I never visited the Coastside while I was growing up in San Francisco. I didn’t even know it was there.
What I tell people is that one of the things I learned in school was to move to Marin County. Even now it seems as if all my classmates at Lincoln High School live somewhere on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Sausalito was a big attraction; there wasn’t much else over there then. I took swimming lessons in Terra Linda and rode on the Greyhound bus there over a little dusty highway. The driver actually stopped on the highway and I walked across the road and the mile or so to the swimming school.
During the summer my parents took regular outings to Searsville Lake, a wonderful place for a kid to swim. There were small floating rafts to hang onto and a big one that held a dozen swimmers or so.
My dad would drive south from San Francisco along bucolic Canada Road and we’d make the mandatory stop at the Pulgas water temple. We’d get out of the car and I’d run over to the “water temple” and stare down to watch the water flush like in a big giant toilet, or that’s what the kid-part of me remembers.
Later I heard the temple had been dedicated (was it in the 1930s?) to an artist called George Sterling, a poet whose least favorite drink was water.
To get to Searsville Lake you had to drive through a dark, woodsy part of Woodside. For some reason my father always got stumped there and we took a few wrong turns before we entered a clearing that led to the lake’s parking area. The weather was always roasting hot, there were bees, picnic tables and small boats to rent.
We never went to Half Moon Bay. I’m sure if I looked to the west I would have seen a thick cover of fog. One HMB oldtimer who was born in the 1880s told me she couldn’t remember when the Coastside wasn’t foggy. Having grown up in San Francisco’s Sunset District–which was anything but sunny–I was accustomed to the fog, and you know what? I liked it.