(2008) SF – Presidio

The Presidio

Dan surprised me Sunday morning by suggesting that we go walking through The Presidio in San Francisco that day. I didn’t even know what The Presidio was, other than a large park-looking area at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge. Sure, let’s go! It sounds like fun!

September 19, 2008
Total Miles: 10.4 miles (?)
Mountain View, CA to San Francisco, CA

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We left mid-morning with a back pack full of water and snacks and extra clothes. Its always colder in the city and while we were wrong last time, the cloud cover indicated that we’d need extra layers for today’s outing. We were wrong, of course, but are slowly learning from our mistakes. We started out by not knowing much about the park, including parking. So we decided to park on a side street outside of the park and walk in. This turned out to be completely unnecessary, as there were numerous places to leave the car inside the park itself. Another lesson learned. Our first destination was the beach on the west side of the park. It was wide and sandy and mostly empty, probably due to the grim looking clouds that hung low overhead. This didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the man walking down the beach towards us. He was wearing a bright red baseball cap, socks and sneakers – and nothing else. Another lesson learned: this is also a nude beach.

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Danger? That’s my middle name!!!

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Dan shows off the Golden Gate Bridge. Lovely clouds.

After strolling up and down the beach we decided to go up and check out the view from the bluffs. The trees show the struggle necessary to survive the winds that blow through here, holding the bluff together with their spaghetti-like root systems. Dan and I had fun with a man-made spaghetti system: the ladder/stairs to get up and off the beach. There was a nice view from above and this is the point when we realized that we were overdressed. A layer was shed and Dan dutifully carried them in his backpack. We decided to “walk a little further” and then stop for a break.

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Mr. GQ in his hot new jacket

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Coastal forest

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I thought they were stairs – ’til I started to climb them.

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Our view from atop the bluff.

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The view looking north from one of the military batteries

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Having fun!

The trail system through the park is extensive and a map might have been helpful. What we had was the “streets” map of the city, so whenever we crossed a road we’d check to see where we were on our map. It worked well enough. Eventually we came to the back end of the National Cemetery and took our time wandering through the stones. I commented on the rows not being the usual tidy rows that I come to expect from memorial cemeteries such as these and Dan suggested that the earthquakes had taken their toll. Sounded plausible to me!

When we reached the front of the cemetery we sat near a monument for the Civil War and ate our snacks and drank some water. The sun was playing peek-a-boo and the highly overcast skies did not photograph well, nor did it make for good photos on the ground. But I tried.

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Trail through the park

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San Francisco National Cemetery

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There were some very old monuments here

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Craning to see over the stones (groan)

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Dan making his way through the stones

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Dan peeks inside an empty building

Upon leaving the cemetery we found ourselves in a built-up area of The Presidio and right along the edge of the city. There were dozens of original buildings from when the military used this area for barracks and training. Now that the area has been turned into a National Park, the government is trying to figure out how to maintain so large of an area. It appears that they are leasing out many of buildings for public businesses and homes. It’s an intriguing idea.

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Barely viewing the bridge

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Flowers along the way

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Dan thinks about life near a man-made lagoon and park

Now we were out of the park. Dan was excited to show me the Palace of Fine Arts which was just across the street. The gleaming rotunda attracted my attention a long time ago and now it was time to see what it was all about! Or not. As we approached the final few yards we saw the chain link fences. It was closed for renovation/restoration. Frustrated, we ended up circumnavigating the entire building, looking for something to look at. I consider the attempt a failure; we’ll have to come back another time.

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Looking through the fence at the Palace of Fine Arts

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Back-lit shot of the Palace

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Looking back from across the pond

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Looking east through the Marina district

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Dan, with the Marina district behind him

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Climbing back up into the park (Alcatraz is on the left)

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A red-tailed hawk soars overhead

It was now time to head back to the car. We had a long way to go. We hiked up some hills and past some very nice looking houses. We learned later that these were officers quarters that were now being leased to private families to live in. Some people complain about this practice, but it seems to be a very logical way to preserve the buildings while minimizing the cost of maintaining them.

Eventually we were on the down-hill leg of our journey and almost to the edge of the park. We had been following the roads at this point and Dan had pulled out his GPS for easier mapping of where we were when we came upon this massive abandoned structure. We looked it up later to find out that it is an old hospital, originally for the military but then later turned over for public use. There are plans afoot to either tear it down and put in apartments, or refurbish the structure for apartments (I can’t seem to find any definitive answers online). Regardless, despite the security there are quite a few people who sneak in and make their mark.

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Public Service Hospital

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And that was it. We came out of the park around 15th Ave and had a 10 block walk to get back to the car, and then a 40 minute drive to get back to the apartment. The final two pictures are of us coming down Middlefield, the street in front of our apartment. Home sweet home!

Tell me what you think! I want to know!