Dispatch from San Francisco, Day 1

The lead-in

A few weeks ago I was looking at my schedule, pondering what my life would be like in the future and I realized that for much of the next year I will be hard-pressed to find any real time to take an extended holiday. From these rigorous calculations I discovered that the only days I would have free would be from the 15th of June to the 19th. Armed with this knowledge, I tapped into my mind’s travel computer and figured that I could take a five day trip up the coast to San Francisco, one of my favorite cities. Since I had been here twice before, I would have less discomfort navigating around here by myself than if I would have gone to a new city. So it was decided, and I began planning the trip.

I made a list of some places I wanted to visit(more in-depth than just the touristy places, but not by much), and people I wanted to see. Had I been a celebrity of some kind, I would have had my people talk to the San Francisco people, a few whispered enchantments and whoosh, I’m whisked away into this wonderland of light breezes and hills. But I’m not near famous(this blog gets a mere few hits a day), so my planning was more to the tune of brainstorming, nervous e-mails to Ginna and some hotel research. Actually, booking a room at a reasonable rate was relatively easy, even at somewhat short notice(Did you know that San Francisco(hereafter SF) has a 14% hotel tax? Neither did I). And here I am, at the Redwood Inn – as promised there is free Wi-Fi, that’s why I can write this!

The pigeon

As I walked to the trunk of my car to insert my luggage this morning, I noticed death. It was a dead pigeon lying, little legs up a little behind and between my car(on left) and the next one:

pigeon death

It looked recently dead because it was still whole, with no bugs around it or anything. It was the most ‘together’ dead bird I think I’ve ever seen. I took a closer picture of it, but decided against posting it due to the fragile nature of some readers. If you want to see the artistically beautiful, but sad and slightly discomforting dead pigeon picture email me and I’ll send it over.

The Captain’s Log

To make remembrance easier. I have utilized a small tape recorder to nail down some milestone times and events. Here, for your amusement is the log(with asides):

10:22 – Ready to go, moment of silence, revving engine, Taking off. First stop: Monterey to get Clam Chowder, maybe Maritime Museum.

10:24 – 44029 miles on car, listening to Great minds of the Western intellectual tradition pt 6, pulling out onto Victory Blvd. Wondering whether dead pigeon is bad omen. Decide it probably isn’t.

10:31 – On the 5 freeway, listening to lecture about Heidegger. Understand little to nothing; chalk it up to fact that my attention is on driving, not that Heidegger’s philosophy is terrible cup of tea, therefore not mine.

10:44- While passing Magic Mountain, realize I forgot my phone charger at home. Slap forehead.

11:52 – Using cruise control, keep car hovering around 80(look Ma, no feet!), passing Buttonwillow Mckittrick exit. I would have loved to meet the person with that name. She must have been some lady.

1:17 – 44249 miles on car (have driven 220 miles in around three hours. That’s around 73 miles every hour, not bad.). Just passed Panoche Rd. exit(this blog post from Bakolois tells why I’ve included this exit in the Captain’s log). Rest stop coming up, but I’ve decided to plow on to Monterey. Hungrily.

2:58 – Passing Lightfighter Dr. exit (#406) on the 1-S. Still waiting for X-Wings to do fly-over.

3:04 – Arrived in Monterey. Made wacky noises into tape recorder as sign of joy.

3:10 – Have parked in Monterey. Getting car in order. Putting on shirt.


I really like the area around Monterey: Cannery Row, the Maritime Museum, the Wharf, Carmel, Salinas(the Steinbeck Museum), Pacific Grove(where everything closes early), not too far is highway 46(Paso Robles) where there are a ton of wineries etc. etc. I’ve been in the area several times. This time, I was just using it as a rest-stop and to pick up some excellent clam chowder. It’s this one place on the Wharf that serves it, Fisherman’s Grotto I think it’s called. Supposedly their’s is award-winning as opposed to all of the other chowder on the Wharf…All I know is that over the years I have stopped specially in Monterey to get it. Today was no different. It was a dreary overcast day weather-wise and Monterey seemed rather unpeopled, probably due to it being Father’s Day and the people that were around were either weird-looking gomers, or mediocre facially but in a bad mood. Here’s a picture at entrance to the Wharf:

Entrance to the Wharf. I don't know who those people are, but they seem discontented.

