending waves hitting coast was a spectacular view.

After some break, back on the saddle and returned the same route: Fort Point, Crissy Field, Fine Arts, Marina, Great Meadow. A short cycle on Fisherman's Wharf concluded the trip.

Here's the GPS route (View Larger Map):

Fort Point

If you stare at me, I stare at you!

The Golden Gate Bridge

Cyclist path on Bridge

Marin Headlands and Point Bonita

Seals lying on rock enjoying scenery

Turkey Vultures and a path to Lighthouse

Point Bonita Lighthouse

Nice trails e.g. for mountain biking


Where's mine?

San Francisco from Horseshoe Bay

North Baker Beach

Fisherman's Wharf

Is this A Streetcar Named Desire?

Love & Peace ... Which one is which?

25 April 2011

Sea kayaking premiere of the season 2011

April 2011

Finally opened a kayaking season after a hard and long winter. The weather had been really warm during Easter weekend, melting the rest of the ice even from the remotest bays and peninsulas in the Gulf of Finland.

Today, Easter Monday, was sunny, +16C on the coast (+20C 10 miles north from the coast), mild south-west wind 4m/s.

Went to paddle with a colleague from our sea kayak club. Did an easy 16km paddle in three hours, stopping once for a short break on Mäntysaari island.

Went first to Laajalahti bay, just looking for some ice to play with. We did find some and played like school boys cracking it by paddling through it. Bet the ice would melt during the day, so thin it was. As school boys, so did we get bored of it and started to paddle off from the bay.

After Laajalahti headed to Keilalahti peninsula and then under the bridge towards outer sea. Wind became stronger as usual, bringing waves up to 30cm (1 ft). However, it was nice and calm.

It's always difficult to wear right amount of clothes with you. Under drysuit there's some warm, but how much is a problem. Sun and paddling itself keeps you warm and sweating while wind keeps you cool, sometimes even too much if you've sweated a lot. However, drysuit season usually is not so long, so just keep going until water temperature raises in comfortable level.

Lots of different type of birds were floating and flying on the sea. Did spot only one small boat but plenty of kayaking people paddling here and there. Spring time indeed.

Here's paddled route (View Larger Map):

Preparations, preparations

Some ice spotted near Rajasaari island

One of Pukkisaari islands, north of Seurasaari island

Ducks and my colleague

Calm and nice

Calm and nice, version 2

A break at Mäntysaari island

A walking bridge on Mustasaari island

A rush hour at club house

A rest for a while

24 April 2011

Hiking in a forest, South West Finland

April 2011

Spent most of the Easter in South West of Finland, in the rural country side. The spring weather started to be better an better on each day.

Did some 11km day hike in the local forest. The idea was to observe how spring had arrived in the forest. Hopes of seeing some wild animals were high.

Didn't plan any specific route, so storing coordinates to GPS at starting point and checking the compass every now and then gave confidence of jumping into the deep forest.

In the beginning there was some harvesting done in the forest, leaving tracks here and there which were more easy to hike. Snow had melted away almost totally, but high water was bringing a problem of selecting route to walk. Every now and then there were some brooks which were absolutely full of water and crossing them became a real challenge (being a natural pole vault pro would have helped). Only once stepped into a deep water, getting my foot wet, otherwise crossing them was great fun.

Birds seen during the hike (in Finnish): whooper swan (laulujoutsen), common crane (kurki), capercaillie (metso).  Also some beautiful butterflies: common brimstone (sitruunaperhonen) and mourning cloak (suruvaippa). Someone cut branches near by, possible a moose, but it didn't come into my sight. Lots of fresh animal waste proved there were some living souls near by, although not in sight.

Harvesting, the main highway

Blowin' in the wind

Wild Rosemaries, what a smell 

Me Tarzan You Frog

Nymphalis antiopa

Rush hour, thousands of ants

A pair of common cranes

By a local moose

By a local deer

By a local wild boar? with fresh lingonberries (or could it be a bear?)

Fur by a moose?


Acqua Alta

Less useful

Very useful

Brooklyn Bridge

Ice gone

16 April 2011

Walking on shores of Helsinki and Espoo Finland

April 2011

Did today a 10km walk around shores Keilaniemi peninsula and Otsolahti bay (cities of Helsinki and Espoo, Finland), to see how ice melting process was progressing on these areas.

The weather was fine, sunny +6C with some cold wind (about 10km off the coast temperature was +10C at the same time).

The sea was open of ice in south of Lauttasaari Island but still almost fully frozen west of it, as well as all bays and peninsulas. Exceptions were around all bridges which were open of ice. As our kayaking club house is deep down along the bay, it'll still take some time before I'm able to put my kayak on the water there.   :-(

Lots of birds singing here and there as well as many floating the open waters. There were some newcomers, too. Saw two pairs of Common Mersangers on Keilaniemi bay (actually, we call it Goosander, more sounds and sights here). A female looks more like a Punk Rocker to me.

Here's the route (View Larger Map):

Frozen sea, east of Hanasaari Island

Open sea, west of Hanasaari Island


Naked Beach

Space left


Two pairs of Common Mergansers

Lehtisaari Bridge


Hiking path in Lehtisaari Island

Stairway to sea


Walking Bridge to Kaskisaari Island