Monday, March 3, 2014

Golden Gate Park

I returned to the hostel and made dinner, it was still just me and the two ladies, the building was silent other than the crackling of the fire in the living room. I cooked and had dinner alone watching the waves crash against the bluffs out the dinning room window. A haze hovered low in the sky adding a misty glaze to the peaceful panorama. After dinner I headed out to have a look at the lighthouse, it’s blinking beacon illuminating the dark evening. I walked down out to the edge of the bluffs, the splash from the waves nearly reaching the top. Away from shore the ocean seemed calm, a rolling plain of blue stretching into the darkness. I sat on the bluff for awhile, a group of kids searched a cove below, trying to find some life in the rocky shelter. 
View from my dorm window.
Back inside I took my spot by the fire, and let the night drift away as the ocean sounds filled the air. Soon the kids from the cove, who were on a school field trip,  came into the hostel, the tranquil atmosphere replaced with a chaotic racket of the group preparing dinner. I sat and read fro awhile, waiting for the juveniles to head of to their respective accommodations. They ate quickly and scattered off to the other side of the building, once again the only sounds were the ocean and the crackling fire, I headed off to my room, once again I had the dorm to myself, I cracked a window to let the refreshing night air and the oceanic ambiance flood the room. 

I awoke the next day with little idea of what I was planning to do, the rain had returned making the thought of a hike seem less than pleasant. I scoured my maps and an array of literature on things to do in the bay area, settling on exploring Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. I was in no rush so I spent the morning making breakfast and watching the rainy world outside. The rain  had calmed down by the time I left the hostel, taking one last look at the million dollar view out my dorm room window. I was back on the Pacific Coast Highway, retracing my steps from a few weeks prior, still stunned by the scenery.
Seagull perched on a fountain at Golden Gate Park. 
Pacifica, the town near the lighthouse hostel, was a beach town, with a small town feel, laid back and unpretentious, a amalgamation of all that is right with the pacific coast. It’s amazing how quickly you can go from driving along through laid back beach communities to being snarled in traffic, and surrounded by the busyness of city life. I creeped along with traffic, not terribly amused by the obnoxious antics of other drivers. It’s surprising how quickly common sense evaporates in the face of mild traffic congestion. Soon i slipped by the throngs and into Golden Gate Park. 
A statue in Golden Park Park
The Park is bordered on all sides, save the ocean side, by the city, it’s thick treelined barriers standing up against the sprawling concrete landscape. Once inside the park you would be hard pressed to realize you were even in a city, the roads meander along beautiful manicured gardens. The park was busy, but the immenseness of the place allowed it to feel quaint nonetheless. As I drove along I swore I saw buffalo on the side of the road, but that made no sense I thought, until further down the road my initial observation was confirmed. Within Golden Gat Park they have a Buffalo Paddock, where a herd of buffalo graze patiently as thousands of people watch and take photographs of their every movement. 
I understood the botanical gardens, the array of statues, fountains and other aesthetic pieces, but I have to admit the buffalo caught me a bit off guard. I found a place to park and decided to have a walk around. I strolled through groves of beautifully maintained trees, passed a handful of children's play areas, eventually finding myself near the art museum and science museum. The two museums are separated by a beautiful large piazza. The rain had returned and most of the people had scrambled into the surrounding buildings or had left altogether. I decided to endure the inconvenience and visit the Japanese Tea Garden. 
Entrance to the Japanese Tea Garden.
The garden was nearly empty when I entered, the few other people inside had taken refuge in the pavilion and were enjoying their tea while listening to the rain pitter patter on the wooden roof. I sauntered around the paths, bright neon flowers bloomed all around. I sat near a zen rock garden deep in the gardens, listening to the rain bounce off the perfectly raked stones. A pair of finches flew in and out of a bush near the bench where I sat. I watched as the rain slowed down, soon becoming nothing more than a misty drizzle. 
Some of the gardens. And remember this is in February. 
Further along the paths a pagoda stood watch over the gardens, the beautifully constructed building looking natural in the garden. Below the pagoda was a pond filled with koi fish, their bright colors contrasting brilliantly with the black bottom of the pool. A couple children were reaching down from a bridge trying, and ultimately succeeding, to pet the large fish, their mom came over and yelled at them and they ceased, but not without giggling quietly about their victory. 
Pagoda, overlooking the pond. 
The sun peaked out from behind the clouds and whisked away the dreariness, with it the garden and the rest of the park began to once again fill with people out enjoying the day. I had spent more time in the gardens than I thought I would and decided to head back to the car and off to my accommodations for the evening. I would be staying with a friend just south of the city. 
Ornamentation on the roof of the entrance. 
As I drove down the road a rainbow appeared in the sky, due to the topography of the land I could actually see where it ended, resting peacefully in a schools soccer field, I have only once ever before seen a full rainbow, in Cork, Ireland, and I stared out the window, unconcerned with the traffic around me, watching as it faded away. 

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