San Francisco Book Destination

261 Columbus Avenue at Broadway, San Francisco

It all started with a postcard from my World’s Greatest Bookstores postcards. I also had a vague memory of going to City Lights Books when I was in high school. Once I arrived at City Lights, I realized that I may not have shopped here, and confused it with Clean, Well Lighted Place for Books. Alas the latter has closed.

The view of the Ferry Building from Sens restaurant, a mediocre mediterranean restaurant.

I drove to San Francisco to meet friends for lunch. I chose a place at Embarcadero Center 1 and planned to leave my car and walk to City Lights with a quick stop at the Allbirds store.

The neighborhood of Columbus at Broadway is still full of character, including the shady nightclubs I remember walking past in my youth on the way to see the play, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. The alley next to the bookstore is named after writer Jack Kerouac (one of the many streets named for authors in a map Bikes to Books: A literary cycling tour of San Francisco”)

IMG_8049The store was busy! And jammed with books and staff picks everywhere. I could have spent so much more time there. Sadly I couldn’t stop thinking about the traffic congesting on I-80 while I browsed. So I made a bee-line to the cash register and asked the bookseller if they had Don’t Speak. He was so good he read my mind and said, “You might mean Say Nothing.” Yep, not the No Doubt song. He had several copies behind the counter.

IMG_8050I enjoyed the walk back to the parking lot where it only cost $35 to get my car out of the parking lot after 3 hours. Ouch. Then I began the crawl out of the City. On my way in, it took 1.75 hours to drive from Sacramento to San Francisco. On a Friday afternoon it took 3.5 hours. That’s when I remember why I don’t go to San Francisco more often.




Check out the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco

Colleen O'Roarke, Julie Pieper Spezia, Lisa Goren at Autodesk Gallery
Fellow classmates Colleen and Lisa from my Leadership tribe enjoyed the Lego dinosaur as much as me.

I recently had the opportunity to participate in training on Human Centered Design at the Autodesk offices at One Market Street in San Francisco. On the concluding day of the training our hosts offered us a tour of the Autodesk Gallery. The gallery is a showcase for cool stuff created by users of their software.

Admission is FREE. This is a small miracle in an expensive city to visit. It is close to the Ferry Building if you are planning your itinerary.

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Autodesk Gallery exhibit; Photo by Colleen O’Roarke

I loved many of the clever, creative exhibits and there is a FREE photo booth!

Basic Information:

Autodesk Gallery at One Market
One Market, Floor 2
San Francisco, CA 94105

Located near the San Francisco Ferry Building and one block from the Embarcadero Station for BART and Muni, the Autodesk Gallery is easily accessible by public transportation.

Hours: Monday, Wednesday & Friday
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Free guided tour on Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m.

Hiking Rangitoto in Auckland

I stared at Rangitoto too many times to count from a bench in St Heliers in the east bays of Auckland. Finally I was able to take the ferry and hike to the top.

Rangitoto is the most recent volcano to erupt in the Auckland area. It was over 600 years ago, which is like yesterday in geologic time. The Auckland Museum has a terrific volcano exhibit including a lounge in St Heliers where you can experience what it might be like if a similar volcanic eruption occurred (right next to Rangitoto). Warning: it does unnerve.

You can leave from either Devonport or the Ferry Building on Quay Street at the end of Queen Street in Auckland. Fuller Ferries will sell a round trip ticket. It was extra to stop at Devonport on our return. In an attempt to control the rodent population in favor of native birds, take care and check your bags for any critters including ants and your shoes for excessive dirt or seeds. (It sounds crazy, I know. Just check. Who wants to be the jerk that brings something harmful onto Rangitoto?)

The cost of the ferry from Auckland or Devonport to Rangitoto is $30NZ round trip for an adult and $15NZ for a child.
The cost of the ferry from Auckland or Devonport to Rangitoto is $30NZ round trip for an adult and $15NZ
for a child.

We rose early, packed a bag with cameras, water and a snack and headed to catch the 9:15 ferry. We found parking at a garage across Quay Street from the Ferry Building. Our plan was to hike to the top of Rangitoto and then take the 12:30 ferry to Devonport for lunch. There are bathrooms on the island but no other facilities. The ferry does offer food and beverages on the boat, including tea or coffee.

Baches along shoreline of Rangitoto.
Baches along shoreline of Rangitoto.

Rangitoto trailThe day was overcast. We slathered on sunscreen just in case the sun made an appearance. It did not. I am glad as it would have been intensely hot and made the hike more challenging, although the photos would have been better.

There are a few “baches” (simple holiday houses) remaining on the island as historical landmarks, though no one can spend the night any longer. The trails are well marked and their is a tour company that will take you part of the way on a tram. We followed the signs up the trail to the summit. We ignored the offered side routes–another time. The Fullers brochure does recommend sturdy walking shoes and a torch if you want to explore lava caves.

View from Rangitoto includes nearby Motutapu.
View from Rangitoto includes nearby Motutapu.

It is more fascinating than beautiful to hike through volcanic fields of aa (dried lava flows). In some places soil has accumulated and vegetation grows. Where vegetation grows there are birds, mainly my favorite tui.

It is an arduous climb as it unrelentingly goes up. After we returned to Auckland a friend told me that she has hiked Rangitoto twice–the second time with her 80 year old mother. She told her story with humor and her mother sounds very game but she said never again! If you give yourself enough time, I believe most people, including children and those out of shape, could make it to the top. There are a series of long stairs at the very top, so it is not accessible to strollers or wheelchairs. The morning we hiked we were eclipsed at the top by a group of students from a boys college racing to the top.

Near the top of Rangitoto
The trail is well marked by the Department of Conservation.

There is a deck for viewing the dormant volcano’s cone, as well as a deck for appreciating the views. Like many other places around Auckland Bays, there are watch bunkers from World War II. The trail is well marked and there are numerous informational signs provided by the Department of Conservation. I used these to stop and catch my breath and take a few photos.

Sometimes the walk downhill can be harder than the hike uphill. Rangitoto’s trail is not too challenging on the way down. There are a few spots where you have to slow down and place your feet carefully.

We returned to the ferry dock in plenty of time to relax a bit before the ride to Devonport. The weather was not improving. When the ferry docked I was a bit surprised to see some people arriving. They would have just enough time to walk an hour to the summit and return before the last ferry of the day left.

Tevis, Sarah and Marcos mooching around in Devonport.
Tevis, Sarah and Marcos mooching around in Devonport.

Wild and Wooly

We stopped at Devonport and ate lunch at one of the many restaurants just a few blocks from the ferry building. My kids mooched around town while I shopped at my favorite wool shop. Then we hopped on the ferry back to Auckland CBD. Those leave every half hour. It was $7.50 a person for the short hop (takes less than 15 minutes).

I always love the view of Auckland from the ferry. It is a beautiful city and full of good times and great memories. Especially of the Rugby World Cup. I hope one day Auckland will be able to host the America’s Cup again.