Le Weekend

I made myself an adventurer this weekend.

Saturday morning I woke extra early and with a faint memory of Sutro Baths in my mind, perhaps from a dream. I’d visited only once before, on a modeling job, and while I remember how sparkly and secret the ruins were, I was working so I didn’t get a chance to really explore.

And so I had to go. The coast was calling. I took the 38-Geary to Ocean Beach, which is a pretty formidable Muni ride from downtown. Lots of characters on and off. I remember a little old lady (M2F, which actually made her a little bit bigger than little little old lady) with a translucent blue scarf on her hair. When I looked at her she was calm, and it made me calm.

I spoke with my mother. She heard I was less heartbroken and more sure and happy with myself, so hopefully she’ll be worrying less in the next week. She’s been calling every day. God bless her, but her worry-warting can be exhausting.

We passed many storefronts with funny names like Your Favorite Tofu, and others I can’t remember.

Getting to the beach the wind swirling my hair around all crazylike I felt at first out-of-place. The afternoon sun was a perfect light and so I remembered to breathe. When you haven’t seen the Pacific in awhile, at first you almost feel unworthy.

This is that place. I am in the City? How curious.

It’s a short hike up to that little white building in this photograph, which is the famed Cliff House, which is itself a destination, but not where I’d be stopping.

Going around the side I came upon a funny miniature building, labeled appropriately, Giant Camera.

I say “appropriately” because as you see, the building is shaped, in fact, just like a camera, its lens pointing directly toward the sky.

Giant Camera turned out to be an actual camera obscura, a rare device based on a 15th century design by Leonardo da Vinci. It makes 360 degree images onto a reflective bowl in the middle of the miniature museum (where there is also holography). Camera obscura means “dark room”, which is one of those things you think you’d ought to have known.

[Giant Camera] was built in 1948-49 as part of the Playland at the Beach amusement area. The designer was Floyd Jennings who also designed two other camera obscuras, now lost, at The Garden of the Gods and Lookout Mountain.

So after that little $3.00 amusement, which left me with nine dollars, I went around the back of the Cliff House and finally gazed upon the Sutro Baths ruins.

to be continued…

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