18th – 20th Sept
Samuel P Taylor SP to San Fransisco 47kms
What a magnificent night. The soothing sounds of the brook rocking us to sleep, the beautiful big trees and no cars. The other team were up and keen to head off, they had a lot to do once they got into the city. We on the other hand, had arranged to meet our Warmshowers host at 5pm, so there was no rush. It was sad to wave the others off, it had been really great sharing the campsites with them for the past few nights. Janet was ending her tour in San Francisco, but James is carrying on south, then doing the southern tier eastward. I hope we meet again.
So we started packing up, and as we collected our clothes and things that had been out drying, we spotted some evidence the critters had been in camp. Dirty little footprints all over our clean washing. Aaarrgh, if it’s not stealing our food, it’s messing up our washing. Anyway, we finally got moving, and we’re super happy that old mate Will, the local we met at Bodega Dunes, had told us about the trail, and how it actually goes further about 2 miles. By the time we emerged back onto Sir Frances Drake Highway, at Lagunitas, we had a good shoulder, and the traffic wasn’t bad. Thank goodness.
The rest of our day was pretty good, after we stopped in San Geronimo for an early lunch, we hit suburbia. From here, it was just one after another, back streets and Davo and Madame Google had the usual arguments, and we stopped a few times to have “discussions”, and after one point, we spotted another cycle tourist. We realised we were following him, so continued to do that. He was using google maps, and zipping along in the traffic. Will was keeping up with him, and chatting as well, but I was struggling to keep up. I was also starting to get stressed about the busy suburban traffic. Finally, Will pulled up, needing a toilet break, and I was more than happy to take a rest. The other guy carried on.
Where we stopped, was a park with public toilets, and Redwoods. Wow. In suburban streets, they have saved some. As we were working out our route, we spotted a few little deer just hiking across some local yard, eating as they went. Amazing.
At the next fork in the road, Madame said right, Davo left, we went right. Up… a…. fucking…. big hill! Why? Will was not a happy man! “Jenny, why am I riding up this stupid big hill?” “For the view, Will.” I don’t know, but here we were again in first gear, sweating our butts off, grinding up a shitty hill. But, it really was the last big one. We zipped down, found the Mill Valley Sausalito bike path, and just enjoyed riding along out of the traffic. Eventually we had to get back onto the road, but there was a bike lane, and lots of other bikes around. This is a very touristy part of town, as you look across Richardson Bay to Alcatraz and the City centre. Around Sausalito, we encountered a billion tourists on hire bikes, and they were a bit troublesome. No road sense, or knowledge of bike etiquette. But somehow, we found our way to The Golden Gate Bridge. A must do for all who arrive by bicycle. “Apparently!”
Sausalito looks pretty, and as good views of the city. When the fog is not in. We were feeling a bit excited about now, this is a big deal for us.
Well, let me tell you something. Don’t feel,like you have missed out on anything. Yes, it is a spectacular bridge. A magnificent feat of engineering. An iconic structure from many great movies. Riding across it, I kept waiting for Spider-Man, or a large explosion, or something from the movies. There are pedestrian and cycle paths away from the traffic, but after the summer, they close one side for painting and repair, so all walkers and cyclists are on the same side. There are millions of us. From everywhere. Locals and tourists, all wanting “The” photo, and hoping for the perfect picture. The reality is, it only gets about 12 clear days a year, is more often than not covered in “Karl” the fog, is super windy and cold, and packed with people. It was amazing, it was freezing, it was gale force winds, it was random people cycling on tandems, zipping around pedestrians, taking selfies, and basically, we were lucky to make it over to the city without incident. Oh my god, it was totally crazy. I’m not doing that again.
As you can see, we were just like everyone else and got our glory shots. But my face says it all. Lucky to survive. Ha ha ha.
Finding our way to our meetup Point was not too difficult, and a good choice by Cyndi. Richmond Republic Draught House is a small place in a mainly Asian looking neighbourhood, and we were happy to smash down a couple of beers and some chicken wings while we waited for Cyndi. She spotted us right away, we must of stuck out like sore thumbs. After a couple more drinks and a chat, she guided us to her lovely home, not too far away, and got us settled in. She is a very experienced host, cyclist and traveller, and is a wealth of information. So here we are, in San Francisco. We’ve been going for 67 days and ridden 2,916kms. Unbelievable! It is hard to believe we are where we are. Maybe it will sink in tomorrow.
