Seacliff State Beach and The Palo Alto
We human beings like to experience the bizarre, the weird and the out of the ordinary. Just think a little bit about it and you are going to give me the reason.
When we travel, we like to include those odd feelings in the journey. Hundreds of people visit / kiss a stone (Blarney Stone), admire a wall covered in bubble gum (Seattle, San Luis Obispo) or walk around a replica of the Stonehenge made of cars (Carhenge). And, I have not even started to mention all the bizarre museums around the world (ramen, hair, bananas, rabbits, etc.).
With that introduction, well, it may be easy to decipher where I am going.
Yes, I stopped at one of those lovable, fun (pure sarcasm) and unique attractions in Northern California. But, I have to admit something. I was expecting something weird. Instead, I got more of what my sanity was able to handle.
It all started one cold and chilly Saturday morning. We took one of the exits towards the town of Aptos. Leaving the town behind, we immediately moved towards Seacliff State Beach.
We walked a bit around the businesses clustered at the entrance of the beach area. Then, it was time to have that first look at what lied below those cliffs.
Surprise! Surprise! Take a look at what we saw.
That my friends is the SS Palo Alto a concrete ship built as a tanker at the end of World War I. She was built in Oakland but was launched too late to serve in the war.
With my camera, I was able to take a good look at the ship from the high point. But, I felt the urge to go down and take a closer look (dumb idea #1).
After debating for a few minutes with my husband (the entrance fee is $10), we decided to give it a go.
The ship was parked in Oakland for ten years since it never made it to war. In 1929, it was bought by the Seacliff Amusement Corporation and towed to its current location.
A pier was built to connect the ship to the shore. The Palo Alto was fitted with dancing floors, swimming pools and a café. The company went bankrupt two years after the acquisition of the ship. All valuables where removed and the Palo Alto was left to the elements.
In all honesty, from the shore, the pier, ship and blue water offer a nice scene. There were tons of people taking selfies with the ship in the background. What is more, the photos taken during sunset are gorgeous.
However, the beautiful scene started to fall down when I took a closer look with the camera’s zoom (dumb idea #2). One word came to my mind: desolation.
I swallowed hard when moving the camera over the open part of the ship. This was a land of cormorants, seagulls and sea lions (and who knows what else).
After the ship was stripped down, it was used as a fishing pier. The deterioration came fast and it had to be closed to the public.
Nowadays, it is what you see in these photos (not a nice place at all). At the beach, I wasn’t able to distinguish what I was seeing in a small screen. Once I got home, I got grossed out (pardon the ugly words) by the photos. During that moment, I was able to really see how horrible the conditions inside the boat are.
That is not it! I got the brilliant idea of getting close using the pier (dumb idea #3). This was the worst of the worst. As I got closer to the gate separating the pier from the ship, a nasty smell deterred me. I turned back, hold my breath, took a few pictures and (literarily) ran away. There was this guy sitting in front of the gate like nothing was happening. Not sure how he was doing it.
Many times I asked myself what I was doing there. Deep inside, in a twisted way, I am glad I stopped to see by myself what this was about.
And there you have it! My traumatizing story where a concrete ship makes a stellar appearance.
Do not be deterred by my story. Seacliff State Beach is quite nice (just do not get close to the ship). There are extensive, covered picnic facilities (reserve with time), a learning center, RV sites and other programs. The day I visited, there was live music on the grounds.
Find more information here: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=543
What is the weirdest attraction you have visited?
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