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On Foot Yesterday From Bolinas to San Francisco

I've wanted to do it for a couple of years. On foot, out my doorway, into San Francisco—or, I should say—on my own power, because the first part of the trip involves swimming. The night before, I was so excited I could hardly sleep. Got up at 5:30, walked down to the beach. My son Evan met me and paddled my day pack and clothes across the channel in a kayak.
   Sun just starting to glow in dark eastern sky. 6:45. I'd psyched myself up to do this. Crunch time. Stripped down, waded out into the channel, and it was c-o-l-d. Had been a windy week, chilling the ocean. Mama mia! It's only a short swim across, maybe 50 yards, and it felt like forever. BUT once out of the water I was stylin. Got dry, clothed, walked barefoot along the beach and got to the Parkside Cafe coffee stand at 7:30, got latte and a really good donut and was off along the coast. Got to Slide Ranch by 9, to Muir Beach 9:30. Nice morning, winds had died down, you could see as-they-say for miles. It's maybe only 30 miles to SF, but pretty much all up and down.
View north from Tennessee Beach. I kept along the coast here on the southern side, rather than go on the (prescribed) Coastal Trail, which goes inland for a ways. There were faint animal trails and I eventually made it to the Marin Headlands. What really stokes me about this photo is that in the very distant background to the north (very faint, just to left of dark low peninsula), you can see the tip of Pt. Reyes, which I hiked to (from home) a year ago.
   I have a bunch of things to say about the trip, a few photos, will try to get back to it later, but in a nutshell, it was fucking hard. Probably mostly so because, dumb shit that I am, I didn't drink enough liquids. I was dehydrated and didn't realize it until I limped home. Plus I can't seem to walk slowly; the old race horse (competitive runner) syndrome.
   I got to the San Francisco side of the Golden Gate Bridge at about 3:30, about 8-1/2 hours. Caught buses home, saw two friends downtown; one said, "Did you hurt yourself?," the other said, "You look tired."
   Getting enough liquids in me last night got rid of most of the tiredness and soreness. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. I kept telling people it was do-able, and it was. There are lots of adventures to be had in anyone's neck of the woods. More later.

Maxime Qavtaradze and the 131-foot Ladder to His Home

"…Maxime Qavtaradze is literally close to the heavens. The 59-year-old monk lives atop a stone pillar in Georgia, scaling a 131-foot ladder in order to leave and enter his lofty home, reports CNN. Photographer Amos Chapple ascended the cliff to photograph his life there.
   The Katskhi Pillar has long been venerated by locals in the area, though it's been uninhabited since around the 1400s.      When climbers ascended for the first time in centuries in 1944, they found the ruins of a church and the 600-year-old bones of the last stylite who lived there.
  The stylite tradition is believed to have begun in 423 when St. Simeon the Elder climbed a pillar in Syria in order to avoid worldly temptations, but the practice has since fallen out of favor. However, Qavtaradze is a modern devotee.
   Though isolated, he is not a total hermit, coming down once or twice a week to counsel the troubled young men who come to the monastery at the bottom for his help. After all, he was once one of them. Though he now lives at the top of the world, Qavtaradze found his vocation when he was the lowest he's ever been, doing prison time after he 'drank, sold drugs, everything' as a young man.…"
Click here.
From Evan Kahn

America's Cup Yesterday

Loaded my (mountain) bike into the truck and drove into San Francisco yesterday morning to see the last race of the America's Cup series. I parked at Fort Point under the Golden Gate Bridge, where surfers were riding small waves, weaving around the offshore rocks.
  I rode over to the Marina Greens, pleasant sunny morning, Got a 4-barrel latte and donut at a dockside kiosk, rode past Aquatic Park, South End Rowing club, a half dozen cove swimmers in the water (half of them wearing wetsuits, no less!), past Fisherman's Wharf -- hadn't realized how gaudy it's become. There were two gigantic cruise ships in port, grotesque pieces of shit. San Francisco, still a beautiful and wonderful city, once a vital west coast port, but here whoring out to the tourist buck. I digress.
The entire bay side of the city, from bridge to bridge, was full of strolling (and biking) people. I got a burger and chocolate shake at the In-n-Out -- don't do that often, but needed some energy. Biked down to Pier 29, where the boats were berthed, then back to the hill between Aquatic Park and Fort Baker, and watched the big boats racing across the bay. The New Zealanders were out front, but Oracle sped by them in the upwind leg. Call it perverse, unpatriotic, or rooting for the underdog, but I wanted the New Zealanders to win. Whatever, these boats are awesome. There were hundreds of other boats of all persuasions out in the bay.
   Rode bike back to my truck, bucking 30mph-or-so winds, crossed the bridge, jumped in my mountain canyon pool on the way home, walked a bit on the sand at Stinson Beach, winds dying down. Pretty nice day. Tomorrow I'm going to try walking into San Francisco, leaving here at dawn…

Sailboats Made of Corrugated Metal in Australia

Click here.

