Adventures in Sausalito, California

Story by staff writer Judy Clement Wall. Photos Copyright © Judy Clement Wall.

NOT LONG AGO, I heard Neil Gaiman read a story about adventure. Actually, he read a piece about wanting to write a story about adventure. His wife laughed at his wild ideas about including aliens and pirates and duels and space travel. She reminded him that his idea of adventure consists largely of walking his dog on the wooded trails around their house.

Gaiman admitted that it is true, that he’d grown up with his parents calling every outing an adventure, that his definition and the rest of the world’s might be slightly at odds.

I love that. My two boys have grown up the same way. “Let’s go on an adventure,” has been my constant refrain since they were little. They are taller than I am now, but they still smile when I say that.

Adventure is, at least in part, an attitude, isn’t it?

So this past weekend, after a week that was chaotic and challenging in good but exhausting ways, I said to my husband, “I need an adventure.”

He said, “I thought you were tired.”

“I am,” I said. “That’s why I need to go out and fill my well.”

We ditched everything else that we’d planned to do (work-work, yard work, grocery shopping, etc.) and headed out to Sausalito, a picturesque waterfront community across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.

We had no plan at all; we just grabbed our cameras and took off. Driving there I felt excited, like a kid playing hooky. As adults I think we sometimes forget how easy it is to fill the soul, how nourishing spontaneity can be.

The weather was beautiful: sunshine and blue skies. We wandered about downtown, watched a man balancing rocks [see feature photo]—which sounds less impressive than it was—veered off the beaten track to climb alley staircases, walk along the shore, visit the docks. Late in the afternoon we stopped and had beer and grilled artichokes on a deck overlooking the bay.

Mystery stairways in Sausalito

Left: Tucked between trendy storefronts downtown, an inviting alley staircase
Right: This beautiful weatherworn one led up from a narrow shore to the street.

Alien tree

Left: The rock balancing genius amazed this onlooker too
Right: I couldn't resist this picture. Alien poorly disguised as tree?

Wooden sailboat

Loved the wooden "treasure chest"

Sausalito view

Our view, sipping beer and eating the best grilled artichoke ever

The day we had was so much better than the one we had planned, partly because we hadn’t planned it. Not all my adventures go so smoothly, but I rarely regret even the ones that don’t.

And while I have yet to run into a (recognizable) pirate or alien, I believe my (very achievable) definition of adventure leaves the possibilities wide open.

Judy Clement Wall at Patrick's Point, Wedding Rock, Humboldt, California

j at Patrick's Point State Park, California


Judy Clement Wall (aka j) is a freelance writer who lives, works and plays in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s in love with the California coast; everything from combing the beaches of San Diego to hiking the coastal trails of Humboldt County. You can read and link to more of her work through her blog, Zebra Sounds.



  1. What a GREAT article! I felt I was along with you on the adventure! ….and you are ABSOLUTELY right! Attitude is king when it comes to having fun on an adventure. Actually, attitude is king when it comes to having fun in anything!

    I love that you just took off and went where the spirit moves you. Your eye for noticing the small things and bringing them to life in your photos and writing is amazing! Really incredible!

    Thank you so much….and the artichokes *sigh* I love grilled artichokes and make them for antipasto. I recommend everyone have them – they’re life won’t be the same!

  2. Pingback: Where the love is… | Zebra Sounds

  3. What a wonderful reminder, j, that some of the best adventures are right around the corner from us when we just pick up and go. I’m determined to do a little more spontaneous adventuring! Hope yours filled your well just as you’d hoped it would.

    • Thank you, Lisa. And I would imagine when you’re location independent right around the corner there is ALWAYS an adventure to someplace you’ve never been!

  4. Sounds like you had a truly lovely day j.

    I certainly think too few of us take the time to have adventures. When I was a teenager there was a dirt track behind my parents house, a thin line of trees separated it from the main road but I used to explore that track over and over, making up new stories and adventures.

    I love the rock balancing, that is sooooo cool!

    • We had a place kind of like that too, a big dirt field with a path through it that led from the park at the end of my parents’ street to the stores downtown. We rode our bikes there. I haven’t thought about it in years. BIG smile. (Thank you for that!)

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