Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Notes from San Francisco: A Strange Place Indeed

Driving into San Francisco I got to see the beautiful hills of the Napa vineyards. Back in the days of John Steinbach these hills were worked by abused illegal immigrants who (many of which were children). Thanks to modern social advances in the state of California the hills are now worked by illegal immigrants (many of which are children) who are abused a little less. Hooray!!!

As I drove in I noticed thousands upon thousands of cars driving out. It was approximately 4:30pm which I’m told means that the many thousands of people who go to work at 7:00am in the Bay but can’t afford to live there are supposed to drive in bumper to bumper traffic (at about 30 mph) for 50 or so miles.

I then drove into Berkeley. When I first reached Berkley I was on a very low elevation area that seemed to be very prone to flooding. A lot of Hispanic people, some black people, and a few white people were walking around in this area. The buildings there had bars on the windows. The bars looked like this:

As I drove uphill I began seeing lots of white and Asian people. The two groups had distinctive modes of dress. The Asians wore lots of jeans, sweatshirts, and other clothes you might find at the gap. The whites were separated by gender. The males wore really tight jeans, kind of like cowboys except their jeans were dark. The women wore colorful tights and tops that they bought at anthropologie. I suspect that they would tell you they bought these tops (that definitely came from anthropologie) at the thrift store, but I did not ask any of them so I cannot confirm this suspicion. Some of the white people had bikes. These bikes were very old and lacked the advantages that modern bicycle technology has to offer. Many of them also carried apple computers. Apple a large corporate entity, run by a slave driving maniac, that sells hi-tech items to yuppies so as to increase shareholder profits. Yet apple is cool because it rejects the pleasures of the first-world. I do not exactly understand this, but hope to figure it out soon. . .

Next I drove to San Francisco. I had to pay $4 to cross a bridge. Apparently this is a very special bridge, but I’m not sure why. I did not like paying $4 and would have turned around and gone another way, but I think this would have made the people behind me mad. Driver’s in San Francisco are generally fairly angry people. They like to honk their horns a lot (often for no clear reason). Any time they have to wait longer than they would like they start honking their horns.

This is the place where you pay $4 to go over a bridge.

When you get into the city the roads are very strange. There are these light rail busses that use the same streets as cars. Sometimes you are allowed to ride in a lane with rail tracks, sometimes you are not allowed to do this. I just did whatever the car in front of me did. If there was no car in front of me or if that car had a license plate that read “Minnesota” I quickly turned onto a street that did not have these rails.

Parking in San Francisco is $38 per day. This is more expensive than Mariposa, CA where parking is $0 per day. There are lots of homeless people in San Francisco, when it rains they sleep in their sleeping bags under various shop signs. I would have taken a picture to show you, but I did not know if that would violate local custom.

I stayed in the USA Hostel. My roomate’s name was Venrik,, or Penrik, or Dinrik. I’m not exactly sure, but it definitely ended with an irk. He had been traveling all over America. He was very impressed by Las Vegas. He had intended to visit the Grand Canyon while he was there but he didn’t because “the party and the women that take off their clothes were too good to leave”. I walked down to the Mission District in search of my own party, but I discovered that San Francisco, CA is like Helena, MT in that neither have much of a Monday night party scene. I was going to walk back, but on my way I saw a young woman raise her hand at which point a taxi driver pulled right up to here and took her away. I thought to myself “I can do that too. I saw it from Sex and the City.” And so I did. I did not know if I was supposed to tip the taxi driver or how much I should tip him so I just told him to give me a $10 back as change from my $20 on a $7.34 taxi bill. Was that appropriate?

When I got back I was hungry and noticed a Thai place. So I walked over to get some food. I decided to get sweet and sour duck, because I had never had duck before. It was ok, but not my favorite.

The next morning I walked over to Fisherman’s Wharf. I heard it was touristy, but you get to see the sea lions. Being a tourist myself I didn’t mind the thought of being around my own kind, and I was all up for see lions. Unfortunately I saw neither tourists nor sea lions. I did see some people fishing off the dock and some park employees doing some ship restoration.

Fisherman's Wharf

On the way to and from Fisherman’s Wharf I saw China Town and Little Italy. This was excellent because I had never scene a China Town or a Little Italy before. China Town is the most crowded place on earth. It smells like fish. There are lots of outdoor markets there and as you might guess fish is a primary item. All the people speak a langauge that is not English. I suspect it might be Chinese, but I cannot confirm this because I cannot recognize any languages other than English and Pig Latin. Little Italy has many places to eat that cost more money than I was willing to pay. It also has little flags of Italy on the lamp posts. It seems that China Town may be invading Little Italy, because I saw quite a few stores with Chinese writing within Little Italy.

This is what China Town looks like

After this I decided to drive down the famous Lombard Drive. I was going to pull a James Bond and whiz down really fast, but I noticed a 25mph speed limit sign. I figured 2 tickets was enough for one trip and decided to coast down at a slower speed. After Lombard Drive I drove out of San Francisco at approximately 4:30pm and became one of the cars I had seen on my way in. I honked my horn one time when I wished we were going faster, this helped me fit in with the group and get the full San Francisco experience.


  1. I'm going to assume I owe anthropology degree for the fabulous descriptions of different races/cultures in San Fran! Where is the picture of the sea lions? When did you get the 2nd speeding ticket? I had no idea you are fluent in Pig Latin! Are you going to Vegas to see the party and the pretty ladies take their clothes off?

  2. This probably wasn't clear due to the fact that I do write these completely off the cuff and do not edit whatsoever. There were no Sea Lions in San Francisco. There were sea lions in Oregon on the way to the redwoods. That is where speeding ticket number 2 occured. Its in a post titled The Columbia River Gorge and the Oregon Coast.

  3. Maybe you should write for Letterman or Leno! Of course, you would need a hard working grammar editor. Sadly your slave people at Apple, Microsoft,IBM et al are yet to produce artificial intelligence capable of converting your english to that of the Queen. Perhaps that is the Holy Grail of Mr. Gates now that he has accomplished membership at the Augusta National. Time will tell. In the interim please be advised that the 1/28 blog had me (and your Mom and Matt and LuBet and numerous others including Schooner in St Martin,nice gig,) enthralled in stitches!

  4. you should definitely tip a cab driver unless they try to rip you off, which they will do if they can tell that you are drunk. Your tip amount was pretty standard.

    good job