Crissy Field

Ten years can seem like a long time or a short time depending on how you look at it. A little over ten years ago Crissy Field was a dump. It was only good for driving to on the 4th of July to watch the fireworks. The rest of the year it was pretty much seen as a dumping ground for you name it. Things have changed and this month marks the ten year anniversary of the restoration of Crissy Field. I’m not sure if Crissy Field ever looked like it does today, but this is definitely a change for the better.

I never had a reason to go to Crissy Field for the above mentioned reasons, but I was talked into it once by some friends who were going down to watch the fireworks on the 4th of July. We all huddled together in the back of a pick up truck drinking beer watching the fireworks and there were a few yee haws thrown in with the oohs and awws. The place was pretty much dirt back then. It wasn’t pretty and that’s why you only went there at night. After the restoration my wife and I decided to take a drive out there one morning to check it out. I doubt the word restoration is fitting enough for what they did. Originally, Crissy Field was an air field for the Presidio Army Base that closed in 1974. Now it’s back to looking like the salt marsh it was that was home to the Ohlone and served as a landing spot for Spanish, Russian and English traders and explorers.

Today Crissy Field is marked by the Warming Hut on the west end which is where you’ll find most of the people and the Crissy Field Center on the east end. Both spots offer food and touristy stuff to buy. The wetlands have been rebuilt and it’s a great place to take a walk and explore on a sunny day. Granted, this is San Francisco so you’ll have to keep your fingers crossed for that sunny day on the bay, but when it is sunny you’ll appreciate it.

I was there again a couple of months ago and the grass is still green and growing nicely. I noticed that there was a group of people collected next to the warming hut learning about crab fishing and they had their crab nets all set to go out on the rickety pier to cast them off and catch some crab. The pier itself is lined with a few grizzled, tough looking fisherman casting their long lines to try and haul in some of the bay’s catch of the day. There’s usually a pack of cigarettes and a flask beside them because that’s what you do when you go fishing I’ve been told. Then as you travel back off the pier you’ll have to watch out for the joggers and bicyclists that travel the paths. Follow the path off to the east and take a trip to the rebuilt salt marsh at the east end. You’ll have lots of wildlife to see here with herons and egrets dropping in regularly. If you’ve timed it right you might even see some dolphins showing off for you in the Bay. While you’re there stop by the Crissy Field Center to have a snack and learn more about the history of the place.

The Presidio Trust is now working on further incorporating Crissy Field with Presidio now that it is no long an army base and I have to tell you that right now you’ve got to drive through a bit ugliness to get to the beauty. I’m hoping they are able to make some quick work out of it because Crissy Field is a place you need to take a trip to every once in awhile. It’s windy, but not as windy as Ocean Beach. You get great views of the Marin Headlands, Alcatraz and Downtown San Francisco. It’s also one of the best places to watch the sun rise in San Francisco.

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Urban Wildlife: It’s More Than Rats and Roaches

A lot of people don’t realize that just because we live in a city that there isn’t some real wildlife you can find here. Sure, we’ve got raccoons and skunks and the occasional possum or opossum where the “O” is silent, but we also have a few other beasts that make our way into San Francisco.

Well, there are feral cats, tons of them. No matter where you go you well see stray cats running around, but we also have some nice pristine areas that urban dwellers haven’t taken over that have become home to some even more wildlife. In the East Bay a few years ago there was a jogger who was attacked by a mountain lion. San Francisco, luckily free of mountain lions does have its share of coyotes now. You usually see them in the Richmond district making their way through the park to Sunset Boulevard in the Sunset district. The biologists in the know say they are coming from Marin and are actually crossing the Golden Gate Bridge at night to venture into better feeding grounds in the Presidio.

I read a story yesterday though that shows that apparently our coyote population isn’t just made up of immigrants from Marin. There are several coyotes living in Glen Park Canyon and people who have been watching them have noticed that one of the cubs, term used loosely because he/she is a couple of years old, has moved on to greener pastures. I used to live near the canyon and if I was a wild animal living in an urban area I’m not sure where I would go. They could go up the hill from Glen Park, but that would be navigating along asphalt walkways until you get to the top and hit the mini-mall like shopping area and juvenile hall. Not sure how long a coyote would last in juvenile hall, but I wouldn’t want to test the theory.

If the coyote went east you’d be smack in the middle of the Mission District 94112, again, not a nice place to be a wild animal with the 14 Mission buses to avoid along with all the people cruising down Mission street. The Norteño/Sureño gang’s aren’t as big there anymore so you wouldn’t have to worry about being shot, but Jeez, it’s kind of tough to be a wild animal in an urban setting when the people are more wild than you are.

I will give you a word of advice though. If you do run into a coyote in San Francisco keep in mind that they aren’t dogs. They’re a little more confusing than the foxes that you rarely see anymore except by the beach, but coyotes can be easily mistaken for dogs so don’t walk up and put your hand out for it to sniff or you might be making a quick trip to the hospital to have your hand put back together. While they don’t bite with as much force as a wolf or a pit bull their faces are built to tear flesh and as someone who once went through the wind shield of Caddy from the outside in, having your flesh torn from your body is not a fun thing to have happen.

I had one walk by my car when I was driving through the Presidio and I stopped thinking it might be a lost dog. Luckily I realized when it was a couple feet from my window that it wasn’t a dog. We stopped and looked at it safely from inside the car until it got bored with us and started to walk away. Coyotes are seen by the Native Americans as tricksters and I wanted him to leave first. If I decided to drive he might have done something stupid like jump in front of my car since they’re fast and having to explain to my friends in SF that I hit a coyote with my car in San Francisco is just something that might be a little difficult for some people to understand.

Coyotes, they’re here and they’re not going away. Just keep that in mind.

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