An extremely pleasant place. The valley roadway of CA-92 is one
of the most beautiful highways. Every sense is stimulated,
especially smell. I passed through town on a wet winter day and
the X-mas tree farms were very busy. The town is proud of its
pumpkin festival and many houses in town were decorated with
squash. Saw a llama hanging out in a neighborhood. The beach is
wild and wind-swept. Huge waves crash against the sand and the
air is filled with mist and fog and the smell of redwood.
Cypress urge toward the mountains. Brisbane.
Suburban and growing town on S.F. Bay at the base of San Bruno
Mountain Stayed at one of a few high-rise business hotels on the
sea. So San Francisco. San Bruno. Millbrae. Moss Beach.
The Pacific Coast Highway near here is a wonderful, winding
drive through mountains. Pacifica.
The famous Golden Gate was the destination of two different Christmastime
trips to the Pacific. The city is built on a series of hills on a
peninsula surrounded on one side by the Pacific and the other
two sides by the S.F. Bay. History lives in every corner. The
city is vibrant and alive and natural unlike San Jose to the
south which seems more artificial and McDonaldized. The culture is mostly laid
back and progressive. Not a driving city at all. Bring walking shoes or
ride the excellent public transportation system of subways,
buses, cable cars, and street cars. Chinatown. This is
the most interesting neighborhood in the city. It has many
faces. Stockton Street is a crowded and hurried place where
streetcars race past locals doing their grocery shopping. Grant
Street is the more touristy part of the neighborhood. Here you
can get fans and silk and paper lanterns. The streets crossing
both are lined with small dollar stores and restaurants that are
adorned with all sorts of graffiti and artwork. The
alleys, which are used as streets, sometimes run red with the
blood of rabbits and chickens. If you need anything from leg
warmers, bootleg movies, to dried seahorses come here. Nob Hill. Fancy
hotels and apartment buildings in a quiet oasis. Not much to do
except enjoy an uphill walk. North Beach.
Bordering and sometimes overlapping Chinatown is this Italian
neighborhood filled with delis and pasta places. Beautiful Sts. Peter &
Paul Church tower over the modest, but expensive housing units that climb Telegraph
Hill. Coit Tower is not so interesting as the view from its
steps where you can see both famous bridges, Angel Island, and
Alcatrez. As you walk north from Chinatown, the ocean air
surrounds you. Also a favorite hangout for bohemians, beggers,
and other notorious types. Fisherman's Wharf. The ultimate S.F. tourist
trap along the bay piers. Pier 39 is interesting only because of
the sea lion colony that has been present since the 1989 quake.
The Cannery and Ghirardelli Square are monuments to the area's
more industrial past. Visited S.F. Maritime NHP, a quiet place
where loons hunt and pelicans lounge, and toured the old boats
in the harbor. Easy connection to Union Square via the
Embarcadero. Union Square. The commercial mecca of the
area surrounds this small plaza shaded by palms. We stayed at
the Chancellor Hotel on Powell Street here. Powell is a very
busy street dominated by cable cars and throngs of tourists and
shoppers and the panhandlers who live off the change they can
get out of both groups. Galleries and high-end shopping, much
like Chicago's Michigan Avenue. My favorite place to eat is
actually in the Macy's basement. Tenderloin.
Stayed on the edge once to save a few bucks. The western half of
the neighborhood is seedy and reminded me of scenes along Wilson
Avenue in Chicago: a liquor store on every corner and the
down-on-his-luck sort rambling around, occasionally urinating on
cars or trees. As much as I do not mind the area, I tried not to
stay out too late. Westside. Here is the more modest
and local part of the city. The Presidio is quite
beautiful and smells as good as it looks. It is a haven for
birds. The day I visited, there were surfers enjoying the
looming storm winds under the Golden Gate Bridge. Golden Gate Park
was flooded both times I visited. It is very similar in almost
every detail to St. Louis' Forest Park and like its counterpart
is surrounded by mansions. Interesting windmill in
park. Enjoyed the rocky crags of Seal Rocks and Point Lobos. Haight-Ashbury
is full of commercialized thrift stores and wanna-be's. Buena Vista
and Fillmore are also worth drive throughs at least.
