January 21, 2016

West Coast 3: San Francisco

I think I've built up San Francisco in my mind since about 2010, when I started following blogger Dear Baby (now Brave in Love) who lived here and made it seem like an absolute dream.  She talked about Haight Street and posted pictures of herself wearing a gorgeous crinoline in parks and on buildings with beautiful trees and skylines behind her.  It seemed like my place.  And then, magically enough, she moved to Raleigh.  There are places North Carolina clicks with, I've found, and those places are the ones I adore the most.  Burlington, VT; Miami; Seattle; San Francisco - these are all also places with invisible spiderwebs branching back to the land of the pines.  I was stooooked for San Fran.
However.  My first twenty-fourish hours in San Francisco were not actually in San Francisco.  They were spent in Sausalito, and those were some of the most ridiculous hours of my life.  A Couchsurf host had reached out to me and offered a few days on his sailboat.  I'm a sucker for a good boat, so I double checked my pepper spray and clicked confirm.  I had three pals that night, three co-couchsurfers.  They were hip European boys named Alex, Michael, and Joffrey, and I could have kissed them, I was so glad to not go into this adventure alone.  Because Jacob looked slightly like a lunatic.  A lunatic with a boat.
Once we met up with Captain Jacob, he rowed us individually out to his sailboat, except me and Bix doubled up (timeout: BIX RODE A KAYAK).  The ship was a grubby little thing with lots of rubble and a sad toilet and no motor and absolutely not enough room for five people and a dog to sleep comfortably.  We went with it though, me and the guys, and Alex and Michael circled the sailboat in the kayak with a scrub brush, cleaning the boat of the algae Jacob said would hinder our sailing.  Which never happened.  After we'd gotten all ready - no algae, sails up, Bix firmly fastened into his brand new lifejacket - Jacob realized he'd anchored the boat close enough to shore that with the tide out, the keel was definitely stuck in the mud and we were going exactly nowhere.  He got jokey, I got tight-lipped, and the guys laughed nervously at his ramblings.
We went to shore after that and had possibly the worst tour of Sausalito that's ever been given.  We saw the very closed construction site of a tall ship, and they all went into a grocery store while I waited outside with Bix, and then we trespassed somewhere for some reason that I didn't fully comprehend.  Jacob rowed each of us and a twelve-pack of Budweiser back to the boat, where they all smoked a thousand cigarettes and we meditated.  I woke up the next morning unrested and uncomfortable but! relieved Jacob hadn't sailed us out into the middle of the ocean.
Bix and I took off ASAP through the cute side of Sausalito (guess what! there is one! go there instead!) and over the Golden Gate Bridge.  I drove in the truck and RV lane so we could go slowly, passing awestruck underneath the giant red arches.  I love bridges, I've loved every bridge Bix and I have driven over, and that's been a lot, but the Golden Gate Bridge was something special.

First things first was actually getting presentable for the day, which meant hitting up a Panera and changing/bathing??? in the bathroom.  Hashtag traveler problems.  But I got a bagel and felt much better with a clean face, and then I met up with Bombadil James, Stacy, and Nick for a tour of Haight Street and Golden Gate Park.  I adored Haight, all the quirky little shops and the quirky little people and their quirky little dogs and restaurants wafting pizza, Indian, coffee smells onto the sidewalk.  We went into the absolute biggest record store I've ever seen and thumbed through copies of Springsteen and Sylvan Esso records.  Bixby was even offered drugs when we went to the park, which he politely declined.
Then the Bombadil boys and I split up, them to get ready for their concert and me to meet the Couchsurf host who wasn't dangerous but I didn't care for so he's not gonna get any more blog time than exactly that.  I showered in approximately 33 degree water and got dressed for the concert and bought food at a place called Yamo where the women running the show were rude and they made me wait outside and their tofu curry was kinda bad anyway.  So if you're in San Francisco, probably don't go there.  (Guess who recommended it.)  (It was the Couchsurf host.)
filed under: places i slept
And then I went to Brick and Mortar for the Bombadil show!  There were two whole openers, and they were both lots of fun.  Bombadil was fab, as always, and there were a good number of people who'd moved from the Triangle and knew the songs and were excited to stand in front of the stage and dance around.  As it turned out, I knew a couple of them, had met them years and years before anyway.  We didn't figure it out until after we'd started listing mutual friends, but it was still nice to see some sort of familiar faces!
The next day was heavenly.  It was one of those days where everything just aligned and everything I did was good.  A few of my friends had sent lists of things to do and eat, and I just did as much as I could and had the most wonderful time.  My day started off with hot chocolate with fresh whipped cream and a slice of chocolate cake from Tartine Bakery, and it's hard to go wrong when your day opens with that much chocolate.  Bixby and I drove over to Baker Beach, where he got a little off leash time (San Francisco is SO dog friendly) and we saw the Golden Gate Bridge from afar, framed in all its glory by rock cliffs and bay water and blue skies peeking through the clouds.  There was also a gigantic dead seal washed up onto the sand, which Bix was extremely interested in checking out but made me feel nauseous so we avoided that one.
MOVING ON we went to another little downtowny bit of San Francisco to visit Green Apple Books, which is actually two sweet little stores with an assortment of used and new books.  I accidentally walked out with two from each store to add to my ever-growing collection that's now spilling over the sides of the paper bag they gave me at Powell's Books in Portland.  Lunch was across/down the street at Cafe Bunn Mi - have you ever even heard of a tofu sandwich?  They just put tofu.  On bread.  With carrots and sauce and stuff.  And you want to eat it forever.  And also you can, because it's enormous.  Tada!
I went back to Haight Street after that, because I'd made a shopping promise to myself, and that promise was that if I found THE PERFECT JACKET, I could buy that and only that.  And in a little store called Ambiance, I found it: black, faux leather, zippery, on sale, all mine.  To be featured in maaaany pictures to come.  We celebrated by heading to Fort Mason and walk walk walking all over the place, we saw the Golden Gate Bridge from the other side and Azkaban Alcatraz and people swimming in the freezing cold water and it was the brightest, breeziest, most beautiful day in that San Francisco city.  We wrapped it all up by snagging some killer mexican food at Mission Street Tacos, and the next morning, early early, Bix and I drove out of the city, south to Santa Cruz.
Bye, ya weird, happy, dancey, smelly, beautiful city.