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2021 October 4

Secret Walks: Arana Gulch-Jose Ave Park

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I’m behind again on blogging about our walks from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover. On Saturday 25 September, my wife and I did the loop walk for Arana Gulch and Jose Ave Park.  The loop itself is 3.3 miles, but we added 2.4 miles getting there and 2.8 miles home, for a total of 8.5 miles.  We had lunch on the way home at Charlie Hong Kong.


On the way to the beginning of the loop, we passed this cute little free library on Broadway—it is modeled after the house it is associated with.


Arana Gulch as many fine coast live oaks, some with branches brushing the ground.


Arana Gulch also seems to have ground squirrels, though we saw only the holes and not the rodents themselves.


We had never walked on the Marsh View Trail before, but it has some fine views of the wetlands for the creek that ends in the yacht harbor.


Another view of the marshy part of the creek.


Another fine tree with dramatic branches.


The Marsh Creek Trail is worth taking just for the fine twisty trees.


Yet another lovely tree—this one with a large hollow.


And another.


After walking the trails in Arana Gulch, we took the bridge across the creek, which has these fine steel panels of fish.


The creek looking upstream from the bridge.


Zooming in a little to see the fallen trees across the creek.


This birdhouse may have the only vacancies in Santa Cruz.


The great-blue-heron sculptures are one of the highlights of Jose Ave Park.


The oversize heron footprints (to match the statues) in the sidewalk are a nice touch.


On Eddy Lane, just across from the park, there is this “Book Bot”—a very fine Little Free Library.


Another “Little Outdoor Library Thingy” on 7th Ave.


Coming back over the bridge, I took a picture of another of the fish panels—the series seems to show salmon spawning.


Leaving Arana Gulch on the west side is the Hagemann Gulch Bridge. It took bicycle activists many years to convince the City to install the bridges to provide pedestrian and bike access across Hagemann Gulch and Arana Gulch, and the final placement of the bridges was not optimal, but they are heavily used now.


There were 3 raptors circling over Arana Gulch as we were leaving. I don’t have much zoom on my camera, so this was the best shot I could get of a pair of them, after cropping out a lot of blank sky.


We walked back along Soquel, passing this small mural on Mackenzies’ Chocolates.


I’ve always liked this back door, which used to be for the Bicycle Trip (before they moved) and is now for the Childish Toy Shop.


We passed one more little free library on the way home (on Cleveland)—I may have included a photo of this one in previous post.

2021 September 22

Secret Walks: Long-Antonelli loop

I’m finally catching up on blogging about our walks from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover. On Saturday 18 September, my wife and I did the loop walk for the Long Marine Lab and Antonelli Pond.  The loop itself is 2.7 miles, but we added 1.8 miles getting there and 2.3 miles getting home, for a total of 6.8 miles.


These fish sculptures are outside the new Hampton Inn Santa Cruz West on Mission Street.


The first part of the walk uses a public beach access through the large manufactured-home park at the end of Delaware Ave. We had never walked that route before, and we were surprised both by how big the trailer park is and how nice the ponds are along the coastal access.


Here is a view of the pond a little lower down, showing the bridge over the ponds.


After the ponds there is a little pocket beach, which is what the path is providing access to.


The lowest end of the ponds has a bit of algae covering it, despite the aerating fountains. This is the view from bridge, looking out towards the pocket beach.


The view in the other direction from the bridge shows the pond and the cute little island in the middle of it.


The gazebo is just for the residents of the manufactured-home park, so we did not go in, but it seems to have a commanding view of the ocean and of Natural Bridges State Beach.


Zooming in gives a nice view of Natural Bridges State Beach.


Both my wife and I like the Seussian look of tall aloe plants.

The coastal access provides a gate from the manufactured-home park to UCSC’s coastal campus, which houses the Long Marine Lab, the Seymour Marine Discovery Center, the Southwest Fisheries Science Center Fisheries Ecology Division, the Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center, and several other lab buildings.


