Posts Tagged ‘urban parks’

Some Sacramento Parks and Green Spaces

9 July 2017

On Friday the 7th of July I toured some Sacramento parks with the idea of a theme of green space. I had been invited to a dinner on Fair Oaks Blvd just north of UC Sacramento, so that was my ultimate destination. I figured that with a combination of walking, sitting, and possibly bus riding I could spend most of the day visiting park areas between downtown and the university.

I got off the light rail at Alkali Flats station. This is a traditional neighborhood name for the area near to and just north of downtown. In this area of town, C Street is the northern-most useful street. It extends east into the fancy New Era Park neighborhood. It has three city-block-sized parks along it: John Muir Playground, Grant Park and Stanford Park. Then to the east of that is a large area referred to as Sutter’s Landing Regional Park, which is still under development.

There is a lot of low-income housing in the Alkali Flats area. Here is an example of some green space provided in front of one such building. I call it “urban green space.” It is usually surrounded by concrete on all four sides.

uban green space

Next I encountered some urban gardens. I have not seen areas like this in the suburbs.

urban garden

John Muir Playground has a fence around it, and a sign inside stating “no adults allowed unless accompanied by a child,” or words to that effect. However, on this warm morning, no children were there.

John Muir playground

C Street then takes you to the Blue Diamond facility. There I found a nice example of “corporate green space.” This is a lot like urban green space, but more closely controlled and maintained. It can provide a lot of great color, but is ordinarily rather limited in extent and definitely requires watering. Companies here – and many residents – are still into lawns. See my Goose Poop article for related thoughts.

corporate planting

The area just north of the American river contains a system of bike paths, and a path connecting to that system exits into this neighborhood. That would have to be another trip.

bikeways gate

Grant Park has a baseball field that may also be used for soccer. The grass was mowed, but no one was there. At the east end of this park is “Blues Alley.” I went down this alley, but found no evidence for “blues.” I did, however, notice a column of smoke rising from the area I was headed towards. A grass fire.

park field

Stanford Park was another big (and vacant) field. At its far end is the entrance to the developed part of Sutter’s Landing Park.

park lawn

This park had previously served industrial or similar uses; most of it was pretty bare. The most-used developed area was the Dog Park. I walked into the small dog area and took some pictures.

solar panel trees

This park contains some manmade shade roofed with solar (photo-voltaic) panels, most probably linked into a nearby solar “farm” and to the panels covering the parking lot to the northeast.

Sutter's Landing parking lot

The most notable features of the parking lot were two killdeer madly tweeting at each other. A “covered skate park” was closed. Inside it was covered in graffiti and housed several pigeon families. However, per its website, it opens to skaters and skateboarders every afternoon.

levee trail and lower trail

Just beyond that was the levee and the river. The levee is a key reason the American River Parkway exists. The levees began to be built in the mid 1800s in response to repeated flooding of Sacramento neighborhoods during peak flood season. Since then, flood control dams have been installed, and an extensive levee system has been completed up the American River (and also the Sacramento).

fishing on river

Fishing on the river.

Sutter’s Landing Park ends at a freeway at the edge of the East Sacramento neighborhood, not far from a railroad bridge. Here I found the blackened ground which could have been caused by the fire I saw smoke from earlier.
burn area

East Sacramento neighborhoods run right up to the levee, which in this area is roughly 20 feet high. On the other side of the levee is the river and parkland which can flood if there is a lot of runoff upstream. I could find no obvious access to regular streets from the levee, so continued walking along it to the east. I found a sump pump installation at one point, but the maintenance gate leading to city streets was locked. I was now walking along an affluent neighborhood known as River Park, which is right next to the university. It was a lot of walking in the high sun. I was in long sleeves and wearing a big hat, but my nose and cheeks got burned, and my exposed hands. At Hall Park I finally found street access.

floodplain near beach access

This is near the access point from Hall Park.

Hall Park is a nice park and includes a swimming pool. But even here I found someone who looked homeless sitting on a park bench.

Hall Park sports field

Sports field in Hall Park.

