Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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Sutro Baths & Cliff House: Photographic Tour

At long last, I bring you pictures of the Sutro baths and Cliff House in San Francisco, which I visited last Saturday with joannasatana and jsinevil.

I'm going to arrange these in order roughly from south to north, which is roughly the order we saw things in. So here's the Pacific Ocean, just south of the Cliff House. The place we parked overlooked this beach. I adored the way the cliffs on the horizon faded into invisibility. That's a classic San Francisco fog image, right there.

Up here on this ledge is where we parked.

There was a sidewalk leading down to the right. We walked down it.

The sidewalk led to a thing labeled "Giant Camera," as you can see here.

The Giant Camera was on the deck surrounding the Cliff House. The Cliff House is a larger building that you can see a bit of the edge of, off to the right.

It cost $3 to go inside the Giant Camera. Joanna and Jsin went inside, and later reported that it contains, well, a Giant Camera, much as you'd expect, and photographs the landscape around it. But I was more interested in staying outside and photographing the landscape with my own non-giant camera. This is the view when I was standing just south of the Giant Camera.

And this is the view when I was standing just north of the Giant Camera, facing the San Francisco Bay. People had set up lots of fishing poles at the edge of the water just below the Cliff House. You can just barely see two of those here, and also a third fishing pole that someone is holding.

This is the Cliff House itself (seen from the north side). It appeared to contain a typical touristy gift shop and a restaurant. We didn't go inside. We walked up the path to the left, along the top of the cliff.

The north side of the Cliff House directly overlooks the ruins of the Sutro baths. These are the baths, as seen while we were walking along the top of the cliff.

Joanna said that walking down from the top of the cliff would be too much for her fear of heights, so she waited at the top while Jsin and I walked down.

Here is a view from the path, looking back toward the Cliff House and the Pacific Ocean.

The cement bits dividing the different sections of the baths were just barely wide enough, in most places, to walk on fairly easily. And apparently the little rows of cement boxes were some sort of shower stall type of thing? Those were too high to climb up onto.

There was a tunnel at the north end of the baths (far right in the picture below). We went into it.

There was an additional tunnel inside the first tunnel. This one was semi-blocked by metal bars, but some people climbed under the bars and went down. We didn't. We just took pictures of the people who did. Then we continued to the end of the original tunnel, which opened onto some very steep rocks. Jsin climbed partway down the rocks. I attempted to climb down, but gave up before going very far at all, because the rocks were very steep, and holding a camera in one of my hands was definitely not conducive to climbing on them. I didn't take any pictures at the end of the tunnel, either.

We went back to the entrance of the tunnel and emerged outside the round bath.

There was an unidentifiable broken wooden thing next to the entrance of the tunnel.

Jsin started walking along the cement borders between the baths. I followed. These were the first borders we walked along. There was a hole where water from the bath area on the right poured into the bath area on the left.

But Jsin was better at walking on the borders than me. See the little narrow broken part at the far left? It was only wide enough for one foot at a time. Of course, it was also short enough that I only needed to put one foot on it before stepping back onto a wider part - but this did not prevent me from wobbling alarmingly during the brief moment on one foot. I had to cross it twice. The first time, Jsin was way ahead of me and facing a different way, and I don't think anybody but me noticed my wobble. The second time, Jsin was right there and watching and Joanna was watching from far above on the cliffside, and my wobbling managed to alarm everybody just as much as it alarmed me. I am not talented at balancing on narrow things. But I managed not to fall in! The drop would have been about three and a half to four feet on the side where the water was (that is, the drop to the surface of the water), or about two and a half to three feet on the side where the dirt was.

About a hundred seagulls were perched right along the edge of the border that divided the large bath from the Pacific Ocean.

We walked within about three feet of them, the whole way down the border, and none of them even budged.

So I thought: Hey, when will I next have a chance to photograph birds quite this close up?

So I took close-ups.

And more close-ups. The seagulls calmly ignored me.

Facing away from the ocean, I also photographed the pond scum in the large bath. See the reddish building at the top of the cliff? That was where we had left Joanna behind. I had lost sight of her almost the very second we started descending the path, and I had been looking up there trying to see her ever since, but I couldn't see her anywhere.

We reached the end of the border, and I photographed some rather pretty moss growing at the end.

Then we went up these stairs.

That's a little corner of the Cliff House in the upper right. Down below it, right at the top of the stairs, are the remains of the Sutro baths' pipe system.

Here's another view of them.

Turning around to face the ocean, and moving forward a bit so the ruins of the baths were no longer blocking the view, I took this photograph of the beach below the Cliff House. Somewhere out there is Asia!

Then we turned around and walked back over the borders of the baths toward the tunnel again. Here's the view back toward the tunnel, from the beach under the Cliff House.

We walked along the row of seagulls, over the narrow broken scary spot, and stopped at the shower stalls.

Jsin was disappointed that there wasn't any very feasible way to climb into the shower stalls. I was more interested in taking photographs through the window-like holes (for plumbing?) of the flowers growing inside them.

See? Pretty flowers.

At this point I finally spotted Joanna. She had decided to walk a little way down the path after all, and was standing on the highest path near the right side of this photograph, looking down at her. I pointed her out to Jsin, and we went up to meet her.

All three of us then followed that high path together, toward the left edge of the picture above. The path was lined with flowers that looked like this.

Looking over the flowers afforded beautiful views of the cliffside.

The path led to this concrete observation deck.

Looking down over the edge of the observation deck, we could see another bath area, but the stairs leading down to it were blocked off and marked as dangerous. These stairs had no railings, and a gaping, apparently bottomless pit lurked below them, for people to fall into if they were foolish enough to try to climb down the railingless stairs.

The bottom set of stairs leads to the apparently bottomless pit. The top set of stairs, leading to the tiny little lookout platform, was also blocked off.

There was another bit of bath below the tiny little lookout platform on the north side.

Joanna stayed behind on the concrete observation deck while Jsin and I climbed some more stairs to the cliff above it for a better view. There were flowers growing on the side of the cliff.

Below the flowers, there were lots and lots of giant boulders.

And in the distance, we could see the Golden Gate Bridge.

Which meant that that was the end of our visit to the Sutro baths, and it was time to go back to Joanna and back to the car, and eventually, back home.

So I took one last picture looking the other way, from the top of the cliff, out over the baths to the Cliff House.

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