This is the second part of my never ending blog I decided to write in memory of the amazing trip my wife Annie and I took with our good friend Morgan. If you missed the first part about us in Austin, click HERE.
Again I’m going make this more of a journal / diary post just to help me remember what the hell happened…after all, a lot went on.
Sat. Oct. 25th, 2008
Saying goodbye to Austin was not easy. Even though we were running late Aaron and Ashley managed to get us to the airport in time to catch out flight. We said our bittersweet goodbyes and caught the plane just in the nick of time. It was nice to say goodbye to Morgan knowing we would be seeing her in just a few hours in another city. I wish the same went for Aaron and Ashley as they were two cool people who I would have loved to hang with for many more days. Unfortunately we already had an agenda to adhere to.
Morgan took a different flight than we did and arrived an hour earlier to San Francisco. Our plane arrived with no problems in San Francisco and we took a shuttle to our hotel. I can’t say the driver was the greatest but she got us to the Cova Hotel unscathed.
The area we stayed in may have not been the nicest but the Cova Hotel itself was awesome. Our room was almost spotless and the bathroom was giant. One minor problem though…no air conditioning. Morgan informed me that a lot of places in San Francisco do not have air conditioning as the area is relatively cool year round. It made sense but at the same time our room was a tad on the warm side and I really could have gone for some AC. Luckily there were sliding doors we could open to cool down the room.
Our balcony overlooked the city and I took advantage of the scenery by taking as many pictures as possible. I messed with the shutter speed and other options on my SLR and really pulled off some neat shots that evening. After killing some time and grabbing some pizza around the corner Morgan’s friend Lincoln met up with us at the hotel. Lincoln would be our tour guide for the duration of the visit.
Saturday night was a busy night in San Francisco. As we walked around the neighborhood Lincoln gave us little bits of history as we walked past prostitutes, the homeless, and odd beings. Lincoln was very knowledgeable about the surroundings and walked us through the Castro District, a predominantly gay area well known in San Francisco. We took a pit stop at an acquaintance’s who was having one crazy party at his apartment but chose to take off mainly because we really did not know anyone, the Led Zeppelin video was very loud, and I was sweating way too much and needed some cool fresh air.
Lincoln told us about a lesbian party going on at a bar down the street and asked if that was something we would be interested in. I was ok with it and so was Annie and Morgan so we paid the cover charge at this interesting club and Morgan bought us all a round…of waters. Trust me, after sweating out gallons earlier, this was the best tasting water ever.
People watching is fun and the club we were at really kept us busy. There were all sorts of interesting people there. Guys, gals, guys dressed like gals, goths, good looking lesbians, and of course folk whacked out on illegal substances. These people were being themselves and it was nice to see all of them having a good time while listening to goth trance club music. I on the other hand really have no love for the techno goth music and really wanted to hear something more tolerable. Luckily it was getting late and we were all tired so we opted to go back to the hotel and call it a night.
Right before we arrived to the hotel we passed a group of adolescent locals who clearly knew how to talk to women by saying all the right things like “hey beautiful”, “mmhmm”, and “daymummmm”. Rightfully so, the women we were hang out with were beyond beautiful… Well one of them put forth his best pick up line: “You know you want to come home with me…confess.” We all laughed.
Sun. Oct. 26th, 2008
In the morning we took advantage of the free continental breakfast on the top floor of the hotel. The breakfast may have consisted of coffee, juice, bread, bagels, hard boiled eggs, cereal, and soup in a cup, but it was free. Free is good. The top floor of the hotel also hosted an outdoor balcony that was the perfect area to check out some of the city.
While waiting for one more to add to our party, Lincoln discussed areas we could visit. There was a lot to do and only a couple of days for us to see everything so we picked some areas we really wanted to see and decided to see where it would take us from there. Once Morgan’s friend Lizzy arrived we all left for a tour of the wharf, piers, and bay. By the time we arrived it was still a tad foggy over the bay buy we could see the tip of the Golden Gate Bridge as well as Alcatraz. Being it was a Sunday the area was slowing filling up with tourists like ourselves as well as regulars. The sky was clear and the sun provided just enough heat to make for a great first full day.
