East is East, and West is San Francisco

This post’s title comes from the mouth of O. Henry.

To be entirely forthcoming, the quote in full reads:

East is East, and West is San Francisco, according to Californians. Californians are a race of people; they are not merely inhabitants of a State.

I don’t think I’ll bother to unpack that opinion.

But another favorite, attributed to Frank Lloyd Wright is pretty much the way I see it, too.

San Francisco is the only city I can think of that can survive all the things you people are doing to it and still look beautiful.”

Frank Lloyd Wright died in 1959. I wonder what he’d say about the city today?

Even in my own lifetime I’ve seen so many changes to this vibrant and exciting city. There are many who complain the battle for San Francisco’s soul has been lost to the tech industries. I think for many people, and in particular people of my age, there is a tendency to ring alarm bells with change that doesn’t fit our interests or lifestyle.

No matter, I continue to think San Francisco is a fascinating and highly enjoyable city, and I feel extremely lucky to have family living in the city and surrounding Bay Area who eagerly extend themselves as personal tour guides.

We recently visited my cousins and spent a couple of days simply enjoying the company of each other and relaxing in the comfort of being with experienced locals.

We enjoyed lunch at one of the little stalls in Fisherman’s Wharf, mostly taking in the sights and aromas unique to the area.

If you’ll permit me to boast a little, I bake what I consider to be really good sourdough bread, BUT San Francisco’s sourdough is iconic and people line up to take home loaves, with tourists making arrangements to ship it home.  The classic sourdough originated in the city with the gold rush, and all I can tell you is, don’t leave the city without make its acquaintance.

I had never been inside the Presidio chapel, so we made a stop. The chapel was built by the U.S. Army in Spanish mission revival architecture and serves as an active chapel and a popular wedding venue. The walls are lined with plaques honoring fallen members of the military. I wish I’d taken more photos of the chapel itself, but I think I was so affected by the setting that I kept my eyes outdoors.

Turn around.

Afternoon drinks and tapas at the Cliff House provided rest after much walking and a visual treat as well.

My goal is always aimed towards an ocean view, and The Cliff House, in the outer Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco has been re-invented several times since its earliest beginnings in 1858, but that view has withstood earthquakes, fire and time!

There is so much history attached to this fabulous spot, but I’ll share just a little of the popular culture. From what I’ve read, the area immediately around the Cliff House is a featured setting in Jack London’s novel, “The Scarlet Plague.” And characters from London’s “The Abysmal Brute” meet at the Cliff House.

I you have any interest in seeing an image of the third incarnation of the Cliff House THIS article shows the cover of the album Imaginos by Blue Öyster Cult, featuring the image on its cover.

But perhaps more interesting to me is the way the Cliff House was originally poised on the cliff to overlook the famous, at the time, Sutro Baths, owned by Adolph Sutro, wealthy entrepreneur and San Francisco mayor (1894-96).

The baths contained six saltwater pools, equipped with slides, swinging rings and a springboard.

The Cliff House and the Baths struggled over the years with fires, very high operating costs and other economic difficulties, but both are currently part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, operated by the United States National Park. The good news in that sentence is that developers aren’t poised to ravage the ecologically fragile and beautiful coastline view.

I wanted a photo from our visit overlooking one of the best views of the city. Just once I’d like to have a photo of the two of us without me in dark glasses. I had to laugh.

Here I am. Squinting again! Jay has brown eyes and can take a good photo. I, with light blue, just can’t do it! If I weren’t quite so vain I’d be tempted to make you laugh with a whole host of odd photos sitting in my archives.

So here’s the official photo of the day. Perhaps pay more attention to the background. That’s one breathtaking view.

If the view doesn’t impress you, perhaps this?

My travel focus is always the people I love, but I’m also exceedingly joyful that my visits return me to such interesting locations.

I’m grateful for each and every “breathing lighter” moment. I wish you the same, my friends, as a new week and new month begins.