Published: October 24th 2012October 24th 2012
We spent a couple of interesting days touring San Francisco, then drove to Pleasanton, CA, where the RV and car will spend the next few months until we resume our trip sometime in January. Plans altered rapidly when I received the news on Thursday that my beloved Auntie Jean had died in Chapel Hill NC, so I promptly made air/car/hotel reservations, packed as reasonably as I could, and flew to Chapel Hill on Friday, October 19. I enjoyed visiting with my brother, from Phoenix, and a bunch of cousins and their kids. I flew back to Durham NH on Sunday, and John flies home at midnight Wednesday, after being stuck with the lion's share of the closing up preparations for the RV.
Our second day in San Francisco, we traveled in on the Larkspur ferry which leaves from very near our campground. We saw nothing; we were completely in the fog. It dispersed during the day. We walked all over downtown SF, visited the SF Museum of Modern Art, paused for coffee/people watching. In late afternoon, we headed toward the ferry. Walking along the wide sidewalk next to the piers, I turned toward John and suddenly a bicyclist flew by between us at about 80 mph. If I had moved closer to John, I am very sure I would now be dead.
The balance to that "adventure" was a truly endearing sight. Fans were heading toward the Giants stadium for the second game of their playoff; they had lost the first. Lots of team paraphernalia. A tall father and his very little son walked by, hand in hand. In his other hand, the boy was clutching a very large baseball glove, at least as big as his whole chest. Unfortunately, I wasn't quick enough for a snapshot of the quintessential photo of baseball's magic.
We had sort of skipped lunch, so decided on an early supper. We landed at a restaurant on the harbor. While we ate, we spotted a weird boat sailing by. It had a ridiculously tall black sail that said Oracle. I figured it was heading to the stadium, which is on the waterfront. The boat looked so top-heavy. We had lovely views of the no longer foggy harbor as we ferried home.
The next day, we drove into town. John really wanted to go to Golden Gate Park, and we enjoyed the Botanic Garden and the Japanese Tea Garden there. We had wanted to go over to the coast, but it stayed fogged-in all day. John's other favorite thing is riding street cars. So we drove to a stop where we could park the car and ride the underground to one end of the street car line. When we came above ground, we encountered a uniquely SF sight, I guess. A completely nude man was sunning himself on a bench, with plenty of other folks also enjoying the sun and paying him little attention. Another lost photo op; he got dressed just as I finally got the camera ready. The street car ride was wonderful. We even saw that same weird Oracle boat sailing around in the harbor with its tall black sail. The street car took us all the way to Fisherman's Wharf, where we walked around for half an hour, then took our return trip back to our car.
Next morning's news included the fact that the weird boat (the U.S. America's Cup entry!) had capsized and broken apart, a loss of at least $8,000,000. That must have happened not very long after we spotted it from the street car! Another missed photo op....
On Wednesday, we drove to Pleasanton, CA, not too many miles away. I started stuffing things that we might need for the winter into a large suitcase. We drove to the downtown and had a coffee. The weather continued perfect, and the downtown was lovely. Pleasanton is the "richest midsize city in the country" and there were a lot of comfortable-looking people.
Early next morning, Thursday, my brother phoned to say that he had received word that Auntie Jean had died and the service would be on Saturday morning. We managed to coordinate our arrival times, share a rental car, and book rooms at the same hotel. Rattled, I insisted that John and I go buy another suitcase, since Southwest allows two 50-pounders, and I couldn't think perfectly straight about what more to pack. I didn't sleep at all well that night, and we got up to drive me to Oakland airport shortly after 3:00. I arrived at 4:00 and the ticket counter didn't even open for 20 more minutes. My time in Chapel Hill was very special, seeing so much family.
John has been stuck with all the work on the RV. But he did spend some time at the Pleasanton Library, where they carry his favorite publication, Value Line. He was afraid of running out of cell phone minutes, so we didn't communicate much. I found our yard had accumulated enough acorns, pine needles, and leaves to give me several hours of raking over the past three days, and there is plenty more to do.