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Saturday 12 Oct 2013
San Francisco, USA

We cycled across the Golden Gate Bridge!

Verity and I started our last full day together with a delicious breakfast in a traditional diner, sitting up at the counter watching the chefs produce and incredible amount of food at lightning speed.  I had a corned beef hash that could have served four people and a sherbet orange shake that froze my head for an hour.  Delicious…

We started walking up Powell Street and admiring the beautifully restored buildings around Union Square.  San Francisco has some real architectural gems and it was great to just walk around enjoying the sights.  We followed Powell Street all the way to the Embarcadero, almost 2 miles, without realising how far it was.  This included climbing some ridiculously steep hills!  From there, we hired bikes from Blazing Saddles and cycled past Fisherman’s Wharf, the Marina, Crissy Park and the waterfront.  On the beach, we stopped to watch a group of 20 or so kite surfers setting off into the bay.  Due to the Shutdown, all toilet facilities between the Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge were closed – something it would have been useful to know in advance – so by the time we reached Fort Point, below the bridge it was getting a bit urgent.  I have never cycled up a hill so fast in my life!

Once we had raided the Visitor Centre for fridge magnets, we set off across the Golden Gate Bridge in brilliant sunshine.  The orange towers stood out boldly against the blue sky without a hint of the famous San Francisco fog.  The Bridge is 2.4km long but it took us at least an hour to get across as we stopped for so many pictures, but we loved every minute of it.  Bikes and pedestrians are thankfully kept completely separate from the five lanes of traffic whizzing past.  On the far side, we had to carry our bikes down under the underpass to reach the far side of the bridge, where we picked up a brilliant downhill pathway that let us freewheel almost all the way to Sausalito, spiralling under the bridge and down along the waterfront.  There was just one last hill to cycle up before we came over the crest and into the town itself.  Our bike rental included a ferry ticket back from Sausalito, so we had a look around the town and a pizza dinner, before heading back to fetch our bikes for the 6.35pm ferry.  As luck would have it, we were just in time to dash down the jetty for the 6.05pm ferry, which could not have worked out better if we’d planned it.  We sailed out around the headland at the perfect time to see the sun drop behind the Golden Gate Bridge, demonstrating the true meaning of the Bridge’s name – it is the inlet which is known as the Golden Gate, not the colour of the bridge – and were treated to a perfect silhouette of Alcatraz as we passed behind the Rock.  As we reached the Ferry building, we could see the whole city begin to light up.  We then had to cycle all the way back along the Embarcadero to Hyde Street to drop the bikes off, exhausted, but very happy.

We’d planned to catch a taxi back over to Powell, but somehow just kept walking and ended up in Chinatown with the fog just beginning to lap around the top of the Trans Am building.  The views down the steep streets were beautiful, right out to the Bay Bridge, which is lit up at night, making it one of the world’s biggest light installations.  We finally reached our hotel at 10.30pm, having taken over two hours to walk home.  Really exhausted, but what a great day.

Throughout our road trip, Verity had been awaiting the arrival of her friend’s first baby, little CJ, and we’d been taking photos of Taz along our journey so she could make them into a book for him – this is what your teddy was doing while we were waiting for you to arrive.  Last night we got the news that labour had started and CJ was born this morning, just in time for Verity to go home and cuddle the new arrival.

We found a great little sushi bar for brunch.  Instead of the usual sushi conveyor belt, this one had a chain of little wooden boats floating around the central kitchen island in their own canal.  We also totted up some of our accounts – we’ve spent less than $300 on fuel to drive 2700 miles.  That is barely half of what we’d have paid in the UK.  If only food and accommodation had been as cheap, but sadly that’s an area of my budget that has taken a battering here, and it will only increase once Verity leaves.

We picked the car up and drove across the city for our last time together, stopping at Coit Tower again.  While we queued for the parking, we saw some funny shapes in the sky.  It was a sky-writing plane spelling out an advert for Breitling in smoke trails.  Very cool.

I dropped Verity off at the airport and said goodbye.  It has been our first trip together – we were never allowed to take annual leave at the same time while we worked at the same company, so it has taken us eight years to manage it – but it has been a great holiday.  I suspect this may not be our last road trip together.  Thank you so much for being such a great road trip buddy, mate! Can’t wait to see how our photos turned out…

I drove out of the airport on my own, for the first time in three weeks, and headed back up to Oakland to meet up with Mike, Bill and Donna’s son.  We had dinner at a Thai restaurant near his place and filled in the gaps of the last 25 years.  Then I carried on back to Livermore and collapsed in a head on the sofa while Bill fed me more glasses of wine.  I am noticing a theme here, but I'm definitely not complaining...


New car, new mileage: 90

Running total: 2790

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Zoe's Big World Adventure Part II - #1 America

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    San Francisco


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    San Francisco


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    San Francisco