Fog-Bound in Baghdad By The Bay

November 6, 2013

in Travel Essays

  • SumoMe

It’s November.

Where I live just north of San Francisco, November means fog will be soon creep into my early mornings and late evenings on some days from now throughout winter.

It’s called “Tule Fog,” after the reedy plant that grows along the waterways of California’s Great Central Valley.

It hangs low to the ground in valleys surrounding, and sometimes low over the waters of, San Francisco Bay.

Some forms locally, the rest floats westward downstream along with the Sacramento-San Joaquin river flow carrying fresh water from “The Delta” to mix with the brine of the Pacific Ocean.

But that tule fog isn’t the one that turns blue the bare knees of Bermuda shorts-clad summer tourists shivering in Baghdad By The Bay.

That a different kettle of silvery fish-like fog altogether.

Winds blowing south along the Northern California coast cause cold ocean water to well up. Warmer air hanging over that upwelling cools, forming a stratus layer of clouds carried east over the coastal mountain range by westerly winds, through the sea-level gap in that range known as the Golden Gate, swallowing up much of the bridge named after the harbor’s entrance as it heads inland towards the Delta.

Without that “natural air conditioning,” locals and tourists alike would slow-roast in the heat of the summer sun.

But not only is that summer advection fog cool in the temperature senses, it’s “cool” to watch it forming and flowing, as you can see in this “Adrift” time-lapse video by Simon Christen.

Adrift from Simon Christen on Vimeo.

Summer fog.

Without it, we San Francisco Bay Area residents couldn’t live comfortably.

Without it, tourists couldn’t say “Where is that so-called sunny California?”

Summer fog.

It creates San Francisco’s sense of place and binds us to it.

(Thanks to award-winning travel writer and photographer Laurie McAndish King, publisher of “Travel Writers News,” for bringing Christen’s video to our attention.)

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