Saturday, 31 December 2011

Santa Barbara Scenic Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 6.7 km (4.2 miles), terrain goes gently uphill on the return

Photos courtesy of the creative folks at Flickr CreativeCommons (except one). Thanks!

For more running routes, see the Route List

Santa Barbara is one of my favorite cites: it's not too big, has a beautiful waterfront, an enchanting, prosperous little downtown, pleasant, lushly landscaped neighborhoods, beautiful beaches and is lined to the north by a ridge of rugged hills.

Santa Barbara is the beach town that all other beach towns should be. The beach is open to the public for its entire length: no high-rises, no condos, no disheartening search for a tiny access road. The businesses are all tastefully designed, with no tacky business strips and barren parking lots. There are bicycle lanes that are actually used, and trees everywhere. Consider yourself lucky if you are planning to spend some time there.

View of town from pier, photo by michellerlee
It's actually quite simple to plan out a route here: you can just run up and down the beach and cliffs for hours if you want. Or maybe loop through any of the rolling residential neighborhoods, or just run along the beautiful downtown State Street. You can't go wrong.

This route has a bit of all of that. I hope you like it!

We'll start in the heart of downtown, at the corner of State Street and Carillo (don't confuse this with Cabrillo, the beach drive). We'll head down State Street towards the southeast, running to the beach.
Along State Street, photo by michellerlee
This is obviously one prosperous town: the downtown shops seem to be doing well in an age when almost all American downtowns were long ago killed off by suburban malls. Maybe the city's strong planning guidelines helped, mandating that the businesses all be built in a harmonious Spanish/American style, with no high-rises blotting out whole downtown neighborhoods.

Just cruise on down the street, past the shops, caf├ęs, theaters, plazas. What a great downtown.
State Street landscaping, photo by Kaizer Rangwala
You will run under the freeway overpass for coastal road US101, then cross the train tracks, and in a couple of blocks you'll come to the beach, at the dolphin fountain.

As I mentioned, the wide beach, with its lagoon and hundreds of sable palms goes on forever, and you could turn left here and just run, first along the wide beach, then along cliffs.

But we'll explore the area here a bit. First, let's run straight out onto Santa Barbara's really cool pier, Stearns Warf. Just head straight out onto the wooden pier, past the seafood restaurants and aquarium. It's fun to watch the anglers and the fishing boats unloading.

Stearns Warf, photo by michellerlee
Run out to the end, then turn back and run back out to the dolphin fountain. Turn left to head southwest along the beach here, running right towards the huge marina straight ahead. Going this way, you can also run forever. Just one kilometer past the marina some beautiful waterfront cliffs begin, lined by parkland trails at Shoreline Park, but we won't head that far on this route.

When you get to the marina, just keep the water on your left side, with the parking lot to your right. You'll run a half a kilometer along the docks full of bobbing yachts.
In the Santa Barbara marina, photo by GibZilla
When you get to the far end, turn left to continue running with the water to your left. You'll go by the marina buildings, with the grill restaurant and harbor buildings: tour boat operations, ships' outfitters, fish markets, etc.
Harbor pelicans, photo by Vagues Solaires
Turn right to run by the harbor businesses, then turn right again at the shipyard to exit the harbor parking lot at Shoreline Drive.

At Shoreline Drive, turn right to head back towards the center of town. There is an athletic field across the street. It belongs to the Santa Barbara City College campus, on the hill to your left. Unfortunately, you can't easily cut through there, so we'll run back along Shorline Drive until you see Pershing Park on your left, just before Castillo Street.

Cross the street and cut through the park. Then run northwards up Castillo, past the baseball fields on the left and the row of motels on the right. The whole neighborhood to the right is full of very nice motels and bed-and-breakfasts, which is where I was staying.

In a few blocks you'll come to an ugly spot where the street goes under the railroad and US101, but soon you'll come back out the north side.
Along De La Vina, photo from Google StreetView
When you come out of the tunnel, turn right on Haley Street and run for two blocks to De La Vina Street, where you turn left, crossing over a deep ravine. This is all a nice old residential neighborhood full of little cottage houses.

Run the five blocks northwards back to Carillo Street, where you turn right and run the last two blocks back to State Street.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Gainesville University of Florida Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 7.8 km (4.8 miles), terrain fairly flat

Thanks to Flickr CreativeCommons for the photos! 

For more running routes, see Route List. 

This is for me, personally, my original running route. Back in about 1975 I started running (after a couple of fizzled attempts, previously) exactly this route. Back then, I lived in the "student ghetto" neighborhood, just north of the University of Florida (UF) campus. For me, the most scenic place to head was through the campus to lake Alice, a nature preserve that had long provided me a quiet haven among my many youthful storms, so I ran this route hundreds of times.

This route also takes you on a tour of the UF campus, the naval of the Gator Nation, with its lush tropical vegetation and brick buildings.

