Rock n Roller 17: San Francisco and the Summer of Love

After the day in the Silicon Valley I headed about an hour north to the San Franscio area. I stayed at a very nice La Quinta Inn just outside the city for three nights. Things are very expensive in this area of the country and hotels are no exception. I have been staying in most hotels for about $75 a night and this one was one of the cheapest at almost $135.

The first night I ate at this awesome little Irish place near the hotel. I had short ribs and some bangin’ mashed potatoes along with a strong stout. This was after I drove around almost an hour to find parking. I was just about to give up and eat fast food when I found a spot a few blocks away from the tavern.

Sunday morning I headed into the City by the Bay. On the list were the required tourist stops, Golden Gate Bridge, Fishermans Warf and Alcatraz. I wanted to step foot on ‘The Rock’ but tickets and tours have been sold out for weeks. I almost went on a sunset sailboat cruise around the prison in the bay but Michele talked me out of it because there would probably have been romantic couples on the boat and me–the weird single guy–might seem a little creepy.

It took forever to make it to the bridge. Traffic was terrible heading into the city and there were so many tourists at the bridge that it was a madhouse. Imagine thousands of people lining up to take the exact same picture with their smartphones, selfie sticks, GoPros, Nikons, Canons and even an old Polaroid or two. I walked around for an hour or so dodging hundreds of bikes. I guess it is THE thing to rent a bike and ride it across the bridge.

After being up to my eyeballs with the tourists I headed down the hill and along the waterfront towards Fishermans Wharf. Along this stretch of the bay is some really spendy real estate. Michele looked online and found a place for a cool mil and a half for one of those famous San Fran row houses.

Fishermans Wharf was packed too. Along the road there is everything from an Applebees to a Ripley’s Believe it or Not, retro candy stores, pot shops, t-shirt vendors and countless touristy knickknack shops filled with people tripping over each other to buy junk made in China. I decided to grab a lobster and shrimp bowl for lunch. It was awesome! A half of a lobster and a bunch of shrimp for twenty bucks. After lunch I walked up and down the wharf to people watch and hope I didn’t get pick-pocketed. It was probably stupid to walk around with a Rolé on my wrist but hey, you gotta live large right? There were street performers, musicians and even this dude that was painted head to toe in silver paint and acted just like a robot.

I grabbed a sundae from the famous Ghirardelli chocolate store and they were handing out free samples of chocolates that I have never had before–the things we miss living in Alaska. I sat and watched the cable cars for a while and contemplated taking a trip up the hill. It was so cool to watch how they turned the entire car around by hand on this platform in the street just like they have been doing for probably a hundred years.

I jumped back in the car after paying 35 bucks for an hour and a half of parking and had my sights set on the Haight Ashbury District. It was surprisingly pretty far away from downtown. It is interesting that when you watch movies about this area they make it seem that so many of the places are so close together. I highly doubt Dirty Harry would roam the vast streets of this city with his .45 in real life. His beat was probably a ten block radius around the Wharf. It was cool to see where the famous car chase took place from the old Steve McQueen movie, Bullitt and the places that Monroe from Too Close for Comfort and that God awful show with Balki from the show Perfect Stangers hung out. God, I watched too much TV as a kid!

The Haight as its called, is a groovy place to see. After I found a place to park on one of the famous near vertical streets–I could never drive a stick shift in this town–I walked around the tie-dye shops, record stores and took pictures of the sights. The people here look like the millennial version of the summer of love.

The mainstream media’s coverage of hippie life in the Haight-Ashbury drew the attention of youth from all over America. Hunter S. Thompson labeled the district “Hashbury” in The New York Times Magazine, and the activities in the area were reported almost daily. The Haight-Ashbury district was sought out by hippies to constitute a community based upon counterculture ideals, drugs, and music. This neighborhood offered a concentrated gathering spot for hippies to create a social experiment that would soon spread throughout the nation.

A lot of famous people, especially musicians, walked these streets and it was cool to see the scene.

Check out the Wiki page for much more on the area.

