We know that Marin has always been special and because of its unique and jaw dropping geography, renegades and outliers have been attracted to this place where you can make up your story as you go along. Below are some local spots that keep it interesting in our bucolic county.
Ruins of Belvedere?
In 1972 Jerry Ganz, the inventor of the retractable seatbelt, bought 4 parcels on Belvedere island intent on building a mega mansion. Ganz also imported lava rock from Hawaii to construct gardens for the estate. After a landslide, construction was halted mid stream leaving behind half-built structures and staircases to nowhere. Called the Lava House, the property has been abandoned and becoming decrepit over many years attracting vandals and trespassers looking for a place to enjoy the sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Who knew that tony Belvedere has a run down neighborhood.
The Fork Be with You
At the fork in the road of Janes Street and Montford in the Homestead Valley neighborhood of Mill Valley, stands a fork, not a real fork but a whimsical symbol made by a local neighborhood artist. Though initially welcomed by the neighbors, some said it's time had passed and asked the City for it's removal. At the City Council meeting legions of fans who gave a fork showed up armed to the tines to defend keeping the fork in the road. Their impassioned pleas about how the fork had changed lives swayed the City Council to allow the fork to be reinstated at it perch at home in Homestead Valley.
Nike Missile Site SF88
Hard to believe in peace loving Marin there is Cold War missile site at Fort Barry. Operated by the GGNRA, this fully restored Nike missile facility is a strange paradox of a time when the US needed to protect itself from the Soviet threat with the massive Ajax and Hercules surface to air missiles. You'll find three sites spread over a mile, a launch area housing the missiles and barracks and support facilities. Tours Saturday from 12:30pm-3:30pm and on the first Saturday of each month, the tours are hosted by Veterans who share their stories.
Jail House Art
Did you know that San Quentin has a gift shop? Officially it's the San Quentin State Prison Handicraft Shop or Hobby Shop. It's located right outside the prison gates and with very limited hours. A wide assortment of inmate-made arts and crafts are available for purchase. For that person who has everything, how about some jailhouse rocks from the gift shop? Most of the large paintings are sold directly to art dealers who have had pieces commissioned for clients but there is a selection of sketches, crocheted blankets and crafts available. All the art is made in the inmates cell and the inmates receive 82% of the profits from the sale. Cash only!
San Quentin Prison, 156 Main Street, San Quentin, CA
About a mile and a half from Panoramic Highway just off the Vic Haun trail, a big Navy reconnaissance plane crashed into the side of Mount Tamalpais in November 1944 killing all 8 Navy fliers on board. The aluminum fuselage and some type of electrical device and the corner of a rusted bunkbed is still there in the manzanita brush and continues to attract curiosity seekers if you can find it.
Did you ever wonder what all that stuff was by the side of the road at Highway 101 and Lucky Drive in Greenbrae. This is Rancho Shazam School of Art and Technical Stuff and it's the vision and creation of artist Lee Greenberg.His two story two building quasi apartment built of corrugated metal set on the Corte Madera inlet is festooned with art installations such as the remains of Foam Henge, his foam homage to the druid megalith, Mr. Pee Pee a phallic foam tower made from the remains of Foam Henge, the Floating Bicycle which is strung between two buildings, Mr. Tin Man, a mailbox but oh so much more and a moat which you need to cross to gain access to the property. Greenberg is happy to show you around . Just drop by whenever.
Off the Lucky Drive exit South on Highway 101
Can you believe that at one point in the 1950s, there was a discussion to dam and fill in the South Bay? The Army Corp of Engineers built a hydraulic scale model of the San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento- San Joaquin to display the tides and currents that naturally occur every 14 minutes and quickly realized that would be a disaster...duh. Water flows out through the Delta, into the Bay and out through the miniature Golden Gate Bridge. It's a massive 1.5 acre contraption that really gives you a sense of how this land and water mass is all interconnected.
The Bay Model, 2100 Bridgeway, Sausalito
Bolinas - Need we say more?
The town that doesn't want to be found. Think Burning Man at the beach. It's a mixed bag of artists, surfers and off the gridders. It seems the free and pay what you can system is alive and well at the local farm stand and the Bolinas People's Store. At Smiley's Schooner Saloon, you'll find cheap drinks, live music and a colorful local crowd. What more could you want from a town which hasn't issued a water meter since 1971. Welcome!