After walking around checking out various shops and such we made way to Pier 39 to check out the sea lions. That was without a doubt Annie’s highlight of the day. People told me about the sea lions before hand but seeing them in person was just a sight needed to be viewed in a first person perspective. It was like visiting Sea World but minus the barriers and trainers in their tight tight outfits bribing them to do tricks. It was a semi natural habitat and the only reason I say semi is because hundreds of sea lions were just laying all over man made piers.
Adding one more to the group was another pal of Morgan’s. Dan met up with us just as we said goodbye to the sea lions and ventured to an arcade that had giant claw machines. A little known fact about me…I love claw machines and I pride myself on having a pretty good run on winning little stuffed animals for people. I did not wish to waste $3.00 a try with these giant claw machines though, I just was not feeling it plus the prizes were a bit on the weak side.
We left the seemingly gentle giants of the bay and headed to the famous Fisherman’s Wharf area. With Halloween coming just around the corner tons of children with their families were trick or treating at all of the local shops. It was a special day so it was even more crowded than normal. I did not let the masses of people bother me at all. I just slowly surfed through the clueless masses and hit up the shops I wanted to check out.
One shop I would like to point out not only humored me by the name of the business but also just cracked me up from the number of children that entered the small quaint store to get their Halloween candy. The store was called “We Be Knives” and that is all they sold…knives. Lots of knifes. After looking at some automatic knifes (can you say switchblade?), I talked myself out of spending the money…for now at least.
In the midst of all the dressed up monsters and spidermans we decided to grab a bit to eat at a local outdoor diner. I can not even tell you how disappointed I was with their selection. I would have been better off at a Red Lobster and would have easily saved about $30 in doing so. I had a plate of fried seafood that barely satisfied me and poor Morgan hardly touched her flash fried grilled cheese. One thing that was good though was the lemonade. Next time we go there I am going to another section of the wharf for some real San Francisco cuisine.
Dan drove to the wharf so we took advantage of his vehicle and all six of us packed into it to head to another section of San Francisco I wanted to see; Chinatown. Chinatown is just like every other Chinese district in every major city I have visited. We did your typical tourist shuffle and looked in shops and tooled around for a bit. We headed out to the edge of Chinatown for a brief moment to check out a bookstore called City Lights that was next to amazing as well as roamed the adult area of the city. The adult area was full of strip clubs and peep shows for all to enjoy. We just checked a few out on the outside and continued on.
As we walked the street Lincoln provided some more info about the surrounding area. I really wish I could remember half of the stuff he told us. He spoke about novelists and the areas they hung around at and pointed out all of the bars they were thrown out of. I most appreciated the recently restored alley named after Jack Kerouac.
While we were headed back to the car some of the group needed a potty break so we all went into a small quaint tea house to try and use their facilities. I am so happy everyone’s bladders were full, otherwise we would have missed out on an important part of our trip.
Instead of an in and out bathroom break as I expected, we all took a seat at the tea house and were treated with various samples of hot tea. Our hostess talked about all of the teas before brewing small batches for all of us. Some were high in caffeine while others helped with anxiety. All of the teas were loose leaf. Some had blueberries in it and others had full rose buds. It was really one of the most unexpecting yet interesting things we did that day. It was funny too because I saw that some of the loose leaf tea was selling for $120 a pound and I told myself no way were we going to buy any. Upon leaving I picked up a quarter pound of the blueberry tea and also a tea brewing set. I was sold. We were also permitted to use their restrooms too.
Bags in hand we said goodbye to all of the nice folk at the tea house and returned to Dan’s vehicle who was kind enough to take us all back to the hotel so we could all rest up. While Annie, Morgan, and Lincoln napped, Dan, Lizzy, and I watched Scary Movie 4. Wow, what a piece of crap. ha.
For dinner we walked a couple of miles down the block, up some hills, and to the right arriving at an amazing Italian restaurant where we ate like kings and queens and had a bill to prove it. After dessert and a nice warm latte we headed back to the hotel. Dan needed to get back home as he was not as lucky as us and had to work in the morning, but we too had to get some rest as there was another full day for us coming up. We all passed out before 11:00pm.
Mon. Oct. 27th, 2008
For the first time in a long time I slept a sound 8 hours and so did everyone else in the hotel room. Annie, Lizzy, and I headed to the 8th floor to grab some free grub once again. Morgan met us up there wondering what the heck we were doing. I guess the three of us got engaged in some good conversation and lost track to time. Lizzy was on a time schedule as she needed to get going just after noon so we all got ready and headed out for another day long adventure.
