After seeing all the other Californian cities before San Francisco I was a bit desensitized. Still, San Francisco was historically more interesting than the other cities, It was no LA that’s for sure! It’s quiet, its cute, and its full of 90 degree hills, it’s lovable in a 3-D sort of way.
Though I do know various tidbits of San Fransisco history I wasn’t really sure where to go myself. I knew I wanted to check out the Haight and go down Lombard street just to be the ultimate geeky tourist. I headed towards Haight-Ashbury, the former and apparently now reestablished hippie mecca. Had one of those bizarre moments when I knew I was getting near because I recognized one of the houses. Took me a couple of hours to figure out why. I think I recognized it from some old news footage in Tom Brockaw’s (spelling?) 1968 documentary. This is one of the handful of documentaries I play whenever its on, which is often…
Anyway, I knew when I hit the Haight. There was a sudden burst of psychedelic colors washing out over the windows and buildings. Murals were everywhere. So was tie-dye T-shirt shops as well as a lot of other adorable little fashion outlets. When I initially parked I wasn’t sure if I could because there was a sign on the meter that said something about construction and no parking. there was a burly hippie dude in the front of a music store and when asked if I could park here he said nothing, just approached the meter, ripped off the sign, threw it in a nearby trashcan and announced, “Is now!”
I walked into the music store. It had beautiful instruments but having no musical inclinations I had no idea about any of them. I did hit a few record stores as well which had an absolutely delicious selection of things, the most variety I’d ever seen. I didn’t look too close. I probably would have bought half the store if I could.
I stopped in at one of the artsy looking stores. There were wood carvings here that blew my mind. One piece of wood carved into two tangoing dinosaurs with exquisite detail was the first thing I saw. The second thing was an entire wall, including a bedframe with cabinets, all a conglomerate of tiny carvings. It was amazingly 3-D. Of course there was a big wooden Buddha people had left coins on and a Ganesh I couldn’t help but petting. He’s the Hindu protector of travelers after all…
Another interesting store I stopped by was some sort of freakish antiques and bad taxidermy shop. It had not just jackalopes but a squirrel riding a bunny rodeo style, several finch headed necklaces, squirrels dressed up as dolls, a fancy rat poised over a trap, and other very badly taxidermied little things that just looked dried up, twisted, and weird. If animals weren’t your thing they also had a shrunken head and the tiny severed foot of a Chinese woman from back in the days when binding was practiced. Oh and there was also a pickled tattoo of some sort… and funny enough a book about the Mutter Museum. Upstairs was a gallery of scary art and a deep purple embossed velvet child-sized casket, very Victorian looking.
All and all I left the Haight happy, happy enough to take a crack at Lombard street, which by the way is a one way street, and which our navigation at first brought us to the wrong side of. Another foil in planning when I got back to Lombard I drove it for quite awhile without seeing the characteristic eight hairpin turns lined up one after another. Back to the phone. It told me Lombard street’s crooked section was only one block and it told me where so off I went. When I first saw what the Jeep was in for I patted it’s dash and told it I was sorry. It groaned in return but made it just fine past all the turns! No one else was keeping entertained with this street as I was and the pedestrians seemed to think the Jeep was too fat for such a stunt, they looked on with an expression of delighted horror. After this three small cars appeared and followed suit.
Today was a good day for a little bit of ocean fun so I headed to Pier 37. I didn’t know what it was but it was listed as a tourist destination in the brochure I got from the Salinas campground. As it turns out Pier 37 it is a boardwalk full of fried foods, ice cream, little tourist shops, corny entertainment, street performers, and restaurants. I watched some break dancing and perused some magnet shops before making my way to the actual pier where rumor had it that there were seals. I wasn’t disappointed. There was a group of fat seals all sitting on the docks barking at each other and lazily basking in the sun. It was a nice end to this little trip to the sea front.
After leaving Pier 37 it was decided that the Full House house should be found for the appropriate shits and giggles. I looked it up and in another dorky excursion checked it out, snapping one photo to the complete befuddlement of the car behind us.
It was after this I just happened to stumble across an amazing surprise called the Fine Arts Lagoon. When I read the sign I thought of an art gallery in front of a big black body of water, possibly filled with monsters. It was nothing like that. Instead it was an enormous structure of Greek columns nestled aside a good sized lagoon, absolutely filled with red-eared sliders and big scary carp. Ducks also lined the shores and one swan watched me walk by, politely not beating me to death with its wings, as swans are prone to do. This place was gorgeous and serene, something I had never heard of, yet it was such a treasure! I walked all the way around the lagoon and through the columns, decorated with stunning Greco-Roman styled ornamentation including large vases and absolutely perfect figures of women. We read the signs, and found out this place was built in the 20’s as both a wildlife refuge and a testimonial to art itself. I had a couple Asian women take a photo in front of it.
Finally I decided to go to Golden Gate Park to get a photo in front of the Golden Gate bridge. I found another Asian family to take the photo. I was asked to get up on the wall but I yelled, through the phenomenal sound of gusting wind, “I can’t! My skirt is blowing everywhere!” This made the two Asian women in the background giggle to each other. I am glad I amused someone… I was having a Hell of a time with my ankle length, very light weight skirt. I was holding it in bunches with both hands to keep it down and I was failing. I was happy to be back in the Jeep.
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