Destination: San Francisco, CA

Jan. 25, 2011

Woke up very tired today in San Luis, Obispo, due to my restless night. I would have stayed another night in this expensive, nice, hotel but they were full up. Bummer. So I booked a room for $50 in Fisherman’s Wharf and will drive 5 hours today to get to SF.

My legs are SO SORE from the hike down the beach with Craig, even two days later! We had to climb down a seriously steep bank and then of course, climb back up. It just shows me how out of shape I’ve gotten and I resolve to change that in SF!

In San Luis Obispo, right next door to the hotel, they had a wonderful shopping mall, similar to the ones in Atlanta. It was the first sign of a shopping center I had seen since leaving home and it gave me great comfort. As I drove through the parking lot just taking it in, I passed Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Sears. It occurred to me that I might like to have my own pillows and sheets wherever I landed in SF. I am very particular about my pillows and sheets, and anything used by someone else seems a little unsanitary. So I went into Sears and bought two nice pillows and pillow covers. Then I went to BBB and bought another round pillow, and on a whim, an electric blanket. It would be cold in SF and I would be in bed all alone. It was a wise decision, and made my stay in Berkeley and in SF much more comfortable.

In the same shopping center I stopped and ate lunch at the Taco Bell, a Burrito Supreme. I must confess, I had eaten the exact same thing every day for lunch since I left Atlanta. Turns out, there are Taco Bells all across America, and they sell a good cheap lunch. Very filling. Again, this was a bit in revolt against my ex; she would never have let us eat at a Taco Bell, and I happen to like Taco Bell very much.

At this Taco Bell, a homeless man stood outside the door and opened it for every customer. He greeted them warmly and welcomed us, as if he were the doorman for the establishment. Of course, like all door men, his hand was out. I had been collecting mounds of spare change along my trip and just leaving it in my car console. So now I took this opportunity to get rid of it. I scooped up all the change, and as the man opened the door for me with a cheery, “Good afternoon, Miss. Spare some change?” I poured all my coins into his open hand. “God bless you , m’am,” he said happily.

I am curious about all the homeless people I am seeing in California. I suppose it is the climate, but they are everywhere and seem to blend in rather well with the rest of society. Is it because people don’t see them anymore? Or because they don’t care? I don’t understand the tolerance this state has for its homeless. In Georgia, they would be arrested for panhandling and shuttled off to some skanky part of town to live under a bridge or a bush. Here, they just mingle. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it and I knew that in SF the homeless were a particularly present element of society.

I just happened to be in San Luis Obispo on the day that Jack LaLane died, a strange coincidence since he lived in nearby Morro Bay, which I drove through on my way north. I can see why he chose to live here. This part of the drive was the most beautiful, just one heavenly scene after another. I stopped several times and took the pictures that are now on my website. I am glad I took the time. At each stop, I had to do a little meditation, breathe deeply, try to be present because it was so inconceivable that I was actually there, seeing this beauty. In California—I was in California.

Finally, I reached the SF city limits and the traffic as luck would have it, around 3:30 pm. So I got right into the flow of SF life by sitting in traffic. It was strange passing by landmarks I recognized (the airport, the ball field) in my own car. I had been here many times with my ex in a taxi or a rental car, but now I was in my car crammed with all my stuff…alone.

After two hours of traffic, GPS took me straight to the hotel room I had booked for the night: America’s Best Inn on Van Ness.

Hotel Review: America’s Best Inn, San Francisco

I’m not sure this place is America’s best, but it sure was worth the money, beginning with the free parking. Just a few blocks away, the Marriott or Hilton charged $35 a night for guest parking, and that was valet parking with the car buried away god knows where. Here the parking was right under your room, well lit, covered, safe, and watched by four video cameras from every corner. Which was good, because I had to make several trips to my car to get what I needed.

It was seedy, all right, but it literally had every amenity of more expensive hotels: microwave, cable TV, hair dryer, refrigerator, cups, soap, towels, telephone, alarm clock, and free wifi. It was just the lowest quality of every amenity–the smallest bar of soap, old and thin towels, paper cups. It even had one of those little coffeemakers with coffee, sugar, and cream. And I used it and it produced a perfectly good cup of coffee in the morning. If I leaned out over the balcony, I could even see the Golden Gate Bridge! Well, part of it.

But best of all, it had a heater that worked perfectly and quietly, unlike the heater in Flagstaff—and it was the exact same model of heater! I was quite satisfied with my $50 room. It was just for one night, it was safe, quiet, as clean as it could be given its age, and warm.

Grade: B

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