Sunday, November 29, 2020

Sent Nov. 30, 2020: BIRTHDAY BLOG


On Friday November 27, I turned 74. Initially I was going to have a Zoom birthday party. But who wants to have a Zoom party the day after Zoom Thanksgiving? So I opted to wait a week and celebrate instead the 44th anniversary of my coming out, which was a week after my 30th birthday. That's when I I slept with a woman for the first time. I know, I know -- late bloomer. I blame the lesbians. No woman had tried to seduce me before that!

So next Friday I'm celebrating my 44th Lesbianniversary (this wonderful word was created by Tara, who's organizing it) on Zoom. Because it's on Zoom, there'll be friends from all over the world attending! Well, several from all over the country and one from all over the world. And the Guest of Honor will be Sherry McVickar, who had the bright idea of getting me into bed 44 years ago. If not for Sherry, I might still be treating men badly.

But for the actual day of my birthday two days ago, all I wanted was a long walk with Elizabeth and our dogs. So we done diddly dood just that -- taking ourselves to the Northwest corner of San Francisco, The photo above is Elizabeth with the dogs on Sutro Heights. This cliff above the ocean is where Adolph Sutro, the great benefactor of 19th and early 20th century San Francisco, built his mansion.
Adolph Sutro came from a German-Jewish merchant family in Prussia. During the Prussian Uprising in 1850, the family fled to the United States, and Sutro ended up in San Francisco.

He was an engineer who made his fortune in the Comstock Silver lode in Nevada. The big problem with getting the silver out was the constant flooding in the mines. Sutro built a tunnel to drain the mines of water. Mine owners rented the tunnel for $10,000/day.

After quite a few days of renting his tunnel, Sutro moved back to San Francisco with a lot of money. There, he bought most of the northwest corner of San Francisco, which was called Land's End because it was
separated from the rest of the city by miles of sand dunes. Sutro built his mansion there with gardens and copies of famous statuary and opened it to the public.

Then he built the Cliff House, a spectacular restaurant and hotel hanging out over the ocean.
THEN he built a railroad, so that people could easily and cheaply get out to the beach. AND THEN he built the Sutro Baths, a complex of saltwater and freshwater pools and theaters for entertainment. I mean, it must have been hella fun to take that train to the beach.
Above is the whole complex of buildings that was Sutro Baths. Then he sold his railroad to the Southern Pacific, with the proviso that they would never raise the fare above the nickel he was charging. They immediately raised the fare to 25 cents, so Sutro sued them and got his railroad back.

Everything burned down eventually -- most spectacularly the Cliff House in 1907.
The Cliff House has been rebuilt several times. Its current incarnation is modern and upscale. I don't think Sutro would have approved of the prices. He was always for the people. He was incredibly popular, and the Populist Party convinced him to run for Mayor on their ticket. Sutro won in a landslide, but he had no talent for politics and everyone got mad at him. So he went back to being an eccentric philanthropist. I have a very large and soft spot for Adolph in my heart.

The Bathhouse hung on until 1966, by which time it was a skating rink. Then it burned down. I sure wish I could have been there in its heyday. Below are the ruins of the Sutro Baths.

So beauty was everywhere on this gorgeous day.

We took a walk on Land's End, which has a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
I have to say, I've been here a long time, and years ago Land's End used to be much more deserted. In fact, dramatically beautiful as it was, it also seemed a bit seedy and foreboding. I always imagined it would be a great place for a murder.

But no more! The National Park put money into a snazzy visitor center and upgraded the parking lot, put barriers up to keep you off the crumbling, unsafe paths we used to walk on because we were young and stupid. And there are lots of people! Everywhere!

I know I should feel happy that more people get to enjoy Land's End, but I don't. I long for the old run-down seedy days. Maybe if I do a lot more Buddhist practice, I'll get there.

Love this woman on the ledge, right.
Then we decided that we absolutely had to find a cup of coffee, and we headed back towards Sutro Heights, and through the park, going south. Elizabeth was in the lead, and I knew we were going to come to a dead end, that there was no way to get down to the beach, where the coffee was, directly from Sutro Park.

But I thought I'll just follow her anyhow and.....lo and behold, there was a crumbling very very steep stairway that I had never seen before! With fabulous graffiti at the entrance to it!

And there was a young man ascending the stairs, hopping!

What a great birthday present, to discover a new special funky hidden corner of San Francisco!

And it would never have happened without Elizabeth, since I "knew" there was no point in exploring the southern edge of Sutro Heights.
Then we walked a couple miles down the beach for coffee, since the first place was too crowded. As we sat there stoking ourselves with caffeine and sugar to power ourselves back up the hill, I wondered if maybe Elizabeth should just call a Lyft and get a ride to her car and then drive back to pick me up. I was dreading climbing up those stairs. But I never said it out loud. And we found a way back to the car that wasn't quite so steep as the stairs we'd come down. The perfect ending to a perfect birthday.

Bloggelinnis: An absolutely excellent birthday was had by all -- Elizabeth, Paisley, Nikki, Loulou & me. Terry

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