San Francisco is blessed to have many parks and open spaces. One of them is called Crissy Field.
If you are one of the 1.2 million people who stroll, cycle and walk dogs on the 1.5-mile promenade along the water with the view of Golden Gate Bridge every year, you know the place. I read about this in the article titled, “It’s Crissy Field’s Turn For a Green Redesign”, written by Peter Fimrite, which appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday, August 5, 2019. The number of people mentioned in the article surprised me, since the population of San Francisco is about 884,000. In the past, I visited Crissy Field only once or twice over many years, that is, until we got Max, and started to go there more often. It is part of Presidio National Park Service, and named in honor of Major Dana Crissy, who died trying to land on the airstrip, which was part of the Presidio airfield at the beginning of the twentieth century. The Presidio has served as a military reservation from its establishment in 1776 as Spain’s northern-most outpost of colonial power in the New World. But in 1994, it became a park and part of the Golden Gate National Reservation Area.
In 1997 the Park Service began the Crissy Field Restoration, starting with the removal of almost 90,000 tons of contaminated materials. Since then, Presidio Park continues to undergo extensive renovations with a plan to turn the 1,491-acre Presidio into a place teaming with wildlife. According to the article, “A redesign of sprawling Crissy Field will be one of the last puzzle pieces in a decades-long process by the National Park Service to turn the Presidio into a park friendly to both wildlife and humans”.
About a year ago, a friend told me that there is a group called SF Doodles, which meets once a month on Crissy Field. Max belongs to this group of dogs, which were developed by crossing different breeds with Poodles. The original purpose was to have a dog that is hypoallergenic. It started in 1989 in Australia, and now there are different hybrid breeds such as, Goldendoodles, Maltipoo, Yorkpoo, Pekapoo and others. They come in different sizes and have different traits, inherited from the original breeds. Though not all of the 1287 members of the Doodle meetup group come to monthly meetup, the crowd of people and their four-legged companions is quite lovely. You are welcome to join just for fun, if you don’t have a doodle, you can borrow one from a friend.
P.S. It seems that dogs have a good time here, running over Crissy Field, as four of these images can attest.
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Our house is located in the area of San Francisco called Monterey Heights, which became a neighborhood in early 1920s. It’s a five-minute walk down the hill to the commercial pocket, West Portal, and about a twenty-five minute walk up to the highest mountain in our city – Mount Davidson, which stands 738 feet above sea level. And in spite of the fact that the 103 foot high cross at the top of it can be seen from many areas of San Francisco, the mountain which is covered with lush vegetation, and the forest in the center of our city remains a big secret. Every time I have climbed to the top of the mountain, I did not see many people there. Before we got our dog Max, I would go there often on the weekends. My favorite time was before the sunrise, for the main reason to photograph, and I have quite a few interesting images of the sunrises and the fog covering San Francisco, which I have shared with my readers in previous postings. One of those images will appear in my next book, “42 Encounters with Love in San Francisco”; which you will be able to see in a few months (I want to keep you in suspense).
The reason I am writing about this magical mountain again is because of the article, which appeared on Sunday, August 4, 2019 in the San Francisco Chronicle, written by Carl Nolte, titled “Get Above the Insanity on Mountain Davidson”. The mountain was originally called Blue Mountain because of the flowers, which covered the bare hill. Adolph Sutro, the one time Mayor of San Francisco, who bought the land and the mountain in 1881, was responsible for planting trees. Thanks to him, there is a forest in the center of our city. It was renamed in 1911 after George Davidson, a surveyor and one of the founders of the Sierra Club. Madre Brown saved it as a public park by sending bouquets of wild flowers from Mount Davidson to the Board of Supervisors.
Mr. Nolte quotes someone whose name was James Decatur, who described his walk through Mount Davidson– “Peace and quiet were so profound that it seemed almost unbelievable that the noise and roar of a great city was only a few minutes behind.” It was written almost a hundred years ago, and still is true today.
P.S. In all of my comings here, I did not see wild flowers, however my camera “picked up” red flowers and berries. I am glad to share these four images with you. Do not wait for the new book to come out. You can start your own collection by going to Amazon.com and checking out the incredible reviews about my previous books, and to buy a gift for a friend.
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Last week I wrote about our 52nd wedding celebration without saying a word about the place we visited. Carmel, as it is commonly called, is a small town, whose official population is 3,721 (1,626 males and 2,096 females). The name Carmel comes from Mount Carmel, located in Northern Israel and roughly translates in Hebrew to a garden. I’ll let you read by yourself how the name traveled all the way to California as “the garden by the sea”. The town is very popular with tourists, and many who work here live in the surrounding areas (which are much more affordable). A client whom I helped buy a house there two years ago, told me that there are surges of Chinese tourists in Carmel, thanks to the popularity of this place in Chinese social media. There is so much to see and to experience in Carmel; especially the delicious food in many good restaurants, that have been there for many years. There are also many good clothing stores, where my wife found a nice blouse and earrings, a large number of art galleries including seven or eight specializing in photography. Of course there is a beautiful beach and pleasant weather (at least during our stay there).
We stayed in a dog friendly hotel, and saw dogs everywhere. The town is definitely dog tolerant, since plastic bag dispensers are seen on every street. Since Carmel is located close to a famous 17 Mile Drive and to Pebble Beach, which is popular with golfers, thousands come here for the golf tournaments. It is also popular with car lovers. The spectacular car show started the week after our departure. There are also great nature spots to visit, like Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Not far from here is Big Sur, which you can take a day trip to from Carmel, or stay in the fabulous resort there, as we did once, or in the cabins in the woods, as we did once, as well. These are the areas to indulge many senses and to fulfill your short vacation desires, as it is a relatively short drive of about 2.5 hours from San Francisco. And for those who want to avoid warm summers in the Bay Area, it offers the perfect climate. Carmel-by-the-Sea was founded in 1902, and was incorporated in 1916 when the population had grown to almost 450. At that time The San Francisco Call reported that sixty percent of Carmel’s population was involved in writing or other artistic endeavors.
