Day Forty Three: California is a Garden of Eden, a Paradise to Live In or See : California (San Francisco, Bolinas, Bodega Bay)

(Events of Monday, April 27th, blogged Friday, May 1st)

I’ll be honest, I had never been that all fired up to visit San Francisco to begin with. It made the list because it was on the route, and everyone says it’s awesome, and how can you not. But I had thought

of scratching it on several occasions to make room for other things. But SF surprised me (other than just being ridiculously expensive, even more so than California in general). It was coastal, and walkable, and mega dog friendly, and has a lot of historical charm. And one of the main components of that charm is the iconic cable cars. How can you think of San Francisco and NOT think of cable cars?! I had even done my research to learn that dogs are allowed on public transportation, so off we went.

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And we waited in line with some other amiable folks while a guy who looked like Theon GreyJoy twitched and mumbled nearby. Fine. And we got to the front of the line and the driver said: “And your dog is?” Now I HATE cryptic questions like this, but I seem to get them a lot in regards to Annie. Is what? Spayed? Friendly? Black and white? Adorable? WHAT?? I never received the exact answer to that question, but was informed that in order for Annie to board she would need a muzzle. A MUZZLE! The thought of trying to put a muzzle on Annie, and the contempt with which she would hold me in forever after was not worth even the thrill of a cable car ride (also I don’t have a muzzle, and wasn’t about to invest in one just for this). No attempt to convince him of Annie’s peace loving ways would move him, so we were left to watch them ride off without us.

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Next on the list was a visit to Lombard Street, also known as the Most Crooked Street in America. Now, interestingly enough, our motel was on Lombard Street, and in returning to it yesterday we had walked it for at least a mile. And it was straight as an arrow. But apparently this crooked business is really only for a block-so off we went to find the block. Have I mentioned how hilly San Francisco is? It’s mega hilly! Lots of hills. Lots of huffing and puffing. And we made it! This is the bottom of the street, you really need an aerial shot to see how twisted it really is, and I was very sure I didn’t want to attempt it on Marigold.

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And here we are after huffing and puffing our way to the top! I would have liked to get a photo with a better view, but a group of clueless and utterly self absorbed French tourists (two of which you can see below) monopolized the one good spot for far longer than any decent human would, and even after they had taken roughly 857 photos, they then STOOD IN THE SPOT CHATTING AND LOOKING AT THE PICS SO NO ONE ELSE COULD USE IT EITHER! I even made several snarky comments to no avail.

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After all the exertions and annoyances, I figured I had earned a treat. And it didn’t seem right to leave the city without sampling some of it’s legendary Ghirardelli chocolate (MUCH better than Hershey’s for all you furrners who doubt the quality of American chocolate!) So a Salted Caramel Quake Shake was had and boy did that hit the spot! The guys at the ice cream parlor were also super nice and gave Annie a bowl of water and some cute little girls there made a big fuss over her, so in your face Cable Man!

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And with that it was time to continue northward and out of the city across the Golden Gate Bridge.

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On the other side there was a pull off for additional photo ops, which… this classic convertible apparently driven by oversized teddy bears in San Francisco Giants uniforms was also taking advantage of?

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When I returned to the car after my selfie break, it became clear that the teddies had distracted me into making a fatal error. And that I was not the only one who appreciates fine chocolate…

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Lesson learned. (Not.) Our next stop was to be Muir Woods, but when we got there, and I went to pay (read: flash my handy National Park pass), and I gave my standard “one human and one dog” reply when asked how many, the ranger looked as though I had said I was bringing BigFoot himself on to their precious property and in a shocked tone advised me dogs were NOT allowed. Now, I know the National Parks can be strict, but I had yet to come across one that had ZERO areas where a dog could have a little wander. And this was a National Monument which I had found to be much less strict in those regards. So it had never occurred to me Annie wouldn’t even be allowed out of the car. And this was definitely turning out to be NOT her day. So we blew that popsicle stand and drove on further where we could at least check out the scenic overlook of Muir Beach.

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With a little extra time on our hands now, and while getting lost trying to find Point Reyes, we stumbled upon the little hamlet of Bolinas which I had actually pre-researched and then forgotten. But I pulled out all my papers and read how it’s so dog friendly that no dogs are on leashes EVER< and they practically run the joint! Bolinas is a curious place-it’s a little community of nature loving social activists located on a gorgeous coast just 13 miles from a really wealthy city. And they REALLY don’t want to get overrun by tourists, or worse, developers. So there are literally no street signs indicating it’s location, and whenever the county puts one up, the residents tear it down. And it definitely has a funky vibe. The picture on the left is a public meditation space created in response to 9/11.

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And most of the houses have a quirky feel as well.

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The town is surrounded on three sides by water, and the beach is nice, if nothing special.

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But apparently everything is closed on Mondays (and most of the week): the one cafe, the galleries, the gift shop, the museum, everything except Smiley’s Saloon where at 2PM I could hear people inside shouting from across the street, and the co-op/grocery store where I was told in no uncertain terms that dogs were NOT allowed. So it didn’t quite live up to the idyllic wonderland I had imagined in my mind, and we kept on trucking.

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I never did find the beach at Point Reyes (which is supposed to be an AMAZING place to hike), my GPS took me to a parking lot with some inland trails that didn’t allow dogs, and my personal radar located this adorable little bookshop. So the attempt wasn’t a total bust.

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I was starting to get tired, and it didn’t look like I was going to make it to my intended stopping point, so on a whim I pulled in to a random campground on Bodega Bay. The very nice young man collecting fees tried to warn me off by saying how “cold and windy” it was, but I assured him we were made of sterner stuff. And in return we scored a prime spot, right on the bay (views obscured by the misty fog that was rolling in), with hardly anyone around us, and a wind that was not strong enough to rock the van, and a chill that wasn’t deep enough to require me to sleep in a hat. Paradise.

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