I was able to walk out of River Park to a small mall, where I ate lunch at a Chinese restaurant. Just beyond that was the university entrance, including a nearby “mini-park” space with a garden fountain and a bench.

fountain in mini park

bench in mini-park

To the right of the university entrance was the Arboretum. It was a well-developed “forest” and provided a pleasant place to stop and rest. Almost every plant was labeled with its botanical and common name, and where it is native. Though called an Arboretum, in included numerous shrubs and smaller plants.

inside the arboretum

Inside the Arboretum.

I had made it to Fair Oaks Blvd, but still had to make it across the river. There was a footpath/bike path across the bridge. The north end was surrounded by shrubbery; very picturesque.

foot path on bridge

Fair Oaks passed through a student housing area called Campus Commons where there was no ordinary commercial development. But I found the shopping area only a block or two up the street, designed in the usual suburban style, though a little more high-end than usual. As is normal in this style of development, pedestrian crossings of the main streets are few and far between. After getting an iced herb tea (and a refill) at a shop in the Pavilions Center, and browsing the Williams-Sonoma store, I sat for a while in a comfortable patio chair put out for shoppers. The two seated figures are sculpture next to a water feature.

urban green space at shopping center

I was early; it was only about 4pm. When I finally decided to cross the street to the restaurant, I had to walk way down to a light to get across legally. But at least I had survived the trek.

Goose Poop

6 October 2016

geese in park Omaha

Geese feed on a lawn in Omaha downtown park.


We’ve all seen Canada Geese stop over at some local lawn on their way North or South. But these weren’t Canada Geese, and they acted like they’d been living in this park for a while. These geese, in fact, look more like domestic geese.

I don’t remember geese of any description living in parks. But when I visited the favorite park of my boyhood, Nicholl Park in Richmond California, Canada Geese were obviously living there.

geese in Richmond park

“Wild” geese living in Richmond.

What’s going on here?

Google “urban geese” or “goose poop” and you will find plenty of reading materials on this subject. But they most all say the same things.

What certain sites (such as Cornell’s) will tell you is that the U.S. government started a program in the 1930s to re-establish the Canada Goose population which had dwindled considerably due to hunting. They did this with captive birds. These birds did not know to migrate, and they didn’t migrate; they stayed put. These are the birds filling our city parks and causing most of the problems we are having with goose poop, noise, and aircraft interference.

They are safe in cities because no one can hunt (with guns anyway) in cities.

I wondered after getting back home if no one was using the Nicholl Park lawn because of all the goose poop in it. And that probably is a factor. There was a lot of it, and per all the materials I’ve read, it’s not very healthy to be in contact with it.

As it turns out, the real key here is lawns. These birds love lawns, and will seldom settle anywhere other than a grassy field.

Odd coincidence

Oddly, last night I attended an event titled “12th Annual Palouse Basin Water Summit.” We listened to the usual local speakers on the subject of the Palouse water supply, plus we had one international speaker, Maude Barlow, a Canadian water activist.

Right now, the Palouse gets most of its fresh water from underground sources (aquifers). Agriculture and industry are not significant users of aquifer water in the Palouse. Even so, the aquifer water levels have dropped over 100 feet since we have been pumping out water for human uses.

The most attractive and realistic way that most residents can reduce water use is to switch to gardens around their houses that require little or no irrigation. This is no panacea, but it got a lot of attention at this meeting because it is a fun and interesting way to reduce domestic water consumption.

Most residents are already aware of low-flow toilets and shower heads, waiting for full loads before washing clothes or dishes, and generally being stingy with water. These are all part of “going green” and have gotten a lot of attention in many urban areas because many urban areas have had water shortages.

Lawns

Lawns have reached a kind of iconic status in the American and European psyche. Anybody’s dream house has a lawn in front of it, possibly quite a large one. All those photos of our little kids playing on the lawn at home or in a park…it seems an essential part of life.

Yet lawns are atrocious water hogs. They require tremendous amounts of water to keep them green, but will tend to drain off excess water, rather than pull it into the soil. They are like many of our crops that must be irrigated to survive. And so, though grass can be very green, lawns are not very “green.”

