Monday, January 10, 2011

Margin Notes: Rainbow Transport Egret

A PCC streetcar pulled onto Market Street near the Ferry Building in San Francisco, California on 3-January-2011

PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA - It was like being in transportation mecca when minutes after I arrived in the state of California last week, I stepped off a BART rapid transit train and surfaced at the Embarcadero Station to find myself just steps from a cable car line, the Market Street streetcar line (pictured above), trolley and diesel buses, and the ferries to the north and east bay--and I wasn't far away from the Caltrain commuter rail station (which could have been reached via MUNI light rail). So what did I do? I hopped a bus across the bay to catch an Amtrak train, of course.

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The other thing that was rather mind-boggling to hear as I surfaced was the news that Jerry Brown was just being sworn in as the 39th governor of the Golden State (he had also been the 34th, from 1975 to 1983. It seems like yesterday (well, 1999-2007) that he was the mayor of Oakland, seemingly at first with no higher aspirations. Then, he was suddenly attorney general, and now a hopefully very mature governor--I agree with Mark Shields that his inaugural speech set a very realistic and constructive tone. The question is whether legislators in Sacramento from both parties will be equally sober in facing the state's incredible problems.

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Construction on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge was progressing along as viewed from the old bridge on 3-January-2011

Coverage of the Brown inaugural was playing on the radio as the bus crossed the Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland. The new cable-stay eastern span is coming along as seen above--the portions of the bridge that are complete appear to have signs posted and lighting fully completed just a few feet from the current end of the structure, which is a bit different to see.

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A Great White Egret was found in the drainage area outside the W Hotel in Newark, California on 4-January-2011

I had decided to take an Amtrak ride after landing for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was that I was not expecting another chance this week. I chose to go as far as Modesto and then return, creating about a 200-mile round trip including scenery through the Delta to Stockton that I had not seen in more than twelve years. The wildlife in that portion was disappointing, but a Great White Egret was noted along San Pablo Bay. I thought that was pretty neat--until I noted a Great White Egret just outside my hotel's parking lot the next morning.

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That hotel that my new company's travel agent had booked me into was a W Hotel in Newark, California. I don't care what owner Starwood thinks; this new chain is nearly as weird as Virgin America airlines. Techno music plays in the common areas, the lighting is all muted and colored, and the rooms clearly favor form over function. It was rather a relief to move to a Quality Inn.

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A circular rainbow was noted outside a plane to San Francisco, California on 3-January-2011

I suppose I should have been in a psychedelic mood after seeing a circular rainbow during my flight westward. The above photo shows the double rainbow around what was apparently the shadow of the plane at the center of the rainbow, a rather fun phenomena to observe in the air.

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