Walkies: Exploring Treasure Island

Excerpt from mail sent in 2001:

I wasn't happy to see the CalTrans guy. He was driving his truck so as to get up alongside me as if he wanted to talk to me. I was probably trespassing; I was probably busted. Bay Bridge traffic was roaring past. I'd been walking on Yerba Buena island, on a road down below the freeway. I'd noticed an unmarked stairway going up, strewn with cardboard and fiberglass insulation. I'd picked my way upstairs. I'd emerged outside next to a building which seemed to be some kind of transceiver shack--I'd often seen it off to the right from the going-East level of the freeway. And there was the freeway, just a few feet away.

I figured I probably wasn't supposed to be there, so I decided to snap lots of pictures before retreating back down the stairs, but now there was this big orange truck coming up. What if they made me go all the way back to Treasure Island? What if they kept a look-out to make sure I didn't come back? Would I ever be able to skirt around Yerba Buena to see its lighthouse?

The CalTrans guy rolled down his window. Over the traffic, he yelled, "Are you stuck?" Uh, nope. He looked at me for a while. "You walk up here from the island?" I had walked up here from Treasure Island. He nodded. He started to drive off. I realized that, if I'd been a stranded motorist, I would have been really glad to see this guy. "Uhm, thanks!" I yelled. And I felt bad for all the mean things I'd thought about the CalTrans guy, back when I was sure he was going to ask me to leave.

I never made it to the lighthouse. I guess it's in amongst some Coast Guard residences, residences marked with big signs saying Federal property, no trespassing. I didn't want to trespass, so I didn't. Instead, I kept on following the road, even when it turned into kind of a freeway-looking thing with no sidewalk and not much shoulder, and there was this complicated interchange that gave me the choice of jaywalking or going all the way around the island back the way I'd come (so I jaywalked.) I don't think I want to do anything like that again anytime soon.

But Treasure Island had some neat stuff, including a mysterious factory. I couldn't figure out what it could possibly be for. It had some gleaming ducts. It had a crane over a pool. It had bleachers. Bleachers?

It turned out to be a a firefighter training area. (It was sure strange. It was painted many colors, each color ugly enough to be industrial. And the paint looked new. But so many things were so many different colors. I couldn't believe that the same people were picking the paint for this whole place. But maybe they have to re-paint pretty often, as stuff get sootified. And maybe they just grab whatever color of paint they have left over.)

So that was kind of neat. That and the dilapidated "Bowling for Health" sign.

I went past a marina at the "waist" where Treasure Island touches Yerba Buena. They have a web page: http://www.treasure-isle.com/.

There's also some long docks where big, unusual boats tie up. Like, there's was weird big, uhm weird metal spine-y ship-like thing that was put together out there. Like if you wanted to make a ferry-sized shiny metal aquatic porcupine. Now I see it at various piers in San Francisco--I think it has something to do with movie production, but I'm pretty mystified.

And there was drumming in Chinatown and blossoms on the trees and cold pearl tea on a warm(!) day and it was great, just great.


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