Sunday, February 5, 2012

Through a Jazz Tunnel to a Hidden Park

Sutro Tower seemed just a stone's throw away, so I asked the woman at the front desk of the Randall Museum if we were on Twin Peaks. She said no, we were in Corona Heights, but that few who came to this sweet little gem of a museum at the top of San Francisco were aware of that fact.

We had taken our usual bike route from North Beach around Aquatic Park and down along Marina Green to Chrissy Field, but instead of crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, we turned left and went up and over the Presidio on Arguello Blvd., coasting down into Golden Gate Park.

As always, there was plenty to see. While deciding whether we wanted to go into the Conservatory of Flowers, we heard wonderful jazz music emanating from a tunnel nearby, so we pedaled over to take a look. A band complete with full drum kit had set up in the tunnel to take advantage of the acoustics and was drawing a crowd.

After listening to a few numbers, we continued through the park, along the Haight, and through Cole Valley (which ironically had the steepest street on our route), before skirting the larger Buena Vista Park to get to Corona Heights--a beautiful little patch of dirt with a dog park, a chance to do some lightweight rock climbing, and great views.

My sister Jackie and her husband Paul.

My husband Ace.

On the other side of the hill was the Randall Museum. We came to see the enormous model train they have set up in the basement, and were not disappointed, but found a lot more to love. There was a working woodshop, with people building furniture inside; a clay modeling and art room, with children in paint-daubed smocks; exhibits about earthquakes (make a lego building and shake it); and, in a room full of injured or rehabilitating animals like waddling fat quails and huge pond-green tortoises, live hawks and owls perched high above us and staring down regally at the crowd.

By the time we got back to our flat, we'd put in 17 miles, and were ready for wine and dinner at our current favorite restaurant, L'Osteria del Forno on Columbus Ave., just a short stumble from home.