Commuting the Golden Gate Bridge

I have to say that most of my commute experience has involved Muni with a short 3 month stint having to drive from San Francisco to Burlingame. Of those two experiences I’d have to say the commute to Burlingame was the worst because it involved 280, 380 and 101. Commuting to Marin is much different and I learned that highway 101 has a dark and a light side, but with the opposite meanings applying.

Traveling down to Burlingame I usually hit sun pretty quickly, but I also hit much more traffic. I could get there in a half hour to an hour and a half and you just could never tell. While I’d call this the light side because the sun always seemed like it was out even in the winter, it was also a nightmare because the traffic was stop and go most of the way.

Getting to the Golden Gate Bridge is another story, while current construction work on Fulton made it take me 30 minutes to get from Ortega and 19th to Fulton and Funston, from there it took me six minutes to get to toll booths of the bridge. I’ve figured out a work around that will get me from my house to the bridge avoiding the back up and get me to my twelve mile destination in under a half hour. The odd thing is that in this case even including the bridge toll [$6 because it’s the Golden Gate Bridge be-atch!] is cheaper than taking the public transportation route which would be Muni to Golden Gate transit and would take a little over an hour to do. It’s actually about half the price including gas.

Since I rarely have reason to travel across the Golden Gate Bridge I had forgotten what it was like. Dark, Stephen King like fog until you get through the rainbow tunnel of the Waldo grade. I had to turn my wipers on and off because the fog was so heavy a person from San Diego would call it rain, but it was just an amazingly fun drive. The Bay Bridge speed limit is 50 mph which means people drive about 70-80 mph in part because the fog is usually higher up over there and the lanes are wider and there is more of them.

The Golden Gate Bridge is 45 mph which means that people drive maybe 50 mph, but during commute it’s usually around 40 mph if not a little slower. because there are only three lanes north bound and two lanes south bound. I guess they want people to get out of San Francisco as fast as possible, but we only want to let them in at a slow and expensive rate.

I had vowed in the past to never cross a bridge again, but only realized that was from my experience with the Bay Bridge. Crossing the Golden Gate was, well, nice. It was the calmest drive I’ve ever had and I definitely didn’t feel as cramped as I did do when I ride on Muni during rush hour.

The biggest bonus was after getting out of the Waldo tunnel seeing sunlight and arriving at my destination I find that the company I’m freelancing for offers it’s employees free snacks like fresh fruit, chips, granola bars, yogurt, juice, tea, sodas, coffee and bottled water. They’ll even make a lunch run for sandwiches which you can enjoy in the employee lounge which has a 60″ HD flat screen TV and comfy couches. When I look out my window I get a gorgeous view of the Marin estuary and when I walk out on the deck I get the smell of the fresh salt air which I love while watching blue heron’s and egret’s walking around the marshlands.

I think I’m going to get used to this freelance gig really quick.

Crissy Field

Ten years can seem like a long time or a short time depending on how you look at it. A little over ten years ago Crissy Field was a dump. It was only good for driving to on the 4th of July to watch the fireworks. The rest of the year it was pretty much seen as a dumping ground for you name it. Things have changed and this month marks the ten year anniversary of the restoration of Crissy Field. I’m not sure if Crissy Field ever looked like it does today, but this is definitely a change for the better.

I never had a reason to go to Crissy Field for the above mentioned reasons, but I was talked into it once by some friends who were going down to watch the fireworks on the 4th of July. We all huddled together in the back of a pick up truck drinking beer watching the fireworks and there were a few yee haws thrown in with the oohs and awws. The place was pretty much dirt back then. It wasn’t pretty and that’s why you only went there at night. After the restoration my wife and I decided to take a drive out there one morning to check it out. I doubt the word restoration is fitting enough for what they did. Originally, Crissy Field was an air field for the Presidio Army Base that closed in 1974. Now it’s back to looking like the salt marsh it was that was home to the Ohlone and served as a landing spot for Spanish, Russian and English traders and explorers.

Today Crissy Field is marked by the Warming Hut on the west end which is where you’ll find most of the people and the Crissy Field Center on the east end. Both spots offer food and touristy stuff to buy. The wetlands have been rebuilt and it’s a great place to take a walk and explore on a sunny day. Granted, this is San Francisco so you’ll have to keep your fingers crossed for that sunny day on the bay, but when it is sunny you’ll appreciate it.

I was there again a couple of months ago and the grass is still green and growing nicely. I noticed that there was a group of people collected next to the warming hut learning about crab fishing and they had their crab nets all set to go out on the rickety pier to cast them off and catch some crab. The pier itself is lined with a few grizzled, tough looking fisherman casting their long lines to try and haul in some of the bay’s catch of the day. There’s usually a pack of cigarettes and a flask beside them because that’s what you do when you go fishing I’ve been told. Then as you travel back off the pier you’ll have to watch out for the joggers and bicyclists that travel the paths. Follow the path off to the east and take a trip to the rebuilt salt marsh at the east end. You’ll have lots of wildlife to see here with herons and egrets dropping in regularly. If you’ve timed it right you might even see some dolphins showing off for you in the Bay. While you’re there stop by the Crissy Field Center to have a snack and learn more about the history of the place.

The Presidio Trust is now working on further incorporating Crissy Field with Presidio now that it is no long an army base and I have to tell you that right now you’ve got to drive through a bit ugliness to get to the beauty. I’m hoping they are able to make some quick work out of it because Crissy Field is a place you need to take a trip to every once in awhile. It’s windy, but not as windy as Ocean Beach. You get great views of the Marin Headlands, Alcatraz and Downtown San Francisco. It’s also one of the best places to watch the sun rise in San Francisco.

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