From Monterey Bay to just south of San Francisco, nestling between the Pacific Ocean and the San Andreas fault, runs a modest little range called the Santa Cruz Mountains. These adventurous mountains thrust a ridge of coast redwood, Douglas fir and Pacific madron up the coast side of the San Francisco Peninsula, defying the pavement that suffocates the rest of the peninsula, to the very borders of Daly City where they finally fade away in defeat to the tamed and paved metropolis. The breath of the sea rushes moist and salty ocean air to the top of this humble ridge where it cools to form a dense fog. The very winds that birthed the fog then tear it apart to send waves of cloud over the peninsula toward the San Francisco Bay. Many days, especially in the summer, you can lie on your back in the bay side to watch these misty children of earth, wind and water scudding rapidly across the sky as though eager to meet their demise and dissipation in the warm, dry air of the East Bay and the Santa Clara Valley.
Skyline Boulevard accompanies the ridge to its terminus, winding along the ridge just beneath the modest peaks and descending into the hills of Daly City. If you back up a bit from Daly City to just before the mountains start to fall away but where they are beginning to be tamed by encroaching civilization, you will find a water tower sitting alone on a peak. On a few rare days the fog is low enough that from the top of this water tower, you can see the fog and escaping clouds as a cotton landscape beneath you, and the sun setting low over the Pacific Ocean can cast the most remarkable colors on this layer, on very rare occasions producing a crimson so rich that it seems the mountains are bleeding mist upon the earth.
Such was the scene on that day when I met a man on top of the tower and he told me the bizarre story that I am about to share with you. I do not for a moment expect you to believe this story; I don't really quite believe it myself. I repeat it because it is interesting ... and I suppose for reasons that will become clearer near the end.