Maybe it's the drought, but our Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on
Wednesdays group seems to be charmed when it comes to the weather. We did
get a few drops of rain the previous week, but no one got really wet and
this has been the case all year. On Tuesday there had been some heavy rain,
but it had passed through by the time the group assembled at the Exedra last
Wednesday. It was cool, but great walking weather. There was a strong
turnout of 40 walkers on hand to enjoy the morning together.
As you know, we have an objective of walking every traffic-safe street in
Piedmont during each year, and we have only a few of them left to walk. They
included the upper parts of Palm and Nova Drives, as well as Dale Avenue and
Sylvan Way. To get to them, we could walk through Piedmont Park, and see how
much water was in Bushy Dell Creek after the recent rain. So, seeing all of
this was the plan for the morning.
We went behind the Exedra to the upper entrance of Piedmont Park, passing
lots of active little people in the tot lot having fun. At the top of the
park, behind the Community Hall, we checked the water level in the creek.
There was a good flow, but it probably had been stronger the day before. It
was still good to see the water flowing after the long dry season and the
drought we are experiencing.
We took the lower park trail to be closer to the creek. We stopped at the
cascades that Frank C. Havens built when he created the park in the 1890s as
an attraction for his real estate sales. There were stairs overlooking the
cascades that provided tiers for us to pose on for the attached group photo.
We continued on the path in a long line, but regrouped at the spot where
there once was a Sulphur spring grotto. This was where Mark Twain visited
the park in about 1868 during a writer's tour and sampled the mineral water.
Matt Gerhardt asked the good question why there isn't a Sulphur smell with
the creek now. It was explained that in the mid-20th Century the neighbors
didn't like the smell, and had the City cap the spring.
On we went through the park, but had a pleasant surprise at the bottom of
the trail when we came upon former Piedmont Recreation supervisor Michael
Murphy who was walking his dog. After a quick catch up with Michael, we
emerged from the park on to Wildwood Avenue. We continued on down to the "5
Way Stop" intersection, went down Winsor Avenue to Park View Drive, and then
to the top of Palm Drive. There the story of Havens planting palm trees as a
grand entrance to his park was also told. There are still some of Havens'
palm trees in people's front yards, but most are now gone.
We went down Palm to where it intersects with Sylvan Way and started its
steep assent. Walkers seemed to enjoy the climb and the extra exercise it
provided. We went down Sylvan to Boulevard Way and then Grand Avenue. We
passed Grand Piedmont Liquors and wished we could go back a couple days in
time with what we now know about lottery drawing numbers. Sadly, there were
no billion dollar winners in the group.
We turned up Wildwood Avenue, and on it noticed a mosaic tile inlay of an
English bulldog in a home's front walkway, which we believed to be a
memorial tribute to a loved pet. We went up Nova, passed through the Nova
Circle, and came to the one-block, little-traveled Dale Avenue. Dale took
the group to Fairview, Jerome, and Oakland Avenues. A home on Oakland Avenue
had Japanese maple trees with striking, beautiful red leaves. The street
also provided another climb for us before we came to the 300 block of El
Cerrito Avenue. It is a level walk until Magnolia Avenue, which gave us one
last uphill challenge to get back to the Exedra.
It turned out that all these hills and the almost a three mile walk were not
that much of a challenge for the group. We have been climbing almost all of
Piedmont's streets all year long, and we are confident we will finish the
Turkey Trot route first in a couple of weeks.