Smart people living in a beautiful spot.
Mt Tamalpais SP.
the winding road here rises up through the clouds. The views are
as beautiful as the smell of pine was pleasant. Muir Woods
NM. A large, dark grove of huge and ancient redwoods that put your
fragile, short life in perspective. A most beautiful and
awe-inspiring place. Sausalito. Nice harbor town on S.F.
Bay. Get ice cream and fish. Take a stroll along the harbor.
Golden Gate NRA. The mountains of the Marin Headlands are an
impressive contrast to the man-made "mountains" across the
Golden Gate Bridge in the San Francisco skyline. A wonderful
view of Frisco is to be found from the north side of the bridge.
The drive along the coast is fascinating. Towns are few and far
between here and the wind-swept, flooded coast is a wonder.
San Rafael. The biggest of the populated suburbs along the
east side of the county. They are full of every convenience.
Fairfax. San Anselmo. Point Reyes NS. A place of wonder. The
east side of the park lays along the San Andreas fault line and
evidence of the great earthquakes along this line include
ridges, deep lakes, and a peculiar fence at the visitor center.
The east side is forested with a completely different set of
plants than the south end of Marin County. This may be due to
the fact that Reyes floated here along the fault line from the
Los Angeles area hundreds of miles to the south. The middle of
the park includes a tidewater swamp and feels like the deep
South. As you approach the coast, passing old-fashioned dairy
and beef cattle, the trees give way to a grassland populated
with black-tailed deer. The wind can be furious here as it was
the day I visited. Beyond the cliffs is the mighty and angry
Pacific. Along one cliff, I made sight of my goal, the elephant
seal colony. They are active on cloudy days in winter and it was
a day worth living when I saw them hulking about on the beach.
They are faster than they look. The beach is accessible at two
points. Pt Reyes Station. Gas and food. A small town that
is not trying to be anything beyond what it is. Sam Taylor
SP. The deep, dark forest-covered hills. Woodacre.
Tough, working class city that fits my California stereotype. Alameda. San Leandro. Hayward. Cattle graze
on mountains that rise up to the east and overlook the suburb.
Fremont. Suburban home of my cousin. Newark.
The center of Silicon Valley is also the centerpiece of
unplanned suburban sprawl. Los Gatos. Along the
hilly roadside two cat statues greet you to their suburban
The mountains along the San Andreas Fault rise up creating
sheltered valleys like this one. Santa Cruz. A city that,
according to the person who showed it to me, was in political
transition. Once a seaside hangout for hippies, it has become
more conservative in its old age. Seemed like a sharp, clean
Castroville. Artichokes grow on a seaside plain. This
is what's left of Steinbeck's California. Monterey.
Capital of Mexican California. The Wharf area is a great place
to just hang out and enjoy the ocean. Watch out for sea otters
and birds. Finding sea lions is not so hard since their barks
fill the fishy air. Pebble Beach. The 17 Mile Road is a
nice drive, although not worth the toll which must be kept so
high to keep away riff raff. The houses are gigantic mansions
and the beach is breath-taking. Enormous waves crash into and
sculpt huge rocks, which are once in a while topped with cypress
trees. The land is a mix forests and plain and golf course.
Carmel. The best
part of this town is its Spanish mission founded by Junipero
Serra. Standing since the 1770's, it is a place that inspired in
me a great reverence for God. Ghosts seem to walk about in the
plazas and in the church. The buildings house beautiful pieces
of native and Spanish art.
A gull keeps watch over Monterey Bay.
Chinatown in San Francisco is full of smells and sights that are
not to be found anywhere else.
Resident sea lions in San Francisco's harbor.
life-altering place, San Francisco Maritime NHP.
The lone tree of
Pebble Beach, near Carmel.