The waves by Long Marine Laboratory were not huge, but occasionally made a big splash. The big stick on the right is not a dead tree, but an old mast from the shipwreck of La Feliz in 1924.


The blue-whale skeleton is a popular attraction for the Seymour Center at the the Long Marine Lab. The Seymour Center is closed until mid-October, but they set up 6 or 7 outdoor docent stations, and they were letting people use the rest rooms.

The paved path across the wetlands on the coastal campus seems to be fairly new, and it is was quite popular with weekend bicyclists, though we did not see many others walking on it. We took the path up to the railroad tracks, which we followed over to Antonelli Pond.


These postpiles in Antonelli Pond are remnants of a refuse wharf. The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, which now owns and maintains Antonelli Pond, has a nice interpretive map of the pond (available at the southwest end of the pond) that gives a lot of the history. There used to be a lot in that neighborhood that is now all gone (train station, hotel, lumbermill, mushroom factory, speakeasy, … ).


Looking northeast across part of the pond shows some of the more recent development. The building by the pond on the right of this photo is the old TI building, which is now owned by UCSC and used for research (including the UCSC genome institute).

The ponds along this loop are much nicer than Moran Lake from the loop that we walked the previous week, though we did not see much in the way of birds this week. After walking the loops we went back along Delaware Ave to check the sale at Synergy Organic Clothing (which had really good prices, but not the colors my wife was looking for) and to eat lunch at Café Iveta.


I rather like the elegance of these bike parking loops and their shadows on Delaware Ave.


This bike parking along the rail trail behind New Leaf is rather badly misplaced—it is on the far side of the parking lot from any destination, so it never gets used. I suspect that most bicyclists can’t figure out how to use it either.


We only saw two Little Free Libraries on this walk, and neither was on the loop itself. The one is the only Little Free Library that we know of on King Street.


This Little Free Library is next to the rail trail on Almar Ave.

2021 September 20

Secret Walks: Moran Lake

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I’m over a week behind on blogging about our walks from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover. On Saturday 11 September, my wife and I did a short walk about as far east as the book goes—the Moran Lake loop. Our original plan was to take the bus there and walk home, but we ended up taking buses at both ends, because the walk back did not seem very attractive.  The loop is 2.4 miles, but with our walk to the bus station and back and a walk from 41st and Portola to Capitola Mall, we did about 5.9 miles.


I liked this fish-shaped bike rack visually, though I don’t know how good it is for supporting bikes.


Pleasure Point has a couple of the art frames for framing views. The little dots on the water are not sea birds, but surfers—there were a lot of surfers, but not much in the way of waves all along East Cliff Drive.


Not far from the other frame is this one, which captured a jogger and a bicyclist for me. (I had another view that showed the other frame inside this one, but it was rather boring.)


There are not a lot of amenities along East Cliff (a bathroom, an outdoor shower, and Pleasure Point Cafe, which has a nice octopus mural).


I believe that the old Pleasure Point Motel was converted into condos (or apartments) and this sign reused.


Moran Lake is rather drab—a slight widening of a narrow creek—hardly big enough to be a pond, much less a lake.


Moran Lake is rather full of scum at this time of year. It might be nicer after some rain (though the paths probably get muddy then).


This egret (a great egret, I believe) likes the scummy water for the food in it.


Back view of the great egret.


Just upstream of the great egret was this much smaller egret (probably a snowy egret). I tried to get a picture with both egrets in it, but they never got close enough to each other for a good shot. Even this shot (at maximum zoom) is rather shaky.


Portola Avenue is not fun to walk along (too much traffic), but it does have this nice commemorative plaque for Charley Parkhurst, the first woman to vote in the US.


Portola Avenue also has this nice mural for a tattoo parlor. Portola Avenue is a rather weird mix of business, as that neighborhood seems to be rapidly gentrifying.

After finishing the loop, we ate lunch at Zameen’s at the Point. We’d only ever eaten at Zameen’s food truck before, not at either of their restaurants. The food was good (essentially the same as on the food truck), but a wrap each was a little too much, so we did not stop at Penny Ice Creamery across the street. We did stop in at Two Birds Books, which seems like a nice neighborhood bookstore, though we did not buy anything there.

