Fake Tales of San Francisco

Coit TowerI posted more photos — do yourself a favor and look at larger sizes when on Flickr — from my trip to California tonight. As mentioned in my previous post about the trip, I hit Big Sur for the first day. These were all taken on my second full day there, which was Sunday 10/22.

I arrived by noon PDT on Friday 10/22, but I felt so sick after my flight — stomach and headache or migraine that caused me to feel nauseous, it was all bad — I headed straight for my hotel and crashed for a couple hours. I only got two hours sleep the night before and maybe two more bad hours on the flight. By the time I woke up, I was pretty worthless in terms of heading into S.F., which was my original plan, but I did hit In-N-Out Burger for dinner; stomach be damned!

For lack of a better idea, I started Sunday by heading over to Muir Woods. I don’t mean to make it sound like it sucks or anything like that, I just hadn’t planned on going there this time around, but it came to mind so I went with it. It was good and bad in that it is nice to get out in Nature once and a while, but the time there turned out to be a bit stressful. In fact, it made the rest of my trip pretty stressed… almost.

Editor’s note: If you don’t want to be bored with a tangent about scratching up a rental car, skip to the next bit about the trip and photos.

You see, when I got to Muir Woods, the regular lots were full, so I set off down the road to find some on-street parking. I found a spot I thought was big enough to fit my sexy 2006 Mitsubishi Gallant and set about parallel parking that beast. To say that PP-ing that thing was an adventure is a bit of an understatement. It is downright impossible, and after this particular attempt, I didn’t do it again. I actually pride myself on being really good at PP-ing, so that tells you what an adventure this turned out to be.

You see, you can’t see! You have no concept of where the front bumper or rear bumper are because of the wedge shape of the car. The rear is the worst because it is complicated by turning to look backwards. Anyway, I had a car in front and a wooden fence post in the rear. I was all set with the car, but I couldn’t see the post since it was below the trunk lid, which was hard to judge itself. I ended up popping the door open to back it in, but it didn’t really work out and I eventually gave up for fear of costing myself some cake after not going in on the optional, i.e. rip-off, insurance.

I then went down the road and waited a good long time for a couple to pull out after they got to their hot Chrysler Sebring convertible. If the driver were Michael Scott, that would be fine, but he wasn’t and I was already pissed about the last parking attempt. Anyway, it was the same scenario as before, car in front and post in back, but with way more space, so I just drove straight in there after the slow pokes were top down and out of there.

When I got out, I checked out the rear of the car to make sure I didn’t hit the last post. You see, I wasn’t positive I didn’t, but I was positive I didn’t hear anything. Wouldn’t you know, there was damage right in the left corner of the bumper. Four letter words shouted silently thru my noodle.

Well, there was nothing to be done at that point, so I sucked down the rest of my Starbies and walked on to the Woods with hope that the peace of the place might soothe me. It did because the place is beautiful and a bit humbling, but it didn’t because my brain would keep reminding me that I might have just cost myself 5 to 10 hundred Frostys.

Anyway, that thought would continue for the next two full days until I found it was a pre-existing condition. You see, when I was tearing out of the rental car lot, the attendant checking me out said something about me not inspecting my sexy new ride and wrote something on my sheet. He was hard to understand, so I asked “all set?” He gave me my sheet, replied “Yes” and off I went. When I got to the hotel, I checked out the car and didn’t notice anything, so I thought he just commented that I didn’t do something on my form.

Loading up my luggage on Tuesday morning proved to be the way my mind would be put at ease. Interestingly enough, Avis has a sticker on the inside trunk lid of side-angled front and rear views of a generic car. Wouldn’t you know that the left rear side of the sticker was circled and marked “10/4” with someone’s initials.

Score! I was in the clear.

Remembering the attendant, I checked out my form. Sure enough, he stamped a little car image on it and put an “X” on the rear, but on the right side. I checked the right side of the car, but there was nothing, so I guess he doesn’t have to be exact?! I should have taken the opportunity to do some free damage, but I didn’t need to push my luck, right?

Short story long, it all worked out and I unnecessarily stressed myself out over the rental for a couple days. I am sorry to say it did detract from enjoyment during the trip when I’d think about it, but it all worked out, and this is the first time I thought of it since then. I guess the moral of the story, if there is one, is to get the rip-off insurance when your company is footing the bill, which was what I was kicking myself over. That and maybe you should inspect the freakin car yourself before leaving the lot!

De-light-fulBig tangent aside — sorry about that — Muir Woods was enjoyable my third time around and I got to see some deer again, which was funny because when I walked past the spot I saw them as a kid (circa 1984), I thought about it and wondered if I might see some again or if it was a fluke. Turned out to be a bit of kismet I guess.

So, after Muir Woods, I went on a bit of a cluster drive to Stinson Beach. Do you now get the idea that I did a lot of driving I didn’t need to do on this trip? No? See last post about Big Sur.

About halfway there, I realized it was taking me way too long for something I anticipated being quick. The problem being it takes a long time to drive six or so miles of switchbacks at 30mph or less. If I had planned it, I could have brought my trunks and jumped in the ocean when I got there, but since I didn’t, there was no point in finding parking and stopping for a bit. So, almost an hour after walking out of Muir Woods, I made it back out to 101 and headed for S.F.

Golden Gate BridgeI got to the Golden Gate and quickly yanked off the highway to hit the Marin Headlands for my first visit to the bridge, which I had originally planned for Friday. At least I got the special treat of having fog rolling in from the Pacific. As I mention in one of the descriptions, I should have busted out the tripod for some of these daytime shots of the bridge and fog because the IS lens didn’t always combat the combo of the wind and being handheld. I was so excited for the fog that I also missed some shots that I got on later trips at night. Some of those, which you’ll get early next week, would have also been good for the day. There’s always next time I guess!

After spending some time at the bridge, I moved on into the city for the late afternoon. I started off on the waterfront by Ghirardelli Square — free four hour parking on Van Ness Ave. by Fort Mason — and moved down Jefferson St. before making my way over to Lombard St. Nice climb up the street by the way. I am so totally out of shape I thought I was seriously going to have a heart attack when I got up there, and that was only one or two blocks at a 45 degree slope.

After catching my breath, I walked up Lombard and watched the cars go down for a while before heading down Hyde St. back to the waterfront. I then drove back to the Headlands for sunset, but with the fog, it was a nonevent, so I drove further in to the Pt. Bonita Light where I met some deer minding their own business. I drove back to the hill/fort overlooking the bridge for a few night photos with the fog, but not a lot came out well because I was messing around with the wrong settings on my camera.

Bay BridgeI headed back in to the city for some night shots — with the right settings — around town. On the Embarcadero down by the Bay Bridge, I started to realize it was getting pretty late and I was all alone, so probably not a very smart thing. I comment on this a bit in the Flickr descriptions, but I obviously made it out unharmed and with my stuff.

The last thing that did spook me though, and I shouldn’t admit this but…, were what turned out to be a group of Oracle conference nerds. I only caught people approaching out of the corner of my eye, but I was finally nervous enough that I quickly half-packed up my gear, jumped in the car and locked the doors. When they walked by, I felt like an idiot, but whatever. Serves me right.

I’ll have one more post to put up about the trip to go along with more photos added to the bridge and city sets. These are photos I took on Monday and Tuesday nights after work.

BTW, these are all true tales of San Francisco. That’s just another song title, err… title. It’s a track by the Arctic Monkeys from Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. Decent disc for a bunch of Brit punk ass kids.