Early the next day, but not too early, I awoke in my cousins apartment. I had slept the night in their recliner, and it was one of the most comfortable sleeps I had ever had. My cousin Tiffany, who had stayed the night at a friend’s house, was coming in the door and carrying a box of donuts which she had bought for us. My family is, as I have said, the most amazing family in existence.
It took me some time to rise, being as comfortable as I was, and still a little tired from the previous days adventures. I also was, unfortunately, suffering from an allergy attack. I had forgotten to bring my antihistamines along on the journey and my cousins kept a cat. Eventually, we all got out of our beds, packed, showered and shared donuts and conversation, and when the time was right Nate, Tyler and I got once more into Tyler’s car to head for San Francisco and I, with reluctance, said goodbye to my cousins.
The drive down to San Francisco from Santa Rosa was mostly uneventful. We had one close call along the way, however. The 101 is a strange freeway, having all along its route certain strange features that are artifacts of its age. In northern California, this eccentricity manifests in driveways which open up straight onto the freeway. As we traveled along that morning, a wishing to turn in to one of these, turned too soon and an accident was barely avoided. Thankfully, Tyler’s breaks work. After some time driving, we entered a tunnel, emerging on the other side we were shocked with the sudden majestic view of Golden Gate bridge. Few manmade things can match the grandeur of that sight. I would have liked to have gotten a picture of it, though I know the camera would not have captured the scope of it, but sadly my camera was put away at the time. The bridge, really, was the only part of our journey into San Francisco that was really enjoyable.
We came into the city a little before noon and began immediately to search for a place to park. I found myself, at this point, impressed with the architecture of the city and began to think I might enjoy our time there. Failing to find any parking on our own, we turned to Maggie to guide us, and for the first time she betrayed us. She did, it is true, guide us to a parking garage, a strange little underground place, the entrance of which was tucked between two other buildings, but, we would learn later, this parking garage was in the Tenderloin district. Perhaps it was the asthma attack I had as soon as we arrived, perhaps it was my preconceived notions of San Francisco, or perhaps it was the fact that we started in the worst possible area of town, but from the very moment we stepped out of Tyler’s car I stopped enjoying myself. We walked for a while and found ourselves at City Hall. If any of us had known anything about San Francisco, this would have told us something, but we didn’t and so we continued to walk. We found a map of the city pretty easily and decided to try and make for Golden Gate park. It was a good distance away, but we’re all good walkers so we felt pretty sure we could make it. After an hour of walking, however, we realized that we had misread the map and had headed in the wrong direction. Turning around we headed back to where we had started and tried to find food along the way. All we found, however, were gentleman’s clubs, tea rooms and locked up restaurants. Finally, on a street corner close to where we had started, a man offered us drugs in broad daylight. This, for Nate at least, was the straw that broke the camels back. We walked the block left to get to the parking garage and left the city behind us. Someday, I would like to go back to San Francisco with someone who knows the city and then maybe I will enjoy it.
After leaving San Francisco, we went to San Jose to visit a friend of Tyler’s mom whom we all knew somewhat. She is one of those rare people who is a natural friend to everyone. She treats each person genuinely as if they were her best friend in the world. It is quite refreshing. She took us all out for beer and pizza at place called Mountain Mike’s and I learned how to play dominos for the first time. The pizza was some of the best I’ve ever had, and the beer was Fat Tire, which is always nice (Tyler, of course, did not have any beer).
Finally, at around six in the evening, we left San Jose and headed for home. It was decided we would get as far as we could and at two in the morning we returned to Orange County and to our lives. This road trip was one of the best experiences of my life, and I recommend that everyone should take at least one such trip.