2018 November 7

Santa Cruz bike lockers

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 20:21
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When i was at the farmers’ market downtown today, I chatted for a little while with a bicyclist taking his bike out of one of the bike lockers.  He was amazed at how under-utilized the bike lockers are—he never has any trouble finding an empty one to use.

It is rather amazing, considering that parking in the lockers is much safer than parking in an exposed bike rack (especially given the bike theft rate in Santa Cruz) and that parking in the lockers costs only 5¢ an hour.  There are 5 locker locations on the UCSC campus, 2 locations at the Long Marine Lab, and 7 downtown (but none in the shopping areas of the Eastside or the Westside).  Each location is a cluster of several lockers. A map of the locker locations can be found at

There is one problem, though: you have to have a Bikelink card to use the lockers.  The cards can be bought on-line, at The Spokesman, or at the Santa Cruz Parking office in the Locust Street Garage. The cards cost $20 and have $20 worth of parking credit (400 hours). The cards are useful also in many other locations around the Bay Area (and even other parts of the country) and can be refilled on-line if you use up the initial credit.

I have not ever used the bike lockers, because my recumbent bike is too long to fit in them (tandem riders and adult-tricycle riders are also out of luck).  But I did get my son a Bikelink card several years ago, which he used a few times, but Bikelink has no lockers in Isla Vista or Santa Barbara—somewhat surprising considering the number of bikes on the UCSB campus.

2016 September 10

Seven UC campuses in top 30 on Sierra Club list

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 11:30
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In the Sierra Club list of “Cool Schools” for 2016, seven of the ten University of California campuses rank in the top thirty for sustainability.

rank campus score
  3 UCI  734.38
  8 UCD  714.50
 18 UCSC  670.87
 24 UCSD  657.99
 27 UCR  656.65
 29 UCB  655.00
 30 UCSB  649.18
 62 UCLA  595.56
 84 UCM  571.16

Note: UCSF is not ranked, because it has no four-year undergraduate program, just a med school.

Because the Sierra Club relies heavily on self reports by the campuses, it is not clear that the numbers are really directly comparable. Different standards will be applied in answering the questions, with some colleges really stretching the definitions in order to appear sustainable, and others having very strict standards in which well above average behavior and facilities are deemed inadequate.

Their point system is based on the Sierra Club’s particular beliefs about what is important (giving a lot of points for divestment from fossil fuel companies, compared to the points given for low use of fossil fuels, for example).

They also reward reductions in water consumption and energy usage “since an established baseline period”, but there doesn’t appear to be any uniformity in when the baseline was established nor any reward for having always been a low consumer.  A water-usage per student and energy-usage per student measure would probably paint a very different picture, with places like UCSC (which have always been sparing in both their energy and water usage) moving way up in the ranking.  Of course, energy usage varies a lot with the climate, and coastal California campuses should be able to use a lot less energy than ones in Michigan and Minnesota—but sustainability measures should not start out by giving bonuses for building in places that require unsustainable practices.

Some of their standards are a bit strange, giving as many points for a “bike-sharing program” as for “bike storage, shower facilities, and lockers”, and nothing for bike lanes/paths.  Bike-sharing programs are pretty much PR fluff on a college campus, but bike parking is crucial (though for commuters policies that allow bikes in the office are often better than lockers or bike storage facilities).

UCI, UCB, UCSD, and UCSC all do better in their transportation rankings than UCD, but I suspect that UCD actually has the lowest per-student or per-employee transportation impact, because the very much larger share that bike commuting has there.  They may be giving more points for public transportation than for bicycling, which would explain Columbia University being at the top of their ranking.

Unfortunately, the Sierra Club does not seem to have made the raw data from which they did the scoring available, so it would be difficult to redo the rankings based on different weighting of the criteria, and difficult for student organizations to determine where their campus is missing the mark, in order to push for improvements.

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