At the edge of the Earth

Yesterday was my last day in San Francisco.

I just need to pause for a moment to let that sink in. It's done. It was such a good week, full of time with close friends, fond memories, great food, and gratitude. Having lived in different parts of the world for large parts of my life, and considering several different places as "homes" of sorts, I was tearing up when I left last night. I wish I could spend more time there. I wish I could visit more regularly. (And if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride!)

Anyway, this post isn't supposed to be about that. It's about how I spent my last day, before catching the red eye flight to Washington, DC for a few days of work. 

And more specifically, how I spent my afternoon. A beautifully sunny, warm day, the kind San Francisco rarely sees, particularly in the summer, and particularly after some gray, drizzly days like we'd been experiencing earlier in the week. 

So I went hiking in Lands End.

Which, beyond feeling like it really is at the edge of the Earth, is described as the "wildest, rockiest corner of San Francisco." Right on the ocean at the Western tip of the city, it's got it all: Shipwrecks. Ruins. A meditation labyrinth with a killer view. Beaches. Cliffs. And of course, one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I started out at the Sutro Baths, which opened in 1896 and were once the world's largest indoor swimming complex, sourcing directly from the Pacific Ocean. An affordable saltwater spa, and a place I'd have loved to visit, if not for the fact that it somewhat mysteriously burned down in 1966. Nowadays, all that remains are the ruins of some broken concrete walls, leaving only a shell of what must have been such a grand structure, where only our imaginations can fill in the blanks.

Then I continued through the Cypress Groves, stopping for photos at various lookout points, on to China Beach, and Baker Beach. I should point out here that Baker Beach is San Francisco's nude beach. And this being San Francisco, nudists aren't shy. The result? Penises. Lots of penises on display. I'll spare you the photos!

Up the Baker Beach Sand Ladder (200 steps of sand-packed poles tied together--be still my literally-beating heart!) I went, then along the coast line for one final look down onto the 'International Orange' Bridge (that's the official name for its color), and then lastly, a stroll into the gorgeous Presidio neighborhood, where I stopped for a glass of white wine and a little reflection.

Reflection on a long, rewarding hike, but more importantly, on a week that flew by and that I hope to always remember.

Thank you, San Francisco.