Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Houseboats, Redwoods, and a View of the Bay

On Saturday, Andrew and I took advantage of the strangely spring-like temperatures and embarked on a day trip to Sausalito, just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. Instantly charming, Sausalito’s main drag looks out over the sailboat-dotted water, and you can see the San Francisco skyline from a distance—as well as the Golden Gate Bridge, though for us it was a bit too hazy to see. Above the main street of shops, cafes, and restaurants are steep streets and beautiful houses set among the hills, looking out at the spectacular view.

We had lunch at the Bridgeway Café, sitting—in January!—at an outdoor table in the sun so we could people-watch and enjoy our proximity to the water. The streets were full of cyclists, many of whom we suspect had ridden over the Golden Gate Bridge for lunch in Sausalito—something we could easily imagine ourselves doing, were we to become San Franciscans. Surprisingly, Sausalito felt very European—were it not for the English being spoken around us, and if we’d squinted our eyes a little, we could have imagined ourselves on the Costa Brava, or in the South of France.

We had a drink at the No Name Bar after lunch, in honor of Andrew’s father, who lived in Sausalito in the sixties. It was easy to imagine Andrew sitting in the very seat his dad once sat in, looking out at the street through the large front window.

Before leaving Sausalito, we strolled around an area of the bay that’s filled with row upon row of houseboats. Far from the modest, floating, trailer-like houseboats we saw floating on the canals of Amsterdam, these houseboats actually looked like houses that just happened to be situated in water, on firm cement bases. On the other side of the houseboat area, however, the homes seemed much seedier, many spray-painted in garish colors or airbrushed with skulls and other evocative imagery. The wrong side of the tracks, clearly.

A winding road took us next to Muir Woods, a park full of old-growth redwoods, some over a thousand years old. There’s nothing quite like strolling through redwoods—it’s incredibly peaceful—and the trails here were nicely laid out. We walked about a mile, then drove on to Muir Beach, a small, cove-like beach surrounded by hills and trails. There were a few surfers paddling out to large breaking waves, and lots of families and groups of friends picnicking and waiting for sunset; there was a distinct hippie vibe. When we left, we could see the sun setting into the Pacific from the car window.

As usual, we discussed the possibility of moving to Sausalito and picked up a few real estate brochures. It’s too far away from where Andrew needs to be; but we can dream…