Touring by Turd

Published: August 6th 2016
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Golden Gate BridgeGolden Gate BridgeGolden Gate Bridge

Early morning view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
We still haven't got used to the time difference, so it was another early start, for my son and I at least. We were up before dawn and headed across the Golden Gate Bridge to Battery Spencer for some night views and hopefully a sunrise. The view of the illuminated bridge was stunning despite the inevitable fog, but there was no chance of a sunrise. Definitely worth the early start though.

When I got back to the hotel I thought I had better make it a priority to work out how to pay the bridge toll. There is apparently an auto-toll in the car, but after checking the Avis website that seems to be a total rip-off with a 'convenience fee' for every day of the rental, even if it was used just once. After a bit of web surfing, I think I managed to pay the tolls directly. At least I hope so as I never got a confirmation email, otherwise it is going to be mugged-off #3.

As seems to be becoming pretty standard for our holidays every year now, we had booked yet another Segway tour for first thing this morning. There was the option of
Turd FergusonTurd FergusonTurd Ferguson

The name of my Segway.
a tour round Fisherman's Wharf, but that was near our hotel and we had already seen most of it. There was an advanced tour with the hills and Lombard Street, which was well too scary for us. There was a tour of Golden Gate Park, which, all things considered, seemed like the one to go for. We hence needed to get to Golden Gate Park for 9.00am, which proved to be far more of a challenge than we expected, with rush hour traffic, constant stopping due to the grid system, no obvious easy route and problems parking. All the parking has restrictions to allow for street cleaning. This seems like a great idea, but unfortunately for us the allotted time for cleaning all the streets around Golden Gate Park is 8.00am to 10.00am on Wednesdays. It was looking like we would miss the tour, so we drove into the park in desperation and promptly found loads of parking along the side of the road in the park itself. We just made it.

We are really starting to get the hang of taking it in turns at the four way 'stop' junctions now, without throwing them into mayhem every time.
Aids Memorial GardenAids Memorial GardenAids Memorial Garden

Stone pillars in the Aids Memorial Garden in Golden Gate Park.

For our son and daughter the Segway tour was too much tour and not enough Segway as there was a lot of stopping to talk about the park. My wife and I found it fascinating however. Apparently the park itself is completely man-made and achieved the impossible (as was advised by the experts at the time) as it was created from land covered by sand where nothing could grow. It's a stunning park and is apparently the largest urban park in the world (20% bigger than even Central Park in New York).

All the Segways had names and the others loved the fact that mine was called "Turd Ferguson".

Our guide also explained the San Francisco micro-climate. Apparently August is actually the one of the coldest and most overcast months, with the best time to come being October and November. Now he tells us. It also has the highest average temperature of any US city, given that most other cities offset their hot summers with extremely cold winters (although I would expect that Miami and Honolulu might challenge him on that one).

The park was created by someone called John McLarren. He absolutely hated statues as
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The view from the tower of the California Academy of Sciences.
he viewed them as vanity projects that had no place in his park. The funny thing is that one of the proposed statues was of him, but he managed to hide it away until after his death when it was found and put back in the park. Apparently there have been two attempts to steal his statue. Whilst it was never discovered who was behind the attempts, there are rumours that it was members of his family who were fully aware how he would feel about his statue being there.

Before we moved on, we went to the top of a tower that is part of the California Academy of Sciences, which is located in the park itself. It was free and had some great views over the park and the surrounding area.

Next we drove on to the Haight and Ashbury area. This is famous as the hippy area from the 60s and 70s, but still seems to be going strong. Most of the shops here seemed to be centred around the sale of marijuana, which is legal in California for medicinal purposes, i.e. pain relief. Apparently back-pain is a massive problem in this part of San
Haight Street ShopHaight Street ShopHaight Street Shop

Something for all those people with backache.
Francisco. The smell of weed was more than apparent as we walked up and down the street. We thought we would get something to eat whilst we were there, although we made sure that it didn't include any 'special' ingredients. We were on limited parking time, but hadn't banked on the hippy-like time it took to make some sandwiches. We also didn't bank on the very un-hippy-peace-and-love-like prices. Mugged-off #4.

My wife and daughter also wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge, so we headed back across. Whilst we had had no problems parking early in the morning, it was completely different in the afternoon. Everywhere was complete chaos and it was everyone for themselves. After dumping the British sense of fair-play and obsession with queuing we eventually managed to find somewhere to park back at Battery Spencer.

Whilst the weather had started to clear in San Francisco itself, it was still quite foggy out at the bridge. We are finding that the weather seems to follow a standard daily pattern. It starts off awful, clears in the afternoon and then turns awful again in the early evening.

We went back to the hotel for a little while to hear how the Trump campaign is imploding, hopefully terminally, and endure the endless stream of ads for medical products (is everyone who watches CNN a complete hypercondriac?) We then went back out for an evening meal at the Stinking Rose, at which everything on the menu is centred around garlic.


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