Observation Day

It was a day to get out of my chair, out of my story, out of my house, and out of my town.

Mid-week San Francisco morning, I cut through hurrying crowds of people, chin tucked into my scarf against bitter chill winds whipping through the caverns of downtown high rises, and steered toward the Embarcadero. Once there, my cheeks rose to meet the sun and I unwound my knitted scarf.

I browsed in the Ferry Building shops until the heady mix of aromas—farmer’s market vegetables, designer olive oils and chocolate, coffee, delicate teas and Tasty Salted Pig Parts—drove me back out to the Embarcadero.

Tasty Salted Pig Parts

Tasty Salted Pig Parts

I set out with Piers and Bay on my right, street traffic on my left, the city in the background, and above that the hillside of stacked houses leading to Coit Tower.

Street musicians, chattering tour groups, tables of crocheted hats, jewelry and sunglasses caught in my peripheral vision, but I didn’t stop. Offered rides on gaudy bicycle carts, I declined, sailing along on my own two feet.

Sailboats

 

After walking a couple of miles, I stopped at Pier 45 and boarded a merchant marine ship built to take supplies to Allied fighting forces in World War II. It’s considered a National Historic Landmark.

Descending steep ladders to the bowels of the engine room and back up to the bow and gun stations, and ducking my head into compact crew cabins, I gained a sense of a different time and place and a healthy respect for the people who built this ship (mostly women), crossed the ocean in it and the fighting troops they served.

Deck of SS Jeremiah O’Brian, a WWII Merchant Marine vessel berthed at Pier 45.

Deck of SS Jeremiah O’Brian, a WWII Merchant Marine vessel berthed at Pier 45.

It felt good to spend some time soaking up sights, sounds, sunshine and a little history on a Wednesday in San Francisco. I would sit at my desk in my house in my town and write again on Thursday.

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