The first thing that you notice when you walk through the long, dimly-lit tunnels that lead to Battery Townsley which sits atop the hills on the Marin Headlands is that there's something missing: a certain smell. There is no smell of pee. Nope, the usual stank of urine -- something that I automatically associate with trekking though tunnels to take pictures of graffiti -- is noticeably absent there. So, too -- not surprisingly -- it seems are any signs of any graffiti. Although on one wall of the long tunnel I noticed the faintest trace of a big graffiti piece that looked like it had been painted over years ago. Maybe, I thought, the no pee stank was because of the two Port-O-Pottys conveniently placed near the tunnel entrance.
But whatever the reason, there was also no graffiti here, or so I was thinking until I spotted off to the right near the end of the long tunnel (one of several blasted by dynamite back during World War II when the battery was built) an opening that appeared to lead off to another smaller tunnel. I slowly stepped into this unknown darkened space which, it turned out, was not another tunnel but a low-ceilinged, cement-walled room. And it was pitch dark. Not having a flashlight, I slowly edged my way into the dark, windowless room. And once inside, my nostrils were awakened to that familiar stench. Piss. And sure enough -- graffiti wasn't far off.
As my eyes slowly got a bit accustomed to the lighting I could make out some graffiti on the walls that surrounded me and on the entrance to this claustrophobic, enclosed, window-less space. I couldn't make out much with the naked eye but the flash on my camera lit up all the graffiti nicely as it took pictures -- see all, displayed below. Also included in the pics below is an adjacent room plus a couple of low-key pieces of graf outside the tunnels like the R.I.P. on the (tombstone like) rock out in the forest area.
Aside from the limited displays of graffiti, the Marin Headlands is well worth a visit to hike or bike or just stare at the breathtaking views. The Headlands are situated immediately across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco in Marin County. And the views there can be amazing -- like looking back into SF with the Golden Gate in the foreground or the great views on the Pacific Ocean side which is also where you will find the old battery. Once a top secret military big-gun emplacement, Battery Townsley is a World War II era underground fort overlooking Fort Cronkhite that was built between 1938 and 1940 while war raged on the other side of the Pacific and the U.S. government decided it needed to better protect its coast. Back then Townsley had two 16-inch guns that could fire a one-ton shell at a battleship 25 miles away. For more details on this interesting slice of Bay Area/US military history click this link to the San Francisco Defense Guns in WW2.
The Marin Headlands are another reason why the Bay Area is such a beautiful place to live -- a place where you don't have to travel far to be out in a peaceful, natural environment. The Marin Headlands, situated right over the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, is easy to get to. You can drive and get off the first exit in Marin, but you don't even need a car to get there. You can walk or cycle. For more information, check the National Park Services web page on the Golden Gate Recreation Area - Marin Headlands.