Andrew at Papamoa

March 2012 - USA
San Francisco, CA

Lupin Lodge and Bay to Breakers

I have wanted for years, to have the ultimate nudie holiday. Something that I could say completed my lifestyle of naturism and fitness. One day, as I was strolling though the Free Beaches website, there it was: the ‘Bay to Breakers’ in San Francisco. This is an annual fun run held in the middle of May. It consists of fast runners, joggers, walkers and anyone else that can motivate themselves to run or walk 12k through the heart of downtown San Francisco.

What attracted me, of course, was that you could do the course in the nude. So I did my research and found that San Francisco is the only city in the world, where you can cross the city in the naked without any restriction or condemnation from anybody. What a down to earth, liberational understanding between people from all walks of life. The coming together on this day was definitely me, down to a tee.
But how could I get started on this intrepid journey of a life time? Well, at the Auckland Rally I met the extraordinary Claudia Kellersch (a recent Free Beaches member). I asked her about the Bay to Breakers fun run, and she filled me in on all aspects of it. Claudia is a walking encyclopaedia on local (USA) and international naturism, including places to visit and people to meet. If she doesn’t know she’ll endeavour to find out for you. After her return to the USA, she continued to offer information for my dream holiday, and the family hosted me when I arrived San Diego. Claudia is not only an ambassador for naturism around the world, but also a translator of foreign languages, an amazing woman and very special contact for me to open my horizons in the world of naturism. Mention of Claudia’s name will come up repeatedly over the course of my intrepid journey, as she’s been the main motivator for me to explore so much more than I could have otherwise.

So, with my holiday booked, I jumped on the Air New Zealand plane and headed for San Francisco, a eleven hour direct flight. On exiting the airport, my first stop was the toilet. Into the cubicle I went only to find the bowl half full of water. ‘Oh dear’ I said to myself, ‘the toilet is blocked.’ I go to the next toilet, only to find it in exactly the same state. I poke my head into the next toilet: same again. Inquisitively, I flushed the toilet and the water quickly drained away, then automatically filled the bowl again. In New Zealand, if the toilet bowl fills up with water we call the plumber. This was my first lesson on the leaning curve in America. You do your business in a bowl that is half full of water.

Lupin Lodge signSo, onto catching the double-decked train to San Jose. All the trains in California are double decked, so there’s a choice of upstairs or downstairs to sit. The people from Lupin Lodge naturist resort were there to pick me up. They don’t normally do this but as Lupin Lodge is further out in the country, at Los Gatos, I suppose the fact I had come all the way from New Zealand, they went out of their way. Initially, it seemed rather odd to me to be talking to the driver, from the ‘wrong’ side of this big American car. At every moment I was looking and learning. Later in my journey, I had to get behind the left hand steering wheel, and drive on the right hand side of the road.

A yurtI had booked for three nights. After a comprehensive walk around the resort, it seemed I needed a whole week here. Why? The tranquillity and remoteness among the redwood trees and surrounding bush was overpowering. I settle into my yurt. A yurt is a circular hut made out of thick canvas. Next, I head to the pool for a dip. Then, as I do on a holiday, I went round the residents and guests and introduced myself. The reaction was very welcoming, as not many Kiwis come to their part of the world. My accent was intrigued them, an aspect noted on each greeting in America, in the days to come. Most Americans would start with, “Oh, you must be from Australia... we have friends in Australia.” So as not to upset them, I reply, “Very, very close... New Zealand.”

The next day dawned brilliantly. As I was sitting outside, next to the restaurant, a local resident, Fay, came over and asked, “Do you wish to be interviewed by NBC, of the San Francisco/Bay area?” I said I’d love to. NBC, a major TV network was interested that every year a group of naturists from Lupin Lodge go to the Bay to Breakers to walk the course nude.
The interviews started at midday. We were all seated and naked for the three interviews. The first couple, from Florida, spoke about how they loved to come to San Francisco specifically to walk the Bay to Breakers in the nude. Next, I said where I was from and why I’d come almost half way around the world for this event. I told them that nowhere else in the world could you do what we are going to do and that, for me, was the ultimate... to walk naked 12k across a city that has the population of New Zealand. The third interview was with 6ft 6in Charlie, one of the organisers, getting our group to the Bay to Breakers and back again.

The interviewer’s questions presented the naturist lifestyle in a positive light.
I felt I did my best as an ambassador, not only to put New Zealand on the map, but also the naturist lifestyle. We were told that the interviews would be on NBC news at and 11pm. Unfortunately, I missed both, as I was to busy enjoying myself chatting to everyone! But we couldn’t talk all night as we had to leave at 5 o’clock next morning.

We left in the dark in two rent-a-vans onto an empty motorway with a perfect dawn. The roads filled as we approached San Francisco. Then my world changed from only dreaming of this place, to actually being centre stage. So when it came to my turn to talk, I completely forgot my lines. I was overcome by the skyscrapers in front of me, and the 50,000 people all around, ready for the run starting at 7am. Announcements boomed at every moment along the avenues connecting the route out of the downtown area. We had to stay in our avenue until it was our turn to go.
While the other avenues where moving on to the course, our nudie group was busy disrobing. It wasn’t a cold day, but between the skyscrapers was rather cool. I knew it would warm up later, so any shrinkage at that stage just had to be. The rest of our group, including Claudia, were giving me good advice... ‘stay together’... ‘don’t lose us’... etc.

A crowded street

At this stage I’d drifted off into another world, trying to cope with the shear size of the event unfolding in front of me. I had to stop ogling the skyscrapers and start moving with the masses... we were now mobile.

Posing at the startI had a New Zealand flag in each hand, which may have been a mistake. Americans don’t know the difference between the Australian and New Zealand flags. I don’t blame them, given that it’s only the Australian flag having two more stars. So you guessed it, for the entire event, everyone was saying, “Gidday Aussie.” Oh dear, never mind, I have been called worse. Those that did chat to me went away knowing I was from New Zealand. Well, I hope that I gave them a good impression. The Lupin Lodge group with Claudia and family, slowly disappeared into the sea of people. My plan was to walk as slow as I could without stopping, while taking in as much of this sensational atmosphere as possible, because I knew I wasn’t going to get this chance back home.

I now remember Claudia (who by the way has done this event naked, for 15 years) coming back to see if I was all right. I mentioned that I was in another world, and that I’d get back to her as soon as possible. The next time I looked she’d vanished into a sea of costumed people.
The themes of the day were to dress up as a movie or TV character, or your own costume: weather fully clothed, partially clothed, or not a stitch. Everyone accepted those around them for who they were. There was nothing to fear from your mere presence in this 12km street party.
And party it was. People lining the streets played musical instruments of all sizes and notes. Those with street-side apartments placed their stereos on their balconies. I think all genres were coved that day from the stereos. People at one intersection simply danced. Truly amazing. I even joined in briefly to ‘rock the house’. I wanted to stay there and groove with them, but something in my ‘comprehending’ brain, told me I had an event to complete by midday.

So it was onwards and upwards, over a small hill. I recall on the summit of this incline, an African American woman pointed to me. “Hey, that’s the naked New Zealand guy from the news last night.” Wow, way to go lady, I thought. Your identification skills are impeccable. I suggested, briefly that she should come down under and see New Zealand. “I will do my best to get there” she replied.
Mile countdown boards, water stations, and Portaloo stops came and went before we hit the park. And through the park we went, with two miles to go, there were bands playing on the side of the course, and still more stereos pumping out the beat to keep you motivated in your walk. Every participant looked happy and vibrant. Why wouldn’t they. They were there to show the world their costume, all 50,000 of them. Some people had gone to a lot of work and effort into creating and designing their costumes. On the other hand my priceless costume was made for me from birth. I just had to turn up - and hey presto.

The walkers thinned out as we walked through the Golden Gate Park, and right on cue Claudia appeared out of nowhere to see how I was going. “I’m speechless.” I said. At that moment we saw a guy dressed as Barack Obama. So Claudia and I posed with him for a photo. Then other people gathered to take their shot of Claudia and me. Claudia said that the people will go out of their way to get photos of the naked runners and walkers. I said, “I’m all for it... bring it on.”

Nearing the finishIt wasn’t long before we hit the beach front near the finish. I was enjoying the breeze off the sea when I came across Jennifer, one of the Lupin Lodge guests. I gave her a flag and we stood on an island in the middle of the road. I said lets get a final few minutes with the crowds of walkers. So we stood and posed on this lonely island.

I must say Claudia’s tip was true; photographers with big lenses, bystanders with cameras, and participants with cell phones, all stopped and milled around the island to get their shot of us. Some took their time trying to get that perfect shot. We had become an extra attraction, and everyone was enjoying it. The good thing about all this was the fact the police in their hundreds were only concerned about people drinking as there had been a booze ban placed on the event.
So, with one last effort, Jennifer and I crossed the finish line only 200m from the island that we had been marooned on by all those desperate photographers. We waved our flags at the announcer, who was giving a running commentary on all those crossing the line in front of him. “I think we have some people here today from New Zealand... Gidday mate” he said, as his voice beamed all over the finish line.
But it wasn’t over yet. We had to take our bib number to collect our participation medal from the tent, then get back to our shuttle group, while still nude. I was only after we headed back through Golden Gate Park to the shuttle that we decided (unfortunately) to put our clothes back on. Strolling through the park lane, I again presented my bib, for the Bay to Breakers official T-shirt. Beside this tent were other souvenir tents and food stalls; some with free drinks.

Sitting in the patrol carThen I spotted two policemen. I had to get a photo with them. They were too happy to oblige, and I stood in between them for the opportunity. On our way out of the park I approached a sole police officer sitting in his patrol car and asked if I could have my photo taken with him. He got out of his car and obliged, then offered to me a seat in his car.
What a hoot. I stuck my arm out the window with the thumbs up. All those American movies I’ve watched had come true, from the driver’s seat at least. Jennifer, who’d helped me out immensely though the event, did the honours with my camera.

So it was farewell to this marvellous event, that had given me a 3½ hour high. Next was the rendezvous with the Lupin Lodge people mover. And back to Lupin Lodge for a hearty lunch, as I hadn’t had time for breakfast, so done the Bay to Breakers on an empty stomach. That afternoon Jennifer, Rex and I went for a nude tramp through the bush at the back of the lodge. We didn’t find any wild animals to photograph. But later that evening I managed to get a photo of a skunk and a raccoon, only metres from my yurt. I think they were used to the camera, as they didn’t take off when I started shooting. Maybe they had been attractions for previous guests. So it was a goodnight to the night animals and a final goodnight to the wonderful people I had uncounted there at Lupin Lodge.

Andrew Pointon