12:18 AM, Sep 1, 2006
Day Three: San Francisco
We woke up just late enough to get a full night's sleep, and early enough to meet the hostel's strangely rigid checkout policy. We stowed our bags at a temporary locker space next door to the hostel and hit the street. Our first priority was a big, greasy meal, and as such, we chose Lori's Diner, just off Union Square on Powell Street. While Erp ordered disgustingly huge and greasy brunches for each of us, I ran across the street to the drug store to get some aspirin. When I walked back in, our meals had already been ordered, and I availed myself of the aspirin immediately, as my tailbone was not feeling the greatest.
After we settled up at Lori's, we walked in no particular direction, with me snapping photos all along the way. By luck, we followed Grant Street right through Chinatown, glimpsing the "legal" ivory displays porminently featured in many of the shops, alongside small personalized California license plates, wooden back-scratchers, and other stupid tourist crap.
We emerged on the other end of Chinatown at Columbus Avenue, and I directed us to the northwest, the direction in which I was confident lay the San Francisco Brewing Company. Instead we walked along the street through a decidedly Italian neighborhood, coming into the open at Cathedral Square. Almost immediately, we noticed the new(to us) San Francisco location of the Rogue Ales Public House.
We stepped inside, had a couple drinks, and it turned out, an altogether lovely time. Phillip behind the bar was more than happy to push his wares upon us, and dropped off small one-ounce tastes of any of the 40+ taps that he thought we would enjoy. When we received our check, we noticed that the second round had been stricken from our tab, so we thanked Phillip voraciously. He also informed us that we had walked in the wrong direction to get to the SF Brewery. He steered us in the right direction, and we were soon there.
We enjoyed the Brewery quite a lot, but nothing of particular record happened there. We stepped outside and caught the next #12 bus, and transferred to the next southbound #22 bus. Soon after, we found ourselves in the middle of "The Haight," and within sight of the first thing I always have in mind when thinking of San Francisco: Toronado.
Toronado is pretty generally regarded as the best beer bar west of the Appalachian Mountains, and is well worth the transcontinental trip. If you ever find yourself in San Francisco, make Toronado a priority, or I'll never speak to you again. We walked in and loaded up on draught beers that are basically impossible to find anywhere else. I won't bore you with their names.
We caught the #7 back into the downtown area, and rounded off our visit with dinner at some Indian restaurant of which nobody has ever heard, and enjoyed an unfairly excellent vegetarian meal, along with beers in accoutrement. We walked from there to the stowage place and got our bags which, to our collective delight, were intact and unmolested. We then got back on the BART, waving goodbye to America's greatest city.
We got off in downtown Oakland, walking this time to the station, but making one last pitstop at some barbecue place where I confirmed that yes, my tailbone is indeed bleeding. I will inquire about a doctor in Chico. For now, the bumps and curves of the train are torturing me as we make the five-hour trip to Chico from Oakland.
When the train left Scaramento at about 1:15am, it became quickly apparent that traveling north from Sacramento is a lot like falling off the face of the Earth. Very quickly, the darkness was complete. Even when pressing our faces against the blackened windows, we were still unable to make anything out except our own reflections in the glass.
I couldn't tell you what the country between California's capital city and its northern neighbor looks like. It was just too dark. The unbelievable blackness was only interrupted by the two or three times we passed through a dusty, blink-and-you'll-miss-it town. There weren't even farmhouses or streetlights to mark the passage of distance.
The boredom was terrible, especially for me. I was almost completely unable to sleep, such was the acuteness of the pain in my tailbone. I had only pain with which to pass the time. I don't think I can remember a more unpleasant three hours in my life.
We finally arrived in Chico at about 3:30am, and took a cab for the meager distance to the motel where we had arranged accomodations. We fell in, and went immediately to sleep.