Monday, October 20, 2014

Some Photos of, and Facts About, What Will be my New Home. . . .

I will be heading off for Martinez, California at the end of November.  My plan is to move to Muirwood Apartments, just off the John Muir Parkway, California State Route 4, and not far from that fella's old homestead, now a National Historic Site. . . .
                        My place:
                        Muir's place:

East is at the top of this aerial photo.  My place is in green pentagon, Muir's in yellow; just one exit apart on the parkway:
A railroad line runs alongside the parkway, onto a trestle and then thru a tunnel behind Muir's home. According to a book I read recently, Muir's two daughters, Wanda and Helen, liked to wave to the engineers as the locomotives went into the tunnel.  Sometimes their dad would even put some of the grapes or other fruit from his farm on a pole near the tunnel entrance for the engineer to grab - for a snack - as he went highballing thru. 

The trestle and tunnel are still there today, tho a bit worse for the wear:

Muir's orchards are to the right in this old photo, as is the tunnel - just out of sight. . .
As I said, a bit worse for the wear:

Muir loved to go hiking and the outdoors generally. Took his wife and daughters along with him when he could. . . .

 He even named the two highest points in the area behind his home Mt. Wanda and Mt. Helen. There are hiking trails to the summits there today, from which I'm sure I'll be able to see pretty far, including my home, a bit off to the east (in orange on this map). . . .

. . . .as well as to see Mt. Diablo off to the south, at 3,864 feet the highest summit in the East Bay area.

Muir was the founder of The Sierra Club and had a large impact in the early days of the National Parks.  He influenced enough people to preserve Yosemite Valley:

One of those folks being none other than Teddy Roosevelt, who he took on a camping trip in Yosemite during Teddy's presidency. . . .

Martinez has some other distinctions, too. . . .

Birthplace of Joe DiMaggio:

Joe's boat still resides at the marina there:

The birthplace, too, of a certain drink:

Home to a ferry that took Pony Express riders across the Carquinez Strait so they could continue on to Oakland and then San Francisco:

And since 2006, home to a family of beavers in a stream that runs thru downtown!

They've even earned their very own page in Wikipedia.,_California_beavers

Martinez, California beavers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Martinez beavers)

Yearling Beaver in Alhambra Creek, downtown Martinez
The Martinez beavers are a family of beavers living in Alhambra Creek in downtown Martinez, California. Prior to the arrival of the beavers, Martinez was best known as the longtime home of naturalist John Muir, and the birthplace of Joltin' Joe Dimaggio.
Two adult beavers arrived in late 2006,[1] proceeding to produce 4 kits over the course of the summer. After a controversial decision by the City of Martinez to exterminate the beavers, local conservationists organized to overturn the decision, forming an organization called Worth a Dam.[2] Subsequently, wildlife populations have increased in diversity along the Alhambra Creek watershed.

Tho the Wikipedia article goes on to say that the beaver dams were washed away by flooding in 2011, it seems that may not be true. . .  in view of the fact that the annual Beaver Festival was held again in August, 2012 according to this poster:

Seems to me that today the beavs and their fellow human Martinez-ians live together in blissful harmony.

The waterfront of Martinez is beautiful.  A nice park is on the west side of town running from the strait into the hills southwest of the city. . . .

The marina and the park near it are nice places to visit. . . .

There's an old locomotive and a string of freight cars & caboose at the entrance to the park near the marina. . . .
And that's also near the Martinez railroad station:

Which is a great place for the many "rail fans" in the area:

Martinez also has its 9/11 Memorial, near the railroad station.  Two pieces of structural steel beams from the World Trade Center rest there:

Over on the east side of town is the Waterbird shorefront park

 and - adjacent to that, as you can see - the Shell Oil refinery.  Shell has been there since 1914 and I couldn't find any record of there ever having been a problem of any kind with them there.  People in some of the nearby towns to the east claim that it is just a little bit smelly on some days, but I don't think that'll be a problem for me, living south and west of it.

1914 photo of the refinery:                                                

Recent photo of the refinery:

Here's one more shot of the refinery.  Look off in the distance to the east, across the entire ridge-line of hills there & you'll make out the faint outlines of another form of energy Californians have in abundance!

Also on the east side of the city are the Benicia-Martinez bridges, one for railroad traffic and two more for vehicles travelling on Interstate 680. . . .

The I-680 bridge-crossing's toll plaza - located on the Martinez side and completed in 2007 - is ultra-modern:

This is a nice picture of both bridges taken from up in the hills to the southwest:
And out in Suisun Bay, farther east in the panoramic color shot above, you can see a cluster of old ships.  This is the remnants of California's "mothball fleet," similar to the one we New Yorkers had on the Hudson River just south of West Point until a few years ago.  I recall taking a few autumn trips to view the foliage and passing those ships on the Hudson - an impressive sight.

Here's Suisun's "fleet" a bit closer-up a few years ago.  The battleship USS Iowa - one of that fleet's most famous past residents - was there from 2001 to 2006.  
Here's a more recent photo of the fleet without the Iowa. . . . She's moved a few times since 2006; see the explanation farther on below.

The Iowa did see some service as recently as the 1980s, in the Persian Gulf. . . .  Here's a photo of her near Puerto Rico in the 1980s taking some exercise.  Notice the shock waves in the water. . . .
After 2006 she remained in the North San Francisco Bay area, at Mare Island a bit farther north, and then at the Port of Richmond a bit farther west, until finally in 2012 - per Wikipedia - she "was officially donated to the Pacific Battleship Center [museum] in Los Angeles by the United States Navy."

Downtown Martinez is thriving. The city is the county seat of Contra Costa County, so some of the largest buildings in town are the government buildings:

Of course, the tallest building in town is the county jail. . . .  Which I can't seem to find a photo of; Probably very few on the Internet so as not to assist any - ahem - "cake delivery services" to inmates.

Oh wait. . . .  Here's a shot of it on a postcard. Tallest building, almost smack in the middle.

But most of downtown is just like in this photo. . . .   Hometown USA. . . .

With a nice, quiet art-deco style library. . . .

The town's post office has an interesting mural, from the 1930s, titled "The Road to Eldorado":

But nowadays "All the gold in California is in a bank in the middle of Beverly Hills in somebody else's name". . . .  'cept for two little nuggets I know about:

They and their mom and dad will only be a half-hour away, down in the "lizards mouth" on The Bay. . . . While I'll be on the bridge of the "lizard's nose":

Nom, nom, nom, nom

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