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.

 

 

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.

 

 

#ThursdayDoors: Halifax NS

For one of the oldest cities in Canada, Halifax NS has a remarkably young and energetic vibe. 

People don’t seem rushed or anxious to be first in line. If you step off a curb, cars stop and wait patiently for you to cross the street.  Of course, we lucked onto beautiful weather.

Like Montreal, it is a city for walking with a mixture of old architecture and new.

The old Town Clock was getting a facelift.

And tourists flocked to watch the hourly changing of the guard at the fortress (Citadel) on top of the hill.

It’s not quite as formal as its namesake ceremony at Buckingham Palace, as you can see.  Of course, the fellow above is not a soldier, he’s a docent.

The Citadel was never attacked although they were prepared. Below is the entrance to a zigzag of foxholes.Aside from wandering around the streets, we did visit the Immigration Museum where I found out my ancestors came to Canada before there was such a thing as immigration.

They just appeared on early census records listing their birthplaces as Ireland.  And here I always thought they were Scottish.  Right now I’m miffed at them for ever leaving Canada.

Check out other doors over at Norm’s Place! 

#ThursdayDoors: Bezerkley

Looking out toward the Golden Gate Bridge which was unfortunately shrouded in fog and smoke.

Not only does the Lawrence Hall of Science have one of the most spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay Area but every exhibit is meant to be manhandled by children, casually monitored and guided in their experiments by high school students earning extra credit in biology, mathematics or chemistry.

The hall is actually a part of the University of California Berkeley.  It was named in honor of the “Atom Smasher,” Ernest Lawrence, also the inventor of the cyclotron and the founder of the Lawrence Berkeley Labs.  Over the years I’ve met and worked with many physicists who got their start at the “Lab.”  I couldn’t understand them 99% of the time but they were never boring.

The back door leads to a chance to get wet and dirty as you learn about water management.  Downstairs are classrooms where kids learn about lizards and volcanos and all that cool stuff in a more formal setting.

For bigger kids, Berkeley offers a different sort of entertainment:

 

The Ashkenaz, which has been around since 1973, is run by a non-profit organization whose goal is to showcase music and dance from around the world. The idea is not to listen or watch but to participate and they’re very serious.  If you come, you dance.Berkeley is known for its eccentric population and if you wander around up near the campus you’ll see just about anything.  When I worked there, the most famous eccentric was the Naked Guy, a 6’5” former athlete who insisted on attending class in nothing but shoes.  Clothes, he claimed were oppressive and for a time, no one said a word.  It was, after all, Berkeley.

Then there was the Hate Man, a former journalist and Peace Corps worker who espoused the doctrine of hate and “oppositionality.” To start a conversation with him, you had to say “Fuck you.”

When he died, it made the national news and the denizens of People’s Park, a homeless encampment smack dab in the middle of Berkeley, made a memorial for him, which he would have hated.

Check out other doors from around the world at Norm’s place.  

#ThursdayDoors: Siberia

My friend, who just returned from a trip to Russia, China and Tibet, said these doors and windows reminded her of me.  How sweet!  Thank you Mary Alice!  

She was in Irkutsk which is the capital of Siberia. According to Wikipedia, many journalists, writers and artists were exiled to this city in the 19th century because they irritated the factions currently in charge.

I won’t even attempt to fathom the history of Russia.  Whites, Reds, Bolsheviks, Communists – it’s like trying to sort out the history of British Royalty.  So many rebellions and power struggles.  Ugh.

The dissidents were sent to Siberia because it’s remote and the weather can be brutal but they certainly do have a lot of style.

According to Mary Alice, these are wooden windows. She did a great job on this shot, don’t you think?  Nice reflection.

I googled Irkutsk and was amazed by how many famous people were born in Siberia, Arguably the most famous was Rudolph Nureyev, born here in 1936.

This is an interesting little cabin.  From some reason, it made me think of Lincoln Logs.

 

Check out other doors from around the world at Norm’s Place.