Not driving in San Francisco

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For the last two days of our trip we were happy to dispense with the car. On the first morning we had a couple of things to do downtown so took the Muni from outside the motel, it is a very good, cheap way of getting around town. The city was still cool and grey. I did the obligatory pilgrimage to City Lights Books and found Robert Moor’s ‘On Trails’ which had been on my list since I read a review a few weeks ago.

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The following day we walked through Golden Gate Park to the Botanic Gardens. There were the usual joggers, cyclists and a few people doing Tai Chi. I saw a Stellar’s Jay but didn’t manage to whip the camera out in time. At the gardens we enjoyed a couple of hours there. Sunset Piano had created a sculpture from three pianos, one of which can be played and it is installed at the entrance. There are ten pianos placed around the garden and recitals take place at various times over the next couple of weeks. When there is not formal concert, anyone is welcome to come and play. We heard several people playing well and one excruciating rendition of the Moonlight Sonata. Afterwards we visited two local bookshops: one sold new and used, James found something there. At the Great Overland Book Company I found a couple of books and we had a chat with the proprietor who, like many of the people we have met along the way, wanted to talk about Brexit. In the afternoon I did some beachcombing as the fog had gone and we had blues sky with only a little light cloud over the ocean. I took some bird photographs including these long-billed dowitzers. There are numerous small pieces of plastic waste on the sand but no sea glass. I did find some intact sand dollars.

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A local guy told me that he had just seen a young seal and that the sea just off the beach was a rich fishing ground. He also said that he had seen whales from the shore. Gulls were eating crabs on the shore and the dowitzers were probing the wet sand.  I had hoped to get some sunset shots that evening but the fog returned a couple of hours before sunset and the strong wind was blowing sand around. The total miles walked  that day was eleven. Yesterday it was time to fly back home.  At San Francisco airport the police patrol the terminals on Segways. I noticed on Facebook that the London to Sydney Overland trip we were hoping to do in 2018 is ceasing after 2017 so 2018 might have to be the Big Lap in Australia. On the plane I watched as we crossed the Sierra Nevada, desert, the Rockies and sunset over Canada. The sun rose soon afterwards over the mountains, snow and ice of southern Greenland. As we started to descend over Ireland, I found it hard to adjust to seeing small green fields again but glad to be back home among them again for a while.

 

The end of the road

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We finally made it this afternoon to the Western Terminus Marker at the end of the Lincoln Highway in Lincoln Park, San Francisco. Although we only drove around 200 miles, this involved a descent from over 7,000ft at the Donner Summit to sea level and a reduction in temperature from the 99 degrees we were experiencing in Reno and North Tahoe, to 66 degrees, cloud and wind, here on Ocean Beach. We picked up the Lincoln Highway again in Truckee where it runs on US 40, another transcontinental road. We stopped at the Donner Memorial State Park and looked at the museum. I read the account of their journey several years ago and it was interesting to have covered their route across the Great Salt Lake Desert and into the Sierra. The history of the Washoe Indians was also included in the museum display. We drove along the lakeside which was very busy with people fishing and enjoying water sports and then up the winding road to the summit of the pass. Just short of it I was photographing the lake below when five women from San Francisco asked me to take some group photographs with their phones. One then asked us if we wanted her to take one of us and amazed that I had found someone who could operate my camera, agreed. Afterwards we carried on downwards. The names of some of the towns we passed later gave clues to where their emigrants came from: Dutch Flats, Weimar & Heather Glen. Around Sacramento there were endless roadworks and traffic jams at the various major route intersections. In the Central Valley we drove alongside fruit trees. I have been hearing that it has been wet back home so at least my fruit and vegetables should have survived my absence.

Lincoln Highway Bay Bridge 3 - 1Eventually we were in the Bay Area and then over the Bay Bridge into town, to Lincoln Park and then to our motel. I did dip my toes in the Pacific this evening after dinner but decided to delay sunset photography until tomorrow. There were some hardy souls surfing. This part of town used to be called Fog City but was renamed as Sunset. The San Francisco fog phenomenon has the same origins as that along the east coast of Scotland and England: cold air from the sea meeting warmer air on land and condensing. We are used to this in Edinburgh where it is known as the ‘haar’: a name imported from the other side of the north sea. For the next two days we are looking forward to no driving. Our feet and the trams that rumble past the motel will get us to where we want to be.