Things what I writ

I sometimes write nonsense about things to try and sound clever

travelogue 21

travelogue 21
travelogue 21 by Tim Caynes

ah. homeland security. they checked all my hold luggage and put everything back in kind of like it was before. except for all the stuff like shirts and jackets, which are folded in such a way as to make one enormous crease across the front you can’t ever iron out. and the electrical adaptors and cables they scattered about while checking for detonators. I think they also took my laptop out and played solitaire for while, but I can’t be sure.

it’s cold. I knew it would be, so I’d packed my dad’s killy skiing jacket just in case and as it’s still in my suitcase, I might just put that on for the shuttle ride to rental central. I like that shuttle. I like the way it tells you to “set the luggage cart brake to on” every 10 seconds. I like the way it stops at the post office. I like the way it accellerates like it’s lost control as you drop down the incline to rental central and the group of swiss skiers who haven’t set their luggage cart brake to on are now chasing it through the carriage. I like the way I don’t have to walk anywhere unlike the fricken 17 miles I have to walk at london heathrow just to get to the next terminal to get the travelator to the elevator to get the escalator which takes me to the heathrow express which takes me to the next terminal where I walk another 17 miles to get a rotovator from mr motorvator to get the conveyor to the upper layer where the fast bag drop has a sign on top because the line has stopped because the plane’s got lost.

my names not on the board. it never is. someone concatenated my name and title as “timmr” on my avis preferred profile and now nobody can say my name or apparently type it into a hand-held device. it’s alright though, the people at the preferred desk are very nice and because my car’s never ready they always give me a nice new one that’s just been cleaned. even if it is a red chevy cobalt LT, which in this case, stands for Lamentable Throttle.

I did something on the flight that I’ve never done before. I took out a GUIDE BOOK and started reading it. yes, a san francisco and bay area eyewitness guide I got back in 1996. I don’t normally give myself away as a tourist and spend ages in queues and as planes taxi to terminals just sitting there looking like I’ve done it all before and I’m not going to panic because I know when they’re going to call my seat number/open the doors/start the baggage carousel etc. so I’m just cool waiting for the moment that I stroll up to and pick off my suitcase and wander off leaving a bunch of holidaymakers thinking “why did his bag get off so early?” and I slip through customs high-fiving the national guard and then all the stall holders give me a wave as I walk through the concourse and my butler is waiting in the rolls. well, it’s not really like that of course, but I have travelled a few times and I don’t like people peering over my shoulder so I normally just make myself invisible. today though, I’ve got a few hours to kill in san francisco before I have to get to the hotel and as I always go to Colorado these days, I’ve not had a few hours in san francisco for a while, so I’m gonna do a bit of sightseeing that I haven’t done for years. so I’m planning how much of the 49 mile scenic drive I might do in 4 hours. in the rain. in a chevy cobalt Lacklustre Traction. when I can’t really be bothered. I got really excited about the places I’d never been, like twin peaks and the zoo and the presidio, which probably all look great in the california sunshine. but not today.

in the end I decided I’d do a bit of streets of san francisco/magnum force/dirty harry and check out some of those seedy places under bridges where they always find strangled people and the mayor tells them they better not terrorize the city this time with their maverick cop antics and then they’re off the case because the chief of police is in the pocket of the main suspect who’s a notorious drug cartel leader but you go ahead and solve the case anyway with your enormous gun and some reckless driving around telegraph hill. the starting point for that cheery tour was fort point under the golden gate bridge where I thought I might at least bump into michael douglas in a callbox calling in backup. as it turns out, I squeezed in a few miles of the 49 mile drive, the piers, fort collins, the presidio and some other stuff along the way. the presidio is strange, no? once I actually got to fort point, the rain came down, but not before I’d got as close to the underside of the bridge as possible, which isn’t very close, as it’s all fenced off these days, presumably in case I had some kind of warhead in my shoe, and had a quick look around the fort, which had closed access to the roof because of the lack of railings and so all in all it was a bit miserable but I kind of liked it that way and when you saw there were people surfing under the bridge regardless, it all made sense in a california kind of way.

after that I headed to palo alto to check into the hotel and spent the next 2 hours wondering what to eat and taking self portraits using folded key cards and mirrors. I ate a burger. the oscars were on. helen mirren won. I spoke to the bar staff in my best british accent. no, I don’t know her. no, she’s acting, that’s not the real queen.