What’s odd about me going to this conference then wondering about goose poop is that lawns are related to both issues. Lawns. Odd.

There are still some municipalities (Orlando, Florida is cited by Wikipedia) that mandate front lawns. In more hip communities, the problem is more likely to be front no-plants-at-all. But people in general are gradually coming to realize that the more soil that is covered with plants that will help it soak up, rather than reject, any precipitation that comes its way, the more pro-survival that soil will become for all involved.

So, the answer to both goose poop and water over-use is getting rid of lawns and replacing them with more natural gardens or vegetable gardens.

I have recently posted a lot of photos of urban parks. They all have lawns. You might say, “What would a park be without a lawn?” To which I would reply, “A lawnless park.” I have absolutely no sympathy for golfers, either. None.

I have not begun to even scratch the surface! After we de-lawn, we are going to have to confront re-forestation. And that involves our current methods of agriculture, both mass crops and grazing animals. I’m not sure how far we can take this, but I know that the ideal scene would be to phase out our impact on the surface ecology almost entirely.

I wanted to show you a picture of Bird Hills, but couldn’t find one, so here’s Discovery Park in Seattle.

discover park seattle trail to beach

My ideal park.

Park Pictures Monday 26th

26 September 2016

berkeley-20160926-174-strawberry-creek-parkI wore out my feet walking around Berkeley and Richmond yesterday (in newish shoes) but went back out today to track down more places in Berkeley that I had been associated with.

The overall impression left from this walk – and most of my other walks – is a city in transition. While the disenfranchised leave messes everywhere, the forces of “progress” march on, replacing old buildings with new ones, or sometimes renovating.

There are still MANY buildings and houses that date from earlier than 1950, but there is also new construction everywhere.

I don’t consider most of my photos from this walk particularly aesthetic, but here are a few. The one above is of Strawberry Creek Park. It is a small flatlands park that has been there for some time. However, while I was living here I had no reason to ever go over to the area that park is in, so don’t remember it. Many of the old places I visited today I don’t remember. I had never visited them when I lived here, I guess.

berkeley-20160926-254-ashkenaz

I include a photo of Ashkenaz here, as it was an important place for me. I learned social dancing there, and met my friend Susan there.  In 1996 the club’s founder and proprietor David Nadel, was shot dead by a drunk he had earlier ejected from the club. A wall of ceramic tiles (visible above the car) was erected in his memory. David was always around when the place was open at night; I remember him well.

I went over to see the place where Susan used to live. At the end of the street (cut off by the BART when it was built) is a neighborhood garden, pictured below.

berkeley-20160926-265-northside-community-garden

On the route back to Berkeley, along a walk/jog/bike path made when the BART was put in, is Cedar Rose Park. Again, this is a simple neighborhood park with grass and a children’s play area.

berkeley-20160926-270-cedar-rose-park

Though these parks are nice for travelers, and important to the community, in Berkeley I did not need them as much as I needed parks in other cities. Berkeley is full of little food stores and cafés; I never had a problem finding a place to sit or getting something to drink. Some cities have financial or office districts which are like cultural deserts, or sprawling industrial or business areas where the pedestrian seems to be left out of the picture. Not Berkeley.

 

Park Pictures Sunday 25th

25 September 2016

This is really just an excuse to upload some of my photos…

berkeley-20160925-020-indian-rockIndian Rock, near the traffic circle at the bottom of Marin (a very steep street that was originally designed for a cable car), is one of the oldest and least-changed parks I visited. Given the general public nervousness about dangerous play equipment in parks, it astonishes me that this rock remains open to public climbing. There are some chiseled-in steps, but no hand rails. If you fall off, you fall. I used to terrify my father running up and down this rock, as I saw a young man do when I visited today.

The Berkeley hills are full of little parks. This is one example at the corner of Arlington and Coventry.

berkeley-20160925-027-coventry-corner

The tree featured here is very climbable – I should know!

