Forts Mason and Point

I walked out of the Goldfish rehearsal with tears still drying on my face. Fort Mason was sunny, and warm, and nearly empty. There’s a new bandshell there, built of used car hoods and circuit boards. It sounds bizarre, but fit in in an oddly comforting way. I walked out and got a sope and a tamale from chaac-mool (“yucatecan food, legends and catering”): six people cooking a combination of gourmet and truck food in a tent on the sidewalk. They made the sope by hand after I’d ordered.

Walking across the Marina, I heard sirens, the clank of hardware on masts, the whispered lapping of the bay, the clip-clop of half-a-dozen policemen on horseback. Pelicans circled, crabs basked on their rocks, and I looked for the Golden Gate. It was nearly invisible: thin spans of red peeked out through the clouds.

I took my plate back to the car to drive out to Fort Point. (The tamale and sope were layered with mango and veggies and cotija cheese, and I am very glad the bug had a palatial dashboard for me to rest it on as I drove.) I ate sitting on the sea wall in the chilling fog, listening to the ships play Marco Polo and watching people fishing off the pier.

Afterward, I walked out to the point. On my way, I saw an odd collection of buoys. As I got closer, I thought they might be sea lions, then swimmers, then they revealed themselves as a dozen surfers, one older than my father, waiting for the waves to pick up. It was high-level surfing: full wetsuits; heads covered; picking up a wave then jumping off the board before the wave slammed into the rocks at the shore.

I’d never been out to Fort Point before; I hadn’t realized that the Golden Gate had had a fort before the Civil War. It was built to protect gold rush San Francisco from foreign naval attack. In the 1930s, they shut down the light house and built the bridge up over the fort.

The fort itself is pleasantly sturdily brick, and I climbed up to the fourth floor to see the view of the bridge from underneath.

When she was little, my mother and her sisters used to do cartwheels on the deck of their father’s boat as they went under the Golden Gate. I always wanted to live up to her example. And so I did, in the second floor corridor of the Fort. Task complete.

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