Jon Crispin's Notebook

Sutro Baths

Posted in Architecture, Government, Landscape, Nature, Panoramas, Plants, Water by joncrispin on 15/02/2013

I am sitting in the San Francisco airport waiting for my redeye flight home.  This morning’s quick meeting with the team ended well.  I know know pretty much what I need to do in the next few weeks as far as printing goes.

I had yesterday pretty much to myself.  Around noon I met with an old friend from Ithaca, Katie Harhen and we ate a couple of dozen oysters in the Ferry Terminal and had a great time catching up.  She is a really wonderful person and has created a great life out here in the Bay Area.

I had been hearing about the Sutro Baths from the Exploratorium folks and Stephanie Bailey said it was her favorite place in the area.  I hopped on the Geary bus and after a long ride out to the western-most part of SF got to a cliff above the ocean.

I especially like the fact that except for a few spots one is totally free to roam around the ruins without having to be warned of imminent danger.  It is part of  a National Park, and for now the only areas that are closed off are to do with a river otter that has taken up residence.  (He wasn’t there when I showed up.)

There was a little tunnel through the rocks that was kind of eerie.  You could hear the waves crashing and in a few spots could actually see the water.

The ocean was a steely gray for most of the time I was there.

It was foggy and quite cold when I arrived and just as I was leaving at about 5.00, the sun came out.

The flora reminded me a lot of what you would see on the Cornwall coast.

It is a very special place.  And the gift shop at the top of the hill is way cool.  I got a great mug and a bunch of vintage postcard reproductions. It is always completely baffling to me how something as cool and popular as the baths can virtually disappear.  Check out some other links to the history of the place and be sure to visit if you are in the area.

5 Responses

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  1. Peach Farm Studio said, on 15/02/2013 at 3:03 am

    So glad you enjoyed your visit!

  2. Cindy Reaper said, on 15/02/2013 at 9:33 am

    You pictures, as always, are wonderful. The site looks like a very special place and the fact that it was “moody” the day you were there makes it even more breathtaking! Thank you for sharing. C2

  3. Pia Massie said, on 15/02/2013 at 11:20 am

    oh beautiful ! that landscape is so mysteriously special. especially love the waves and ocean coming through the rock. thanks so much for taking us with you on your journey. congrats on the Exploritorium show too; will let SF friends know.

  4. Melissa Raine said, on 15/02/2013 at 3:48 pm

    Why do I think of you when I see nice places in California? I guess because I think you’ll be over there intermittently visiting David’s family, and probably nowhere near these baths, but gee I wouldn’t mind a few hours there if I found myself in the neighbourhood. How’s your ARC lather? My own small version is rewriting my Adelaide conference paper for a Routledge collection and wondering how it ever got accepted, it is so woolly and confused. A few hours a week to work on it, and many more stressing about how I’m not getting enough done … Alas life is rather tense, thanks to battles with schools. I find it utterly overwhelming. Think of your stoushes at NMIT and the grief they caused you; it’s all about power in the end, and I have none, so don’t get listened to, and after many tries feel their resentment more and more palpably … It’s not a good place from which to try to parent a child.

    Is all else well? Do you have any plans to come to Melbourne (you might have told me but if you knew how many communication errors I’ve made this week you’d excuse my fogginess — too much stress!)? Richard is going to a conference on the Gold Coast in April and thanks to Tiger Airways we’ll be going with him, overshooting you by a fair distance alas.

    By the way, I came across the photographer below because he photographed some incredibly poignant suitcases — you can find them spread through his site if you are interested.

    The grizzles are starting in the next room, gotta go, Mes.

  5. Julia said, on 16/02/2013 at 11:27 am

    So glad you got to see this cherished SF location. I was born and raised in SF and spent a lot time hanging out here as a teen. There is a wonderful breakfast restaurant over-looking the site called Louie’s and worth a return trip. My mother used to swim at Sutro Baths when she was a girl in the 40’s. Wish I had a pic to share!

    Looking forward to the Exploratorium exhibit in April. Please post when you know your speaking schedule.


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