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2021 November 23

Secret Walks: Riverwalk

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On Saturday 20 November, I  walked the Riverwalk loop from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover.  The walk in the book is 3.8 miles, but I walked another 1.4 miles on each end, totalling 6.6 miles.My wife did not accompany me for this walk—her hip was bothering her, she had been exposed to Covid at work and had not had a second negative test yet, and she does not like walking by the homeless encampment on the river.


Pacific Avenue downtown was block by this large crane, which was replacing the HVAC equipment on the top of Cooper House.


Here is a view of the crane with one of the old pieces of duct work.


An unidentified bird under Water Street bridge.


The levee on the west side of the San Lorenzo river, looking north. There are a lot of young trees in the flood plain.


Large old logs between the levees have been cut up—probably so that they don’t jam against the bridges and cause flooding if we ever get enough rain to float them again.


There are a number of public exercise machines on the Riverwalk by Gateway Plaza, just a little downstream of Highway 1.


The pedestrian bridge across the river just below Highway is fairly heavily used, both by homeless people and by people living in houses on the east side of the river.


Here is the view upstream from the pedestrian bridge, showing how little water there is in the river and how much traffic there is on Highway 1.


The view looking south (downstream) along the levee on the east side of the river.


In San Lorenzo Park, which is just across the river from where the loop started, there is a bowling green. This used to have lawn bowling, but the lawn has been replaced by an artificial surface, so now it is more like indoor-outdoor carpet bowling.


There are hundreds of tents for homeless people on the benchlands of San Lorenzo Park, making a rather stark contrast to the bowling green, duck pond, and play structures of the rest of the park. This picture shows only a small fraction of the homeless encampment, which fills the benchlands next to the river below the levee. The encampment is at serious risk of flooding if we get a heavy rain.


The duck pond in San Lorenzo Park has a small stage in the middle (which used to be used a lot for free concerts). Ducks can be seen resting in the shade under the stage.


The mallard on the left is the most commonly seen duck in Santa Cruz—I think that this is the first time I’ve seen a merganser (the duck on the right) in Santa Cruz, though they are also supposed to be fairly common.


Here is the merganser again, surrounded by mallards (there were another 20–50 mallards not in the frame here).


This concrete play structure has been in San Lorenzo Park for at least 20 years, but all the other play structures that were there when my son was of an age to visit playgrounds have since been replaced.


I have always liked speaking tubes in playgrounds—here are the two ends of the one in San Lorenzo Park.


Ground squirrels are very common in open fields throughout Santa Cruz—including in the river bed.


Coots on the river.


There were a lot of gulls on the river, but they suddenly took off, wheeled around a few times, and settled back on the river. It was hard photographing them, because of where the sun was.


Crossing back to the west side of the river on the pedestrian path on the railway trestle gives a nice view of the log ride at Santa Cruz Boardwalk. As seems to be the standard every time I cross this bridge, there was a Chinese tour group crossing the other way.


Here is part of the flock of gulls I showed earlier, now from the west side of the river, with the light behind me.


I’m not 100% sure, but I think that this is a female goldeneye. Even at max zoom, I could not get a clear view of the bird. (I’m seriously thinking of getting a camera with much more zoom.)


There is another set of public exercise equipment just below the Laurel Street bridge.

After finishing the Rivierwalk loop, I had lunch downtown: a grilled-cheese sandwich at Central Coast Creamery in Abbot Square, followed by an ice-cream cone at The Penny Ice Creamery (pecan pie and crême fraiche with dates). I had to wait in line for 15 minutes at the Penny, because the weather was so nice that everyone was getting ice cream, and they only had one person working the counter (staffing retail and restaurants has been difficult lately).

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