freaking out on the golden gate

So, at the end of the week, it’s always nice to get out of town and take a ride. This was last friday, mind, but I mean, it takes a while to do this. Winding down from the terrible excitement of an ops review and an ecstatic all-afternoon discussion about layout frameworks and content layout assembler template managed things, and not forgetting the Jager incident, it was time to take a trip over Woodside and hit the coastal highway in the tasty Chevy Corporate. First stop, Bucks in Woodside. Now, that’s some place. Chris tells me that all the deals go down there, so while I wait for him to make me a deal, we get something called a 2x2x2, which is pretty much the best breakfast you can get, except there’s twice as much as you can eat. As usual. I could live in these hills. But I don’t, so I wave Chris off on his bike and head over the 84 to the Pacific.

A bit twisty. The Jager’s coming back. And those pancakes. And the sausages. Hurgh. Ah, there’s the sea…

Here’s the thing though. You come over here in mid October and it’s 90 degrees and you sit in the office all day. You head over the hills to the beach and it’s suddenly fricken freezing and total cloud cover. Hmph. I am going to Half Moon Bay and I am going to sit on the beach. Whatever. So, I do that for a while and there is nobody to see for miles, which is a bonus, but I’m getting all morose on the beach on my own, so back in the lovely Chevy Marketeer and up the coast a bit.

All the way up the coast in fact. I was only looking for somewhere to pull over to take my jacket off, but I ended up in Golden Gate Park with that “I’m a tourist” sign stuck on the roof. I swapped it out for the “I’m in a rental car” sign and burned down the middle lane, swerving violently about for the sake of it. After a near miss with a Dodge Enormous I settle down, and succumb to the fact that I’m going over the bridge whether I like it or not (Chris tells me later he’s never done the bridge, so me being resigned to it is a bit lame. it’s such a drag).

The bridge is looking bad. Mean and bad. I’ve done the vista point on the north side before, and it’s been glorious, day and night. Lucky I guess. Right now, the clouds are at about 50 feet and the mist is just clinging on to the structure. Oh well, no majestic sweeping panoramas on the W1 today. I know. I’ll walk across. I’ve never done that. Ooh, bad idea as it turns out…

So, I set out on foot to see how far I get. Quite ok. Dodging the day bikes and the mental Tour de Bridge carbon fibre brigade. Not many pedestrians. Carry on. The one thing I notice is it’s so bloody loud. I mean, that traffic at 4pm on Friday is like a hurricance – six lanes steaming by at ear height. Carry on. The first moments of weirdness happen when you’re ‘off concrete’ and ‘on-bridge’. Take a few steps, look over the edge. Take a few more, look over the edge. Stop, look up, and then…look at the size of that thing. The first suspension tower is right in front of you, and that thing is huge, man. I mean, it’s huge. When you take the route round the outside of the thing, which hangs out over the water, the sense of scale is overwhelming. So that’s where I start freaking. Right then, I’ve taken a couple of classic wide shots with the SF skyline just about visible. Let’s just take a quick one to get some idea of the size of this thing. Ok, there noone around, good. Hang on. There’s really noone around. Anywhere. Look both ways and there’s no bikes, no pedestrians, no CHP to check whether I’m hanging over the edge. Nobody. K. That’s alright. Just a bit odd. Right, let take that shot. Point the camera w a y u p t h e r e to the top. Lean back. Back a bit. Looking straight up now, straight at the camera display…

All I can say really, is that being totally alone, on the most massive man-made structure around (megalophobic), high over the huge, sea-like SF bay (thalassophobic) and losing the horizon and any reference to my spatial positioning I was suddenly in cold panic. I pretended I wasn’t though. I mean, somebody might have been looking. I took that shot and then pretty much ran all the way back to the vista point car park, where I set off the car alarm instead of unlocking the doors and hid in the toilet. Or I would have done, if the toilet wasn’t being cleaned. I actually hid in the ladies toilet. There.

Anyway, I made myself better by doing a ‘Taxi’ down Van Ness and onto Market, whereupon I drove the car straight onto the pavement and left it there, like something out of The Deadpool and dashed into Macys, where a very nice man sold me some Puma underwear. They had Lycra and everything.