Thursday, September 9, 2010

"Submitted for Your Approval . . .

or at least your analysis: one Charlie Henry, who at age sixty-six talks incessantly about fog. He holds a ten-year record for the most meaningless references spewed out about fog during a coffee break. And it's very likely that, as of this moment, he would have gone through life in precisely this manner, a poor soul, rambling about atmospheric conditions, espousing embracing the fog, and setting back the art of conversation a thousand years.

"I say he very likely would have, except for something that will soon happen to him, something that will considerably alter his existence, beginning with a simple sail and including the ultimate embrace by the fog.

"You unlock this door with the key of imagina-tion. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into...the Twilight Zone."

With apologies to Rod Serling and slight variations on his classic, and often disturbing, introduction to each episode of The Twilight Zone, I could almost hear his voice introducing this story as we traveled through fog from Vallejo to San Francisco by ferry.

Passing by Alcatraz brought my mind back to our planned travel schedule.

We disembarked at Pier 41 and took the sidewalk past Piers 41,43, and 45. We took time to glance over the shoulder of this artist.

Pier 45 marked the home of the WWII submarine, USS Pampanito and one of the last remaining WWII liberty ships, the SS Jeremiah O'Brien. The O'Brien was the only ship that participated in the "D-Day" landing on June 4, 1944 that returned 50 years later to Normandy to represent the US.

Time did not allow for a stop at these vessels.

Nor did we have time to stop at Boudin at The Wharf to watch the bakers making loaves of original Sourdough French Bread that have been a trademark of San Francisco since the Gold Rush Days of 1849.

But the working boats of the Wharf caught our eye. Here were docked the boats in the sportfishing fleet. As a sign of the economic times, several of the captains of these fishing boats for hire were hawking their services as tour boats when we walked along the sidewalk.

The colors of the boats along this section made for nice photographs.

Many tour boats operate in the Bay along with a number of ferries that travel between Fisherman's Wharf and cities around the Bay. We weren't sure into which category this ship fit.

We passed Bush Man in his regular position along the Wharf. He "scares" adults as they walk by, not really paying attention to this bush on the sidewalk.

We read one report that Bush Man collected $60,000 in one year from people dropping money into a can by the bush.

We made a brief stop at the Musée Mécanique, an antique coin-operated arcade, which boasts of having one of the world's largest (over 200) privately owned collection of coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade machines in their original working condition.

There is no admission to the arcade, and virtually all the games, skill "tests," and fortune telling machines are in working order.

This game presented a puzzle for us. It says "Play Football" on the machine, but there are goals similar to soccer, so it may be the interna-tional "football," i.e., soccer.

To add to our uncertainty of the game, the players seem to be wearing bulky uniforms with their hands outstretched.

In May 1981, Live Steam Magazine published David Sarlin's story of the history of the steam-powered motorcycle known as "The Steam Flyer". The motorcycle was made about 1912 in Sacramento by a man named Gillingwater.

The Steam Flyer is one of the prized possessions of the Musée Mécanique and draws fans from around the world to see it. The arcade owner, the late Edward Galland Zelinsky, several years ago received an unsolicited offer to pay $250,000 for the motorcycle.

As we continued west, we came to the Hyde Street Pier. Here we could visit the 1886 square rigger, the Balclutha and the Eureka, an 1890 wooden-hulled, sidewheel paddle steamboat.

From Acquatic Park, we could see the Golden Gate Bridge--and its accom-panying fog--and a few swimmers (to the right, out of the photo).

Before retracing our steps and heading for lunch, we stopped for this view of Ghirardelli Square. San Franciscans got their first taste of Ghirardelli Chocolate when, during the 1849 Gold Rush, James Lick brought 600 pounds of it to The City from Lima, Peru where he was a neighbor of Domingo Ghirardelli.

In 1967, Ghiradelli’s chocolate-making operation moved to San Leandro, CA, and the Square is now a specialty shopping complex.

As we headed for lunch, the distant fog reminded me of Rod Serling.

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