Early call this morning. X picked us up from the front of the hotel in her old Range Rover, and whisked us off on a guided tour. Breakfast first, though, in a chic little place off the Presidio, where I fiddled with X’s iPhone and decided that, regardless of the sensible justifications and conclusions I’d come to before I went away, actually, I do rather want one of those cool devices, thanks.
Then, out to Fort Point for photo ops before driving across the Golden Gate Bridge and into Marin County, home of the redwood forests. The Bridge is a bold red slash of colour against cloudy skies, almost unreal in it’s massive assertion of human control over the landscape. It certainly doesn’t slip into the background, anyway…
Marin County is green, fresh, and home to the most absurdly twisty roads I’ve ever seen. I don’t get motion sickness easily, but the multiple 90 degree hairpins X flung the Rover through gave me the queeeze. We drove to Muir Woods, a National Park dedicated to the preservation of these majestic arboreal giants. We walked in silence through the forests, the trees reaching hundreds of feet above us. Deer picked their way fearlessly through the undergrowth around us. The woods were peaceful, dripping gently after morning showers. It was ten miles and a milion years from the busy streets of San Francisco.
We returned to those streets for lunch, then headed south-west into Haight-Ashbury, to soak up some of the old hippy vibe. I’m disappointed to report the area was a little less scuzzy than I was led to expect, with some cool thrift shops and quirky designer stores. There’s a strong smell of incense and weed in the air, though, which doesn’t seem at all localised. It’s as if the scents have been soaked up by the very stones.
On the way, I found Isotope Comics, a very cool comics store that Clare could have quite easily left me in for the rest of the day. I had to settle for spending a measly hundred bucks in there, the majority of that on Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie’s massive tribute to the Tijuana Bible, Lost Girls. One for under the cover reading, I feel… Isotope is part of a triangle of comic shops in the Haight-Ashbury area, all of which are worth your custom. For friendliness and quirk value they beat the crap out of Forbidden Planet, anyway.
Soundbite on Devisadero Street: “…and they were all totally naked! I didn’t know where to look! It was super awkward!” Delivered at some volume by a camp, skinny chap in a suit into a mobile. Sometimes, you know that the other end of the conversation can’t possibly be as interesting as you picture it. This one? This one could have gone anywhere and I wouldn’t have been surprised…
Tomorrow: North Beach, Chinatown and the Wharfs. And if we’re lucky, Alcatraz.