Sunday, December 21, 2008

Larkspur Ferry Fridays

I used to ride the ferry boat from San Francisco to Larkspur in Marin County every Friday at evening rush hour, and then drive back to San Francisco with my partner who worked for Industrial Light + Magic in San Rafael.

The $2.65 fare used to be one of the best deals in the Bay Area, a price that held steady until about 2003.

The fare is now $7.45 one-way, which seems to be part of a trend by local governments to make simple necessities such as transportation more expensive for the working poor.

The trip is still worth it, though, as the boat glides across San Francisco Bay with its constantly changing light...

...and travelers who actually seem to be enjoying themselves.

Though the new Larkspur ferries don't have as much room to sit outside as their older counterparts, and the wind can be fierce...

...there are always a band of hardy souls who adore the elements, such as the young man above who looked like a North Sea sailor keeping watch.

When Mount Tamalpais appears head on, the landscape becomes almost otherworldly...

...though the quick view of San Quentin Prison at the mouth of the ferry terminal channel can bring one quickly back to earth.

My partner was part of a round of layoffs at Industrial Light + Magic some years ago, went to work for another special effects company in The Presidio of San Francisco, and for the last couple of years has been working for a movie company called Polygon Entertainment whose offices, in an interesting twist of fate, are in the old Industrial Light + Magic headquarters in San Rafael. I think it's time to start taking the Friday ferry again. It's restorative.


Tif said...

Just found your blog searching for information about the Civic Center Farmer's market and am looking forward to reading more!

My work occasionally has me travel to Larkspur on the Ferry and I have to agree that it's an amazing way to commute. I just wanted to let you know that I've recently discovered that if you use a Translink card for the ferry it only costs $4.00 each way. Still a minor robbery, but at least a bit more affordable. Plus, with the money you save you can get a glass of wine to drink on your way over!


Civic Center said...

Dear Tif: Welcome. And you're right, I've just found that Translink is the way to go for the "commuter discount." I think it's going to be my Christmas present to myself.

zoo said...

the 1st photo is one of the best of the year, u should have a best of sf mike 08!
happy holidays! we're heading to austin tomorrow, thank god i've a ton of work to save me from the relatives!LOL

affinity said...

The first 10 years I lived in San Francisco I had lots of visitors from Palm Springs and Riverside. The ferry was always one of the tourist destinations I was willing to do with them. Restorative, and the reality reminder of San Quentin. Beautifully written as always. Thanks for being my new bloggin buddy. Looking forward to spending 2009 with you!

Matthew Hubbard said...

I had a job for a few weeks in San Francisco when I lived in San Rafael, after I lost my job at Lucasfilm Games. The ferry ride commute is a wonder, and if the weather is rough, you can sit inside and look out the windows at the still great views.

Nancy Ewart said...

Mike - I think that your blog is one of SF's wonders. It's always a delight to read your latest. I always take visitors on a Ferry Ride and since most of us are a bit older than you, we get the senior discount which is still not cheap in dollars but cheap in terms of the beautiful scenery and the fresh sea air. I remember our ride back from Oakland via Ferry when we went to see the "Birth of the Cool." Here's hoping for many more!

Anonymous said...

I join other commenters in praise for this blog. The images and text are always a delight.

The Larkspur Ferry actually takes ou past three prison structures, though only one still in use; there's Alcatraz and he barracks on the north side of Angel Island that housed hopeful Chinese immigrants. I loved the trip over and back but found these reminders chilling--as Sam Spade says in the last scene of "The Maltese Falcon," "Look at the number of them!"

Civic Center said...

Dear rc: I'd never thought about it in those terms, but of course I've been seeing the exact same thing for years. Going by local versions of Devil's Island, Ellis Island, and Sing Sing (as convenient simile markers) within thirty minutes while being blinded by breathtaking natural beauty really is about as yin/yang, dark/light as it gets.

And thanks for the kind words and compliments everyone. This is my personal attempt at mixing art and journalism, a concept freely given over a decade ago by a local goddess/teacher now in Minnesota, Barbara Mehlman.