It occurred.to me today that I hadn’t been over to San Francisco in over 10 years. Even though it’s only minutes away, right across the other side of the Bay. And I suddenly felt an urge to visit my old haunts. Even as one of my Facebook friends cautioned me that “It might make you cry.” I guess San Francisco circa 2019 might be a bit of a bring-down from the San Francisco of my hey-day, back in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
The first place I’d want to see — as if driven by some homing pigeon instinct — is my old camping spot on the Fremont Street off-ramp. It was a great spot, almost completely hidden away from the rest of San Francisco. And in the year I camped there I only saw 2 other people come back there the whole time. To get there you had to walk up the Fremont Street exit the wrong way. And then walk along this narrow grassy path on top of this steep hill — which was too steep for people to climb up from the street way below. So it was a completely secluded spot.
I camped right underneath the Bay Bridge. Put my pillow right up against the slab concrete pillar of the bridge. Way above my head I could hear the traffic from the bridge, the cars endlessly whizzing back and forth from San Francisco to Oakland. And I had a spectacular view of the San Francisco Bay, and beyond that the skyline of Berkeley and Oakland way off in the distance, and this big endless sky over my head. Years later when they built expensive condos on the street below me, a big advertising pitch was “the million dollar view.” Of course I had it all to my own back then, and for free.
That would be the first place I’d visit if I ever went back to San Francisco. To see if the ghost of Ace Backwords Past was still lingering in the air.
(You can see my old campsite in this photo, it’s the strip of greenery on the right of the bridge, straight across from the Union 76 clock.)