The San Francisco Bay Area provides a nearly endless array of activities and opportunities – from digging a shovel into your local community garden to chowing down on nachos at a Warriors game. As a natural inclination for fun and adventure nudges us ever onward, we have made it our unofficial goal to explore our home to the fullest – one of the best and most enjoyable things about it being its connection to the outdoors. Stretching out along the coast, the Bay Area embraces its gentle mountains, crashing surf, and criss-crossing bike trails with an inspiring and encouraging enthusiasm.
Growing up in this obliging and fertile place, we have both developed a taste for fresh air and salt spray. With truly beautiful weather forecasted for the weekend, we decided to take advantage of the rare sunshine and head to Pacifica for a morning of crabbing and an afternoon of cooking.
Cue the ominous music.
Midmorning, we rolled down Highway 1 into town. Following a preparatory visit to Safeway for snacks – raw chicken for the crabs and chips for us – we headed over to the pier to join the Saturday crowd. The L-shaped pier stands high on crooked legs above the water, inviting us to question the length of our rope, but in the end the dizzying distance from railing to water proved to be small enough. The slippery drumsticks were carefully zip-tied into the basket and the net lowered into the rolling waves. This sequence of actions accomplished, we allowed ourselves to settle into camp chairs and await the first of our quarry. We were subjected to a round of good-natured teasing by our neighbors when we were all discovered simultaneously on our phones, but otherwise the time passed pleasantly. After a disappointing first check, we departed for lunch and left our companion to man the nets himself.
Our stomachs led us straight to Gorilla BBQ, an enterprise packed neatly into an old train car painted an eye-catching, unsubtle orange. As if the pictures on Yelp hadn’t been enough, the smells of smoking meats, the line winding down the stairs, and the stacks of styrofoam containers being paraded out of the door were more than enough to convince us that we had chosen well.
We drove back to the pier, the car zipping back up the coast in our hurry to dive into the steaming takeout boxes, and settled into our chairs once again. Now, there are few more rewarding experiences than trying out a new local restaurant and be blessed with a new favorite. Imagine our delight when Gorilla surpassed even our abnormally high expectations; smoky, tender, moist, and about as big as a football, the sandwiches were a clear sign that our trip was blessed by the gods. We devoured the smoked meats along with their generous sides and returned with renewed vigor to the task before us.
The energy would serve us well in the hour to come when it was revealed that we had a friend in the form of a pilfering sea lion. The little guy swam in lazy circles around the legs of the pier, stealing bait from hooks and nets along the length of the pier. We desperately tried to replace the stolen chicken thighs before finding that the thing had pulled the bait cage cleanly off the net and had, presumably, gobbled its contents. Our bait gone and the fog coming in, we were soon forced to pack up our chairs and head back to the car. The clouds rolled over us as we trudged back to the car, a combination of disappointment and digestion blanketing the group.
In the end, we successfully fed both ourselves and an overly dextrous sea lion, which is really all you can ask out of life.