The Roads of North America - Part 6

San Francisco Bay and Sausalito Houseboats

By: - Sep 14, 2017

How fortunate that a first introduction to San Francisco and the Bay Area came via a long-time friend, Ken Kantor, who had been a graduate student then Fellow at CAVS/MIT, while I managed the Center, now too many years ago. We both whipped out our cameras, I had the field advantage, since he was driving. However, he lives in Berkeley and, in fact, he has the location advantage.

My first spectacular photo-op came in the Robin Williams Tunnel. Then, exiting the tunnel, suddenly the bay area hills and vistas along Mount Tamalpais State Park were right in front of us and breathtaking!

We encountered a group of student-cyclists from atop an embankment, a formerly defense location where the big guns had long been removed. Much to our surprise, the installation, named Battery Rathbone - McIndoe, goes back to 1905, then guarding against enemy-ships from along the Pacific Coast. During WW II it protected minefields outside of the Golden Gate. Today, atop the former military installation, the views from there are spectacular!

Further along the road, in the hills, we discovered the Marine Mammal Center. The Rescue Mission receives injured animals, seals and such, from 600 miles up and down the Pacific Coast. Currently, there were few seals sunning themselves in the more than 20 large basins and cages. Ken’s cousin actually volunteers there, and she was scheduled to work the day after our visit. Several posters throughout the buildings inform visitors about mission and activities of the center.

Next, we set our sight onto Sausalito in the opposite direction, a mercifully cute and upscale small town. No wonder that the 25-cent-torso or sculpture in a window of one of the gift galleries was priced at $ 18,000. ‘She’ was fashioned in hundreds, if not thousands of quarters. We were both intrigued and photographed with fervor.  Ken remarked that he could create the sculpture for much less. (Coins - and pun intended!) Then, lunch along the Bay was delightful and offered an occasion to catch up on many years of our lives.

We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge three more times that day. Hours after returning to our hotel in San Francisco, a friendly member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) drove back to Sausalito so that we could join board members of the organization, who had been in session all day.  Our primary reason to visit San Francisco was in fact the ATCA Conference, which had been extensively organized by a small group from San Francisco and nearby. We were invited to a houseboat dinner in Sausalito, followed by the first theatre performance, which was presented for ATCA members.

There are a total of approximately 400 houseboats, or floating homes as they are also called in Sausalito, an enclave as well organized as any other community. In fact, because of the canals and narrow walkways, emergency exits and fire regulations are detailed and impressive. Our hosts, Brad and Teddie Hathaway, are part of the water patrol and have a small boat anchored next to their home. What fun to experience a few hours of houseboat living. Teddie is a glass-artist, and uses only recycled windowpanes for her work in natural and abstract forms. Of course, it’s California.

This houseboat has beautifully updated living spaces on two levels, including a glass studio, and the entire top deck with plenty of space for dinners and parties, is  surrounded by West Coast flowering plants and a lime tree.  I was impressed! The Hathaways are also ‘transplants’ themselves from the Washington, D.C. area and have been living in Sausalito for more than five years now.

Houseboats there range from simple and small to fancy and stylish million-dollar-homes. We left early enough to make a seven-thirty curtain call at the Marin Theatre Company, where we saw The Legend of Georgia McBride, by Matthew Lopez, a hilarious comedy.

What a great introduction to San Francisco and The Bay Area!

Here a direct link to my first California article of July 19.