San Francisco Weekend

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Ah, beautiful San Francisco! Every time I’m in this bay-side city, I’m reminded of what the protagonist “Coit” told the symbolic sea lion spirit mayor in Dr. Doobs G. Chronic’s masterwork A Frisco Freakout in Baymuda Triangle:

Sea lion, are you listening?
See lion, these tears we bleed
Salty drops in a salty ocean.
You sea. Our sea.
We cannot weep enough for this city by the sea.
Its beauty reminds us how short our lives be.
Quick, to the amethyst hovercycles!
We will chase our own destiny!!!

On Thursday, I flew down with J. She had a Friday architecture meeting at a lesser known party college called Stanford. Rather than hang out in Stanford Town, I hiked a few miles and took the double-decker Cal Train into the city to kill some time until she could meet me. With heavy pack on my back, I wandered around like a cleaner version of the numerous hobos. I worked my way through downtown, through Chinatown and into North Beach to get some coffee and read the paper at Caffe Trieste. Afterward I went to a favorite Vietnamese restaurant on Broadway for a steamy bowl of excellent pho. I ordered coconut juice, and was surprised/delighted when it was offered to me straight from a young coconut.

Afterwards I bussed to the Golden Gate Bridge, took a stroll across, and bussed to back into town to check into the bed and breakfast. Inn 1890 is a renovated Victorian building on Page St. near the panhandle of Golden gate Park. It was tastefully furnished in the quaint, Kinkadian bed and breakfast style. The atmosphere was very open and inviting, and we had free access to the full kitchen and the food within. On our floor were large glass jars of nuts, gummy bears, and chocolates. Our bed was memory foam. Our toilet and shower were in two separate rooms down the hall.

I picked J. up from the train station with a Zip car and we went to an excellent Thai dinner in a second floor restaurant on Haight. I ordered coconut juice again and was given the option of young coconut or can. Something must be going right when you can drink fresh coconut juice twice in a day. I accepted the nut.

Here’s the rest of the trip told mostly through photos:

Golden Gate Bridge.

Surfers seen below the bridge.

Purple flowers at the bridge overlook.

Oil tanker getting repaired near Agua Vista Park on the southeastern side of town.

Veterans’ tombstones in the Presidio cemetery.

Most of Saturday was spent taking a scenic drive north up to Pt. Reyes lighthouse. The Pacific Coast Highway ran through flowing meadows, woods, and along the craggy coast.

Wild flowers blooming in a field at Pt. Reyes.

Beached boat on the estuary along the small town of Inverness.

Old warehouse on the water. I liked the lettering.

Washing station at an oyster farm at Tamales Bay.

12 foot tall piles of empty oyster shells.

A marsh along the gravel road to the oyster farm.

Our Zip car waiting for us to return from taking cow photos.

Deer.

When we reached the lighthouse, fog was blowing in pretty heavily. Luckily, it was above the level of the lighthouse. Descending a few stairs offered a clear view of these buildings at the edge of the world. This whole area makes me feel like I’m living in the game Myst. Weird, moody landscapes full of shear drops and colorful plants are intertwined with rusting man-made walkways, buildings, and infrastructure. There’s nothing but the sound of wind and surf.

Looking over the edge of the stairs to the water below. That black speck on the right is a flying bird.

Me and my traveling sweater standing on the tower.

The road to the point winds through verdant hills speckled with cattle. Here is a clump of Holsteins that had been brought in for a milking. Cow 926 says “Wazzup.”

Cow, hills, and Drakes Bay.

The Full House Houses at sunset as seem from Alamo Square.

A view down California St.

Lanterns hanging in Chinatown.

Woman hanging laundry.

Men waiting to cut the ribbon at a store opening celebration.

In the park, everyone was playing a gambling card game. The high stakes games had large groups of spectators.

This man appears to be plotting murder.

Even the ladies were playing, but they generally seemed less joyful about it.

A sunny view from near Coit Tower.

The Bay Bridge and Ferry Building clock tower.

Hobo rocking out near the Ferry Building.

It’s the Seagull Show!

J.

Overall, the trip felt much longer than three days. It was quick to remind me of what it was like to live down there: lots of great walking, beautiful views, delicious food. Its a city that has its priorities straight. At dinner on Saturday at an Indian restaurant in the Mission District, the menu explained that prices had gone up because the city mandated that all businesses of 20 people or more had to provide health coverage for its employees. This means kitchen staff and waiters don’t have to worry about getting a cavity or hit by a bus. It’s a crazy mandate for a benefit that seems so obvious, and sad that such burdens fall on a city level. For all the wonders of the place, a downside is the near constant presence of homeless. Many are insane too, screaming and talking to themselves. It’s a sad sight, but a good reminder of how low a person can fall. A crazy, shit-smeared homeless man is a much wild animal as his man. It’s a haunting sight.

I miss San Francisco.

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