01 August, 2012

Day 26, 420km: San Francisco

So I woke up in a nice, comfortable bed. In an apartment (felt so big after a month of tent/motel). I have to admit I kind of wanted to stay there one or two days and do nothing. Eat cereals in front of the TV and drink beer playing video games. Yes, that crossed my mind. Yes, I miss it!

But the objective of the day was San Francisco. Which isn't the worst place one can find himself, is it? Oh and I intended to go there via the Napa Valley so... that helped to get going :)
Said goodbye to Lisa and Ben who were off to work, and I was on my way.

Visit of Sacramento's old town
 Started the day with a breakfast (!) in Sacramento's old town. I can't really tell if the buildings there are authentic or not, but the atmosphere of the place was nice. Half a dozen blocks of old buildings. Plus it was still early in the morning so there wasn't anyone. I imagine it gets crowded on weekends.

That building is pretty cool
 The whole city was actually very nice, wide avenues lined with trees. Sacramento is the state's capital so there were a lot of government offices, including the state capitol.

Which can be seen at the far end of the avenue
Sadly, very sadly Arnold Swarzenegger isn't Governor of California anymore, so he wasn't in the building doing push-ups at the time of this picture. But we'll say he was. Plus it was maybe 9am, which isn't a respectable time to be in the office if you're governor. If I were governor, I would probably be playing golf at 9am. Or enjoying my beach villa. Villa where an helicopter would pick me around 11am to go for lunch. I think I'd arrive in the office around 2 or 3pm. Busy people aren't supposed to show up at 8am like paper pushers.

So anyway, back to the realities of travel, I had to stop for groceries. Shopped at Safeway and my bike decided to kiss the ground while I was trying to leave the parking lot. It was a slow drop, I forgot to integrate the "pannier is now full of food, beware when turning" variable into my driving equation.
I was fed up at myself and lifted the bike as hard and fast as I could. I pulled a muscle in my shoulder, although I didn't feel it at that point.

Cool house. A lady was there. "Where you from?" "France" "Oh." She walked away.
It was a nice sunny day, reasonably warm. I decided to setup the GPS in "avoid all highways and take the shortest path across the smallest roads" mode and headed in a general westward direction towards Napa Valley.

And actually found myself in pretty cool roads!
 That was a nice, kind of lazy morning, driving randomly across the Californian countryside. The destination for the day was San Francisco. Sacramento - San Francisco is a 140km drive. I did it in 420km so that wasn't exactly the shortest path.

Wineries start!
Forest tunnel roads
 Eventually made it to the Sugar Loaf Ridge State Park, in the middle of wine country, the place was full of wineyards. Most were actually pretty small! Far from the idea that I had of massive Californian wineyards.
I guess they exist, somewhere else. The valley actually reminded me of Khao Yai. I'm pretty sure the Thai generation that built the resorts and restaurants there had a huge crush on northern California.

Robert Ferguson Observatory, Santa Rosa
 There was another observatory in my GPS at that location. This one was built for the public, to do "science nights" and things like that, I guess. It was closed though, probably opens only some nights of the year.

Stopped to visit a winery
I stopped at some winery on the way (can't remember the name). Most didn't allow visitors, a lot had "By Appointment Only" signs. So of course the only ones that accepted visitors expected them to pay for the wine tasting. $20 for three glasses of a random Californian wine? Thanks but no thanks. Yes, I'm becoming cheap like that.

The place was actually pretty nice. Lots of people with a bottle + picnic
Cools cars on the parking lot. Corvette Stingray (front, 70s)  Packard Convertible (back, 40s)
 Now that's one thing where I'm -slightly- disappointed is the cars. I expected to see much more classic cars on the road. I know that is kind of stupid, people drive modern cars like in any other countries. I'll have to see if I can find a museum/show somewhere. So it was cool to see these two - especially the vette :)

The pacific ocean, last time I saw it was in northern Canada!
 Then I was off for the coast, catching the start of the California Highway 1 (coastal road famed for its scenery).
And cool scenery there was
The landscape actually reminded me of the Manche's coast. Somewhere between Brittany, Normandy and Northern France. Therefore, beautiful! :)

Mandatory golden gate hobo picture
 Eventually made it to San Francisco along the coast. I was lucky enough to see the bridge without an once of fog.

Then Garmin decided to go nuts
I was looking for a campsite near the city. Garmin decided it would be an appropriate time to do things like above (later found out  that since I had setup the map to be very detailed the poor thing was overloaded in San Francisco). Strangely enough Garmin indicated two campsites just a few kilometers south of the central district. I decided to give it a try.
And surely enough there were no campsites but rather the head offices of two campground companies. Thanks Garmin.
So I decided to drive around downtown until I could find an area I liked and to stop there for the night.

I went through more than one very shady districts where I had no intention to stop (the red lights were more than enough). I also went through more than one extremely cool districts full of restaurants, bars with terrace and cools shops (and geek friendly advertising for tech companies and stuff like that).

Care for some stickers? I think that used to be a Toyota Celica in a former life. Not sure.
Eventually found a -relatively- cheap motel "The Castle" where I stayed for the night.
San Francisco is really a cool city. Very lively, climate I like (around 20 all year round), by the sea and with lots and lots of hills and cliffs. The hipster crowd was massive, though.

Walked a bit in downtown before heading to the motel to prepare my finest motel Cuisine, then off to bed.

Cheers everyone,

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