Here is the part of the entire trip I will never forget. There is always one thing you witness while away from home that sticks to your memory. This will stick with me forever…
As we left the hotel and took a left on Ellis St. I saw something so rare, so random, I think I went into a little state of shock. I saw a hooker taking a shower on the sidewalk. You heard me correctly. To many it looked like a store owner was cleaning off the sidewalk with the hose and the hose accidentally was shot on to the hooker, but the group of us knew it was a hooker shower. It was awesome.
Moving on we took a bus to Haight Street, a strip of shops that spanned 18 blocks. We first explored the upper area of Haight first where I was most excited to visit the Kid Robot store and the Giant Robot store. Both stores cater to Asian/American pop culture. To me they are like fancy stores for geeks like myself. I almost spent a lot of money at Kid Robot but controlled myself and only dropped about $50 on some vinyl toys. Yes toys, I am still a kid at heart you know… I was even better at Giant Robot and just perused the merchandise and art gallary without spending a dime. I am regretting that decision now but there is always next time!
Lunch time is always a good time and we selected a Thai restaurant that was 1000 times better than the place we ate lunch the day before. We met up with Lilly, a mutual friend through a website you will never hear me mention, at the shop on the corner of Haight and Cole. While meeting Lilly we had to say goodbye to Lizzy as she needed to head out for a meeting the next day. While we said our goodbyes and hellos I scarfed down a tofu delicious meal. The food was satisfying but not as awesome as the Thai iced tea (a blend of black tea and coconut milk). If there is ever an iced tea you should try, Thai tea is where it is at!
After paying our tab we continued checking out the shops along the strip. While doing so I made sure I explored every alley of the strip looking for graffiti and other random wall art. The coolest alley of graffiti was found on the wall of the ever famous Amoeba record store.
I talked about Waterloo in my last post and enjoyed it but Amoeba put them to shame. The store was built in an old bowling alley and was wall to wall music. I lost myself in the punk LP section for a while. I can’t say the girls were too thrilled but I know Lincoln and I were. I did not buy anything either at this shop but could have easily gone crazy buying everything in site.
Lilly only was able to hang for an hour or so and had to get going. After we said farewell we hiked down to the lower Haight to check out the area. It was not nearly as exciting but still was fun to check out.
Our tour guide Lincoln needed to get back home as he had an early class in the morning so we parted ways with him. I really appreciated him taking the time to show us around in a city he has been living in for a while now. He really helped make the trip more enjoyable not only by showing us around but also humoring us through out the couple of days. I have the feeling it will not be the last time I hear from him.
Growing tired and down to three we took a taxi to the hotel to rest up. There was so much more that I wanted to do but I knew time was not on our side so we chose to just take it easy and enjoy our time together. Morgan found an awesome vegetarian restaurant that was just down the street we were staying from. I forget the name of the place but it was awesome. We ordered a lot of grub and had a great time stuffing our faces.
After dinner we stopped at a donut shop to grab some sweets for the morning and made way back to the hotel. We spent the rest of the night just hanging out and talking about the crazy week we all took part in. That night was a bummer of an evening because I knew the next day Annie and I would be flying back to our regular life, but at the same time the perfect way to end our trip. I consider myself lucky to have a great wife who loves to travel with me and also privileged to have a friend like Morgan.
Tue. Oct. 28th, 2008
Saying goodbye to San Francisco would have been easy for us except for the fact we had to part from Morgan. We always have such a good time hanging out with her. The trip we took really would have been nothing without her being there with us. Morgan, you rock and we love you.
Almost dying three times by our crazy shuttle driver we arrived to the SFO airport. I seriously was freaked out during the ride from our hotel to the airport as the driver was going 80mph and there were no seatbelts. He weaved in and out of traffic and was just on the verge of being insane. I had nothing nice to say to him as he dropped us off except for “psycho” and we went in the airport as he yelled in his native tounge…
This is the part of the story where I tell you we caught our flight and made it home with no problems at all. Wrong. Let’s just say thanks to miscommunication and mechanical problems on our airplane, our trip was extended by one day.
So that’s it. A huger mess of rambling for you all to enjoy…maybe? Ha. It was a good trip for sure and I can not wait for our next one. Thanks for reading!
Just in case you are curious…more photos: