OUTDOORS SAN FRANCISCO

Back to SF | Part 5: Lands End Trail + Sutro Baths

Taking a short break from blogging about Korea to tackle some ancient posts from a nearly three year old (!!!) SF trip that have been sitting in my drafts folder for what feels like forever. I’m sick of seeing these half-written posts in various stages of completion. I feel like they have prevented me from tackling other posts (so many back-logged posts) because in the back of my head I have always felt like I needed to finish these first. A warning: some of these are very Dear Diary. Another warning: I have bangs and oftentimes very wig-like looking poof hair.Β 

These photos were taken on our first trip back to SF after moving to the East Coast (we have since returned several times) and, at the time, my feelings on the subject were very sentimental. I half-wrote and edited photos for these posts but then stopped because I started to feel overwhelmed with nostalgia.Β Now, a couple years removed, I’m *finally* ready to clean house and move forward. Welcome to my schizophrenic blog.

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On this day we drove to the edge of SF — to one of my most favorite places ever. A place that still feels so hidden from the rest of the city. Lands End. I used to come here all the time when I lived in the Richmond. From our house on 26th I would take a right on California and walk until the street ended in a flight of stairs. The stairs led to a museum and an out-of-place golf course. From here I ran or hiked along the cliffs, through the eucalyptus trees and emerged at Sutro Baths. I came here often, sometimes at night just to drive around and smell the eucalyptus mingle with the salty air or to watch all the ships, foghorns blaring, slip through the fog. When my dad died I spent countless hours here staring off into the horizon — at that interstitial eternity where the ocean kissed the sky. If I was having a bad day or needed to go somewhere to be alone with my thoughts, I came here.

These days it’s a bit different — a little more built up, a little glossier, a lot more touristy. There’s a real paved parking lot and a gift shop now. Β We bought a couple cups of coffee at the tiny coffee shop (also new) and huddled indoors in the tiny cafe, shielded from the wind and fog. A bus full of tourists pulled up and amazingly the only people that got off the bus were a couple guys in tight jeans who needed a smoke. The remainder of the bus reclined in their seats and took camera phone pictures through the bus window. After about 30 minutes the smokers and a few gift shop stragglers loaded back onto the bus and left.

In a way, it was a relief. I didn’t want to share this place with them. They could have Lombard Street and Fishermans’ Wharf and Chinatown and Alcatraz. But this: this place has always felt like it belonged to me.

Sly and I hiked down to Sutro Baths and took all the pictures we never took before – the ones you never take when you live in a place that you think you may live forever.


It doesn’t happen as often anymore, but sometimes — especially on a particularly cold and damp night — my mind wanders back to San Francisco. It will focus on the most random of memories and pinpoint the location with such vivid accuracy — a particular street corner, the way the light was at a particular restaurant on a particular day, what I was eating in the park (and for that matter, what I was wearing) on a sunny day nearly a decade ago. My mind begins to swirl with memories and then I get lost, deeper and deeper into a hole of memories long-since forgotten. In my mind I remember everything good, exceptionally good, rose-colored and better than they probably ever were or ever could be. My memories are of an intertwined time and place, a period of time bookmarked by a beautiful city. In reality, there is no going back. And there are no regrets.

I confess that sometimes I wonder if I could do it again. Would I? If artist-types and baristas can afford a multi-million dollar house in The Mission, couldn’t I do it too? If I gave it a fair shake. If I was stupid to leave, and if we had stayed we would be renovating a beautiful Victorian and eating at Tartine every day, hiking every weekend, doing things like having letterpress date nights and riding our bikes around the city and “working remotely” in Dolores Park. Did I rob my future children of having creative names, shaggy hair and tight little hipster jeans?

I lived in SF for nearly a decade — the better part of my 20s. It has infected me in a way I’ll never get rid of. But it is also a part of me. It will always be. And that is enough for now.

MORE FROM THIS TRIP TO SF

Back to SF // Part 1: In-n-Out + Union Square
Back to SF // Part 2: Glen Park + Our Old Home
Back to SF // Part 3: Tin Types + Sushi Sams
Back to SF // Part 4: Glen Canyon Park + Japantown
Souvenirs from SF

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