One of the biggest “parks” in the Berkeley hills is one I never visited – Sunset Cemetery. I took a lot of photos there, as the huge mausoleum (building where remains are interred in crypts instead of buried) rather fascinated me. But one thing I thought I would never see in Berkeley in a cemetery was a deer!

berkeley-20160925-092-deer-in-cemetaryFrom the Berkeley Hills I moved on to Richmond to find Nicholl Park.

On my way I ran into this small park and playground in a recently-built neighborhood of townhouses. Its centerpiece was a large willow tree.

berkeley-20160925-124-richmond-neighborhood

Nicholl Park was created in 1926 by the WPA (Works Progress Administration – a “New Deal” project to give the unemployed something to do). When my parents took me there in the early 1960s, the park included an aviary (famous for its peacocks), a full steam locomotive that children could climb into, and huge swing sets in a sand lot.

Someone hurt themselves playing on the locomotive, and a fence was put around it.

Sometime later, the aviary was taken out, then the locomotive and the high swings. Today the geese love this park, but on a hot Sunday afternoon, I didn’t see many people in it.

Under these lovely big trees, near where the aviary was located, is a skateboard area – the most popular part of the park now.

berkeley-20160925-128-nicholl-park

The platform where the locomotive once stood now serves as a planter and seems to be favored by the resident (or visiting?) geese.

berkeley-20160925-134-nicholl-park

The tall swing sets have been replaced by much safer (but at this visit, unused) play equipment.

berkeley-20160925-139-nicholl-park

Things do change. But somehow a very well-to-do neighborhood in the Berkeley Hills has managed to retain one of the most dangerous pieces of “play equipment” I have ever seen in any urban park, while the economically disadvantaged city of Richmond has all but lost what was once a thrilling and interesting downtown park.

Notes on Cities and Urban Parks

24 September 2016

20160913-boise-park-at-state-house

Boise and Salt Lake City

Pictured is a statue located in a small park in front of the capitol building in Boise. It depicts a Nez Perce chief giving directions to Lewis and Clark.

A discussion of the human fallout that goes with the West’s legacy of “rugged individualism” and expansion by forced takeover is called for at this point. Not everyone in these parts was raised by a family with the old cowboy spirit, and taught the survival skills necessary to make it on their own in a challenging environment. Others lose their way in their youth, or join the military and get busted up during a tour of duty. Still others have immigrated into the area from other parts of the world and are used to different ways. Among all these people, some make do, while others become a bit “not right in the head” and then even more of a burden on society. Bus stations, being open odd hours for their passengers, and having bathrooms, attract such people.

In Boise, it was a young guy in a wheelchair. One leg was pretty obviously messed up. He entered and exited the station many times while I was there, often following younger women in, hoping to get their attention. At night he put out some blankets over by the arcade machines (one intoning “crazy taxi…” over and over again – very annoying) and went to bed.

Such people are a little unnerving. They know they are not welcomed, and often don’t say much. When they do, oddities in their communication normally are evident. They make the legitimate passengers uncomfortable, and signs are usually posted saying they are not allowed to come in. But customers and staff have a hard time enforcing the rule. They are obviously so pitiful, and the inclination is to give them some space and leave them alone. It’s not, however, good for business – or society. It’s time we learned how to do something more positive for such beings.

Meanwhile, I got on a bus to Salt Lake.

It rained all the way to Salt Lake City. It was a late night run and we seemed to be following a storm. It was still dark when we came into the “intermodal hub” downtown. The rain had subsided and I was able to find my way to a ticket machine, buy a one-day transit pass, and board the light rail blue line into town. That trip was my entire tour of downtown Salt Lake. I found my motel – a cheap but poor one – they found a room available early, and I got some extra rest before visiting the local Scientology organization.

As I traveled through the city, I got the impression that older expansion plans had been put on hold. I used a “streetcar” that has no street to run in! Though a shopping center at the far end of the line (near the present location of the Org) is up and running, the rest of the area remains run down. This is a poorer but proud community named “Sugar House” after an historic sugar factory-turned-prison that used to be in the area.

As a side-project, I sought out parks in many of the cities I visited. They provide a nice place to rest in the shade for a few minutes, and usually have drinking water. There are parks throughout Slat Lake City, but I didn’t get a chance to visit any of them.

