Posted by: GeekHiker | February 26, 2007

San Francisco Days, Part 1

Okay, so how much of a geek can I be?  This was my souvenir from my weekend in San Francisco:

Muni Map

Yes, it’s a map for Muni, the public transit system in SF, because I can, at times, be a big freaking train geek (in addition to my other fine geeky qualities).  Plus, I love maps of any kind, so, for a mere three bucks, I just couldn’t resist.  A fine addition to my big ‘ol box of maps.

That should up my geek street cred for the week, right?

I picked it up because I arrived in SF on Friday and spent the afternoon riding around on the vintage trolley car’s they’ve got running on the F line.  I also toured the little museum of the non-profit that restores the cars and read up on the history of public transit in SF.  The trolleys mostly run the tourist route up to Pier 39 so they’re filled with gawking out-of-towners, but I didn’t care.  There’s something about getting on one of those old cars, wondering how the world would have been had we all not boxed ourselves up into our little cars.  Maybe better, maybe not, certainly different.  And as much as I love my little blue truck, I sometimes miss the days when I could travel anywhere for a buck.  Of course, I’ve never been able to do that in LA.

Unfortunately, I showed up too late in town to have lunch at the newly restored Ferry Building, which I hadn’t seen before.  It was quite the dilapidated structure when I left in ’97, and now it’s filled with some mighty tasty looking restaurants and shops, plus skylights all across the building providing tons of natural light, and resurgent ferry service outside.  It was so nice I’m even willing to forgive the fact that at one end it has a Sur La Table, which, although they stock nice enough kitchen gear, always seems to have an air of suburban pretentiousness.

Yes, I detected “suburban pretentiousness” in a chain store.  I’m funny that way.

So after riding the streetcars and visiting the museum, I went down to the BestFriend’s place.  They were late home from work, but I really didn’t worry about it too much (though they did apologize profusely, which, although wholly unnecessary, still felt awful nice), and headed out for a good sushi dinner (where I had, um pork, as I am not a sushi fan).  One of their friends, with whom I was little more than an acquaintance in college, joined us, and I thought she looked better and healthier than I had seen in years.  Although I was never close friends with her, it’s always gratifying to see that in someone, and you wish there were some way to communicate it to the other person without sounding like a magnanimous prick…

I slept on a soft foam pad on their living room floor.  And here was the weird thing: I slept more soundly there than I have lately in my own bed.  Maybe I was just more relaxed being away from L.A., I don’t know.  Whatever the reason, the sleep I had that night was deep and restful.  Maybe I should throw out the mattress and box springs here at home and sleep on a foam pad.  Very minimalistic.

Saturday morning was spend with The BestFriend joining up with a bird watching group who’s leader wasn’t exactly eager on guests, so The BestFriendsBoyfriend and I just walked around Lake Merrit for a couple of hours talking about everything (mostly, of course, geeky stuff).  It made me wish I had more geeky friends to hang out with in L.A..  There was a group a number of years ago when I first started at my job, but they all moved on in various ways.  The hard part is always finding that small group of people who don’t geek out all the time and balance their lives in other ways.  The search continues…

In the afternoon, we headed to the Conservatory of Flowers.  It was one of those many places that I intended to visit during my college years, but never made it to.  Then they had a windstorm with 100 mile an hour winds that severely damaged the place, and it only opened again a couple of years ago.  The building is beautiful, the plants were beautiful, and there was a strange art exhibit that, well, I just didn’t get.  Like a lot of art installations lately, it just kind of had me shrugging my shoulders.

Then it was off to The Beach Chalet for…wait for it…wait for it…BEER!  I had the best pale ale that I think I’ve ever had, bar (no pun intended) none.  Yet another reason to head back to see my friends sooner rather than later.  Mix it together with some fantastic garlic fries, a decadent chocolate (screw the diet, I’m on vacation) desert, good conversation and, um, wow.  Exactly what I needed on a mini-vacation.

And that’s the real thing of it, I’ve come to realize as I’ve gotten older.  My vacations used to be filled with running around, touring places, doing as much as possible.  As I’ve gotten older, something as simple as sitting around, drinking beers with friends and chatting is what I desire, the thing that I really value.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re sitting around discussing politics, relationships, deep philosophy or just telling dirty jokes.  It’s the company that matters.  And although I don’t think there’s any way I can really communicate that feeling to The BestFriend and her boyfriend, that moment was the happiest, most satisfied I’ve felt in months.

And all it cost was a couple of beers.

Saturday evening was spent relaxing with frozen pizza and TV, a quick classic diner breakfast (waffle, eggs, bacon) Sunday morning and it was off to SFO to fly home.  I wish I could fly more, it’s the most fantastic thing.  I can’t imagine why or how anyone could fly without a window seat.  The windows are in the wrong place, of course: they should be a foot and a half lower, so you can look down at the ground easier.  That’s the whole point, isn’t it?  Isn’t the journey itself part of life, not just getting from A to B?  Or maybe I’m just odd…

Okay, this entry has been entirely too long.  Off to bed.  Must go to the gym tomorrow to be further tortured by my trainer.  Should be *cough* fun…


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