I’ve been dreaming of this trip for some time now. Imagining what it would be like to go somewhere new all on my own and spend some time by myself. At first I thought it would be one or two nights just outside Portland, but then I started looking at Amtrak. I love taking the train. Its so chill compared to flying or driving. Just show up, get on, and relax. No crazy security checks, no waiting for two hours, just get on the train and go. I soon realized that I didn’t want to go north and going south meant heading into the mountains, where it is cold and snowy. So eventually I decided to take the train past the cold mountains and into California. Southern California would have been ideal (so much awesome skating), but I didn’t want to have to sleep on the train for two nights. I eventually settled on San Fransisco. Once I saw this adorable room from which I am typing this, I was sold.
Instead of being completely alone I have two roommates and two house pets around. That means if I feel the need for some socializing its built in. I’ve also already called Ace twice. I miss him a lot. I thought I would miss Mark the most, but I miss Ace the most. I wish he could share my adventure with me. I wish he could see the sights, and smell the smells, and walk all over the neighborhood. But I know I need this. I can’t remember the last time I felt so free. I’m doing whatever I want. I’m making the decisions, and living with the consequences. I know the vacation wouldn’t be the same if he were here. There would inevitably be conflict, there would be give and take, and 99% of the time thats just fine. But right now, there is none of that and its a nice a break. I don’t have to worry about what shows I watch or what games I play. I don’t have to worry if Ace likes it or if its safe for Mark. Its a vacation just for me for the fist time ever.
On the train I mostly played my new 3Ds (a modern gameboy) that Ace gifted me before the trip. I had dinner with three wonderful woman, all older than my mother. Two were on their way to a weekend away with 8 other women in a tiny mountain hotel. They were very excited for a weekend of “wine and cards.” The other woman was traveling to see her daughter and grandchildren in Klamath Falls, where it is very cold and snowy. She kept complaining about how her daughter had to live in such a cold place and her granddaughter had such a cold hobby of ice skating. It was very lighthearted and sweet. After dinner I played more 3ds and read on my kindle. Sleep was elusive. It was very hard to sleep in the coach car. So bad that I’m going to see if they have any roomettes I can upgrade to for the ride home. I got less than 5 hours of sleep and it was very broken.
Despite the terrible sleep I woke up for the last time just before 7am excited for the day. The conductor soon told us we were ahead of schedule and had just a little over 30 minutes till our stop! There was water and palm trees and SUN outside! California!
Taking the bus transfer was simple enough and soon I was stepping off in a new city, with only a vague idea of where I was and how to get to where I needed to go. Instead of immediately figuring out transportation to the AirBnB like I planned I walked toward the water. I was free to go wherever I wanted, and I love being near water. After sitting by the water for a while, I decided to walk down the path. That led me to an incredible farmers market. I wish I could have bought my groceries there. It was hands down the best farmer’s market I have ever been too. Citrus, fresh veggies, and pasture raised meats as far as you could see. Everything was organic and fresh and of the highest quality. I paid an insane amount of money for a grilled cheese, sausage, and egg sandwich, but in the end it was worth it. It came with a fantastic side salad and kept me full almost all day.
I soon discovered I was at the “Ferry Building.” It was a good place to be becuase they had clean public bathrooms which can be hard to find in big cities. Soon enough I was ready to head to my lodgings, but “Super Bowl City” was in the way. Several city blocks were closed off and I had to take a long detour to find an entrance to the underground trains. Figuring out the trains was hard, and I’m sure I looked like an idiot when I couldn’t get the card to scan and let me in the station. We don’t have gates like that in Portland. You just get on. I never realized how spoiled I am by tri-met. Muni is so confusing and expensive and their phone app is garbage. Tri-met is wonderful and I’m much more thankful for that after today!
When I got off the train and came up from underground I really had no idea where I was, or where I was going. The compass in my phone wasn’t much help and I walked the wrong way down the street… pulling my heavy suitcase with my 30lb messenger bag on my back. It was pretty awful. Eventually I figured out I was going the wrong way and headed back. Only one more turn, but I got that turn wrong too and it took me three very long blocks to realize the numbers on the houses were going down and not up. I stopped and bought a bottle of water in a liquor store (they seem to be on every corner here, very different from Portland). After gulping down half the bottle I started off in the correct direction. Soon I was there, but my host was not. Didn’t matter to me, as long as I didn’t have to have my bag on my back anymore I was happy.
One I was checked in and done with the chit-chat I took a long nap. Over two hours. I felt like I was moving the whole time. After waking up groggy, I was ready to head out. I was out the door within 5 minutes of waking up and gave Ace a call while I looked for much needed caffeine. One matcha-latte and one (less than great) egg sandwich later I was reenergized and ready to explore. My only solid goal was to visit Bi-Rite, which was only a few blocks away. I’m glad I did, that place is awesome! So many incredible products all in one place. I bought myself a bag of pork rinds and looked up bookstores on my phone. There were three nearby. I found a park on the way and watched adults play dodgeball for a while. They have courts for dodgeball at the city park. Amazing.
Then I wandered to the bookstore, and after that just kept wandering. Mostly down Valencia St. There seemed to be a lot of cool stuff on that street. I went in a handful of stores, but mostly just walked. I read a lot of menus in windows and wished I had the time, money, and appetite to try all the food, but I wasn’t the least bit hungry. I took a ton of pictures on my phone. I walked and walked. Eventually I needed to find a grocery store and found a Whole Foods. It was the first place that didn’t feel foreign. It was nice to sit in a chair and drink a cold beverage after two hours of being on my feet. After that I headed back to my room and I’ve been relaxing ever since. I picked up some decent Chinese food at the end of the block and I’m drinking a local beer I picked up while I was at Whole Foods, Four Point Beer Co’s Villager IPA. Its much sweeter than a Portland IPA, but still nice and bitter.
This city shares a lot of values with Portland, but is very much its own city. The houses are a completely different style, they more are like the new homes everyone hates in Portland; skinny, tall, row houses. There is more food here. Amazing food is EVERYWHERE. You can’t escape it. There are four restaurants on this mostly residential block. In Portland the good food is only on the main roads. In this neighborhood (I have no idea what neighborhood I’m in), that is not the case at all. I’m excited to try more of the food tomorrow, and I hope to check out peir 39 and the Golden Gate Bridge. If I’m feeling spunky, I’ll walk it. If the weather is amazing, I’ll probably skate. For now, I’m looking forward to a full nights sleep not on a loud, bright, moving train.