San Francisco is not known for its beaches, or at least it’s not the first association that comes to mind, though the well known Mavericks surfing contest takes place on the fierce western shores up in Half Moon Bay a few miles to the south. But those who meander to the western edge of the Golden Gate Park on rare and fortunate sunny afternoons are treated to this grand view across the Great Highway, a vast expanse of natural sand where the Pacific Ocean comes in as it pleases, signs of shifting tides visible far into the drifts. Locals don’t speak much of this beach to the turistas, because most of the year, it’s overcast with rowdy freezing gusts that will have you wrapping on the layers right quick. Hardly a beach suitable for beach wear.
But on this day, a friend and I biked around the Cliff House, looked down, and saw that for this moment, life was good, and the sun shone down upon us and agreed.
Sutro Baths Cove is a somewhat haunting place of well documented history on the far Western edge of San Francisco in an area called the Lands End, with wide ranging views across the entrance to the Bay to the Marin Headlands beyond, hillsides of cypresses and wildflowers, and of course, the Sutro Baths ruins themselves. In its heyday in the late 19th century, postcards of the Baths show a fascinating giant glass greenhouse and a series of pools decorated with oddities like stuffed apes and animals, a concert hall, and a museum of artifacts Adolph Sutro collected in his many travels. It struggled in the 20th century, and eventually burned to the ground in 1966, and the national parks conservancy chose to leave the ruins as a historical preservation. In 1936, a large freighter even ran aground right next to the cove.
It strikes me that San Francisco is interesting not in that it has a storied history–many cities do–but rather, that its history represents a well documented highly photographed and preserved picture of the US western land grab dating back to the 1849 gold rush that spurred it, a mere 72 years after the American Revolution, a drop in the water compared to other world civilizations dating back thousands of years.
Ah, the places I must return to. Work and cubicle dwelling has started in the big city, but it’s not irony for me to remember sometimes, at 8am on weekdays, that not long ago at this same time o’ day, I was rambling down the roller coaster Road on Saba, visiting Tricia and Michael or maybe just going down to the airport so I could time myself from Flat Point to Big Rock Market (best time: 32 minutes in my waning days on the island). When you wind around English Quarter out of Windwardside and start the short climb towards the base of Upper Hell’s Gate, you have about 10 yards where visibility down the steep cliffs to the airport is unobscured. Here it is. Good memories.
Behave, amigos, or don’t. Life is too short to be consistent 😉
I’m overhauling the site to accommodate pictures from locations beyond Saba I’ve taken, folks, hence the extraordinary amount of time between blogposts. But with the ramp up of daily life in the city, it’s slugging along a lot slower than I’d like. Ah well. Hang in there. More good stuff to come.
Any Saban worth their salt does a ramble up Thais Hill, looming over The Bottom, St John’s, and the twisting Road to Fort Bay. But I’ve still no idea hwat exactly this marker is. There’s a couple of them starting at the base from St John’s. Any ideas?
Hey folks…long time, no post, eh? The site is undergoing a reorg now that my remaining Saba pictures have dwindled down to nothing, so that you can enjoy other pictures of the world I inhabit and image. So postings may be a bit scarce for a little bit until I finish that exercise, which involves recategorizing all my Saba posts.
This view from the Cove Bay “beach”–temporarily replaced now that the Wells Bay disappearing beach has reappeared for a bit on the western side of Saba–was the first view of Saba I saw when I arrived on Dec 2012, as it lies a short walk below the airport. You’ve seen pictures in earlier blogposts of the climb up Old Booby Hill, and even the long exposure shot of Cove Bay without the little rock barrier shown here.
Cheers to the new Dutch King, by the way. Seems like a well intentioned royal.
In greener times in 2012, my morning ritual was to pop my sandals on, cook up some bacon & eggs, and sit outside on the stone steps to the cottage, and this view was typical on stormy mornings that would always turn out to be sunny by early afternoon. I’d type a little of my story out on the iPad and inhale the fresh air. It didn’t suck.
Many tourists on Sint Maarten like cram themselves into a small stretch of beach across the street from the airport landing strip, where large jet planes come in over the water and land dramatically. Moreover, it’s even crazier to see them line up to align with the jet wash from planes taking off, and get blown all over the sand and into the turquoise waters like human beach balls, kinda like that scene from the movie Pushing Tin, where Billy Bob Thornton entices John Cusack’s character to get thrown into the air by jet wash.
It was a stormy, overcast Easter day when I left Saba, which is a 12-15 minute prop flight over to Sint Maarten. Since i had a few hours before my plane took off, I walked over to this a beach cafe with the Canadians Ingrid and Harry (they come to Saba to help Crocodile James maintain the trails), who were also on their way home, and we sat back and watched the fun.
Oh, I loves me the Ray Bradbury quote that makes up this blogpost subject line. I’d like to think that the four month sabbatical I took on Saba and the months around it comprise a crossroads of sorts, and after a few discussions with my closest friends, it certainly has that possibility.
It’s not that easy to get to the dropoff in this picture, due to the dense vegetation that surrounds the occupied core of Windwardside village. You have to ramble down the winding rolling Road until you get to the English Quarter (the eastern settlement side of Windwardside), where you can make some cut throughs or paths you can take OR you have to have friends in cottages perched on the tops of the cliffs, which are many, relative to the general population. Regardless, the views from virtually anywhere in Windwardside range from the benign to the spectacular, typical of this l’il island that could.
Victor is a well known face to Saban locals, hitching rides back and forth between his house in St John’s (shown here), The Bottom, and Windwardside. He’s related to Eddie Hassell of Swinging Doors back through generations, and he has an fascinating history on Saba that’s a story in itself, tangled up in dark mystery and rumors, and a long stint in a mental home (he’s been out for many years). I got the sense that the island looks after Victor in a subtle way. In all my conversations with him–and there were many–I never found him the least bit violent, odd or strange. He’s a very low key fellow, smiling and generally happy, remarkably articulate in one on one conversation, friendly, and openly talks about his past if asked. The one memory he does continue to bring up is that of a lost love he had and was engaged to marry, only to have it dissolve through events out of his control. Of course, all of this is his recollection, but I tended to believe him, as he was remarkably consistent on the details. Victor’s house sits below Thais Hill, at the start of the switchbacks that descend to The Bottom. If you visit Saba, you are almost certain to run into him…wave and say hi, and he will wave back, as so many friendly Sabans will.
Missed you, blog amigos, but I’ve got very few quality pictures left of Saba, so figuring out how to transition this to a general photo blog and archive off just the Saba pictures so they’re still accessible.
In the meantime, here then is The Edge, one of two ferries that shuttle folks between Saint Maarten and Saba.