Hope You "Like" This One - Quiet Country Lanes of the Bay Area - CycleBlaze

February 5, 2021

Hope You "Like" This One

After a few rainy days it's going to be a lovely day again today. Pokey is itching to get out there, and we decided to ride along San Francisco Bay marshes today and show you another tourist stop in Silicon Valley, one that billions of people Like.

First is the usual ride through residential areas, then on a bike bridge over the freeway, and soon we were on the bike path along the marshes.

We're off. Ornamental fruit trees are in bloom now.
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Crossing over the eight lanes of US 101.
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The first set of marshes we went through is in the Palo Alto Baylands, where I worked for a few years when I wasn't working in the park up in the foothills. The Baylands has a lot of other things going on besides marshes. There's a golf course, athletic fields, a busy general aviation airport, and a sewage treatment plant. We have to go by a few of those but no big deal.

We get to the marshes for real after we cross San Francisquito Creek. That's a major watershed in this neck of the woods. At its mouth it's tidal. It was very low tide today when we went across it.

Almost to the marshes. This is San Francisquito Creek taking a deep bend before hitting the bay. Tidal at this point, so I'm saying it's low tide just now.
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On the Friendship Bridge which crosses between Palo Alto and East Palo Alto over San Francisquito Creek as it heads for the bay. The potholes you see were created by bat rays, which whomp their wings into the mud to make worms and crabs etc pop up into their mouths.
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Ah. Now we're talking.
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This bike path is part of the Bay Trail, sections of which we were on before. It's really nice to be able to look out over marsh from your bike as opposed to how the Bay Trail is in most other sections. Also this section is not that heavily used.

The trail continues to a different open space preserve managed by yet another public agency. Midpeninsula Open Space District built a boardwalk from an existing trail in their marsh out to a utility's right-of-way and thence to a major arterial, connecting up other bike routes. The boardwalk is 1200 feet long and built a bit higher to accommodate sea level rise. They also paved the trail up to the boardwalk. The best thing this little half-mile of additional trail did is to complete a much-needed section for bike commuters. It takes you off the nearby streets and gives you a respite from traffic.

Now we're in a different open space preserve. Can you tell?
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Really nice boardwalk. A much-needed connector for the Bay Trail.
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Chock full of interesting tidbits.
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Last ride we showed some reservoirs for water that traveled from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite for our benefit. Here's a great overview of the system.
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At the moment we're standing just a few feet from where the pipelines come ashore on the west side of the bay. The Pulgas Water Temple, which I took a photo of from afar last ride, is shown on the left side, as are the reservoirs I rode along. Hetch Hetchy and the O'Shaughnessy Dam are shown on the right side.
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Catwalk for the power lines. They aren't used any more. Instead the maintenance workers are hoisted via helicopter. You couldn't pay me enough to swing 25 feet below a copter on a cable and land on a tower.
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Scott AndersonNor to walk across the marsh on that tightrope, for that matter.
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9 months ago
Kathleen JonesTo Scott AndersonI hear ya. These are pretty old lumber so they're nice solid 12x's. A little narrow but not too bad to walk on when they're not rotten.
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9 months ago
None of the marshes around here are pristine any more. This used to be farmed.
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The bike path from the boardwalk is still a bit shiny new.
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Old freight line that used to cross the bay. Some live in hope of revitalizing this line but the bridge has mostly fallen into the water so would be an expensive proposition. I've never seen it so clear of brush.
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Here is an old salt evaporation pond that has been restored as part of a big decades-long project.
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There's a salt pond restoration effort going on in the south bay. About 80 or 90 percent of the original marsh around the bay has been filled in, and the restoration project aims to restore about 15,000 acres of that over 50 years. It includes breaching levees to get natural tidal action, mechanically  reshaping some ponds, and building refugia. Some ponds will stay as they are because wildlife has adapted to them and now depend on things like brine shrimp. We'll talk more about this in a bit.

A short distance after we hit the arterial road we're at a freeway as it approaches the Dumbarton Bridge over to the East Bay. We crossed the freeway and headed towards an office campus that sits by its lonesome in a parcel of filled marsh.

Our objective is in sight.
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In the early 2000s, Sun Microsystems, a big networking company, was flying high due to the dot com boom. They built a new campus out in the marsh that was convenient to commuters from the less-expensive East Bay as well as those who lived in the valley. Due to its somewhat isolated location on the bay the employees dubbed it Sun Quentin.