With my thoughts on the problem of reviving these communities – and the planet – I boarded my train to Omaha (after an almost four hour wait) after sharing the station with a bunch of great folks…and one totally mad lady who showed some interest in indulging in non-sequitor conversations with some of us.

Omaha

Omaha is an interesting place.

The train arrived there about 5AM. The sun wasn’t going to rise until about 8AM. The train station was going to close at about 7AM. So I put on my pack and went out to walk at about 6:30.

I knew where I was going. I had looked at the area with Google Street View as well as having printed out an ordinary map. But I had no idea where I was going to find breakfast at 6:30 in the morning!

I walked up 10th to Jackson, the street where the bus station is located. And what should I see? A place called “Cubby’s Old Market Grocery” (601 S. 13th) with its lights on and doors unlocked. A real grocery store and deli in a downtown location! Unusual. The food wasn’t good, but it was food.

I had a hard time keeping my bearings straight downtown. A jogger asked me which way the river was, and I pointed in the wrong direction! Omaha is on the Missouri River right across from Council Bluffs Iowa. Lewis and Clark passed through here. Both sides of the river downtown have large public spaces built into them. The Omaha riverfront park included a bridge to help people on foot get around all the busy streets in the area, and a walkway with sponsorship signs from all imaginable AFL-CIO unions.

20160916-omaha-lakefront-park-crop

A large plaque concerning the Lewis and Clark episode there and at Council Bluffs was also prominent. Some other structure that had been a part of this area was under demolition. This was a theme I found common to many cities I visited: Out with the old, in with something else.

Downtown Omaha was full of public spaces. After visiting a sprawling life size bronze sculpture depicting a small wagon train, I found several other park spaces before getting to the riverfront. Here is a portion of the sculpture:

20160916-omaha-sculpture-park

And here, a downtown mall (per the earlier definition of mall – an outdoors promenade or walking area):

20160916-omaha-downtown-mall

Oddly, I thought, the world headquarters of ConAgra (a very large packaged foods company) was located in this area. Per Wikipedia, the company had earlier threatened the city that it would leave town unless a downtown historic district was cleared out to make way for a new company headquarters building and grounds. Then last year, the company announced it would move anyway. It was not clear to me that the move had taken place.

The lake on the ConAgra property doubles as a public park and walking/jogging trail. When I visited, a portion of the trail had been overrun by noisy (and messy) geese.

20160916-omaha-park-geese

But signs told us not to bother the wildlife, so we all walked around them. They were seemingly oblivious to our presence, another oddity for “wild” animals.

Per Wikipedia, Omaha was founded by speculators from neighboring Council Bluffs in 1854. (As a comparison, Pullman was established in 1881 by three original landowners, as “Three Forks,” later re-named after George Pullman, the inventor of the Pullman railroad car and owner of the company that manufactured them). By historical standards, all the towns I have visited so far are actually quite new. Thus “historical” is a very relative term in most of these towns.

By mid-afternoon, Old Market was bustling with tourists. Most of the shops are restaurants, with various artsy gift shops inserted here and there. I found an actual coffee house/bakery (Aromas/Bliss) with WiFi at one point. It was very new to the area, and not like the other coffee houses in Old Market but more like Starbucks. I was glad to find it, as I needed to connect to the internet to reserve a room in Kansas city, as I’d changed my bus ticket to get there earlier.

Kansas City

Though Kanasas City is closer to the old South, it officially only dates from 1853 – much the same age as Omaha, and established in much the same way. It was not the traditional site of an earlier settlement, but more-or-less built up from scratch using land purchased by investors/speculators.

I did not spend much time exploring the city, but in the late afternoon I walked around a bit and found “Hyde Park.” It was a fairly classic city park – green lawn with scattered large sprawling trees. It had once been a golf course, established by some people from Scotland.

20160917-kansas-city-hyde-park-crop

Cicadas sounded intermittently from several of the big old trees – a familiar Midwest summer sound. The park continues south out of the Hyde Park historical neighborhood (full of large, fancy homes) past an old school that is being renovated to a newer lawn area with a playground in it.

