Expedition 4: The disaster tour!

August 2, 2023. As I rambled through the Internet looking for stuff to look for, I came across a walking tour pointing out evidence of movement of the Hayward Fault. I already had another spot on my idea list that seemed like it could pair well: the Gateway Emergency Preparedness Exhibit Center. Another local favorite popped into my head: the Alameda Point Waterfront Park. What do they all have in common? Disaster.

I’m not making light of this. We live in an area prone to certain types of disasters. Exploring means learning and learning means preventing, or at least, handling better the disasters yet to come. 

Unfortunately, the tour I chose did not show me much evidence of the Hayward fault. The map wasn’t great and the photos were unclear. I started thinking I needed to have a geologist at my side pointing stuff out. Why is THIS crack fault related and the nine cracks right over there aren’t??? 

As usual though, doing this tour took me to spots I’ve never been before and would have no reason to visit. Most of it was in the Kings Estates neighborhood. The Kings Estates Open Space is nifty in its openness and barrenness, most of it has no trees. My tour guide (a geologist) speculates it’s the largest remaining parcel of the area’s original grasslands. Cool! But I was unable to see anything unusual in a photo of a grassy hill. 

I finally hit pay dirt at Lake Temescal where I saw en echelon cracks! Yee hah! That was courtesy of the the Hayward Fault Field Guide I found on the USGS website; a much better tour! Even so, some evidence really takes a trained eye to distinguish from urban wear and tear on the landscape, or barely visible bumps, or nothing at all. 

The Gateway Center is a really cool little park. There’s a pavilion that simulates a burned house with plaques (plaques!) of information about the 1991 fire and info about landscaping techniques for fire prevention along with recommended plant lists. The park is beautifully landscaped with a stone-lined dry stream (that I //want to visit during the next rainy season) and fun circular stone sofas and coffee tables. Completely fireproof!

My last stop was the Alameda Point Waterfront Park, which just opened last year. Another lovely design, with nice grassy areas to lie on, and the usual picnic tables and benches. The park is a multi-level levee designed to “accommodate sea-level rise, complete with native plants on the lower promenade to absorb high waves” according to the engineering company. 

Inexplicably, there is no information about this posted at the park! No plaque! Although I’m not sure I’d want to be reminded about climate change and rising water every time I came here… 

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