Sun was wounded by the dot com bust but carried on for several years until it too was eventually folded into another company called Oracle. The campus sat empty for a couple of years until another growing company took it over. Although these days the campus is empty again.

A work day. No vehicles to speak of. Acres of unused parking. Thanks, pandemic.
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Maybe you know this company. I used to use it but gave it up years ago.

Like! It's decorated for Indigenous People's Month, but now we're in Black History Month so someone has fallen down on the job.
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The Like sign has become quite the tourist draw, but not so much these days of course. I've stopped here a few times. First time I was by myself and it was a little bit of a scramble to get there. Since then Facebook has landscaped and hardscaped the area. There are usually lines to take photos. People hand off their cameras or phones to the people behind them to take their photos for them. All very good-natured and patient.

Had to keep going back further and further in my files to find this because it wasn't taken 2018 or 2017 but in 2015. Sheesh.
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Same visit in 2015. There was a line to take photos. I declined to wait.
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I like how Facebook left the Sun sign in place as a nod to its forebears. But this poor sign is in disrepair since my last visit. Also the vegetation has grown a bit since 2015.
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After stopping at the sign I was of two minds: whether to continue on up the marsh or just circle around FB and head for home. Plan B it was because it offered a pleasant place for my lunch, a bench on the bike path overlooking the marsh.

I think I'll take the bike path that circles around the back of the campus before heading home. Old salt ponds surround the campus on three sides.
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Huh. What's this.
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Which brings us back to the salt ponds. Back in the olden days of the early 1990s, I worked in an office that was near some active salt ponds. It was really interesting to watch the harvest. After years of evaporation, the salt was harvested by a machine that scraped the salt layer off the algae-rich mud. The harvester dumped the salt into tiny rail cars on a track that was laid in front as the cars in sections as they moved along, then shoved over as the harvester reduced the width of salt layer (pick up the back sections and move them up to the front, repeat, then move over a bit to make room for the harvester and start laying them down again). It reminded me of the Lionel trains we had as kids, and how we'd pull apart the sections of track and reconfigure them.

The salt was then piped to a huge pile a short distance away in the Port of Redwood City. From the pile it was loaded onto a ship at their dock. A boardwalk at the nearby marina was above the pipeline from the ponds to the pile. You knew the pipeline was in operation when you walked on that boardwalk because it was humming.

This explains things in a nutshell very well. But I never saw a brown pile of salt.
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The salt ponds wrap around the southern part of the bay, from the very top of the photo on the eastern (right) side, down and around to the big white area on the western (left) side. The only active ponds now are the algal orangey ones. The rest are in process of restoration. The red line is my route.
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Little salt harvesting rail car. They looked toy-sized out on the ponds but this one is 4 feet tall on the rails.
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I used to work in the office buildings shown here, and would watch the salt harvested at these salt ponds. The harvested salt would be piped to a big pile at what is now the brown field to the left, then loaded onto a ship at its dock. The pipeline went under a boardwalk along the bottom edge of the nearby marina.
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You can tell when a salt pond has been restored because the natural water flow makes squiggly lines. The restoration project has also been testing weird landform shapes you can see in one of the ponds. They want to see how they may get revegetated naturally, as well as which ones are preferred by wildlife.
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Lunch time! A nice place to sit, munch and ponder.
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Leftish you can see downtown San Francisco, rightish you can see downtown Oakland.
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Outside the Facebook campus there is public parking for the public shore, which is the bike path I took around the campus perimeter. From here I went alongside the freeway for a short distance and headed back the way I came.
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Closer to the barn.
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Today's ride: 18 miles (29 km)
Total: 155 miles (249 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 5
Mike AylingThank you Kathleen for another informative and interesting report.

Mike
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9 months ago
marilyn swettKathleen - I sure enjoy reading your journals! You always find such interesting things to see on your rides.

Marilyn
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9 months ago
Kathleen JonesTo Mike AylingThanks, Mike. Glad you enjoyed it.
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9 months ago
Kathleen JonesTo marilyn swettThanks, Marilyn. It's easy to get jaded about your own neighborhood, isn't it? But trying to make sense of it for other people sure makes you look at things anew. That was the beauty of writing on Bike Life and doing the coffeeneuring etc. I loved reading about your local rides because they sure weren't local to me. I still remember the cemetery rides.
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9 months ago
marilyn swettI enjoyed doing those cemetery rides for everyone as I always learned or saw something different all the time in the cemetery. It's a huge place with so much history.
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9 months ago