July 1986: Arrived in San Francisco for a totally unscripted, two week, solo adventure. The only thing arranged ahead of time was my transportation. The gentleman in front of me in the queue for a car had also been on my flight. Mark (can’t recall his name, so that’ll do) had reserved a hand-controlled car that suited his minor disability. The agency had screwed up and his ride was not available. As my itinerary was blank anyway, I offered him a ride to Stanford, where he was to attend a conference. After dropping off Mark, I headed towards the Pacific – after all, it was California and the ocean beckoned. After reaching the coast, I turned north – back in the general direction of San Francisco to scout for my night’s accommodation. The first motel I stopped at was a bit too dear, so I drove on and decided appeasing my hunger was more important at that moment. I made a casual inquiry at the restaurant – my waitress told me of a nearby motel which might fit the bill. It turned out to be a very good choice.
The Pacifica Motor Inn was steps from the beach and the proprietors made me feel right at home. Mike, originally from Detroit and Freda, from Toronto, had met while working in Switzerland. Upon returning to the States, they married and just a few days before my arrival, took on the job of managing this recently opened establishment. This became my base of operations for the next eight days. Wandering the vertically-challenging streets of ‘Frisco (as I lacked the patience to stand in line for a cable car), viewing the cityscape from the art deco Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill; birding along US Route 1 north of the Bay area, absorbing the pristine natural beauty of the old growth Coastal Redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument, and kicking about on nearby beaches and headlands, filled my days. Surprisingly, though it never rained for my entire stay, I never saw a sunset, as the fog would roll in reliably every afternoon. Several evenings were spent socializing with Freda and Mike – dinner out; dinner and/or drinks at their place – they even set me up for a dinner date with another one of their guests – Laura, who had driven cross-country from Florida.
Fisherman’s Wharf and Alcatraz
One of the murals in the Coit Tower rotunda
Coming soon – Part 2: South to Santa Barbara