this is ridiculously cute.

Okay, this needs no further introduction:

Might seriously be the cutest thing I've ever seen. Just. THE EARS.

spring in the bay! - bay and palo alto.

so as mentioned, i've been slowly running around the bay taking pics. i'm trying to avoid the really obvious tourist shots and angling more for stuff i see in my daily life that i think are cool, and/or places and things i really like that i don't think a lot of people know about. this first batch comes mostly from the palo alto area.

let's start with this spooky-ass pic i took while going over the dumbarton bridge one morning in the fog -- i had just left my best friend's place up in the alameda and was heading down to stanford to duck quickly into work.

the bay area is usually very rainy in the spring. it was about 8am that morning and everything was fog, mist and rain. the picture actually somehow makes things look a little clearer; in real life you could barely see the arc of the bridge over the bay. this view's looking west from the east bay side of the bridge, toward the peninsula.

there are actually a lot of estuaries in the bay area. most of them are preserves where waterfowl will nest at various points in the year. there are hiking trails there; however, in the springtime they pretty much turn to mudbaths due to rain.

one year i actually went there to fly kites with some friends (silly childish pursuit, i know!) and lost the kite when the string broke. while trying to chase it down, i crossed what LOOKED like a dry stream-bed ... except it was about 1" of dry mud over two feet of wet. so when i started to cross, i sank in to my knees. the worst thing is it happened so fast my instinct was to get out -- so i took like 2-3 more steps and ended up losing my shoes in the mud. i had to dig them out with my bare hands. in the end i was literally black with ice cold, stinking mud.

i remember later on that day we went to eat sushi. prooobably not the best idea, considering my hands -- that had been wallowing in mud that smelled like sulfur and other forms of lovely anaerobic decay -- were now being used to eat raw food. unsurprisingly, i had a bout of stomach flu that night.

anyway! on that note! here are the lovely baylands. PLEASE NOTE: that is actually snow on the east bay mountains. this happens very rarely, as those mountains are no more than maybe one or two thousand feet high. that's why i actually stopped to take this pic -- as pictorial evidence that it DOES happen.

as you head inland from those wetlands, you can take university avenue through east palo alto (pretty ghetto place -- it's where Dangerous Minds was set, apparently), over the 101 into palo alto itself. EPA and palo alto are night and day. this is the outer fringe of palo alto:

these pics were taken in early feb through early march, btw. i just didn't get a chance to post 'em up til now. so yes... we have no real winter. we have a spring though :)

those are actually magnolia trees lining the street. the bay area has a great abundance of three trees: magnolias, oaks, and plum.

later on down university ave, you get to downtown palo alto. the peninsula is full of these affluent little downtown streets. the entire western side of the bay is settled along the 101, which runs close to the bay, but there's always plenty of natural character along the way -- stretches of wetlands, forests and open areas up in the coastal hills where 280 runs. but the path of the 101 is essentially joins a string of little cities, each with their own little downtown, between San Francisco and San Jose.

the east bay is quite different in character; much more urbanized and conformist. that's why east bay sucks :D

anyway, this is downtown palo alto. this street runs right into stanford university, but it's not really a college area. a lot of very pricey boutiques, a lot of swanky restaurants -- there are about 4-5 rug stores and probably way more "art galleries" along the stretch of university.

in that pic you can see Borders on the left. it's actually one of the first Borders ever opened, and they opened it in a converted old theater. it's pretty neat -- you can still see the theater structure in the floorplan, only now it's full of books.

there are some chain stores on university too. here's cheesecake factory, next to crepevine where they serve - surprise! - crepes.

a little bit off university, i saw this cute little house. deeper in palo alto's treelined streets you can find some truly ginormous houses that probably cost anything from 5-20 mil a pop. palo alto's real estate is obscenely expensive, though. i wouldn't be the least bit surprised if this tiny little victorian house cost a million or more, considering it's about a block off university and two blocks from el camino real, which forms the border between palo alto and stanford university.

i actually mainly took that pic for the plum tree in full bloom, though :) i love the plum trees of the bay. they bloom late in january or early in february, and they're always the first sign of the spring. back at my old place, there was a plum tree on the street leading up to it. i used to love walking by in the rain. something about the smooth black bark glistening in the rain, and the fragile pink flowers against a stormy sky. all the petals scattered on the ground always broke my heart, though.

about a block or two from that house is this nifty looking brick building. i passed it about a zillion times before i bothered to figure out what it is -- it turns out it's not actually ellison's (no idea what that is/was). you can't see it, but most of the building actually houses Ideo, which is apparently a world-famous design firm. they have design firms up in the city, as well as in the "usual" cities (nyc, london, shanghai, chicago), but this is actually where they started.

this gorgeous stormy sky was taken... i don't remember when. but it was gorgeous. the skies over the bay are always lovely in the spring -- very moody and mutable. i love that you can see those storm clouds coming in from the west, over the mountains.

this was taken ... probably the same day or maybe the day after, at sunset, over the rooftops of a more residential part of palo alto:

and this pic was taken one night as i was leaving palo alto. this is actually taken almost exactly where the first downtown pic was taken -- you can see the same borders on the right this time because i was going the other way on university -- and shows the awesome xmas lights on the trees. as far as i know those lights pretty much never come down. they light up every night.

okay, that's it for this one! next few posts will probably be pics from my san diego trip, followed by pics from chicago redux. eventually i wanna get some pics of stanford, the bay area mtns, and a couple places in SF, though. and maybe monterey :)