21 Best Places to Explore Along the San Francisco Bay Trail and Beyond

I saw many beautiful and fascinating places on my 350-500 mile walk around the San Francisco Bay Trail (and beyond) at every accessible point, including islands, bridges, and docks. Here are my twenty-one favorites in a long overdue post. (All photos are my own unless otherwise noted. Check out more pics at #ronosaurusbaywalk on Instagram. I am now walking around the bay again on the Bay Area Ridge Trail, so check out #ronosaurusbayridge too. See also my guest post on Save the Bay Blog.)

#21 Garbage Mountain

“You bring me to the most romantic places,” Omar Rodriguez-Rodriguez told me when I took him to Garbage Mountain to walk the 2.8 mile Wildcat Marsh and the charmingly named Landfill Loop Trail. More of a squarish hill (158 feet high), the mountain was opened as a dump in 1953 and sealed in 2010. Framed on either side by Wildcat and San Pablo creeks, cutting through vegetation-rich tidal marshes popular with water birds and mammals, the dump is returning to nature. The brochure from Republic Services, which now owns the site, explains that poisonous water leached from the site is treated and used in the park, the nearby Chevron refinery, and the Richmond Country Club. Siphoned methane is converted to electricity and sold to PG&E, enough for 1,500 homes. In short, Garbage Mountain is transforming human waste into a natural preserve and a source of water and energy. A great place for a date (if a little stinky on the downwind side).

Garbage Mountain, as seen from Wildcat Marsh

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Little Gardens: Life in a Hard Place

People talk about nature as if it were outside the city: “This weekend let’s get out into nature. Let’s go for a hike.” However, such statements create a division between humans and nature, as if we were somehow separate from the biological processes of the earth, an idea that stems from Judeo-Christian beliefs that the world was created for human beings: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” This dangerous notion leads us to treat nature like a park that can be visited, a product that can be marketed, a commodity that can be exploited.

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Guest Post on Save the Bay Blog: Biodiversity and Ronosaurus Rex’s Walk Around the San Francisco Bay

Save the Bay, the organization that did actually save the bay from plans to fill it in 60 percent to become a narrow shipping channel, invited me to write a guest post for their blog. I wrote about the biodiversity I saw–and didn’t see–on my walk around the San Francisco Bay. Check it out!

Crissy Field and the Presidio: A Favorite Place on Ronosaurus Rex’s Bay Walk


(Andy Goldsworthy’s Wood Line, Photo by Ronosaurus Rex)

Walking through the forested Presidio, it’s easy to imagine that San Francisco was once covered with trees. Not so! Its sandy, shifting soil supported mostly low, ground-hugging plants, such as dune strawberry and lupine. One of the best places to see what San Francisco looked like before its transformation is the tidal marshes of Crissy Field, the first of my favorite places in my walk around the San Francisco Bay.

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Ronosaurus Rex’s Walk Around the San Francisco Bay

The End of a 350-Mile Journey

I have walked all around the San Francisco Bay at every accessible point, including islands, bridges, piers, and docks. You can see me below, jumping over the yellow line, marking the spot the walkway on the Golden Gate Bridge reaches land, the end of what was at least a 350 mile journey. Do you think I look pleased?

(Photo by Omar Rodriguez Rodriguez. To my left, Deb Garfinkel, Gary Boren and Katie Fox)

Today, June 20, 2015, a group of friends–Omar Rodriguez Rodriguez, Gary Boren, Katie Fox, Deb Garfinkel, Erik Kessell–and I walked the last leg. We took a ferry to the Sausalito Ferry Landing, then walked along the beautiful waterfront to Fort Baker, on the north side of the bridge, where we had drinks at The Presidio Yacht Club Bar, sometimes known as Mike’s place. (“No,” the bartender said to one of my friends, “we don’t have iced tea. This is a bar.”) After beers and shots of tequila (and a diet coke), we climbed to the bridge and crossed the Golden Gate, and my walk was completed!

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Protomysteries: Precursors of Detective Fiction

This post contains extracts from proto-mysteries, predating Edgar Alan Poe’s Auguste Dupin stories, which popularized the genre. For an analysis of some of these sources (“The Three Princes of Serendip” and Zadig), tied into a history of story-telling and reading, see my essay “The Reading of Mystery and the Mystery of Reading.”

Susanna and the Elders


Giovan Battista Tiepolo

The Book of Daniel, Chapter 13

As the story goes, a fair Hebrew wife named Susanna was falsely accused by lecherous voyeurs. As she bathes in her garden, having sent her attendants away, two lustful elders secretly observe the lovely Susanna. When she makes her way back to her house, they accost her, threatening to claim that she was meeting a young man in the garden unless she agrees to have sex with them.

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Abstract Art Reinterpreted in Photography

(The second of a two part series examining the influence of modern art on photography, following the post The Influence of Modern, Figurative Art on Ronosaurus Rex’s Photos.)

11553831416_28d3931b46_zAbstract painters have helped me to see the colors, textures and shapes around me, a way of seeing I have tried to capture in my photos. The impetus to represent the world abstractly stems from a high school trip to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. My classmates, I noticed, were attentive in the museum, but once they stepped outside, they stopped looking. “Art is only worthwhile,” I commented to a classmate, “if it teaches us to see the world more richly.”

Instagram gave me a handy tool to translate this abstract vision into photography. Often I tag my pictures with #abstract and nothing else, and #abstract is the name of a book of my photographs compiled by Omar Rodriguez-Rodriguez. In this post, I hope to give credit to some of the abstract artists who have influenced my photographs, either directly or indirectly.

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Influence of Modern, Figurative Art on Ronosaurus Rex’s Photos

instagram-anglesMy name is Ronosaurus Rex, and I am an Instrgramaddict. “Interested in painterly photographs,” read my profile previously. By “painterly,” I mostly mean modern art, from the Impressionists onward.

In comments, viewers sometimes name the artist whose paintings my photos resemble (“Picasso!”). I realized I should have acknowledged the inspirations myself. This post gives credit to some of the modern artists who have influenced my photos. Here I will cover figurative art, paintings with recognizable images. I will look at non-figurative, abstract paintings in a companion post: Abstract Art Reinterpreted in Photography.

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#abstract: A Book of Ronosaurus Rex’s Abstract Photographs

Photography freed the painter from the need to represent the world realistically, so images melted off the campus as modern art developed. These days most painters have returned to more naturalistic painting. Ironically, some photographers, myself included, have turned the lens to abstract subjects. Omar Rodriguez-Rodriguez put together a book of some of my abstract photographs, called #abstract. Now you can get your own copy at Blurb!
11553831416_28d3931b46_zabstract back

Here is the description: #abstract is a colorful compilation of urban details too small, too quiet, too understated to be noticed by most people. Miniature urban gardens, spray painted letters, colorful leaves, spilled paint, reflections, gravel, grass, metal and rock, an abstract rendition of the invisible to render it visible. These photos are the nooks and crannies of our civilization, where natural meets artificial, where plants grow in human-made environments, where life interacts with the lifeless. Ronald B. Richardson, aka Ronosaurus Rex, travels the cities of the world, compiling for us undiscovered sights in a whimsical safari.

(See and read more about my photos in my posts Photo versus Metaphoto: Ronosaurus and Omarrr on Instagram and Reading the City as Text: San Francisco’s Urban Landscape. Read more about abstraction in Abstract Paintings are Meta-Paintings.)