I was back at the hotel in time for dinner and had an awesome pastrami and swiss sandwich at a deli near the hotel. What was cool about this little place was the owner had plastered all of the negative reviews the place had received on the Internet along with food critics from the local rags and a sign above it saying something to the effect of, if you don’t like our food, we don’t care, don’t eat here. Classic. All the sudden everyone is a foodie and a Yelp junkie these days.

Muir Woods

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness

A quote by John Muir

The next morning the plan was to get out of the city and re-connect with nature a bit. I wanted to visit Muir Woods which is about an hour’s drive from my hotel. I guess it was the plan for everyone else too. What I don’t quite understand yet is this whole Uber thing. When did it become a thing to pay some dude in a Beemer to drive you to a park and drop you off on the side of the road for 20 bucks? Not to mention there was no cell service in this neck of the woods so how on earth are you going to summon him or someone else trying to make a buck with a nice car and an iPhone? I get the whole you don’t need a car in the city thing. But an Uber to a national park? Really?

Like I said, I think everyone thought it was a good day to visit the Woods. Parking was crazy and it took me almost an hour to find a spot and that was after I stalked a family in a mini van from Rhode Island who were trying to have a family picnic out of the back of their car. I was busy giving their three year old the eye because he was taking too long to eat his PB and J that mom hurriedly whisked the lunch rubbish in the eco-friendly shopping bag–everyone uses those in Cali, you know–and pulled out of the parking spot without even a glance.

The trek through the woods was a blessing and a curse. The scenery was magnificent with massive redwoods towering toward the sky but what irked me was people don’t know how to shut up. I get it, you are out with your friends for a stroll in the park but it sounded like an old-school party-line in the woods. A constant din of chatter about boyfriends and sushi bars and ‘mommy I want a snack (even though we have only walked a hundred yards and my feet hurt)’ that it almost ruined the supposed tranquility of this place. I could go on and on about this for pages and pages about self entitlement and the ME generation and instant gratification and all that crap but please people, stop and look around once in a while. Enjoy the beauty of nature. Everything is not about YOU! Quit whining and quit trying to impress everyone around you. Don’t you know you look like an idiot with your baseball hat on crooked and your skinny jeans so tight you have to walk like a penguin down the trail? Nobody wants to see the millionth selfie on your Insta feed and there’s no need to carry a sippy cup, err your Nalgene, on your belt covered in stickers when you only plan to walk to the first bend in the trail.

I finally got away from the noise and made my way up the hill and onto a trail that looked down onto the busy trail of people below. It was a nice three mile hike back to the visitors center.

I took the back way down the mountain and stopped at the beach that was at the edge of San Francisco Bay. This was a cool place where the locals hang out. There were family bar-b-ques and people flying kites on this little beach cove that was no longer than a couple football fields.

I stopped at Hooters. Yep, I go there for the wings, just like I read certain magazines for the articles. Sadly, this place was not how I remembered it since my last visit was when I lived in Denver almost seven years ago. Now the wings are greasy and the waitresses aren’t as “attentive” and “persuasive”as they used to be. I watched a gaggle of them hang out at a group of tables near the back of the restaurant doing, you guessed it, gossiping while I waited almost a half hour for my check.

What am I turning into? My father? A grumpy old guy? No. I just find it amazing that an entire generation just doesn’t have a clue. I have been a lot of places over the years but I have never seen this more than right here in California. It is amazing.

The next morning I had to catch a flight back to Anchorage and was flying Virgin America for the first time. What a cool experience. I love Alaska Airlines and it is who I fly 90% of the time but the Virgin vibe is just plain cool. It’s awesome that they merged with Alaska Air, I hope they bring some of the cool factor over soon.

In just a couple weeks Michele and I start our third annual Rock n Roller coaster tour across America and we will start it in where else? California. In L.A. to be exact as we travel there for a couple theme parks and the Metallica show at the Rose Bowl. I hope all of my rabid readers follow along. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Up Next: Wherever I May Roam

Coasters to date on the tour: 35

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