Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Coming Home to San Francisco

San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge moments
 before 
we begin cycling over it.

Tandoids

Current Location: San Francisco, California
Total Distance Cycled: 14,609 km
Time on the Road: 15 months 10 days 
Most Difficult Hills in the U.S.:San Francisco

“That’s a bullet,” said Judy the Stoker as she peered at something lying on the edge of the roadway.
“No, it’s not,” I said taking a wild guess at what it might be. “It’s just the end of a ballpoint pen, the writing end. Take a closer look if you don’t believe me.”
Judy let go of her end of the Beast of Bridgwater and the heavily laden tandem lurched back down the impossibly steep San Francisco street until I yanked on both brake levers.
Judy stepped off the sidewalk oblivious to the FedEx truck bearing down on her. The driver stopped and waited patiently. “You’re right,” said Judy. “Ballpoint, but let’s not spoil my moment of drama.”
We were making our way to our hotel – a rare treat for us in a western economy – near the Tenderloin district where the baddies do sometimes resort to violence and yes, shoot rival gang members in turf or drug wars in broad daylight.
Down the other side having avoided pedestrians
and all the other cyclists.

Warning - Stay Away

We were feeling more sensitive than usual because just a couple of hours earlier we had stopped for coffee and chatted to a group of delightful locals about their city – that is until we mentioned where we were staying. They checked the address on a cell phone then all joined in to warn us away. “People get shot there,” one said. “I implore you,” said another, “don’t stay there.” And then they offered alternative locations.

Local Geography - Failed

Well intentioned they may have been but their local geography was not up to much. We remained nervous until we stopped outside the Fitzgerald Hotel and found ourselves surrounded by tourists, backpackers, restaurants and hotels. The Tenderloin has a justified reputation but we were several blocks away and immediately felt at home.
Our last campsite before hitting San
Francisco - Haypress campsite at the
end of Tennessee Valley Rd, just nine
kilometres as the seagull flies from
downtown.


At Haypress we met Erin (left) and her Mum Kendra who were proving you can have a nice time camping without bringing along a giant RV - recreational vehicle. They shared a tiny one person tent for the night
and gave us blueberries and came up with a great list of things for us
to see and do in San Francisco.

Comfy - like Old Slippers

And it’s been like that ever since. San Francisco is the first U.S. destination that has felt truly comfortable – perhaps it’s the liberal politics or the gay friendly community that reminds us of a bigger version of Ponsonby, Auckland.


It's a small world. As we cycled into San Francisco, 13-year-old Eliah
pulled up and said hello. We had first met him four weeks before while

 he was cycling down the Pacific Coast with his Dad, Bart. He's a
 plucky kid and it was a pleasure to see him again. He was off to do
 some soccer coaching to help raise money for a school trip to
 Europe.
 Or it could be that San Francisco – like Auckland – is built on the water and has a landmark bridge, in this case the often fog-shrouded but spectacular deco-style Golden Gate. And on top of that, there’s the sailing – a Kiwi boat is in the Louis Vuitton challenger series at the moment which leads up to the America’s Cup next month.  
Oracle came out to play, and to show off.

Emirates Team New Zealand
with Alcatraz in the background.

Luna Rossa may have struggled so far , but there's 
not too much looking wrong here.




















We are also feeling at home because we are meeting New Zealanders. In particular, one of Judy’s oldest friends arrived from Auckland on the same day as us.

Out On the Town

We have been wining and dining, and the other night New Zealanders outnumbered Americans as we celebrated the birthday of a Kiwi expat.
Ian - old friend


Donald -Chef  Extraordinaire

Roger - host and pavlova maker. John on the right.



As for the Tenderloin, we have felt no need to spend time there although I walked through it in broad daylight today. No-one fired a gun but it did look a bit grungy and I sensed it wouldn’t be a good place in which to linger late at night. No-one took the slightest notice of me, and I did not find anything that resembled a bullet.    
Dave Earl - bluesman on the streets of San Fran.
A house on the brink on the coast north
of San Francisco. Several others were
also being lost due to erosion.
Near Fort Bragg.
It's called Stillwater Cove, and while the bay below us was sheltered,
a fresh, cold wind had us snuggling into our fleece jackets.
Judy at Stillwater Cove.
The armoury at Fort Ross, a Russian settlement built in
California from 1812 on to provide food for the Russian
American fur trading company which was operating in
Alaska.
Window and wooden chest, Fort Ross.
Linda - birthday girl. John (left), Ian and Kerry.
Ian and Donald.







150-year-old St Teresa's Church, Bodega, California. It featured in the Alfred Hitchcock film "The Birds"
which scared the daylights out of most of us impressionable youngsters who saw it back in the 60s.



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