A cool car we saw in Japantown; photo by Marian.
So I went to San Francisco over Labor Day weekend. I'd been kind of planning to go for a while, but then I didn't get paid and didn't get paid and didn't get paid, and it was looking less and less likely that I'd be able to afford the trip. Then, the Wednesday before Labor Day, I suddenly got three checks at once. (I hadn't told anyone about not getting paid, because I didn't want you all to think I was working for a bunch of screwups (again). It was my own fault for being slow about sending my new employer some paperwork that they needed. I'm bad at forms and things.) I quickly went to southwest.com, found a flight which was incredibly affordable considering it was only two days later, and was on my way on Friday night!
I crashed at idealisms's(eseses) and his roommate's place that night, along with another friend of theirs who was in town for the weekend, and the next morning the four of us headed out to go hiking at Point Reyes, which necessitated driving over the Golden Gate Bridge. As it turned out, everyone else in the greater San Francisco metropolitan area also needed to drive over said bridge that day, what with the Bay Bridge closure and all, so it kind of took a while. But that gave us the opportunity to meander around the Presidio, a former military base that's now a...well, I guess it's a public park or something, but it doesn't quite feel like one. Imagine if Central Park weren't a park but more of an abandoned neighborhood, quiet and full of well-kept but empty houses where nobody lived, and yet right in the middle of some of America's most wanted real estate. That's kind of how this felt. It was really interesting and a little bit creepy.
Anyway, we eventually made it up to Point Reyes, where we parked and hiked (up, then) down to the beach, then back up (, then down) to the car. I was reminded of how hiking downhill is just as challenging as hiking uphill in a lot of ways -- you still have to use your muscles, just different ones. Anyway, the beach was cool. I don't make it to the ocean very often, and kelp is, like, my favorite thing, and they didn't really have it in L.A. when I was there. So I was all excited to see it at this beach, as evidenced by my holding up big pieces of it and yelling "This is so cool, you guys!" a lot. We headed back into the city and had dinner at a good, cheap Indian restaurant, then went to Mitchell's, which was the yum. They had cantaloupe ice cream that had actual pieces of cantaloupe in it! Back at Tony and Zack's place, we had our little PowerBook convention, and then Marian picked me up and we headed over to her place, which was where I stayed for the next two nights.
After more than two years since I had seen her last, I thought she might have changed somehow, but no, she's the same Marian she's always been -- the most fascinating combination of childlike and sophisticated. I barely remember how to drive a car, and she zooms around expertly in her Miata; I live with four roommates in a house share in a part of Portland known as Felony Flats, and she single-handedly scores a pretty nice apartment in San Francisco. And yet she still does things like lose her retainer in the couch. To her, the way to go about getting Internet access in your apartment is not to, you know, get it, but to get a range extender and give it to the neighbor you're filching it from. Pipes sticking out of the sidewalk are enchanted toadstools, and a tuft of grass in Golden Gate Park is a fairy ring -- but just when I think I've figured out how to talk to someone who thinks that way, she'll bust out with a phrase like "long-term exit strategy" that I wouldn't know how to say with a straight face. Such is Marian. We spent a couple of days exploring parts of the city by bus, by BART and by foot, taking dozens of pictures. We saw a nickd bumper sticker near Haight and Belvedere. On Sunday, I went for a short but hilly run around her neighborhood, and that night, Elena Bakaitis met us for sushi and karaoke. (It had been even longer since I had seen Elena, and she was as rad as ever. (Further evidence of my West Coast assimilation: apparently I say "rad" now. Although I might have picked that up from jwithington, in Chicago.))
I'm so glad I decided to go. Marian and Tony and Zach all deserve big thanks for making my weekend fun and relaxing. A couple of people asked me how I had known that idealisms wasn't going to be a creepy weirdo, considering he was two people removed from anyone I had ever actually met. *shrug* Go go gadget LiveJournal community trust. (snafuuu endorsement counts for something, too. She should go into business; it could be like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, but for people.) As I was leaving Tony and Zack's place, I joked, "Tell brad it works!"
This was just about the perfect way to end the summer. (Isn't Labor Day well timed? The beginning of September is likely to be pleasant wherever you go.) It has indeed been Krazy West Koast Travel Summer: the marathon, Los Angeles, our whirlwind trip to Seattle last month (hey, it counts), and now this. I think that maybe the West Coast lends itself to this kind of seat-of-the-pants solo traveling. Or maybe I'm just getting better at it. One would hope so, anyway. In a few hours, I'm headed to Iowa for the weekend to help celebrate my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary, and this time I'll try not to bring any contraband items through security.