Before a paddle under the fog-draped icon of San Francisco Bay…
…our leader asked, “What are your goals today?” An easy one for me: “I want to paddle out the Gate – and I would prefer to come back.” As it turned out, that would be the right goal for a kayaker who ended the day feeling nearly as time-worn as the span that symbolizes San Francisco.
Thousands of kayakers have paddled under the Gate, and they’ve done it many thousands of times. I bet all of them remember their first trip. For me, the allure had little to do with kayaking and everything to do with another trip under the Gate in 1943.
It was a clear night. A troop transport ship chugged out of the Bay carrying hundreds of soldiers. Including a 19-year-old, Blue Ridge Mountain farm boy. He had never traveled
|A paddler's wish comes true: "...and I would prefer to come back"|
more than ten miles from home before he volunteered for the Army. Below decks, the heat from jammed bodies was so stifling that men were allowed to sleep on deck.
“I could see all the stars in the sky – and then suddenly it all went dark as we passed under the Golden Gate,” Dad recalled years later, awe still in his voice. My own Gate voyage began with those nostalgic thoughts and ended very much in the present.