Batteries and bunkers #ThursdayDoors


Another place I like to take first time visitors to the San Francisco area is Battery Spencer although there’s nothing to see here.  Not even doors. No docents or guides, hotdog stands or gift shops … even though these structures were built in 1893 and in use until 1943.  Well, the in use part is a bit debatable.

Battery Spencer is a part of a vast system of fortifications built into the Marin Headlands, however the powerful artillery once installed here was never actually used for defense.

This couple was curious enough to peek inside the structures even though there is nothing to see. On the morning we visited (a Tuesday) there were only a few dozen visitors – primarily tourists from throughout the United States and the world. But, on the weekend this place can get so crowded that you have to park a quarter mile or more down the hill and hike up.  And why you may ask …

Because if it’s not foggy, this is the view you will get. Even if there is fog moving in, the sight can be quite unforgettable (although getting back down the hill in fog can be unforgettable for completely different reasons).

Hop on over to Norm’s ThurdayDoors event where you might see buildings that actually have doors … from all over the world and maybe beyond.  T’is the season.

 

Weird tales and wild times under the deodara tree

For a time in the 1800s the small town of Auburn California was a destination and not just the place where folks stopped off for a bite or to fill up the tank before heading east over the Sierra Nevadas.

Panning for gold

And why?  Because gold was discovered in the near-by hills, leading to the infamous Gold Rush. Above is a monument to the old time prospectors (or panhandlers). 

Olde Town

Olde Town

The other day on our way to Reno Nevada we decided to try the Mexican cafe in old section of Auburn. The cafe itself was nothing much to see but across the street was this structure currently undergoing some sort of repair.  Care to guess what it is?

It’s the former home of Auburn Hook and Ladder No. 2. Below are the front doors reflecting the streets of the old town it served.

I was curious as to why fire engines used to be called hook and ladders and here’s an explanation from Google:

A hook ladder, also known as a pompier ladder (from the French pompier meaning firefighter) is a type of ladder that can be attached to a window sill or similar ledge by the use of a hooked extending bill with serrations on the underside. The hooked ladder then hangs suspended vertically down the face of the building.

 

After lunch we noticed a couple of plaques next to the fire station.

I had no idea what the significance of a Cypress deodara was and so had to google once again.

“Native to the western Himalayas in Afghanistan derives from the Sanskrit term devadāru, which means “wood of the gods”, a compound of deva “god” and dāru “wood and tree”.Forests full of Deodar or Devadāru trees were the favorite living place of ancient Indian sages and their families who were devoted to the Hindu god Shiva .

To please Lord Shiva, the sages used to perform very difficult tapasya (meditation) practices in deodar forests. Also the ancient Hindu epics and Shaiviteexts regularly mention Darukavana, meaning a forest of deodars, as a sacred place.”

The second plaque was dedicated to Jean Baptiste Charbonneau who was the youngest member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

At first, I thought it odd that a town would dedicate a plaque to a man whose claim to fame was being carried to the Pacific coast in a papoose but future research revealed he was quite well educated (by William Clark) and lived in Europe as a sort of goodwill ambassador before heading for wild times in the rollicking West.

Clark Aston Smith

Clark Aston Smith

This suspicious looking writer of “weird tales” also lived for a period of time in Auburn although the townsfolk rarely caught a glimpse of  him.  He hid in his ailing parent’s house where, in his own words he inspired “to delude the reader into accepting an impossibility, or series of impossibilities, by means of a sort of verbal black magic, in the achievement of which I make use of prose-rhythm, metaphor, simile, tone-color, counter-point, and other stylistic resources, like a sort of incantation.” 

He never met, though was a longtime pen pal of H.R. Lovecraft, author of the Dunwich Horror and other macabre tales. Before we had the internet and email, writer’s  befriended each other via pen and ink. Imagine that.

Here’s one more door for Norm Frampton’s doors from around the world event.  This place used to be the cafe to stop at for breakfast.  I don’t know what it is now.

 

 

The Eyes Have It

Today, the last of the pictures I took while on a Mission Trail Mural walk down in San Francisco.

Who wouldn’t want to come home to these garage doors?

The murals in the Mission are an example of a community working together with artists to transform alleys into places where you want to hang out and not simply get through as fast as possible. They reflect the histories and passions of the residents and also provide an escape pod for the imagination. For example, if you look closely in the mural below (painted on a garage door and thus eligible for entry in Norm Frampton’s #ThursdayDoors event) you can see a  figure in the pupil of the eye.  If I had to guess I’d say it’s a soldier in a helmet. 

Below the eye is a row of lashes perhaps inspired by Clockwork Orange?

This mural is one of my favorites.  It promises that if you open the door you’ll find yourself in a magical world.

Below is a crowd favorite.  People (particularly women) stood in front of this mural forever and would not move until they’d identified each face of “the women of the resistance.”
I didn’t even try.  I was more interested in the figures hovering over them (all dressed in business suits). The message was, if you’re wearing a business suit you’re most likely either polluting the planet or a greedy warmonger.

If you’re planning a trip to San Francisco and/or have a particular interest in murals, check out the PrecitaEyes website. This group has been promoting street art since 1977. They even have a museum and a community center. To see other special doors from around the floor, check out Norm’s place.

 

The Mission, Part 1

Alleys are generally not on a tourist’s “must see” list.  In fact they’re generally on the “do not enter” list.  Muggers and bums live in alleys.  Trashcans overflow in alleys.  Drug dealers hang like vampire bats in alleys.  But in an area of San Francisco known as The Mission and famous for the annual Castro Street faire and the Brazilian inspired Carnaval  a network of alleyways is slowly becoming a must-see.

