Bay City Paddlers 

This is where the rain drains

SAT 12/8

Each December, Jessica Parsons leads a string of canoes from a launch pad located at Jack London Square out onto San Francisco Bay, just to take a look-see at what the first winter rains have brought us. The sight can be grim.Ever wonder what became of that hot dog wrapper you saw earlier this summer at Lake Merritt, the one that floated away from an overstuffed garbage can and into the pond? Ever consider the fate of all those car-washing chemicals your neat-freak neighbor hoses off his Subaru wagon every Sunday morning? The ones that go down the gutter and into the sewer? As Parsons points out, it all ends up in the bay, and nothing moves it quicker downstream than nature's first rains. The First Flush Canoeing Outing gives landlubbers a chance to get acquainted with that big body of water to the West.

"People drive over the bay every day," says Parsons, Save the Bay's outings coordinator, "so this is a day where they get in it, and feel a connection to it." Not all of the day is spent wallowing in the bleakness of human carelessness. She also leads the canoes to the aptly named Postcard Island, where viewers can glimpse the wintering birds minding their own in the natural wetlands. Saturday, December 6, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. $30 for Save the Bay members, $40 for nonmembers. 510-542-9261 or www.savesfbay.org -- Justin Berton

12/3-12/4

Snow Problem, Really

Think you're a rough, tough outdoorsperson? Until you've gone winter camping, you're just a mall rat. But winter campers aren't born -- they learn to be that way. And so can you, at two special lectures this week at REI Berkeley (1338 San Pablo Avenue). Wednesday at 6 p.m., instructor Dick Penniman provides the fundamentals of avalanche safety, from meteorology to rescue techniques. The fee is $20. Then on Thursday, the Sierra Club presents a free snow camping slide lecture, covering the basics of ski or snowshoe travel, how to build shelter, preparing meals in a snow kitchen, etc. For more info: 510-527-4140. -- Kelly Vance

12/6, 12/7

Just Win, Baby

After going 10-19 (5-13 for ninth place in the Pac-10) last year, Cal women's basketball is ready to turn it around and have a winning campaign in 2003-04, claims the preseason propaganda. That's all good and well, but first, coach Caren Horstmeyer's squad has to get through this weekend's Oakland Tribune Classic -- against Tulane, Wichita State, and Miami of Ohio. The Cal women hoopsters take the court at Haas Pavilion on the UCB campus at 3 p.m. Saturday vs. Miami, then face either Tulane or Wichita State on Sunday (also 3 p.m.) as the round-robin tournament concludes. To learn more: CalBears.ocsn.com -- Kelly Vance

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