Lyrical Day at Land’s End with Michael – 10/15/18

If the weather was any indicator, Monday was a day for calm seas and a prosperous voyage with just a garnish of sea breeze. The Cliff House area of San Francisco offers stellar views all the way to the horizon and maybe beyond. We met at the Visitor Center for the Golden Gate Recreational Area which greeted us with a stunning aerial photo of the area and a memorable quotation from the Ohlone Indians who lived here for thousands of years.
“I am dancing, dancing on the edge of the world”, Rumsen Ohlone Song. with comments by the remarkable Malcom Margolin

We were able to see all the way north to the Point Reyes peninsula, perhaps 35 miles, where we hiked last week. Gathering at the visitor center, Land’s End Lookout, we began with a walk around the historic Sutro Baths, Cliff House area before heading out to the Land’s End Trails. There is an overview of the Sutro Baths area ruins which look like an enormous swimming pool. But in its prime from 1894 a San Francisco mayor said it was the largest indoor swimming facility in the world. It had fallen from grace by the time our family had moved to San Francisco in 1962 but we did enjoy one trip there after it had been turned into an ice skating rink. The memory is of an enormous glass covered building filled with hundreds of lockers used by swimmers of earlier years. It was being demolished in 1966 when it burnt to the ground.
Enjoy the stuff of our history while we can.

And now a VIMEO VIDEO of our whole hike with sounds of the “Age of Aquarius” and “Let the Sunshine In” by “The Fifth Dimension”.

Many thanks to Michael and to Nancie for some additional photos.

Plenty of parking and buildings that don’t obstruct what’s its all about, the view. The visitor center is in the foreground.

A variety of exhibits frame the views.

Some high school classes visiting the park head up “how many” steps as they explore the area. The Monterey Cypresses add a dramatic, windblown quality to the scene. And just a suggestion of Marin’s Mt. Tamalpais in that diagonal on the far left. I know, that last is like having to identify something on “I am not a robot.”

Michael gifts some Coyote brush seeds to the area. You may recall all this but here’s a short review. The female coyote brush is the “snowy” covered bush while the male is the adjacent greener appearing bush to the left. “Coyote brush is dioecious meaning that it produces male and female flowers on different plants. Blooming between August and December, the while fluffy female flowers and the yellowish male flowers grow on separate shrubs. The male flowers are stubbier, short, flattish with a creamy white color. … smelling like shaving soap.
The female flowers are long, whitish green and glistening. … Seeds are small black nuts and hang off a fluffy tuft of hair called a pappus. From October to January the pappus catches the wind and blows away, like dandelions, helping Coyote brush spread its seeds.”
I don’t recall ever seeing such “snow drifts” of Coyote brushes blooming along our trails obviously delighted with their location. Recently, when they build the visitor center they also paid great attention to putting in native plants.

Solitary sail boat with Pt. Reyes Peninsula in the sunlight perhaps 35 miles away on the horizon.

Another very happy plant along the trail was the Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) which Michael was talking about, “Arguably the all-star of edible flowers, with a somewhat spicy, peppery tang similar to watercress. Flower colors range from a moonlit yellow to bright yellow, orange, scarlet and red”. Brought back to Spain from Peru by the conquistadors in the 1500s they have a rich history.
Michael loves words – their meanings and origins. He spoke here that nasturtium combination comes from the Latin for “nas” for nose and “tortum” for twist from a person’s reaction tasting the spicy leaves. Wikipedia notes that the name literally means “nose-twister or nose-tweaker”. The leaves were thought to resemble shields and the flowers, helmets. The tropaeolum name was given by Linneaus in 1753 from a Latin word meaning trophy. The wiki entry gives more detail about it being a trophy pole on which the Romans put the vanquished foe’s armour and weapons (we hope not with the vanquished foe inside). After sharing this information, Michael ate his visual aid.

Lots of stairs on the way down, maybe more stairs in this area than any of the other parts of the GGNRA, that’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Lots of rocky shoals and lots of ship wrecks along the Golden Gate.

Mile Rock Light House was completed in 1905 to warn mariners about these brutally rocky shallows near the San Francisco coast at Land’s End.

We arrive at The Labyrinth overlooking the channel to the San Francisco Bay and passage beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. Labyrinths and Mazes have flown together for many years (into the centuries) but they are being discovered again for their distinct differences. The maze has more than one entry and exit point and “involves a network of paths, passages, dead ends and even traps through which one has to find a way. The maze is defined as MULTICURSAL or as having more than one route between the center and the outside. The Labyrinth on the other hand is referred to as UNICURSAL meaning there is only one path from which one enters and exits. It may make twists and turns or follow a circular pattern but finally exits back through the same entry point.

Michael then went beyond the physical trail that leads to the center of the labyrinth and back, a symbol of the path our lives take from birth to death. In a TEDx talk by Kristen Keyes on 11/21/17 in CoeurdAlene she echoed the idea that walking the labyrinth is to quiet the mind, guide healing, deepen self knowledge and is a metaphor of our life’s journey. In another helpful blog, titaworks below, the writer adds that a labyrinth is a form of moving meditation whereas a maze is meant to be disorienting, an analytical puzzle to be solved. This gives an excellent introduction and also provides access to some helpful youtube videos among other things.

Here we all walk the walk in our labyrinth overlooking San Francisco Bay. VIMEO VIDEO:

Thanks to Michael for this great shot of Roz and Anne’s successful arrival at the center of things.

Michael also captured the group on this gloriously clear day in which it seemed we could see forever.

After all of these ruminations, it was definitely time for lunch and watching the waves.

Mile Rock Lighthouse in the center and another light house all the way across to the other side a little to the left, Point Bonita Lighthouse.

An artist with his easel on our way back to the visitor’s center.

The stellar view continues all the way back.

Michael found the CAMERA OBSCURA on our return. It had been closed when we passed earlier in the day. Some of the group joined him there and he shared this remarkable photo with all of us. It has been at the Cliff House since its construction in 1946.

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