Surfing in the City

Surfers at Fort Point, San Francisco

As a cargo ship passes underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, its orange red hue temporarily blends in with International Orange. A sailboat decorated with America’s Cup paraphernalia heeds to the ship, carefully avoiding the larger vehicle’s path as it steers toward the wider ocean. Alcatraz and the city skyline are distinct against the clear sky and azure waves tumble in and crash against the rocks that lead to the sea wall.

It’s a luscious day for sure, but not exactly a scene from a stereotypical surfing dream. Still, the water is full of surfers braving the chilly Pacific and the rocky shore to ride the waves. Shivering tourists walk up and gape in awe at them. They’ve probably found that this part of California is colder than they imagined, but the sight of surfers surely lives up to California dreams.

I watch too. Although I’ve seen surfers numerous times, I’ve never seem them this close to shore. I notice how the surfers communicate with each other and with the water. When a wave is coming, they call out to people who can catch it. And when it’s their turn, they ride with grace for as long as possible, turning and sinking back into the water before they reach the rocks. From the shore, it looks like an admirable way to be completely in tune with what’s around you and a perfect balance of power and harmony.


Bring Your Own Big Wheel: San Francisco-Style Easter Fun

On Easter Sunday, for the past eleven years, people in San Francisco have gathered for what it is probably the strangest and most fun way to celebrate the day: Bring Your Own Big Wheel, a race down San Francisco’s windiest street. The race began on Lombard Street and eventually moved to Vermont Street at 20th Street which is the real curviest street in city, despite Lombard Street’s fame.

Once those who are brave enough have secured a kid’s plastic tricycle or Barbie truck or a large toy truck or a trashcan (really, anything dubious with plastic wheels on it), they take to Vermont Street and race down the street on whatever precarious method of transport they’ve chosen.

It’s not an event to spend too much time thinking about, it’s just a day to laugh a lot and revel in ridiculousness and sigh and say, “Only in San Francisco” with utmost fondness for the city.

The race happens regardless of the weather. As you can see above, this year, it was a sunny and pleasant Easter afternoon. Check out my write up and photos from last year’s slick and rainy BYOBW race here.

Be Sure to Carry a Flower in Your Hand


Sometimes San Francisco’s MUNI buses and trains can be an unsavory stew of desperation and disenchantment. At other times, MUNI can be a delicious melting pot of colors, languages, and backgrounds.

One day back in early September, I had one of those delicious MUNI rides. That day was the beginning of a break from several days of foggy weather; the kind of spectacular San Francisco Saturday that makes people head out en masse to the ocean and parks and festivals and immerse themselves in the beauty of the city before the fog inevitably rolls in again.

While I was riding a MUNI bus through the Mission District that day, this small and stooped old woman climbed aboard. She spoke Spanish and was familiar with many of the people who were getting on and off the bus. She had a gentle way about her and she was carrying a single red rose. As she sat back in her seat, her Mary Jane-clad feet lifted off the ground.

Tranquility, wisdom, friendship, appreciation of the little things, childlike enthusiasm for life, and grace all converged in the image of this old woman like an advertisement for contentment, like a summation of that day.

A Trashy Bride in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is a place where one’s eccentricity can thrive. Downtown Santa Cruz’s main drag, Pacific Avenue, and the streets that surround it comprise an ideal area to display your deviation.

A couple years ago, a friend and I were window shopping in downtown Santa Cruz. We heard the aluminum, plastic, and paper train of this woman’s garbage wedding dress before we saw her. She was across the street from us when she fittingly stopped in front of a mural depicting aliens and proceeded to give us and two other passersby a spiel on trash. I’m not sure what her point was or if she even had one, but I thought her dress was enthralling.