We bloody made it! Nothing works better than a cold beer and some chicken wings to ease the stress. Lucky Cyndi came and took us home, or we’d probably still be there.
19th Sept – I woke up exhausted and foggy. That is me, not the weather. It was an absolutely stunning day outside. We stumbled out of bed, and upstairs to sit and enjoy coffee, in the sitting room, with Cyndi and two,of her cats. It was super relaxing. Cyndi has been hosting cyclists for years, and has so much useful information, it was hard to take it all in. She is a fantastic lady, and we spent way too long just chatting and relaxing. We did need to get some jobs done, so we put on washing, did some blogging (well for me just writing up my experiences), and then decided we really should take a look at the city.
Google maps actually does a great job of plotting a route using public transport, in cities, so we used it to catch a bus into town. It was easy, and we got to check out some of the beautiful Victorian architecture San Francisco is known for. In town, we decided to do a bit of clothes shopping, for the replacement of dead items. We went to Icebreaker which has fantastic Merino gear, then to North Face, for bright gear. We even tried our first street hotdog. It was okay. We enjoyed walking around town, but it was busy, so we found our way to Union Square (I don’t really know what it is all about), and took a seat to have some refreshments and people watch. It was interesting, as a couple of people actually came into the cafe area to beg. Well, that was unexpected.
Some more walking, and we spotted some gorgeous old retro trams, and found our bus home. What a crazy ride this was. The bus driver from hell, or I hope it was just his last shift on a bad day at work. First he wouldn’t open the front door for anyone, so we had to get in the back, squeeze through people to get to the front for payment, and then back again to sit. Next, he wouldn’t move off as he’d made it so some people had to stand in the doorway. They had to squeeze up to be out of the doorway. Okay! He went to move off, and aggressively tooted his horn several times. None of us could see at what, but as we raced along, (the roads are terrible, full,of pot holes and tram tracks) smashing around like sardines, he continued to toot. What at, mate? Next, at another stop, again he wouldn’t open the front door. This time, the impending passenger, aggressively banged on the window, shouting at the driver, who shouted back. Uh oh, what is gonna happen here? Said passenger stormed to the back door, stomped to the front, and aggressively slammed his hand on the drivers window. This really set the driver off. Ranting and ordering the passenger to “Never put your hand on the window, Never again!” Over and over, even after the passenger had removed it. We both found it quite amusing, and stifled our laughter as best we could. Finally we were able to get off the crazy bus and laugh out loud. The entire ride, Will was squashed up against some filthy dirty, man, off his chops on Marijuana! The hole bus stunk of it. Probably, the driver could have used some, and calmed the hell down. Too funny.
The trams were like giant Kombi Vans. Very cool indeed. Some very nice enough old buildings too. A pretty City, and it is super bike friendly.
20th Sept – Another chilled morning, chatting with Cyndi, who was heading off to work, and getting more good information. After Cyndi left, we relaxed some more, and then decided to head into town again, to see a bit more. This time we caught an Uber. They have a few different options here, to make it cheaper. Express Pool, where you share your ride, but might have to walk up to three blocks to catch it, or after you get dropped off. This is the cheapest. Then there is The Pool, where you just share a ride with people on a similar route. This way you get picked up where you are, and dropped at your destination. We did this one, and it was good, because we got driven around to different areas we might not have seen.
On advice from locals, we went to Fisherman’s Wharf, which was a bustling mass of foreign tourists, and to be honest, a nightmare. Expensive, bad food, nowhere to get a good beer, and lots of shops selling shit no one needs, but people buy to show they’ve been here. We did get to see the Sea Lions, on their own docks, which are always fun. It was a fantastic weather day, and we got to see the bridge on a clear day, and Alcatraz looking awesome. Finally, we’d seen enough, and walked enough, and Uber Pooled it home. We were buggered again. So much stimulation.
The main sights, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge on a clear day, Sea Lions, and a hairy Aussie bloke.
People, people, people. Too many for me. Tomorrow we start another part of our American Adventure. It is a new experience for us, and should be a lot of scary fun. Hang about and let’s see what happens next.