From Godfrey Stephens

The Trendiest House on Earth is Micro, Mobile, and Green

"A lesson in blowing Dwell magazine's mind, courtesy of the Madrid-based firm Ábaton Arquitectura: design a house that's about 290 square feet (micro home!) that's made from recyclable materials (green!) and can be transported by truck and assembled in a day (mobile!). Oh, and let's not forget about material makeup (the exterior is clad in cement-board panels) and prefab potential: ÁPH80 can be manufactured in as few as four weeks. Dwell has officially spontaneously combusted.
With gabled ceilings reaching more than 11 feet, walls of glass, and a combined living room and kitchen, the feel of this place is light and airy; 'the different spaces are recognisable [sic] and the feeling indoors is one of fullness,' the architects say.

Another look, below:"

Click here.

Australian Surfer On Road With Honda Trail Bike & Short Board

"…Matt works in stints in construction or as a plumber back home in Australia.  When he gets fed up,  he travels and surfs until he runs out of money.   He’s been in this pattern for the last 15 years.  It’s taken him all over the world.  I first heard about Matt’s travels through my friend Cyrus Sutton.  A few years back, Cy and Matt went on a trip to Iceland.  Cy often speaks of Matt’s commitment to the traveling life and ability to make it with very little resources. Matt is a rare breed.…"

Rolling Shelter: Vehicles We Have Called Home by Kelly Hart

I read this book straight through last night. It's a charming and informative account of Kelly and Rosana Hart's many nomadic vehicles over the last 4 decades: trailers, a van, a pickup-truck-with-camper, and several buses.

Kelly's first bus was covered in our book Shelter (p. 89) in 1973, and his earthbag/papercrete house was in our book Home Work (p. 88) in 2004. He's been creating new mobile (and stationary) homes ever since. Plus running the info-packed website http://greenhomebuilding.com/.

The tone of writing is conversational and friendly, there are building tips for those inspired to do likewise, there are details and photos from a bunch of trips (including to Mexico), and there are a few hundred color photos. A homemade book in the best sense, made in the USA, $12 at Amazon here.

A Bunch of Misc. On A Warm Blue-Sky Sunny Monday

Television of Late
Preceding the big game between the 49ers and Seahawks last week, a talentless babe sang an insipid song that ended with "…because the NFL rocks on NBC." Barf. NBC piled on layers of shtick that made the game seem more showbiz than football.

Newsroom: the last 2 episodes were brilliant ("Election Night #1," "Election Night #2). Lightning fast dialogue.

Woodworkers tool catalog:


North House Folk School is a wonderful place that offers a huge range of classes in traditional crafts. I recommend getting their catalog: http://www.northhouse.org/

Outdoors Over an inch of rain a few days ago. The garden is loving it. Unusual this time of year. Tom Stienstra, SF Chronicle outdoors writer, says that the Ohlone (San Francisco's native tribe) predicted a big winter when:
a) acorns dropped early
b) bears grew shiny winter coast early, and both things have happened this year. Here's hoping…
Autumnal Equinox yesterday Autumn elsewhere is summer here in NorCal. It's warm today, and nice feeling from moisture in the ground left by the rains.

A Man And His 3 Mules On The Road

"John Sears, 65, has given up life with cars and houses for life outdoors with a trio of four-legged equines.
For the last 10 years, the man who grew up in Bay Area suburbia now lives entirely outdoors, traveling the western United States in the company of three mules ages 13, 20 and 28 years old, respectively. They go by “Little Girl," "Lady" and "Pepper.”
“We’re claiming our right to be outside,” said Sears, referring to a “we” that includes him, his mules, and “the spirits” – or the collective, living energy that surrounds them.
   On Tuesday, he walked along Bolsa Road in Gilroy with a silver horseshoe – or rather, a muleshoe – in hand. He declined to share why he carries the shoe, but said he saves shoes that fall off during his travels.
   Sears is a walking kind of man. He and his entourage have plodded through various states including Wyoming, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Kansas and Texas, regularly walking at least 10 to 20 miles a day. In the summer, the days are longer and the group walks further. In the winter, they scout out a place to camp earlier and don’t wander as far.
“Who are we? Where are we from? We are mules. We are from the outside. We live outside all day, every day. Where are we going? Nowhere,” states Sears’ website, 3mules.com… "
Click here.

Tiny Wooden Homes For Swedish College Twentysomethings

"A few years ago, Swedish student housing company AF Bostäder had a young woman from the city of Lund inside live in a tiny house-box--not even 10 square meters large--to test the idea of a cheap, cheerful, and environmentally friendly “smart student unit" that included a toilet, kitchen, and bed. “I think she still lives there,” says Linda Camara of Tengbom Architects, the company behind the 2013 iteration of the living pod--a petite vision in pale wood offset with lime green plant pots, cushions and stools.
   The premise for the cube, which has been in the works since 2007, is reasonable enough: students live and die on cheap housing, but everyone needs a toilet. It’s taken six years to whittle the tiny houses down to the current cross-laminated wooden test model form. The large kitchen was squirreled away in the original blueprint, but Tengbom redesigned it as the prime area after student feedback. The current space-efficient design, complete with a patio and vaulted sleeping area, lowers standard rent rates by 50%--music to the ears of any economically bereft twentysomething.…"
Click here.