Sledd Hall on campus, photo by StevenM_61
We'll start at the busy corner of NW 13th Street and University Avenue, a the northeast corner of campus. Across the street from the campus, some developers have torn down 3 square blocks of property for a project that then deep-sixed. Poor Goering's Bookstore and the others that had to close their doors for nothing...
Start the run here, photo courtesy of Google Maps StreetView
Enter the campus into the park-like spot with the "Universtiy of Florida" gate. Follow the sidewalk that heads diagonally into the campus for about 50 meters, until the red-brick Bryan Hall comes up on your right. Turn right to run westwards right behind the building, towards Matherly Hall straight ahead.

Just before you reach Matherly Hall, turn left and then right to run along Matherly's south side, still heading west. This is the College of Business Administration complex.

You will then run between Anderson Hall and the old Smathers Library until you run straight into the newer Library West.

Smathers Library, with statue of Albert Murphree, photo by jeffrojr
Turn left to run into UF's cultural heart, the Plaza of the Americas, where students relax between classes, reading, playing frisbee, while others hand out political pamphlets or club information. I spent many a time manning the tables for various political- and ecological groups here in the 1970s, like the Environmental Action Group.
Century Tower at night, photo by MattPendletonPhotography
Head diagonally across the plaza towards its southwest corner, where you hit Newell Drive. Head south on Newell for one block, passing the gothic auditorium and Century Tower, a campus landmark, on the left.

Just after the tower, turn right to run between the two buildings across the street, heading west again. The building of the left is the Computer Sciences Building. When you pass the building, turn left to run into the big open lawn (the "Green Banana") sloping downhill to the southwest.

Running across the green banana towards Reitz Union, photo by Gregory Moine
You are now running towards the Reitz Student Union complex. Run past the union buildings on your left, then turn left to run by the main car entrance for the union hotel. Now turn right to run into the little woods, the Reitz Ravine to run along the path with the wooden railing. This is just one of the many sink-holes found on campus, some filled with water, some, like this, just a hole in the ground. It was formed when the limestone rock beneath was hollowed-out by water and collapsed.

You'll come out of the ravine at Museum Road and Lemerand Drive. Cross Lemerand to run westwards along Museum Road.

On your right you'll see the Graham dormitory sinkhole, then you'll run uphill for a bit, passing Hume dormitory on the left side.

Soon, you'll see a few fraternity houses curving up along the right side. That's Fraternity Row, home to many, but not all the fraternity houses.

We're now getting to the best part of the run, the Lake Alice area. The whole side along the left is now a nature preserve. You'll see a little dirt parking lot on the left, where you can take a little side-trip out on the Lake Alice boardwalk. I actually helped build the original boardwalk (I don't know if it's been replaced since then). If I may say so, it's really worth the extra few-minute detour to run to the end of the boardwalk to view the waterbirds and jungle. The lake is full of alligators, turtles and other life.

Waterbirds at Lake Alice, photo by RubyShoe
After the boardwalk, turn left to continue running westwards along Museum Road.

It will curve to the left along the lakeside. Towards the end of the lake, you'll see the Baughman Meditation Center, looking like a chapel on the lakeside.

Baughman Center, photo by MattPendletonPhotography
After the chapel, turn left to continue running along the south side of the lake. There is a big complex of university agricultural buildings to the right. You'll see a path to view the lakeside from the south, so take that to get one last view of the lake. This was always one of the best spots to view alligators.

Lake Alice gator, photo by MattPendletonPhotography
So now, we'll turn around and head back. But to keep it interesting, we'll change the route a bit on the way back.

When you again reach Fraternity Row, turn left and run northwards, uphill as the street curves to the right past all the fraternity houses. When the road has curved towards the east, you will see UF's impressive sports complex coming up on the left: baseball, basketball, football, tennis, the running track. It's amazing to see what kind of money has poured into the sports program in the last decades.

It's always fun to join the other runners on the track for a couple of quarter-mile laps, if you feel like it.

Keep running eastwards along Stadium Road, passing Florida Field (the "Swamp") on the left. Before it was
extended, the School of Journalism had its classrooms under the bleachers, where I tried to learn how to write.

Stadium Road will turn to the left, becoming Buckman Drive, and heading north.

Sledd Hall details, photo by jeffrojr
Pass Leigh Hall on the right, and you'll see Buckman Hall and Sledd Hall dormitories on the left, some of the oldest buildings on campus. Right after Leigh Hall, turn right to run straight into the Plaza of the Americas again. Turn diagonally to your left to follow the same way out as we first entered the campus.
An empty Plaza of the Americas, photo by jeffrojr

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

To celebrate the holidays, here are a few Christmas market pictures I took during runs in Munich and Las Vegas...
Market in the courtyard of Munich's old palace
At the Munich town hall
The Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas