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California Dreaming, Part 6

Continuing to tour Marin County, I entered the Golden Gate Recreation Area, thinking that I might visit Muir Woods, home of a wonderful stand of giant redwood trees. However, there was a sign on the highway that stated their parking lot was full. Too bad. Okay, so I started driving up the road that circles the Marin Headlands — and was greeted by this view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Wow! I have seen this view many times and it never ceases to impress me.

Golden Gate

San Francisco And if you look beyond the Golden Gate Bridge, you can see San Francisco sitting in the perpetual haze — but at least it is not fog, which would just give you a white background.

Gun Emplacement Continuing up the road, one encounters remnants of WWII — old concrete gun emplacements. These were constructed to house large guns to defend San Francisco from any attack from the sea. However, during construction, government or military officials finally decided that these were too vulnerable to attack from aircraft and thus the guns were never installed.

Gun Emplacement Interior Although they were never used, they remain in remarkably good condition, except for the accumulation of debris. The kids seem to love them because of the echoes in the access tunnels.

Beach Further along the coastline, one encounters a beach. I did not see a sign naming the beach but looking at a map, it appears to be Rodeo Cove. I am sure that if this is not correct, someone will let me know.

I was surprised to see so many cars in the parking lot. Upon further investigation, I found that they were holding some kind of race — my guess was an ultra-marathon. As a few of the runners came staggering down the hillside, cheering welcomed them as well as bells and whistles.

Shark Bait Down in the water were a number of surfers in wetsuits or as the locals call them, shark bait. Seriously, there are a lot of Great White Sharks in this general area and these surfers look a lot like sea lions to an underwater carnivore. I prefer to watch from the safety of the shore.

Flowers Flowers Naturally, I found flowers, flowers and more flowers.

Flowers Flowers

Flowers Flowers

Beach Thru Trees It is time to say farewell to Marin County and head back to San Francisco — I have two young ladies who want me to treat them to dinner after their long day of shopping. Again we chose Sabella and LaTorre, where we dined two days earlier, for more oysters, more clams and more crab.

Laughing Lady I arrived at Fisherman's Wharf before them and had a few minutes to kill. I noticed a sign for a free museum. Gotta be a catch, right? Well, it turns out to be a museum of the old-time coin-operated machines from amusement arcades and beach resorts. I recall these from my growing-up years and many visits to Ocean City, Maryland. In fact, the laughing lady from Ocean City is now exhibited in a museum there. This one still works and if you put a quarter in the slot, she will laugh for you and get you laughing as well. Why is her laughter so contagious?

Baseball Amusement It appeared that all of these amusement machines were maintained in working condition — just drop in your quarter and return to those idyllic days of yesteryear. My favorite amusement was always the baseball game. There were several different versions — this one rolled a ball down the ramp and you would twist a handle which swung a bat at just the right time to hit the ball — at least that was the theory. After many nickels (when I was young), you could actually develop the timing to hit the ball sometimes. And where you hit it would result in a single, double, triple, home run or — most frequently — an out.

Some of the baseball games even included runners who would circle the bases to match your hit production. I eventually became good enough that I could play for quite a while on a small pocket of change. But that was a long time ago and some people might suggest that my memory has mellowed over time. Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Crane Amusement There were many more such amusements in the museum but when I was young I was always drawn to the crane with a claw to grasp that prize you really wanted. This was one I never mastered. Instead of getting a prize, most of the time I got a marble or two. However, as a kid, that was almost as good as the cheap prizes in the machine. And what do you expect for a nickel. Or was it a penny?

Oops, my cell phone tells me it is time to meet the girls for dinner — on our final night in San Francisco. The next day (early), Pi-chan flies back to Japan — Mizuki and I back to Arizona. But it was great trip — Mizuki and Pi-chan loved the shopping and seafood — and I loved the photographic opportunities and the seafood. Well, at least we agreed on the latter.

 Life is good.

 B. David