Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Journal Entry One: California Here We Come

Although I can’t upload the pictures, Nicole and I have escaped the frozen tundra that is New York, and have made it safe and sound to the rainy monsoon that is San Francisco. Many parents would think we are crazy to travel through time with a child. (It’s actually “time zones”, but “travel through time” sounds so much cooler). However, Sunday’s flight was Jackson’s fifth, and we are well aware that “it’s not a good time” can be an excuse we use for the rest of our lives. Instead, we did what we always do, and threw caution to the wind.

Today is March 3rd, and we left on March 1st. The snow was predicted to begin falling sometime around 7pm, so when the flight was delayed from a 6:02pm departure to 6:45pm, I was pretty much sure we were screwed. When we got to San Francisco, I knew we had just made it by the skin of our teeth, as the car rental woman took one look at my driver’s license and said “I thought all flights from New York were cancelled.”

The flight was bumpy, but not the worst I’ve experienced. Jackson was grumpy, but, again, not the worst I’ve experienced. His first four flights were at two and a half month’s old going to and coming from Austin, Texas, and at three month’s old going to and coming from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Both of those trips, he was breast feeding, and slept like an angel in the breastfeeding position. Since these trips were over half a lifetime ago, many things have changed. For one, Jackson’s all grown up now and doesn’t suckle the booby anymore. This makes it difficult to time out a bottle properly, especially when he’s hungry and the plane has been delayed. Luckily, we didn’t have to worry about his ears popping on the take off. The second extremely inconvenient change is that he now sleeps on his belly, and is incredibly uncomfortable on his back. Finding a position on the plane with me and Nicole and Jackson in just two seats was a challenge, but it ultimately worked. Uncomfortable, yes. Would I travel 24 hours with him to Australia or China, No. But, at least we know that we can travel pretty much anywhere in the continental United States, and most of Europe, a favorite stomping ground of ours.

We arrived in San Francisco late, but happy to be on the ground in warmer weather. The car rental place gave us a PT Cruiser, which is like driving a Hearse for midgets. I would rather them give me an actual Hearse, as my luggage would have fit better, and I wouldn’t look like a Geek Squad dork on his way to fix an old lady’s laptop that isn’t really broken, but just has too many applications open because her stupid family doesn’t want to accept the fact that she is 85 and would be better off writing with a quill.

There is no doubt in my mind that people have been murdered in our hotel. I think they are still cleaning up the blood stains on the floor above us. If my first instinct is wrong, then I would strongly suggest that the dead start haunting this place, because it is ripe for ghosts. Creepy door men, super old torn carpets, and dust on everything are just a few of the hot spots of our new temporary residence. I should have seen the writing on the walls, and I don’t mean that figuratively. When I opened the bathroom and turned on the light that hums like a vacuum cleaner, I noticed there is actually creepy writing on the walls in the decades of accumulated dust. It doesn’t say anything like “Go Away” or “Evil.” It just says “Germany,” but who knows, the dust is so thick, it could have been written by holocaust ghosts.

We woke up on our first day and went for some breakfast. The homeless and derelicts that were crowded around our street upon our arrival seemed to disappear in the morning like vampires. After breakfast we thought we would do Alcatraz, as it was a bit rainy, but luckily the rain pulled back for a bit, so we choose to take an exploratory walk. We walked from Geary and Mason to Fisherman’s Wharf. If you are familiar with San Francisco, you can pop your eyes back into your skull now. If you are not, then the whole “eyes back in skull” reference might not make sense just yet. Hang on. I’m getting there.

They say San Francisco is hilly. A better way to describe it is packed with FUCKING MOUNTAINS. I feel I should change the font of “mountains” to at least 14 or 16 to put further emphasis on the size of the “hills” in San Francisco. I swear that some of these hills were 45 degrees, and the vast majority was 30 degrees. When we told one of our waitresses that we walked it, she was not only blown away, but Nicole actually heard her telling one of the other waiters what we had accomplished. Look, cable cars are nice and cute, but I think Nicole and I would both feel like pansies if we didn’t actually walk the hills ourselves at least once. That’s why we did it twice, to and from Fisherman’s Wharf.

The Wharf was cool. We ate at a crab shack, took the baby to an old school arcade, and found a very sacred piece of land known as Ghiradelli Square. Ghiradelli, the good people who make the Ghiradelli chocolate have their own square, and it is chock full of choc. This was the one time so far that the clouds parted and the full sun came through. After we loaded up on Chocolate we found an old chocolate making machine that gave me a deeper understanding of the plight of Augustus Gloop. I wanted in.

After the morning was done, and Nicole had bent two pennies, one at the Cable Car Museum and one at the old arcade, we found ourselves back at the hotel, gearing up for the second half of our day. We ventured out again, this time by car, to the infamous corner of Haight/Ashbury. It was both interested and disappointing at the same time. I was at the center of the heartbeat of where the greatest hippy love fest of all time took place, and like most wonderful locations on this planet, it had turned into a tourist extravaganza. At first glance you might not have noticed, but when you look around you realize that everything is tourist shops and bad pizza parlors. The old Victorian houses are awesome, and there are head shops galore, but when you look a little deeper you notice the fallout of a great movement.

The streets are now filled with drug addicts, and homeless. The majority of them are young, and the older are mentally gone. It’s troublesome. If the enlightened of the free love generation had just put their heads together, it might have been a different outcome. Smoke all the grass and gobble up all the LSD you want, but ultimately keep your head together, off the hard drugs, and use the insight you gain from the drugs to create a better world. Instead, it’s clear that these people choose heroin, and wasted a good thing. Oh, well. Screw ‘em. I got my postcard and a piece of shitty pineapple and ham pizza. Off to the hotel for dinner and bed.

We got back to the hotel where we put the little guy down for bed after his supper time. Then Nicole and I read and watched a little TV. It was only 7pm, but for us this was like 10pm and our bodies were exhausted from hiking around SF all day. We fought to stay awake, but ultimately crashed. Jackson, still on NY time, woke up at 4am, but them went back to sleep until 7am. I gave him a bottle and here I am now, typing away. Today, after a nice warm shower in the haunted “Germany” bathroom we are going to do Alcatraz, and possibly some of the outer parts of SF with the help of our trusty midget Hearse.

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