Yes. I am alive. So very sunburned and alive, in this enchanted land nestled intimately between the ocean and a bay and the other side of a bay. I am snug here in the heart of Mission, living at the House of Many Doors with my trusty Frankenbike at my side. Together we will get to the bottom of this fair city, discover its history and nuance, and learn Great and Amazing Things that we will share with you.
From satellite images San Francisco appears relatively flat. I come to you bearing witness that this is not the truth. Indeed, today while struggling up the beautiful wooded hills of Presidio the giant eucalyptus trees filled my strained lungs with a soothing perfume.
Yes. We have eucalyptus trees. And koalas, as I can safely assume. Also, I have learned that fruit grows on trees, and that these trees grow in San Francisco. There are fat and healthy lemons and oranges and grapefruits that beckon for me to hop the fence into the neighbor’s backyard and eat my way into a citrusy coma.
There are mysteries in this town, such as a bridge that disappears into the side of an island only to emerge from the other side of the island. This is a mystery.
Let me tell you a story.
I arrived in San Francisco at one o’clock Friday afternoon. By four o’clock my friends had already bought me a burrito from a truck and built me a single-speed bike out of spare parts. Thusly armed with my Frankenbike, they pushed me out the door to go toe-to-toe with San Francisco rush hour. Despite a few wrong turns and some freaky-crazy intersections between here and SoMA, I found my way to the Adaptive Path office and joined them for happy hour, Battledecks, and a brief tour of their studio. For how much I love Post-It notes, whiteboards and Sharpies, I may have just found my heaven.
After returning to the Mission I dashed out the door with my friends to catch a burlesque show, as this would seem the only proper introduction to San Francisco culture. Zooming down city streets with a pack of friends on bicycles made me feel like I was ten years old again, on my way to blow the week’s allowance on a sugar rush at the Minnetonka Mills gas station. This time, however, the goal was a bar in Mission, serving up IPAs that taste like grapefruit.
The next morning we took a surf trip down to Pacifica. I got my first taste of surfing a few years ago, during a scorching-hot fall weekend at the Oregon Coast. The water was still blindingly cold despite the air temperature, so I had some idea what those guys were paddling out in. While I am certain my future in San Francisco will entail taming the mighty surf, I decided that surfing through traffic on a bicycle was harrowing enough, and I didn’t want to push my luck by tackling the ocean. Yet.
Sunday the city of San Francisco threw a carnival in my honor, welcoming me to the neighborhood. This celebration featured an awesome parade that went right by my house and was jam-packed with thongs.
Yesterday I set out on foot, exploring Mission, Dolores Park, Castro, Buena Vista Park, Haight, Alamo Square and Market. I put some serious miles on my Converse All-Stars, which to this day remain a staple of hipster culture. I feel I have a lot more cred than a lot of the posers here, though, cuz these All-Stars I got way back in ’97. Hear that? These kicks are Pre-Dot Com Boom, suckas.
Today I took in an epic bike ride to the Golden Gate Bridge, which was named after the Golden Gate, which was named long before there was a bridge. This I learned from the San Francisco Maritime Museum, which was amazing and had awesome things like copper plates that were more than a hundred years old from which nautical maps were printed. Yes, the San Francisco Maritime Museum is a wonderful little museum, and it broke my heart that I was the only person there. I gave them a donation, but it probably wouldn’t hurt if you were willing to give them a reach-around as well.
So yes. I blasted through SoMA past Adaptive Path and IDEO and a Ferrari, through Fisherman’s Place-To-Get-Lousy-T-Shirts and Impossible-To-Spell-Something-About-Chocolate Square, almost fell off my bike laughing at a pack of tourists on Segways, took in Alcatraz, talked shop with some windsurfers and kiteboarders at Crissy Field, and before I knew it I was freezing in the shadow of the Bridge.
Now, I tend to observe a rule, perhaps unconsciously adopted from Goonies, that one should never go out the same way that he came in. Thus I went up and over Presidio, descended into Golden Gate Park, went out via the Panhandle, and did the Wiggle back into Mission. All told it was probably a 19-mile bike ride, which is not too shabby considering that graduate school has destroyed any trace of my athletic physique.
Tonight my legs feel like rubber, and tomorrow they will no doubt burn like crazy. However, I know that in those Fires of Tomorrow will be forged the Iron Legs of Thursday, and such are the legs that will carry me forward into the summer.