Monday, December 13, 2010

An adventure, part 1

So we went to San Francisco over the weekend! In a rare moment of common sense, I did not post all over the internet that I'd gone out of town and left my house empty. I'm so proud of myself :)

I drove the F-150 the whole way. It's just a half-ton, yeah, but it's definitely oversized for the SFO area. Just driving was a hell of an adventure. Plus we saw stuff! And I bought stuff! And the ocean!

Til we grow beards, get weird, and disappear into the mountains

Coming down out of the mountains was a huge shock to all my senses. We've been to Sac a couple of times and I remembered how thick and humid and gross the air is down there - yep, it still is. But the lack of mountains was pretty disturbing on a much deeper level - I didn't, like, have a panic attack or anything, but it weirded me out to not have mountains framing all my views. I could see how people get agoraphobic.

You know what else? It stays light forever down there. Up here the sun dips behind the mountains just before 4 pm, then it's full dark and the stars come out at maybe 6. Down in California, we watched a truly endless sunset. It was still twilight at 6 - in December! Crazy.

California's civil engineers are clearly aliens running some kind of horrible Skinner-esque experiment on the drivers in that state. But I think the drivers deserve it - they are the worst I've seen since Memphis (but not actually worse than Memphis). The exit ramps are all way too short, the lanes are crazy narrow, and the roads are as rough as Arkansas's. And that's all before you get to Oakland, which is where Driver Hell truly starts.

he said this is a mecca i said this ain't no mecca man, this place's fucked

It was dark and foggy by the time we went through Oakland, and of course we had no clue what we were doing. The 6 lanes of 80 split off into 18 lanes of toll booths and we crept up to a cash line and paid $6 for the privilege of the Bay Bridge. Then the 18 lanes inched forward to a bunch of red/green lights, where you'd sit at the line and wait for your 1 second green and floor it for 100 yards, then slam on the brakes. Then, after we'd all stopped/gone/stopped, THEN the 18 lanes merged back down to FOUR. Of course I had no idea what was going on so I kept suddenly running out of lane and bullying myself into another lane. I yelled "Sorry! Nevada! Sorry! I'm a tourist!" a lot. Eventually we got on the biggest bridge I've ever seen in my whole life. It was abysmally narrow too. I didn't clip the bridge or drift out of my lane, and I'm not sure how. The Bay Bridge goes out to an island, tunnels through the island, take a hard left, and resumes its life as a bridge the rest of the way to SF. It's a hell of a view to see the Financial District emerging out of the fog at night!

SF reminded me a lot of NYC. I went there for a week in '02 or '03, and I was pretty slack-jawed amazed the whole time. SF also left me gaping like a yokel, but only for a few minutes - then I just got mad about the godforsaken horribleness of the traffic and streets. I got pretty good at dodging pedestrians while cutting across three lanes of traffic in a 100 yard block. I was so full of myself that when we got to the hotel, I did not insist on valet parking. Instead I drove up 5 spiral floors of a tiny parking garage, then wedged the truck into a space that was exactly 2" bigger than it.

The climate was the opposite of Reno, but it was really surprisingly pleasant. It appears to be 63 degrees and foggy at all times, but it's not cold and clammy - just damp. We hauled our stuff to the hotel and wandered around a bit that night, then had tasty food at a 24 hour Indian/Pakistani buffet. 24 hour buffet! Not inside a casino! How crazy awesome is that?

Big cities are cool. At least to visit. More tomorrow!


  1. 24 hour indian buffet? *sob* mein leben!!

    i have no love for SFO cuz every time i was there, almost every time, it was for work. i've never had the pleasure of driving there, wait, once. i remember the toll bridges. i was much younger then.

    i wanted to see where the klingon vessel was cloaked in that park, so i went there. i wanted to see starfleet headquarters, CHECK: ) the wharf was nice.

    the earthquake simulator scared the crap outta me. i don't need to go through simulated earthquakes, no, no!!

    the weather is like seattle, but seattle is so much prettier with those mountains on either side.

    polk street downtown SFO, i just had to sing the song, "mr james k polk our 11th pre-si-dent" (TMBG)

    one of my best memories is sitting on the back of a classic vespa driving along the shore. ah, there are waves here? and the mexican food is good.

    oracle headquarters down there has penguin crossing signs. *lol*

    i remember our honeymoon in NY city, and not taking the advice of people who know better DO NOT DRIVE. we did. i can't believe those taxis. and the toll lanes, a cop almost made me cry shouting at me. the incomprehensible parking rules signs, where i just went ahead and paid the freakin ticket when i screwed that one up. SFO is nicer. but seattle is the best.

    tomorrow i'm back, with 18 pre-paid espressos on my card.


  2. Oh man, Lytha, the iPod played James K Polk twice! I should've used that for a third song quote!

    Yeah, I Did Not Drive in Manhattan and I'm so glad I didn't. I think SF is actually easier to drive in. Fewer endless streams of pedestrians.

    Can't wait to see Seattle one day!

  3. I went to London once. I took me 2 hours to drive from the outside ring road, to the almost maybe, possibly city center!
    I was asked to go back, I had to say no! It was filthy, packed with people and there ere no hills or mountains or green fields, it was really shit!

  4. I've been to SF a couple of times, one of them with Jason. Jason is used to driving around Toronto, a city of six million people. He hated driving around SF! I kept telling him we didn't want to drive, we wanted to leave the car at the hotel and use the trolleys, walk, etc. He wouldn't listen to me.

    I have to say I don't like the weather in SF, too cold for me.

  5. My best memory of SF is sitting on a blanket in Golden Gate Park with half a dozen college friends eating cheese and salami and fresh French bread and drinking wine and Grand Marnier brandy!
    As for NYC, I not only drove, I drove pulling a HORSE TRAILER! (a friend had qualified for the Medal finals). Worst setting EVER for a horse show!
    Neither Al nor I are fond of big cities, but Seattle is pretty nice.
    [And're whining again...]

  6. I've never been further west than dayton Ohio so can't say a thking about the west coast. But I know what you mean about the lack of mountains. I'm still missing mountains years after leaving them. (Maybe I can retire to a place with hills? Only twenty years to wait!) I feel for you missing your mountains.


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