Cycling Through San Francisco

13th March 2017

Cycling in Golden Gate Park

BY GUEST BLOGGER, DANIEL LEE

My travel goal is to cultivate an abundance mindset.  Not rushing to seek out many places in a day but rather explore a few parts of the city — at a relaxed pace on my bicycle, believing that to see everything is to miss everything.

So hello California! I’m grateful to spend 9 days with you before bouncing off to Hawaii with my family.

During my stay I made 2 cycling trips into San Francisco from the East Bay. 

  1. Taking the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) from downtown Oakland into Mission District to explore the neighbourhood’s vibrancy. ($3.70 USD one way per adult.)
  2. Embarking on the Jack London Ferry from Oakland into the San Francisco Ferry Terminal Building and riding towards the engineering marvel that is the Golden Gate Bridge. (Fares range from $5 to $6.60 USD one way per adult.)

Clarion Alley

Here is a recap of my journey and the beauty that I captured through my lens.

Using the Clipper Card (think Toronto PRESTO) to board the BART subway, I ended up with my trusty bike on the 16th Street Mission Station during the early morning of Martin Luther King Jr. Day — a statutory holiday in the U.S — and was free to roam the empty streets of the Mission District (similar to Kensington Market with its rich history of South & Central American diaspora). 

I chanced upon a discreet small street named Clarion Alley located next to Mission & 17th Street and had a “spidey-sense tingling” moment that there was something to explore. I ventured in and was rewarded with a cultural welcome — of sorts — into a mural alley.

Clarion Alley Mission

                                                                  Photo credit: Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP)

When it comes to street art, I often feel the pulse of a city through sentiments expressed by the urban artists on the city’s cultural climate. There are over 700 murals in and around this one block! I immediately noticed a certain attitude towards how the influx of tech employees or “tech bros” as my big sis calls them — has tempted landlords to jack up housing prices, resulting in displacement of homes.

Throwing some stats around, median home value in San Francisco is $1.1 million and average rent is $4170 (Zillow) — just sayin’!! 

Dolores Park

Next stop after some cultural introspection is Dolores Park — specifically to climb atop the greenery to get a glimpse of the city and its unobstructed skyline to restore my optimism in humanity.

If I really wanted to indulge in a multicoloured experience, I’ll camp out and wait for the Truffle Man to slide along the grass with some magical truffles. Legend has it that he is a saint. Joking aside, he literally sells park-goers psychedelic truffles and has a legit 4.5-star Yelp page!

Lizard in California Academy of Sciences

Getting pumped on serotonin or happy hormones from the Californian sunshine, I cycled towards my eventual stop. Ocean Beach. But first I navigated through the greens of Golden Gate Park.

A monster of a park! Imagine walking for over an hour from Dundas West to Yonge & Bloor station with a path so green, there’s even a Japanese Tea Garden and bisons grazing on pastures (I’m serious)!

California Academy of Sciences Greenhouse

Blessed with being able to go the distance on my bike (which was rented starting at $8 USD per hour), I decided to check out the amazing California Academy of Sciences — one of the world’s largest museums of natural history with a beautifully curated conservatory and aquarium. Stepping into the greenhouse made me realize how much I’ve missed the tropics and this timely reminder got me excited on my anticipated travel to Asia!

Windmill Golden Gate Park

Waving to the Dutch Windmill on my way out, this landmark is located on the western edge on John F. Kennedy Drive. I couldn’t help but marvel at just how well this park — on this scale— has been put together. Now if only the proposed Rail Deck Park in Toronto would become a reality!

With my lungs filled with the greenest of gases and my curiosity captured by the beautiful biodiversity of plants and animals, I continued to Ocean Beach.

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach is one of those places that puts me in the present. I find myself totally relaxed at the sights and sounds of the waves pounding in from the Pacific Ocean. My body, drained from hours of peddling is recharged — this may also be correlated with the negative ions from the sand that are known to boost energy. Nonetheless, who needs coffee when you are feeling this pumped?!

Sutro Baths

Sunset at Lands End

This is my third trip to Ocean Beach but it’s still such a novel experience coming here. It amazes me just how vast the world is, simply by watching the endless stretch of waves crashing onshore.

I wandered the evocative ruins of the Sutro Baths and caught the last of the sunset from Lands End. To be able to spend the last few hours of the day unwinding here makes all that cycling even more satisfying.

 DANIEL LEE  //  Hell hath no fury like Daniel when he hasn’t had his bowl of noodles. Or rice. He (usually) makes better life decisions when he’s adequately fed. Our guest blogger is a wannabe techie, zen master, world traveller — help him validate his motto of “less is more” when it comes to life (and food) by following @danieeeleee on Instagram. Home base is Toronto.

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