These are someone’s garage doors.  Most of the homes and businesses in this area back up to alleys, providing a graffiti artist’s paradise. 

And then gradually the area began to attract muralists.

Because this area is heavily hispanic, many of the garage doors are blessed by the Holy Mother.

Many of the murals cover not only the garage doors but the entire back and sides of buildings and the alleys are narrow.

Thus it’s difficult for a spot-and-click photographer such as myself to get the entire image. The garage doors are beneath the GG Bridge.

Many of the murals have political or socioeconomic  messages.

This one pertains to the Palestinian struggle although I’m not sure what the arrows on the right mean – no way out?

Okay – these are the best from the first alley.  There are three more to go.  Checkout other doors over at Norm Frampton’s ThurdayDoor event. 

 

The Mighty Truckee’s Finer Ladies

Spring is really the best time to visit Reno Nevada.  The snow is just beginning to melt, meaning that the Truckee River is wild and dangerous and beautiful.

Above is the RiverWalk, a popular place on a sunny day.  As you can see off in the distance, there’s still plenty of snow to melt on the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

These two kayakers wisely chose to paddle to shore instead of attempting to run the set of engineered rapids downstream used for professional kayaking competitions.

Along the river some of Reno’s older and more interesting houses have managed to survive the ravages of the Mighty Truckee.


The building above was once an elementary school and now serves as a art center.

The Lear Theatre may not look like much but it has an interesting history.  It was designed by Paul Revere Williams who famously lamented that most of buildings he designed he could not enter. You see, he was the first African American to be honored by the Architectural Institute.

Before it was a theatre it was a church attended by the Moya Lear, the wife of William Powell Lear of Lear Jet fame. Besides being the wife of a brilliant man, she was also the daughter of vaudevillians and apparently thought the need for theatrics more important than the need for church and bought it. Unfortunately this building is not in the best part of town and they’ve had to surround it with a chain link fence to prevent vandalism.


Across the river and high on a hill sit decaying mansions once owned by the town’s prominent citizens. A few have been extensively remodeled but today people with money prefer to live far from Reno’s squalid old town with it’s pawn shops, casinos and bail bondsmen on every corner.

Above, for Norm Frampton’s ThursdayDoors extravaganza, is the one door I was able to get a clear shot of.

This rather gloomy building always brings bittersweet memories.  It is Saint Thomas Aquinas Cathedral where for years my best friend’s mother attended Mass every single morning and then wandered the streets ministering to the drunks sleeping it off in alleyways.  She spoke for God whose language she alone knew.

Here’s a better shot from Bing Images. It’s not Notre Dame, that’s for sure but then it’s not in Paris.  It’s two blocks from the El Dorado Casino and the heart of Sin City North (Reno’s nickname).

101 Ways to Tell the World to Kiss Your Ass: #ThursdayDoors

While visiting relatives we ran into this contraption parked on a main thoroughfare in the San Diego suburb of Carlsbad and at first thought it was some kind of a food truck.  We couldn’t read the sign on the back from across the street and were standing, squinting, and wondering aloud what the sign might say when a middle aged man walking his dog in front of us turned and said.

“You are about to pass the author of 101 Ways to Tell the World to Kiss your Ass.”

At first I thought he was a resident of that area who was miffed that a vehicle other than an Audi or  Porsche was parked in his well-manicured, HOA maintained, gated community.  He seemed the type: clean-cut and dressed as a southern Californian does for most of the year, in shorts.

But I was wrong.  It was David H. Scott, the author himself.  Here he is  standing next to his 1929 1.5 ton Chevy. Here’s a better shot of the front:

If you want to follow his adventures (he’s currently planning a kayaking trek across Mongolia) his website is at: http://www.1indsob.com.  Who knows, maybe at some point you’ll run into him and say:  I know you.  And it’s all because of Norm Frampton’s weekly #ThursdayDoors challenge.

On our way back to our far less unique, red Prius, we passed these monstrous and prolific daisies who practically screamed “Happy Spring!”

They towered over us!

I regret that we are traveling and I may not be able to check out everyone’s contributions to the party.  But I’m thinking of you.

 

Grateful for breathable air

In large cities you are immediately reminded that there are doors you will never enter unless you are wealthy or service the wealthy in some way or another. 

The above house (on Manhattan’s East Side) was for sale but guess what? No open house was scheduled. Rats. No peek into the Lifestyles of Rich and Famous for me. Here in honor of Norm Frampton’s ThursdayDoor event is another door I’ll never enter.

Below is a picture of a peculiar and apparently abandoned structure in another borough of NYC. Any guesses as to what it is?

 

Here’s a clue: It’s in the same park as the fountain below. 

Flushing Meadows, in the borough of Queens, is a world away from the east side of Manhattan. On the day we visited it was packed with families. On every field, soccer, baseball, cricket, and volleyball players either practiced or competed against each other as family members and friends watched.  Even in mid October, kayakers paddled around the small lakes taking selfies. They were mostly people from third world countries who will probably never be able to buy that house on the east side of Manhattan but they have their families and their community.  Today is Thanksgiving here in the United States. In California we are all thankful for the rain.  Our view has gone from smokey grey:


To cloudy grey. But the air has moved out of “hazardous” purple to a moderate orange.  It will be awhile before we are in the green of healthy air but we will never take fresh and healthy air for granted. Nor will I complain about the high cost of roof repairs.  At least I have a roof.

 

And of course I am thankful for you. Whether you come by once or every time I post, I am thankful for you.