The CCC’s San Francisco Favorites #7: Chilly Summer Days

Recently, I was complaining to my friend, Brian Yee, about the (always) unseasonably cold San Francisco summers. Brian, my wise and kind friend of almost 30 years, replied, “you do realize that rest of the country is in the middle of a horrible heat wave. I mean the entire country is sweltering.”

“So, I should stop complaining about my breezy, 60-degree days?”


Since pity parties really aren’t the CCC’s style, I put on my current favorite cashmere sweater, grabbed the Nikon, and headed out to embrace the wind and fog.

SF Chilly Summer Perk #1: Cashmere is always appropriate.

6 Sutro Cliffs

There’s no better place to experience the SF summer chill than Ocean Beach. It’s always 5-10 degrees cooler than the rest of the city and the sun is generally occluded by the champagne air a.k.a the fog (champagne always makes everything better). On this day, I decided to explore the ruins of Sutro Baths and Land’s End, the western most part of the city.

But first, breakfast.

1 Louis'
SF Chilly Summer Perk #2: Hot Chocolate.

I like Louis’. Get there early and grab a seat the counter. Order Bill’s Special (scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon on an English muffin) and a cup of hot chocolate and whipped cream*. The breakfast of champions.

*Even for the CCC, 9am is too early for a cocktail.

2 Sutro Baths 2
The ruins of Sutro Baths.

Adolph Sutro, one of SF’s original entrepreneurs, believed he could build a better salt water swimming experience than the ocean itself. In 1896, Sutro Baths opened for all to enjoy. The entrance fee was kept purposely low so that folks of all income levels could enjoy the 7 pools, ice skating rink, museum, and amphitheater.  Everyone wore the same itchy wool bathing suits so there would be no distinction between wealthy and less well-off guests (a man after my own lefty heart!). People would spend entire days at the baths swimming, relaxing, eating, and enjoying each other’s company. Eventually, and several owners later, the baths closed in 1966 – too expensive to maintain.  During the baths’ demolition a “mysterious” (read: arson) fire burned the last of this magnificent structure to the ground.

Now, the baths’ ruins are a perfect way to spend a day, climbing around, hiking up the cliffs, taking in the view.

4 Sutro Baths 3

The ruins are a perfect place for an amature photographer to get artsy.

To see a wonderful slide show of what the baths looked like in their heyday visit: The Cliff House Project.

5 Sutro Cave
There’s even a spooky tunnel to explore.
6 selfie 1
On Sutro Cliffs.  SF Chilly Summer Perk #3 – No unnecessary sun exposure.
7 Land's End Trail View 2
The Land’s End Trail.  Perfect isolation.

Land’s End is a wonderful place to go when you want to be by yourself but don’t want to be alone. Pairs and groups of friends, families, and tourists keep you company along the way. It’s heartening to hear the snippets of others’ conversations as I walk.

“I told her not to call him back.”

“I think I am going to train for a sprint triathlon.” “That’s great!”

“Let’s take a selfie! Let’s take a selfie!”

Human beings enjoying a beautiful place together. Lovely.

8 Labyrinth
Little boy with Labyrinth. Could there be a more quintessentially SF moment?
9 Land's End Trail View
I love the view from Land’s End. All at once, I feel connected with the universe’s past, present, and future.

The Golden Gate is one of the most seismically active areas in the world. Formed over the course of 200 million years, the rugged coastline is the result of the North American and Pacific Plates rubbing against each other pushing the serpentine and sandstone rocks from deep within the sea floor to the ocean’s surface. These two plates, part of the San Andreas Fault Zone, are always active moving approximately 1 inch per year (earthquakes anyone?).

Land’s End is a fantastic place to appreciate the geologic drama of the Golden Gate.

(To learn more, check out this great paper and guided tour.)

10 Cypress 2
I LOVE Cypress Trees!  Some day I will take a photo that expresses what these trees mean to me.  Until then, you will have to suffer through my drafts.

What a wonderful day!  Who needs sun and 80 degree temperatures, when you can have champagne air and hot chocolate?

2 thoughts on “The CCC’s San Francisco Favorites #7: Chilly Summer Days

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