Wednesday, March 16, 2005

TheGoodReverend's Tour of the Bay Area

One of the most inspiring places in all of the Bay Area, my former home, is the Marin Headlands. In a location that makes it some of the most valuable real estate in the country, the Headlands remain almost entirely undeveloped and natural as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. I proposed to Mrs. Good Reverend on the oddly named Slacker Hill, a peak in the Headlands providing a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline to any who venture on a half-mile hike.

The Headlands are peppered with artillery batteries built at the start of the twentieth century to use huge guns to sink approaching enemy ships. If you take the first exit after you come across the bridge from San Francisco and wind westward through the hills, passing through a long, one-lane tunnel at which you have to sit and wait for opposing traffic, you'll eventually come upon some of these batteries. One of them, Battery Mendell, is cut into a hillside right along the road.

Some of my high school friends and I discovered Battery Mendell on our first trip to the Bay Area. We came upon it unexpectedly, not knowing what we were going to find on our exploration of "the other side of the bridge." While the main function of the battery was to provide a platform for big guns, it also has an interior guarded by barred-over windows. If you can slide between the bars or under them where they've been bent, you'll access a hidden world of concrete walls and graffiti. Some artists over the years went beyond the simple scribble to create great, mesmerizing murals and mixed media works, like this one:

Battery Mendel interior

It's tucked away in a dark concrete corridor that reminded Arizona-raised me of cave walls with pictographs. And that corridor is tucked away in an abandoned battery, tucked away in an underexplored corner of the megalopolis.

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