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San Francisco, California

By William J. Hurley

September brought the warm air. The wharf was festooned brightly with eager tourists clawing through its innards seeking travel guide dreams of sourdough bread and supervised shark petting. A haphazard din borne of the mouths of restaurateurs hocking the sale of fresh crabs and their open bars laid a drum roll behind the potpourri of coin gathering bongo bangers, excited patrons in open air coffee shops and restaurants and the anxious
horn of the Alcatraz ferry.

The Golden Gate bridge loomed to the distant left, surveying it's city until a thick fog, stewing across the bay, grew steam and rolled over its red arches, creeping toward the wharf with the undaunted diligence of the mountain range that once stood in its path. A consistent, clean Pacific breeze washed the fog to wisps of cloudy residue. On the clearest days the bridge could be seen.

Across the bridge to the north and immediately sloping up through carved hills we drove to an overhang of Mount Tamalpias. Families and fascinated
young couples parked before the projection and walked through the mountain to the bridge just before us. In the bay below the bridge passed small
sailboats and cloaking the sudden splendor was the spontaneity of San Francisco itself, rising and dropping off randomly and often to give its residents several breathtaking views. From Mount Tamalpias, we realized, the view was fine the other way as well.

We drove back down through the carved hills to the highway going north and exited at Sausalito. At the edge of town the main street was choked with
souvenir shops and ice cream stores, resonating of Harwichport and Chatham on Cape Cod. The bay was brilliant in the drizzling sun, splashing warm over clutters of bobbing houseboats before the mouth. Bucolic houses raced down a mountain perched above the center of town toward the bay. We drove through a road weaving amongst the houses and burned with a fascination that could have been jealousy.

Back at the wharf we bought tickets amongst the growing human melting pot for the ferry ride to Alcatraz. The sea colored breeze and brooding fog, now gathering over the bay, were refreshing. On a distant platform playful seals barked and hovering gulls cawed from above the wharf and then above us on the ferry platform. Alcatraz was a short ride.

We walked up through the rock and inspected where the criminals once dwelled. It was dark when we reached the top and in the distance the bright
lights of the red bridge stood proud over the blackened bay. The city was alive with sporadic lights, spiraling through awkwardly handsome dimensions.
At night the mission district defied the notion of California floozy cool. We waded through twenty-something bars flowing with the cheerful chatter of contented people in a gorgeous city.


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