I walked to the end of the dock and looked at the boats for a little while, as I was passing an inordinately fat man I noticed a crowd gathered around some parrots. I have some experience with parrots(see here(scroll all the way down in that post)). The ones at the dock were bigger, still, Monterey must really need some help if a few large parrots on a perch draw the biggest crowds. Ignoring aforementioned fat man and parrots, I made a beeline to the place of delicious chowder, bought a 32oz carton of the stuff for 12 dollars, they put two spoons in the bag(write I as I think of Ashley), and meander around looking for a place to chow down. Here’s a picture of just that place with the container of chowder and my bag(note the live pigeon cameo):

Where I ate my clam chowder

…and here’s the container after I got to the bottom of it, sorry to say the chowder was not as glorious as it used to be, but I can’t complain after I devoured it with vigor:

Chowder been had!

I vacillated whether to stop in to see the Maritime Museum, but the Free Admission sign convinced me that I should go and enjoy the seafaring paraphernalia, model boats, and Monterey fishing history. Last time I was there, it inspired me to read Richard Henry Dana Jr.’s Two Years Before the Mast, which is an excellent read, if you’re into maritime adventures. The museum was closing early today, so I wasn’t able to stay long, but my brief walk-through was satisfying considering that I had already been there once.

On the way back to the car, I used the restroom at the Portola Hotel, which, in its entrance plaza has a statue of Captain Gaspar de Portola. Being a strange fella, I took a picture of the statue’s back:

Portola's back

If interested, here is a photo of the statue’s front I found online.

4:10 – Monterey accomplished. Back in car. Need to fuel up.

4:16 – Tank full of gas. 44369 miles on car. Pulling off on final leg of journey to SF. Listening to Carl Reiner’s “My Anecdotal Life”. It’s very funny.

5:27 – Entering San Jose city limits. They have a library school here, you know.

5:57 – Just passed Whipple Ave exit.

6:04 – Passing San Mateo city limits.

6:13 – Arrived at South SF city limits. On mountain it says South SF something something…

6:18 – Reached SF city and county limits.

6:35 – Remember to check on map Vermont Ave exit, stuck in traffic around there. Turned off Carl Riener’s book on CD in favor of local radio. Local radio here not better than local radio in Los Angeles.

6:44 – Actually passing Vermont exit. Finally.

7:08 – Arrived at Redwood Inn, picked up room key, tidying car. Dragging “light-packing” up to room.

11:13 – Since coming back to my room this evening, I have heard the police pull two people over, asking them both to pull over with the loudspeaker. Also, one ambulance passing with sirens.

My room

My room is nice and spacious, there’s a microwave, a mini-fridge, a coffeemaker and free HBO. I don’t see any free shampoo, but that’s okay…I’ll survive(a better idea than survival is to ask at the front desk tomorrow…Put it on my to-do list, Jeeves). Pictures forthcoming, currently camera is regaining it’s strength. Not so nice things about room: it was slightly musty when I came in because windows were closed, a little airing-out made room nice. Toilet ran for a long time, I jiggled handle, it stopped. Next time nature called, toilet wouldn’t flush(good thing I enjoy doing little plumbing here and there) so I opened it and fixed simple problem – because it’s me, I don’t care, but generally toilet should be in good repair. One side-shelf in mini-fridge is missing a bar(not big deal, but librarians are detail-oriented). Also my room is all the way at the south side of the hotel, I have no wall-neighbors, but it is right next to the stairs and not too far from elevator, this could lead to a lot of noise, but so far it’s been okay. In the future, it may be helpful to initially request a room away from elevator, stairs, ice-machine etc. But again, since I’m alone and relatively easy-going, these uncomfortables aren’t issues. Oh…The mini-fridge makes fridge noises and the downstairs traffic is rather loud – again, for someone these are problems, for me…Not really(actually being a city boy, I tend to enjoy traffic noises).

The end for today

After I arrived, I went out for a walk to orient myself and get some food(I was hungry for a basic cheeseburger, nothing fancy). Much to my delight, I was only a light walk away from the tourist-ridden Ghirardelli Square – it wasn’t too crowded, which was nice. I ate at the over-priced and very average taste-wise Lori’s Diner. Regardless of the food, it does have a very pretty view of the bay if you get a table by the window. I ate at the counter, but found myself staring out into the bay while the sun set. If only I’d brought my camera. Oh well, it’s close, so I may go back to take some pics. After dinner I hiked back, stopping by at a liquor store, buying a six pack of Fat Tire and a box of Fig Newtons. Had a beer earlier. It was good. As was the day.

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