Wednesday, March 05, 2008

West Coast Road Trip "Left My Heart In San Francisco" Edition

I stared at my dark ceiling Sunday night, hoping to get at least some sleep before the drive down to San Francisco …it didn’t happen. I got out of bed at 3:00 a.m. Sunday morning and had a big breakfast and started the long trek. I must say I love driving at odd hours of the day; it is such a different feel on the road, through the cities and in the middle of nowhere. As I arrived in Portland the sun began to arise and the blue sky came to life as the silhouette of the city laid ahead of me. Then the most horrible thing happened! I was forced to go 50 mph from the border down past Salem. It is like they just make you drive slow so that you have to spend extra time in their crappy state and that that might convince you to buy something else then just gas…nice try Oregon DOT. Needless to say I was not happy, but then I pulled up to a gas station and got out to fill my car up. To my surprise there was this old grizzly man there asking for my credit card to which I (with a puzzled look) said I am just getting some gas. “Actually” grizzlemaster said. “It is Oregon State Law for me to pump your gas.” I thought to myself as he filled my car that this is the weirdest state ever and if I could escape it faster than 50 mph then I would gladly take the opportunity. He almost helped me with that wish as he lit up a cigarette as I was leaving. My little sinister mind had a great thought of me looking in my rearview mirror and seeing this huge explosion and ball of fire and this nappy superstache land on my windshield…I know I am twisted, but it was funny. The southern part of Oregon was gorgeous and was a very nice drive into NorCal.

Racing up the Siskiyous’s I entered California and there was much rejoicing! I was awestruck at the beauty of the surrounding mountains, the valley below and Mt. Shasta jutting out of the ground and reaching skyward in the midday sun. California was an entirely new beast with speed limit posted as 70, but everybody else going 80+, my kind of state. I zipped past Redding and called my buddy Steve (who lived in NorCal) to see if he was around. Funny enough he and his fiancé were there and it was the last night before she was supposed to head back to Detroit, followed by him a few days later. It is especially funny because I missed them both b/c I went to Chicago for a wedding and was hoping to catch them on their way out and my way in, but it didn’t work and I am going to be a groomsman in their wedding. So I was pretty stocked and so we met up in Vacaville at a Chicago Style pizza joint (it didn’t hold a candle to the real thing). She was really cool and it was good to see him before he took off. I then headed down to San Francisco to catch up with Colin at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park (30 miles south of SF). I took the 80 over the bay bridge ($4, what a rip) and upon exiting the tollbooth was thoroughly confused. There were like 20 lanes and my lane was ending, so I changed lanes and then that lane ended until the 20 lanes were whittled down to 4 going across the bridge…crazy driving! I arrived at the Seminary at around 12 p.m. or so and caught up with Colin who gave me a quick tour of the Seminary. I asked him if I could sleep on the floor in his room and he said I couldn’t. So I asked him if I could keep my snowboard in his room and he said sure. I then said, wait a minute, my snowboard can stay in your room but your best buddy can’t? What is that? So I slept in my car.

I awoke to Colin knocking on my window telling me it was time for morning Mass. We went to Mass at 8 a.m. with all of the seminarians and it was awesome. This seminary is amazing and the chapel is like something out of Europe, super ornate and just gorgeous. We then had breakfast with all the seminarians and staff, which was great,...such good food! Colin and I took a quick trip to Stanford in Menlo Park and then into S.F. for the remainder of the day. We had a great time checking out SFU, St. Ignatius Church next to it, the convent next to that and the Coit Tower to see the city. Colin had to meet with some people from Opus Dei and so I joined him. Well needless to say they got my contact information and I will probably be having coffee with Mark when he comes up in March. The remainder of the night we hung out in Menlo Park and chilled. The next day Colin again woke me up in my car (I am really glad I brought that sleeping bag and pillow) and we went to morning Mass again only this time something was quite different. This Mass was almost entirely silent, no talking at all. Why you ask is this, well it is because it was done almost in its entirety in American Sign Language. This was almost the most amazing Mass I have ever been to. Not only was the priest solid, but we also learned sign to parts of the Mass. It was very contemplative, unique and exciting because all of your focus could be on the sacrifice. After breakfast, Colin went to some classes and I went to S.F. to check out more sights before I began my trip to L.A.

Well I was pressed for time so I went along the bay to Fort Point (an old civil war fort under the Golden Gate Bridge). I then hiked up to the GGB and walked halfway across it, which was really cool. I saw huge ships cruise under the bridge, dolphins in the bay below and felt the wind blow the fog in all while listening to “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” by Tony Bennet. I then headed down to Fisherman’s Warf, saw Ghirardelli Chocolate Company and rode the cable car up Hyde St. I then hopped in my car at about 4 p.m. or so and headed down the 101 South, big mistake. My parting knowledge for this first part of the super note is to never take the 101 South, take the 280 (I think). Anyways I arrived at my sister’s house in L.A. at 11:30 p.m. Stay tuned for WCRT Part 2, “The Next Episode” and for pictures to come later after the 2nd note.

Random Fact about my Heritage: I have a lot of family from my Grandma (on my Moms side) around the SF area, but I just didn’t have time to check in with Aunt Bev. If you ever get Facebook Aunt Bev, I am really sorry but next time. Also, my Grandpa Fred (who fought in WW2 in the Pacific Theatre) met my Grandma Patricia at a USO sponsored dance in S.F. He was with one of his buddies before he shipped out and he told his buddy, you can dance with the blond, I want to meet the brunette (my Grandma). They really hit it off and stayed in contact throughout the war. When my Grandpa came back he asked her to marry him and she accepted and they moved up to Washington. This is a super short version of the much better version that my Grandpa used to always tell me when he was alive and I would go over to hang out with him. This was what was going through my mind as I gazed upon the city from the Coit Tower and rode the cable car. This is why I truly did leave my heart in San Francisco.


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