The Road Less Travelled #8

I actually did not do any sightseeing in Eureka because I was so tired and I had a lot of homework to do.  The front desk had a guide of 101 things to do in Humboldt County.  I took a copy, thinking I would actually have time to do some of those things but it never panned out.

I did dine out once however.  The first night I asked the clerk where a good seafood place was.  Before I could even finish the sentence he blurted out, “The Sea Grill.”  Okay, Sea Grill it is.  Usually, I dress for dinner.  I know this is not a habit many Americans keep, but I always change my dress, freshen my makeup (if I’m wearing any) and redo my hair.  My friends laugh at me, but I’m not letting go of the habit any time soon.  I said that I *usually* do this.  Sometimes I think, eff it I’m hungry.  Let’s eat.  Tonight was one of those nights, and of course, it would be the night that I felt entirely out of place being dressed like a bum.  It’s not that everyone in the Sea Grill was in a tux and a prom dress.  There were a few in jeans, but most people were decently attired.  The hostess looked at me like, “My God, what happened to you!” but she was too polite to say anything.

She gave me a table, explained the night’s specials and probably went into the back to laugh at me.  However poorly I was dressed, the food was superb.  I had black cod in soy ginger sauce.  You know I’ll eat anything that’s soy or ginger or Asian sounding.  I never eat restaurant vegetables, but these were really good and crisp.  I cleaned that whole plate.  If you’re ever in Eureka and you want some seafood, head to Sea Grill on 3rd and E.  It’s not especially expensive but it isn’t cheap either.

I spent the next day and a half trying to break into San Francisco.  My God, I’ve never had such a headache.  In some places spontaneity works, and others it just doesn’t.  San Francisco is not a city that you can just descend upon and think you’re gonna end up with a place to stay.  Any number of events could be going on, which is what I found out after a fruitless search for a reasonably priced hotel.  I called my dad in frustration.  I told him that I might have to wave to San Francisco from the highway as I passed it by because I couldn’t find a place to stay.  When I told him my budget, he laughed.  Okay, so $100 a night was a pipe dream.  So was $200.  $300.  There is no way on God’s green earth that I would pay $400 a night for a hotel room.  I don’t care what I can afford or not.  It’s just not happening.

All those motors inns that I read about were booked full up.  I finally found a hostel, so I booked it and went to sleep thinking that everything was all right.  YEAH RIGHT!  Fifteen hours later, I get an email from them saying they cannot honour my reservation.  I was supposed to be checking out of Eureka and getting on the road in less than three hours.  What to do now?

For whatever strange reason I just decided to call one of the motor inns.  Their website said they were booked up, but the man on the phone said, “Oh, we have room!” and he could give me the very reasonable rate of $140 a night.  THANK YOU, LORD!  The big issue for me was that I have a car.  It’s not a rental that I can just turn in, but some of these hotels were charging $40 a night to park.  TO PARK!!  You can try to scrounge around for street parking but many visits to New York City have let me know that idea totally sucks.  Parking rules can be extremely complicated.  Street cleaning, parking permits, etc.  Who needs it?  You don’t want to end up like me that one time I got my car towed in NYC and it cost me $527 to get it out.

If you are renting because you want to tour outlying areas, get the car on the day you need it and get rid of it as soon as possible.  If you have money to spend on nightly parking, I am going to forward you my personal address so you can help me pay my school bills because obviously you got it like that and I don’t!

At any rate, the drive to San Francisco was not as pleasant as it should have been.  The scenery had nothing to do with it.  I went through Humboldt State Park, home of the giant redwoods.  It’s gorgeous through here, and if you have more time you should stop and take a look-see.  There’s weird fog through here too.  I think it followed the terrain.  There was one section where the fog rolled up only onto the mountain, like a woman pulling on a silk scarf.  Everywhere else was clear, except that one long thread.

I think I was having car issues, and that’s the reason I didn’t have an enjoyable drive.  The battery light in my car kept flashing.  That could mean battery or alternator.  Either way, not good.  In Humboldt State Park, I had ZERO cell phone service.  I drove pretty much white-knuckled all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge.  Yes, I know I should have stopped but I really didn’t know where I could go.  I did get off the highway in Santa Rosa (I think) to look for a car servicing place but I hate driving around lost looking for things.  I just said heck with it.  I have AAA.  If something happens they can just tow me.  (TIP:  This is a stupid mentality.  Don’t do this.)

I stayed at Cow Hollow Motor Inn.  Not too shabby!  Free parking.  Big rooms.  Clean.  Close to public transportation, eateries and entertainment.  What more could you really ask for?  If it weren’t for TA, I would not have known to look at a place like this.  I have a tendency to think that if it isn’t a big chain then it’s a dump.  That’s not always true.  The chains can be dumps too.  Anybody ever have the misfortune of staying at an Econo Lodge or Motel 6 out in the middle of nowhere but you have to stop because you’ve been driving 12 hours?  Yeah….

So, San Francisco, I don’t know what to say about you.  I didn’t hate it, but I can’t say that I loved it.  I think that it’s just not for me.  You know, everything is not for everybody.  This isn’t going to be a huge rant about the city, I promise you that.  I did do quite a few things that were rather enjoyable.  I just think I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t come back.  I’ll let you know my full impressions in tomorrow’s post.  I was in the city four full days, and I think I packed quite a lot in those days but I’m sure I didn’t get in everything.

The first night I was in town, all I did was walk up and down Chestnut Street to take a look at what shops were near me.  I also bought my munipass from the Walgreens around the corner.  A three day pass is $21, but now you have to buy a Clipper Card.  If you don’t already have one it’s an additional $3.  This is well worth the purchase, especially if you want to ride those cable cars.  Those things are $6 EACH WAY.  This munipass is not valid for Bart or Golden Gate Transit or that other stuff you see, but yes, for the cable cars, the street cars and the regular buses.

I also walked along Marina, almost to the Bridge, but I stopped just before it.  That first night I just wanted photographs.  I had a run planned to take me across it the following morning.  This area here is really nice.  I understand that it was hard hit by an earthquake in the late 80s but they’ve since rebuilt or refitted most of the homes here.  In doing some research, I learned that property values in SF are sky high.  There’s only so much land here, so it’s at a premium.  I would later learn that there are house back up in there that go for a couple hundred million.  Couple.  Hundred.  Million.

I’ll leave you with that.


Coming up:  A tourist’s life at Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, a cruise in the Bay, Alcatraz and Union Square


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