However, the neighborhood near the Org, only a few blocks away, was decidedly dilapidated. So it is clear things are a bit out of control in this city, as is not uncommon across America these days.

For me the great wonder of Kansas City was its transit terminal. The old Union (train) Station had been remodeled, with the city Metro and Amtrak given space inside. (Greyhound is still across town at its older location.) The remodeling includes a huge event hall where the old train waiting area used to be, a “Science City” attraction for kids, like the Exploratorium in San Francisco, shops, and a restaurant. There is a walkway connecting all this to the Crown Center hotel and indoor shopping mall across the street. This turns the place into an upscale area that the homeless are more or less unable to penetrate.

I walked through all of this, and found a shop offering a nice but inexpensive carrying bag that I needed to supplement my day pack. Of course I’m sure some local citizens consider this whole project a bit invasive (and exclusive). But it’s not like these areas aren’t public. They just aren’t plebeian.

I might note at this point the marked lack of availability of fresh raw foods in many of these downtown areas. Except for the small grocery store I found in Old Market – that from its hours obviously serves the locals – it is very difficult in the average downtown to find an apple or banana or some plain yogurt or some chilled juice. Some of these things appear in the convenience stores that are now attached to most gas stations along most bus routes. However, train travelers using downtown stations may not be able to easily find such a place.

Albuquerque

Albuquerque is somewhat of a different story. It is located just a bit north and west from the center of the state, at an elevation of about 5,300 feet. It was established under its current name by the Spanish in 1706, as part of the Camino Real (Royal Road) trade route to Mexico. That makes it much older than most Midwest cities, yet still much newer than the cities of Europe, Asia or Africa.

It developed, however, much as the rest of the Midwest developed, except for its huge Spanish-speaking population. In this city those of Hispanic ethnicity outnumber the Anglos. However, ruling groups throughout the Americas have always had some sort of European connection, so this Hispanic majority does not equal Hispanic prosperity.

Though the city is on a river (the Rio Grande – I never saw it) it occupies a basin of over 200 square miles. Thus “urban sprawl” has occurred, made possible by automobiles and pursuit of the American Dream of living in a single-family home. I walked through just a few of the neighborhoods closer to downtown and they seemed endless. Trees are rather sparse here – particularly big trees, and the big streets are for cars, not people. The sidewalks are narrow and poorly-kept, with no places to sit at many bus stops and no parks along most of the streets I walked. I had to go into a neighborhood to find a park. And somehow they managed to build this park without including a drinking fountain. I was quite amazed.

20160919-albuquerque-alvarado-park-crop

I found two very nice and trendy restaurants downtown (Tucanos – a chain, and Sushi King) and there are probably many more. I can only guess that lots of young office workers in the nearby government and financial office buildings, along with some tourists, keep these businesses going. There are homeless in the area; quite a few. Their presence makes it harder to keep the place looking nice. There was also new construction happening downtown.

Albuquerque’s transit center is fairly new and OK. But accommodations for travelers are sparse – as if this were some sort of tradition (which it may be). As I have mentioned elsewhere, the transit centers always attract the homeless and that becomes a service problem for the customers. Only Kansas City has solved this.

I’m sure there is a lot I’m missing involving the ruling classes / working classes culture clashes in all these cities. In the U.S. the ruling class is supposed to be a working class. In the cultures that colonized the Americas, though, this was not the case at the time of those colonizations. And the old ruling classes have never died; they just wear business suits now in an attempt to blend in better.

Roswell

To get to Roswell from Albuquerque you have to climb out of the Mesilla Valley (part of the upper Rio Grande, at 3,900 feet) and get through a narrow ridge into the White Sands area (4,300 feet) then across the Sacramento Mountains and down into the High Plains where Roswell is located (3,500 feet).

The significant thing to me about Roswell is not the UFO crash that happened near there, but the reason UFOs were being attracted to that area. The Roswell Army-Air Field (later, Walker AFB) housed Strategic Air Command planes – including those used to bomb Japan in 1945 – during the time of the UFO crashes. Thus the area was a central point for the rollout of our nuclear capability following WWII. This is what attracted ET attention, and was one reason they were doing overflights in the area.

