Monday, August 25, 2008

Ocean Beach

After I took a few minutes to stow my stuff in the hotel room, San Francisco sightseeing commenced: I took a Muni bus to Ocean Beach. I've never seen the Pacific, and today seemed like a good opportunity to do so. Although the bus ride was looong, it was fascinating: we went through the city's Richmond neighborhood, which is home to a large and vibrant Russian community.

Ocean Beach is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. In keeping with National Park Service rules, I took only photographs and left only footprints.

The bus dropped me off right next to the beach, and within a few minutes I could see Seal Rocks.

I was warned that San Francisco can be quite foggy at this time of year. Although downtown was the epitome of balmy, there was a bit of fog hovering just above the water at Ocean Beach. The sun was going down, which made the haze all the more apparent.

I didn't see any seals, but I did see lots of gulls. I also saw a couple of pelicans off in the distance.

Incidentally, all of the beach photos were taken using my camera's zoom. The tide was rising rapidly, and I wanted to stay well away from it. The big waves that make Ocean Beach popular with surfers (a few of whom were out) pose a real threat to the casual swimmer or wader. Owing to the nature of the undersea terrain, the currents are strong and, at least to someone unfamiliar with the area, completely unpredictable. They also keep the water extremely cold: water from the depths is consistently thrown against the shore, and warm water is pulled out to sea. The breeze coming off the water was surprisingly chilly.

I then spent a few minutes climbing up the steep hill to Sutro Heights Park, which overlooks Ocean Beach and the Great Highway (a snippet of which appears, lower left, in the photo above). Unfortunately, owing to the setting of the sun, my photos don't do the setting justice.

I had better luck capturing the Bird of Paradise that was growing next to the footpath . . . .

. . . and a model-for-a-bonsai-tree growing on the cliff overlooking the beach.

I left the park just in time to catch a bus back to the hotel--with a detour to Trader Joe's for provisions.

Later today (this blog post is going up in the wee hours of the 25th): SF MoMA and Alcatraz.

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