Through the years, a number of well-known personalities have resided in Carmel. Among them were the writers Jack London and John Steinbeck, photographer Ansel Adams, actors Bing Crosby, Doris Day and Clint Eastwood, who was Mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea from 1986-1988. We enjoyed our two days here very much, and this time we will not wait two years to return.
P.S. During my morning walks with Max I was photographing flowers, using a special lens. I hope you’ll like the four resulting images. You can see more of my flowers on mannykagan.smugmug.com
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When we celebrate our birthday, regardless what age we are, this is just a day in our lives. As long as we are alive, there will be another birthday. At the same time, when it comes to wedding anniversaries, a person has to be lucky to find the right partner to fall in love and with whom to share a life together, work on their relationship, care about each other, learn from each other and have incredible patience.
Elfa and I met when we were nineteen, married at twenty and had our first child at twenty-one. And on August 8th, we celebrated our fifty-two years of marriage. Last week I wrote about our celebratory eating experience. The next day, we drove to Carmel-by-the-Sea with Max, where we’ve visited many, many times. About twenty-five years ago we even considered buying a second home there. However, the price tag of over $500,000 was more than we could afford at the time, and we bought a home in The Sea Ranch for half of this price. Now, since a lot of people have some “extra” money and would like to buy a home for their retirement, prices here for a teardown start at 1.5 million. You can still buy a small condominium for half a million, which is similar to prices in San Francisco, at about $1,000 per sq ft. Last time we were in Carmel was two years ago. It was when we came to pick up our puppy Max from his breeder Melinda Leary in Monterey. This was when I started writing “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers.” This time, I wanted to have a family reunion. I called Melinda and we planned to meet on the beach. Max’s mom was not available, thus Melinda brought his grandmother. When Max met his relative, it was difficult to understand if there was a family connection. His grandma Lulu is brown, as Max used to be when we got him. Melinda also brought a ten-week young adorable puppy to introduce him to prospective buyers. Holding him in my hands made me want to have another puppy. However, with our lifestyle, one dog is enough. On the beach, we were joined by another labradoodle and soon all three older dogs were chasing after a ball and the little one was just happy to play in the sand. The next day, Melinda let me know that the couple decided to adopt the baby, in spite of having another small ten-year-old dog. We suspect that seeing Max helped them make their decision. Meanwhile, Max had a great time. During the day we walked a lot, and in the evening we went back to the beach to play with the ball.
Max has become a very handsome young man at the age of two. His baby brown hair turned into a tan color, and when we walked on the streets, many people commented how cute he is (I usually ask if they are talking about me, which in turn, guarantees a compliment that I am handsome as well).
Both my wife Elfa and I count our blessings for every extra day in our lives that we can be together and now with Max we just have more joy.
P.S. These four images show some of the encounters with the labradoodles we had in Carmel.
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There are 4,415 restaurants in San Francisco, which outnumber every city in America. Fifty-four of them have the highest honor Michelin stars. This information above, which I found online, is from 2018, and does not include my new discovery – “One 65”, which opened only recently. A few weeks ago I was meeting a business acquaintance for a cup of tea/coffee, downtown. We planned to meet at Starbucks on Powell Street; however, instead we ended at a coffee/pastry shop at 165 O’Farrell. I have never been there before and was drawn by the attractive pastries, which I usually try not to eat, but for my photographic eye, it was a delicious view. I ordered a hot chocolate and yes – we shared a dessert. Suddenly a man appeared dressed in dark suit and tie. I introduced myself, and shared my appreciation. The man turned out to be the General Manager, Oliver de Roany, who introduced me to the head of the establishment, Michelin Star and James Beard Award Winner, Chef Claude Le Tonic, who last ran Joel Robschon’s three Michel’s star restaurant in Las Vegas. Mr. de Roany told me that the owners bought the dilapidated 6-story building across from Macy’s three years ago. It was the time when due to the never ending road work and closure of Sutter Street, many stores were financially suffering and leaving the area. The decision was to convert the building into a six story eating experience with French flair. We took the elevator to the sixth floor where the main kitchen is located with special rooms for small parties and a chef’s dining experience. From there, we went down to a restaurant called O’ by Claude Le Tohic, and below that was a bar and lounge and a Bistro, and I almost forgot to mention the rooms for private parties and the chocolate that was being made in front of our own eyes. They also make their own bread and their own ice-cream, which you can buy on the ground floor.
After the tour, I decided to surprise my wife and bring her here for our 52nd wedding anniversary, which was last Thursday, August 8th. The restaurant is conveniently located next to the O’Farrell/Ellis garage.
When I made a reservation, I did not know the difference, and we ended up in the Bistro. The food was delicious and since we did not drink any wine and shared some of the dishes (but we had two desserts), the price tag was reasonable. After dinner we went upstairs to see the rest of the place. When I made a reservation, I thought that we were supposedly to be in O’ restaurant. It wasn’t until I saw the menu — a 10 course prefixed dinner, starting at $250. They also have an a la carte menu. (I do not think I can handle more than three courses). We will definitely come back with friends for another celebration. Regardless of your budget, I strongly recommend “One65”. You can start as I did, from the first floor.
P.S. Online I found a lot of information about the place and photos of the meals. My four images show the sweet part of the experience, and do not forget to check out the cheeses.
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