The main thing I did in Roswell was visit the UFO Museum (officially the International UFO Museum and Research Center). It was created by two people who were involved in the 1947 incident, and has become a major attraction in the town. It currently has a nice building and an interesting exhibit, but the materials are dated and some of the displays are a bit over-theatrical for current audiences and also in need of repair or replacement.

It is definitely the opinion of the museum founders that the real facts of the 1947 incident were covered up by official BS for some reason. They have probably survived by not taking the issue much further than that, though many (including myself) think it’s time to get honest about the whole variety of issues that are connected to the UFO issue.

I went to the library in the museum and asked for their Sanni Ceto books. They had two, one autographed by the author with a special drawing and inscription in her home language. I asked the librarian if she had heard of Sanni Ceto; she had not. Sanni is the only being available to us who can tell the ET side of this story. I think she should be better-known, at least by those who work at the UFO Museum! Another girl there remembered Sanni’s visit to the museum (about 2005), describing her as “autistic.” So this whole problem is most likely related to the fact that most Americans do not believe in reincarnation (or past lives), which makes Sanni’s story hard for them to accept. I consider this a much bigger problem than the UFO cover-up, as this is something we are all touched by every day.

Before leaving Roswell, I walked out in search of their parks, and found some. They are in the northeast of town, located on one side of the Spring River that flows through there (it was channelized by WWII POWs). The open part with picnic areas is called Loveless Park.

20160921-loveless-park-roswell-crop

There is a continuation of this park to the east that is fenced in and serves as a zoo. It’s called Spring River Park. It was not open when I visited.

Amarillo

Of all the cities I’ve visited so far, Amarillo seemed under the most pressure.

Even the workers at the bus station had poor communication skills, and their security guard could not prevent oddball homeless persons from coming in and bothering passengers, many of whom weren’t in much better shape.

Per previous searches into the Amarillo scene, I found they had recently experienced a bad drought followed by heavy rains. This had caused a bark beetle infestation which had damaged many local trees, making a nearby park look like some sort of battle zone. It was too close to sunset after I’d finished dinner at a local Mexican restaurant to check the park out myself; I am depending on images I saw using Google Street View for the above description.

The bus from Roswell got into Amarillo a couple hours before sunset, and the next bus did not leave until 3 in the morning. This was therefore going to be a 10 hour wait, the longest I have so far experienced. It was rough. The station security guard and some passengers were watching TV to pass the time, and there were two different shows running on two different TVs at the same time. I read from my book for a while, but couldn’t stay awake enough to do that the whole time. The shows preferred by the security guard were some totally ridiculous cartoons full of off-the wall social commentary and very little else. I also saw one episode of “Anger Management” which is a totally ridiculous “comedy” about dysfunctional therapists, and another show about two guys trying to take care of a baby. These shows were largely concerned with sex and unworkable “funny” attitudes people have about it. Pretty bad. There were also stories of more police shootings during the news breaks. This adds up to a lot of psychological pressure and wrong whys on a public that don’t know what’s really going on or what they can do about it.

Denver

In the alternative realities community, Denver is known as one of the hubs of deviant political activity in this country. The motif of its airport is one of the most bizarre I have ever seen (via photos posted online) and many questionable characters are accused of having special secret meetings there, at places like the Brown Palace Hotel downtown. However, on the surface, it’s just Denver.

Their transport hub has recently been upgraded, with an underground bus and light rail “concourse” which has displays that list arriving buses like flights are listed at airports.

They have a downtown street (16th) that has been modified to allow for wider pedestrian spaces and two narrow vehicle lanes. Only special no-fare buses are allowed to go back and forth in the vehicle lanes. Beyond that, many people other than tourists still use cars to commute, as in most U.S. cities.

I did not have time to explore Denver much. The cowboy tradition, though, was much in evidence there.

As of this posting I have arrived in Berkeley. I will write something about Berkeley later. It has changed a lot since I was last here (1982).