Approaching San Francisco by car from Lake Tahoe presents a spectacular entrance into this Golden Gate city of hills. Leaving the arid flatness of the California Central Valley along Interstate 80, Downtown San Francisco gradually emerges into a soupy fog of tortuous hills surrounded by the murky waters of a wide bay. Traffic snarls to a crawl as we cross the Bay Bridge. I imagine then that the end of the earth lies ahead at the end of our 5,000+ mile journey west zigzagging across the American landmass.
Veering South along State Road 101 toward our Daly City Motel, the sea fog thickens. Tightly packed villa houses distract me on both sides as cars defy gravity by parking vertically in steeply downward positions toward the street. My obscured vision in the distance fools my mind then into imagining an expanse of water at the end of every hill. Haphazardly dodging electric tram lines in the driving lanes of major avenues, I suddenly remember that such unusual driving skills are critical for avoiding deadly S.F. collisions.
Arriving at our motel, I relish the absence of motion and elevation in that moment. Expecting summer now, a cold wind from the westerly bay instead shocks my senses. The shorts and t-shirt I comfortably wore in the Central Valley will just not do here. How is it possible that summer in S.F. requires a knitted hat, gloves, and a heavy jacket? Will the sun ever make an appearance today to brighten my fog shrouded, emotional condition?
For the next five days, my independent travel spirit will surely be tested by geography, weather, and human congestion. Never doubting my will to find the unexpected insight, however, the itinerary does not seem to really matter. Using the S.F. Bart Transit System will enable me to relax from the stress of car travel as I search these famous hills for interesting destinations. Forty one years ago, my wife and I made our first visit to S.F. on our honeymoon as innocent tourists. I am honored to return again to this great city by the bay as a traveling fool and yet a wiser man.