Monday, October 4, 2010

San Francisco

If you've grown tired of hearing different versions of the "So today I rode my bike for hours and enjoyed views of the Pacific" story, this blog entry is for you.

We've enjoyed 3 consecutive days in San Francisco thanks to the hospitality of our hosts Shane and Danielle. They're some of our favorite people in the world, and we're very fortunate to have them in our lives. I met Shane this past winter in Crested Butte, and we became fast friends. His lady takes good care of him, and I'm a big fan of her as well. You tend to meet good people when you travel, I've learned.

Our first day in the city was highlighted by riding bikes with some SFPD cops (who were clad in pink tutus and blasting "Get Back" by Ludacris on a portable stereo on their rack in support of a breast cancer walk going on), riding across the Golden Gate Bridge with borderline nonexistent visibility, and meeting up with our friends in the city. Although we didn't get the best view of the city coming into town, the ride in was undeniably a highlight. Moreover, we enjoyed a near-perfect day of weather today, and got in plenty of sightseeing.

San Francisco is a very eclectic town, and there's a lot of personality. I wanted to get a street-level perspective while I was here. I'm a big fan of social experiments, and on our second day here I reverted to one of my old personal favorites. When I was in Denver last year, I set out to find 6 places of interest in the city with no use of maps, cell phones, or GPS systems. The only tool I permitted myself was asking people for directions. It was astounding to me how much I learned about the city that I couldn't have from a map, and how many nice locals I met. I made new friends, enjoyed a Rockies game, and was even bought a beer. No map has even hooked it up with a beer before, I can assure you of that. Do yourself a favor sometime and try this exercise - it's fun to actually reach out to strangers. So I did the same thing in San Francisco yesterday. I left the apartment by myself at 7:30 to go get an espresso, and I started my asking the first person I came across where their favorite coffeehouse was. I was rewarded with a great americano at a shop I wouldn't have otherwise found. I then set out to wander the city with an ultimate destination of a bluegrass festival over 5 miles across town. I found all sorts of eccentric little shops, an art museum, famous urban art, fellow bike lovers, and some personal satisfaction. Well worth the detour. I ultimately arrived at the festival with about 32 seconds to spare until the first band I set out to see started. I enjoyed their (Austin, TX's Lucero) show reclining on a blanket in the back of the audience with the company of a very lovely lady. Not a bad morning.

The festival was an anomaly in the US - a free, city-supported festival devoted to music and not a lifestyle or a sect of music culture. It was a breath of fresh air to enjoy so many bands of similar yet discordant genres celebrating the music community in such an unbiased and genuine way. For my money (that I didn't spend on the free festival), Emmylou Harris stole the show.

Afterwards I meandered about the city for a bit and caught pretty cool world/jazz show, then met some friends fora few beers at Torondao, a beer-only bar in the Haigh-Ashbury District. I enjoyed a Bear Republic Racer 5, which was recommended by a new friend. Good stuff from a local CA brewery.

Unfortunately, our trip hit a speedbump overnight. A heroin junkie smashed one of the windows of our support vehicle and attempted to rob me of my life possessions (already down to 3 boards, 2 bikes, a few wheels, 2 suitcases, some records, 2 backpacks, and a sleeping bag). Pretty lame. Fortunately, the SFPD caught the guy before he could actually make off with anything, and impounded my car for safe keeping. The kicker: when the cops showed up the guy had taken a break from stealing to indulge in some of our Nutella. I've said it before in jest, and I'll state it with sincerity now: Nutella is the shit. It fuels my cycling ridiculousness, and protects my life possessions like a guardian angel. A hazelnut-cocoa angel that goes well with blueberry pancakes. In the end, all the failed theft cost me was some piece of mind, $211 for a new window, and a morning in San Francisco (I still had the morning, but most of it was spent at the SF central police station). I want to sincerely thank the SFPD for their work - it means the world. I'd like to also thank the would-be thief for being an amateur and failing miserably to steal anything other than our Nutella, and thank Nutella for being fantastic. Even the junkie that tried to rob me agrees.

The rest of my day was spent seeing San Francisco, enjoying a basil-pesto crepe, and listening to the new Jimmy Eat World record. It's quite good (so was the crepe). It's back to the road tomorrow, and my restless legs are excited. 80+ miles along the coast await, including a stop at Half Moon Bay and some great sightseeing in Santa Cruz and Opal Cliffs.

I need a shower, so I'm going to go do that. Then I'm going outside to play guitar. I've got it rough these days.

Above are the San Francisco photo additions, along with some overdue Napa/Sonoma shots. Enjoy.

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