Time to get Snacktical!
Video by Nick, words by Jay.
Time to get Snacktical!
So we landed in SFO at around 11 last night, caught a ride to Bernal Heights, the neighborhood where we are staying the next few days. A friend of Nick’s from high school has generously offered us her (very comfortable) couch. Admittedly, she probably didn't realize we would also be taking over the whole dining room as a staging area, but I digress.
The time change worked wonders and Nick is up and about at a totally reasonable hour, so we snagged a few bites of the cake I brought on the plane, strapped on our day bags, and went to survey our new kingdom. Paris, Nick's friend, had told us about a lookout point, so we headed there first. This is where trouble began.
Although i previously lived on a subtropical island, I forgot about the year round growing season and radically different West coast plant life. So roughly every 10 feet, I was tugging on his arm, with a “look it's a …..” Succulents gone wild! I'm in plant heaven. We wended our way up the first hill of the day, when he spotted the other wonder of a climate without winter, and of the incredibly silly hillside driveways here… the well-preserved classic car.
From now on, we will be doing our best to out spy each other on this front. As we progressed up to the top of Bernal Heights Park to the lookout, i couldnt help but think what an amazing sledding hill it would make. Too bad! As we looked down upon the Bay, we discussed the next, most important step, looking for bicycles. Without them, we will have a hard time getting far, and it turns out, we are rather picky. Well, and also that most places here didn't stock the variety of used bikes to which were accustomed from home.
Descending from the vantage point, we discovered a slide park, so of course we had to race. And also of course, Nick balanced on the center divider and walked back up. It's on the video. The first shop we wandered into was tiny, the size of my garage. The next place didn't sell used bikes at all. Following that, there was the store with a handful of mountain bikes and hybrids. Then, we wandered somewhere with only used bikes, by mainly cruisers, and all too small. Fortunately, our surroundings are fantastic, with boldly colored houses and bright murals, and my echoing shous of “Look!!” By this time, we were running low on snacks, and so aquired lunch and sat down to regroup. Finishing lunch, we looked in on the local Bike Kitchen, which, to our dismay, was only open 6-9 PM.
Time for some Craigslist sleuthing! Nick was coming up empty, but I kept seeing pictures of different bike frames displayed in the same backyard, so I shot the lister, Salvation Cycles, an email with our specs. However, there was another shop in North Beach, so once again, we were on our way. We trekked through a scene that got continually more commercial, ending up at the United Nations plaza, where there were a variety of enormous interactive musical exhibits, echo tunnels, and dozens of chimes.
We meandered along to the cable car tracks. In retrospect, I wish we had ridden them. I was unprepared for the amount of hill we were about to face, and may have vociferated repeatedly in this vein about how, secretly, Nick was going to abandon me to the elevation, and wondering aloud whose idea it was to build on this topographical roller coaster, etc. Finally though, we reached the other side, buoyed by thoughts of impending bicycles and free ice cream. The bicycles still were not to be. The selection here was good, but nothing Goldilocks. We were done looking for the day, but a few blocks from Fisherman's Wharf. If you've been to San Francisco, and are keeping tally, you will realize what we had. We've walked 10 miles and still have to turn around.
So we hoofed it. A less steep route that took us into the heart of the Chinatown produce markets, through a tunnel and into Union Square. We were searching for an elusive Hagen Dasz, as someone told us it was their free ice cream day. The mall where it was located had spiral escalators, but no ice cream! The store was closed for renovation!
At this point, it was 6pm. We calculated we could be back and making dinner by 7.30, when I noticed a reply from Craigslist. “Can you be here by 7? I have lots of things that ought fit your criteria.” He called and listed many, at which point I explained how far we were, and that we were on foot. Google said we could be there in an hour. Would he wait just a few more minutes? We weren't expecting much, as we power walked, searching our sore feet, aching muscles for motivation. Another hill? Do we have to? But we descended it and found the turn off, and a storage unit full of refurbished bikes. Chris, the owner, was delighted with our plans and regaled us with stories of his own adventures as Nick and I each selected something to test ride. We took them for a lap and then switched. Nick raised his seat. We had done it! Day one objective, achieved! Shivering, as the temperature in the Dogpatch had dropped significantly and a wind had spring up, we handed over our money and bid farewell, focusing on impending dinner, hot tub, and no more walking! We did find, on the way home, the most fantastic garage full of Alfa's, Jaguars and other magic. But I tore Nick's eyes away, and day one was nearly through. So long, contingency plans! Tomorrow we can be tourists without an agenda.
For the record, I NEVER want to walk 18 miles in one day, ever again.