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Fort Point. Cavernous, Creepy, and Cost-free

a standard poodle

When was the last time you dragged your tenderloin-centric, concrete and steel- loving  self out to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area?

Was it, perhaps, the last time your folks were in town? Or was it maybe right after you moved here and you got on the wrong bus and were secretly thrilled to find yourself face-to-face with the Golden Gate Bridge? Maybe you bussed or biked out there on a specific pilgrimage, then amongst the groups of sky-staring tourists, walked across, feeling lonely, but nevertheless obligingly held the camera for family snapshots when asked.

In a sick way, I am a total fan of the golden gate. The absurd size of the thing, the way it humbles even your most minivan pastel and plastic-clad tourist gives me a strange glee at the base of my spine.

The bridge is about a 30 minute bike ride from the Tenderloin. Last month, on a weekend, we pedaled out toward it. Too lazy to ride our bikes up the steep hill that leads to the bridge, we pedaled under it instead. And found Fort Point. Sure, we had seen the monstrous brick building at the base of the bridge before. But today, it was a weekend, and its front doors were open. Freely open. We locked up our bikes, and went inside.

The whole place was curiously unguarded– I think that I saw one employee during the hour that we were there. A few small groups of tourists ghosted around the place, but they hardly detracted from the anachronistic, cavernous, freezing, historical awesomeness, and utter bizarreness of the place. In warm clothing, with a flashlight, you could spend an entire day searching dark, dusty, abandoned brick-walled rooms. Ample space is given to educational (yet still seemingly abandoned) historic exhibits, but an equal amount is left pleasantly forgotten, dusty and history? wide open.  It is a perfect place for taking pictures, conspiring with friends, raising silent hell, standing on the roof and staring at the waves below, and touching antique weaponry without getting yelled at. The window is from an awesomely dangerous stone spiral stairway– the kind that could lead to multiple broken bones with a single misstep . The view immediately above, and to your left is what you see upon walking in. Each of those layers of arches is a single story that runs around every edge of the building.

This is the view from the roof of the fort. The crashing ocean sounds are fantastic.

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