"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

6/24/08: Escape From San Francisco

Got up rather early and sent out MORE Couchsurfing requests to see if I could indeed extend my time in SF, got a shower, packed, and hit the streets. I decided to go check out the Castro District and Haight/ Ashbury: two of the things I missed on out last trip in '03.

The Castro was pretty neat; VERY gay! Haight- Ashbury: a disappointment. Commercial. I managed to chat up a panhandler while I was there, for about an hour, then took some pics of the houses of the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin.

From there it was pretty obvious from my repeated checking of emails that I was NOT going to find a Couchsurf... in San Francisco! How lame. I decided to start walking toward the Golden Gate Bridge and sniff out bus routes. When I got to Golden Gate Park, I stopped in to the Visitors Center to get some info, then continued thru the park to Fulton, then intended to catch a bus at Park- Presidio to get to the bridge and hoof across.

It was about then that I discovered I no longer had my wallet! I began to think all sorts of evil thoughts and realized that I must've left it at that Visitor Center, so I turned around and double timed it to the best of my ability with Mr. Hefty on my back, and got back there 2 miles later to find my ugly wallet safe and sound.

This was about the time I really began to seriously consider ending this little adventure. I believe, no, I KNOW, that if that wallet hadn't been found, that would have been it. San Francisco, rather than being enjoyable turned out to be a drain, and completely took me out of my element. I dislike cities, with the exception of Denver, intensely. People refuse to look you in the eye! Ugh!

I started back toward the bridge with my wallet safely tucked in my pocket, and this time went down Balboa St. thru what I believe were the Russian and Korean parts of San Fran. I do like that aspect of the city; distinct neighborhoods.

Eventually I re- found Park Presidio and caught my bus, feeling exhausted. Thankfully it took me directly to the Golden Gate Bridge, and I prepared to get across.

Walking the bridge should have been more enjoyable- I remember thinking this, although it was nice. I took a ton of pictures and felt a sense of accomplishment as I crossed into Northern California. It's just under a mile across, and must have taken me a good hour with all the stops for pics. When I got across, I stopped into the same Vista Point Laina and I had visited in 2003, and just hung out-- half hoping I'd find inspiration or a ride... or both!

Eventually it became time to find a place to sleep and as I was hunting around I spotted a woods on the other side of the 101; the beginning of what I learned was the Marin Headlands. I hiked over there and discovered something called the California Coast Trail; something I'd never heard of. I also found a place to throw down the pad & sleeping bag with a full view of the SF skyline as the sun went down. I plopped down, the wind began to howl so I bundled up, ate my pathetic excuse for a supper and chatted with Laina about what I should do. Turns out, finding that trail was just what I needed. Plus, I asked myself if I would turn down the opportunity to meet Florian and his family if I had known they were going to come along. I answered of course not! And it made me remember that there were more experiences lying ahead if I pushed on. Sometimes my mind is the hardest battle to fight, and this particular lesson would pay dividends down the road.

***Not only in the short term, but THIS specific decision to persevere and continue on would reverberate and serve as a personal reminder of why I should push forward for years to come. In fact, it still does to this day. As you read on and the events further down this road continue to play out, and do they ever,  periodically imagine me ending this trip here. I did! There's one event in particular that, had I quit, never happens and completely changes the scope of the following summer in general and eliminates Andre in particular: one of the most profound experiences of any trip I've ever taken. Anywhere.  ***

I bedded down in another spot a bit more shielded from the wind and got to bed pretty late.