“I’m coming. Give me a second” I said this and looked back at the blowhole where cool fresh air was blowing out of it in that hot August day. I was with my friend, Yuri, in the middle of a long road trip from Atlanta to San Francisco. We had left Albuquerque earlier that day to go to Flagstaff, Arizona. We had decided to visit the Native American ruins on our way and here we were in Wupatki National Monument. Next to the ruins there was this blowhole in the ground that was fenced off with a rope around it. There was a note next to the hole explaining the physical mechanism and mentioning that the exact purpose of it is still unknown. I hold my hand over the hole and immediately felt the cool air was blowing up from the hole. It was surprisingly fresh and cool. I looked back. Yuri was busy investigating the ruins. I crossed the rope and sat next to the hole. It was a dark deep hole around 10 inches in diameter. It was a mysterious phenomenon and I was tempted to experience it first-hand. I bent over the hole and popped my head inside. What I experienced was as magical, as mysterious, and as refreshing as that whole historical site. A fresh flow of cool air pushed against my face. I could feel it passing through my skin and entering my body. I could barely keep my eyes open. Even if I could there was nothing to see. There was absolute darkness inside the hole and I could imagine myself from outside, bending over this hole in the middle of deserted ruins of Native American tribes. I felt I was being baptized by the spirit of those people and their authentic way of living. I pulled out my head from that hole and looked around. The big desert was empty and quiet but I was feeling a rush deep inside me. I stood up and called Yuri. “Let’s go!”
On October 11, 2015 almost one month after my first mission run, I started my second run. I started running from my home in Pacific Heights going back to San Francisco mission. After a brief stop at the mission building I started my journey back on the mission street.
This time, though, I was going north towards the ferry building. First I ran up to Marina Boulevard and then turned left to continue running by the bay passing through Presidio until I reached the Golden Gate Bridge. It was busy as always, there were lots of tourists, runners, and bikers all over the bridge. From Presidio onwards, I noticed that I was accompanied by an uncoordinated running mate. Sometimes when I do these long runs it happens to me that I share few miles of the path with another runner.
They are usually local runners from that area and they run for few miles maximum before they turn around and go back home, while I have to continue my journey for many more hours to come. Anyway, I passed this runner right before the park but he took over before we reached the bridge and then I again passed him on the bridge and to get to the Lone Sailor vista point on the other side of the bridge.I stopped to rest and get some water when I spotted him again. We greeted each other and then he asked me where I was running from and I told him that I was coming from mission San Francisco. He was impressed and told me he is headed back to the city after this stop. I told him my final destination would be in San Rafael and he looked at me in kind of surprise and disbelief.
From the vista point, I ran down Alexander Avenue to Sausalito and from there, I took Mill Valley – Sausalito path to go to near Camino Alto preserve. There is a big hill next to the preserve near Corte Madera. It is a hard challenge but the view at the top of the hill is rewarding.I ran for few more miles until I finally got to San Rafael, a beautiful city with my favorite restaurant, Sol Food. Unfortunately I could not stop for food before finishing up my mission. When I got to the Mission San Rafael Arcangel building, the main church was closed but there was a small chapel that was still open. I entered the chapel which was dark but filled with a pleasantly cool air. I sat down for few minutes there and then came out to the mission’s yard. I lied down on a bench and looked up to the blue clear sky. There was a beautiful tall palm tree in front of me and I could see its crown and leaflets extending to the blue sky in the background. I wanted to stay there and enjoy this beautiful scene for hours but I had to go back home. I got up and started walking away from the mission building. I stopped at Taj of Marin, an Indian restaurant on my way to the transit center. After a good big Indian vegetarian meal, I found my way to the transit center where I took the bus 101 back to San Francisco.
San Rafael mission and its beautiful palm tree top the list of my favorite missions so far.
Duration: 5 hours
Length: 26 miles (40 km)