Airstreaming to Alaska – Chapter 4: Santa Cruz to San Francisco

Posted May 24, 2022 – Narrated by Carmen
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Airstreaming to Alaska
Airstreaming to Alaska

Chapter 4 in the “Airstreaming to Alaska” series.

“You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.” 

Magnificent bridges,

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We rode our Dolphin eBikes over the Golden Gate Bridge

beautiful public gardens,

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Japanese Tea Garden San Fransisco

the oldest Chinatown in North America,

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an old island prison,

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Taking a moment to honor our dear friend Larry Benegas (Kumeyaay Barona) who occupied Alcatraz with UIAT in the 70’s to raise awareness of the intergenerational trauma indigenous people suffer.

and we don’t know a soul who lives there.

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‎⁨Marin Headlands⁩, ⁨Sausalito⁩

That’s all we had on San Francisco.

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We figured The City would be cold, foggy, crowded and expensive.

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Not so.

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Enjoying the Painted Ladies of San Francisco

We arrived in mid-February as a dry, warm front moved in and SF (in the early stages of re-opening) had no crowds at all, and prices were competitive even in the touristy areas.

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Ghirardelli Chocolate in San Francisco since 1849

This was my second visit to SF. Twenty years ago I flew in for a weekend with friends, Lori and Marsha. But in almost fifty years as a California couple, we never visited The Bay Area together, and that’s a shame.

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San Francisco is beautiful.

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As with New York City, we were surprised by San Francisco’s compact size. At only seven-miles by seven-miles everything is within reach.

We explored the city on foot …

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We found Pico’s yacht!

from the top deck of a tour bus

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Double deck tour buses are a great way to get city photos

and with our folding Dolphin eBikes.

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Getting There

Bundled up like French trappers, we pulled out of Santa Cruz. It felt odd to wear our “Canada Clothes” in central California, but our artichokes were freezing off.

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Coffee cup clenched to my chest I whimpered, “Who’s idea was it to travel north in winter?” Then, in Living in Beauty tradition, Jim played Willie and my spirit gradually lifted as we sang together…

Going places where we’ve never been,
       seeing things that we may never see again …
Willie Nelson from his song “On The Road Again”
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Entering Pacifica

“Suck it up, Buttercup,” I thought. Adventure means high stakes and bizarre weather events are par for the course these days. I just hope that, up the road, there’s never a reason to name a pass after us.

Winter cold fronts in California are usually periodic events. Within hours or days the sun pops out as if to say “Just kidding!” and the shorts and t-shirt rut resumes. Californians use cold weather as an excuse to stay home and remind ourselves why we live here.

Entering San Mateo County, we felt transported. That seventy-mile span of coastline took us from rolling grasslands to lush evergreen forests, and finally to …

The Edge

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Our view from our campground

Pacifica

We pulled off Hwy 280 at Pacifica, our home for a week.

We stepped out of the truck and the warm California breeze hugged our bones like a good old friend. Tony Bennet is right, the golden sun really does come out. Of course the freeze was a joke. Haha. Good one. We couldn’t shed our coats fast enough.

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Some of the campground is eroded into the ocean

The Campground is all about location. San Francisco RV Resort is merely an asphalt parking lot on a cliff overlooking the Pacific.

In fact, part of the campground is actually in the Pacific but you try not to think about that as the white horses kick the rocks. Sea cliff erosion is a decades-old issue for this surfing community with an unquenchable c’est la vie vibe.

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Pacifica, California

The breathtaking riviera threw us off our mission. With only a week here, we reasoned, “Why go into the city at all?” This is relaxing. Cities are tiresome.

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A view of Pacifica from Mori Point

We took a long walk to sort out our priorities.

The beach was winning by a mile.

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Sharp Park Golf Course on the beach near the campground

But then, a little bird suggested that if we take small steps we can enjoy both the beach and San Francisco: Pacifica during the best beach hours (morning and evening) and San Francisco in the mid-day.

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“And,” this amazing and articulate little birdie added, “You will like the food.”

Yes. Small steps. What a wise bird.

If we get weary with sightseeing in SF, we can simply BART home.

Thinking about all that fine San Francisco cuisine made us hungry. So we walked home to toast our arrival and whip up an early dinner of Pasta Pesto Presto

and settled in for the sunset show.

We were on a roll.

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Downtown San Francisco

Every morning began with an oceanside walk to The Chit Chat Cafe where we dug into flaky freshly baked croissants, strawberry preserves and coffee …

From there we Uber’d to BART (Bay Area Rapid Transport) …

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into downtown where Second Breakfast …

fortified a San Francisco walking tour.

Then, we BARTed back to Pacifica for Happy Hour featuring our own homemade Nekid Lady Greek Salad at Pedro Point Brewing.

We got into a routine

The itinerary worked beautifully, every day, with few variations: Morning Chit-Chat;

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BART,

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San Francisco,

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Pedro Point,

Sunset.

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We love cities, all of them. Big and small.

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But rushing around can be exhausting …

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Afternoon tea at the Japanese Tea Garden

and the details, which are key to a city’s character, are overlooked.

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If we miss something spectacular, we can return someday.

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There will always be plenty to see.

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Cities are worth exploring.

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They are humanity’s cluttered workshops where the best and worst ideas share dusty corners

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where myth, rumor, legends and secrets beget cultures;

where outdated technologies that once served as cutting edge solutions continue to function beside the latest high-tech digital can-do creations;

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where obsolete and failed attempts at progress still inspire utopian dreams.

Cities are a solution to the problem of alienation

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and a place where it is easy to disappear into the crowd.

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People go to the city to recreate themselves.

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Take it from someone who grew up in Naples, Italy – the more dirty, raucous and complex the city is, the better.

The grimy business of rebirth may not be the city’s intent, but it is its best commodity.

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The grotesqueness and chaos function like a cocoon or egg seeping with the mucus of percolating creation.

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For those with ears to hear, cities are humanity’s genius holding forth.

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San Francisco may be a bad place to leave your car unattended …

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but it’s a great place to park your heart

If you can find a level spot.

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We came to San Francisco with the question, “What took us so long?” and, though we didn’t see it all, at least we got our feet wet in The Bay Area.

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On to Dillion Beach!

What’s your favorite thing to do in San Francisco? Please tell us in a comment block below.


Chapters in the “Airstreaming to Alaska” series


If you want to see our exact route, click here.

*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.