Thursday, July 15, 2010

San Francisco Gives Me That Full-Body Glow

I didn't leave my heart there. I didn't put any flowers in my hair. I didn't even miss the mornings on the road without its charms. San Francisco, that is. It just seems like about half my friends live there and it was about time to go see them. With my aversion to air travel, I decided it was road trip time. The plan was to take I-5 there and the 101 back; the classic rush in, waltz home mode. But you know what they say about the best laid plans.

The trip there was mostly uneventful, save one unearthly rainstorm. Approaching said storm, I thought it was a strange patch of mid-afternoon fog. Upon reaching its perimeter, I was assailed by the fiercest of all torrents. It was like driving through a lake. I had to downshift. Its fury was matched only by its brevity. By the time my wipers made their second pass, I was back in the sun; car accelerating, wiper blades frantically screeching against dry glass. I nearly put her in the ditch on sheer shock. What sort of dream was that? Best not to turn and look... the things I might see.

When I say my friends live in San Francisco, I really mean the Bay Area. Does that annoy those of you who really live in SF? My path went from Vallejo to Santa Clara. Yes, I stopped in the city, too. Had to get my teeth checked by my recently doctored friend. Congrats, Ryan! I'm sure you'll make an above average oral surgeon.

After that it was Foster City and Maker Faire. As you may have guessed, Maker Faire is a large expo full of people who make things. What sorts of things? All sorts of things. Crafts? check. Clothing? an entire buildingful. Unique musical instruments? ding. Handmade 3D images? youbettcha. 2-ton hydraulic spider you could ride in? actually it was probably more like 3000 pounds, but yeah, I saw one. NASA. Yes, that NASA. They were there. Recoverable space vehicles or some shit. Sure made the paper airplane guy look like small potatoes. In amongst all the hardware and hubbub were two friends of mine who run macetech. You've probably never heard of macetech, but you've undoubtedly seen their work. The giant color-shifting balloons at the closing ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics was one of their projects. They also supplied hardware for some color-shifting lights in the new movie Twilight: Eclipse (they tell me it's a party scene). In short, if you need some lights, but don't want just some standard, boring purple or red lights, give macetech a shot: millions of colors right at your 10 little fingertips.

macetech's balls get out of hand on full moons

From Foster City I went down to Santa Clara to hang out with my brother and his girlfriend. Visiting Vance is always super fun because no matter what we'll go for a leisurely hike. Generally that hike involves a drive, too, so we'll get plenty of time to catch up and most of it will be outside. This trip was no different. After we got done with the outdoor portion of the trip, we all went to the Winchester House in San Jose. The marketing team calls it the Winchester Mystery House and claims that it's haunted. Basically, the widow of the Winchester gun company founder got spooked at her husband's and daughter's deaths and moved out west. There, at the advice of a psychic, she started building a house and never stopped. Staircases lead to dead-end walls. Doors open to dead-end walls or worse, nothing but three stories of air under your feet. Some of this was the result of earthquakes, most just because she didn't have a plan other than to build. This happened for 24 hours a day, years on end. Hundreds of rooms, gardens, orchards, oddities, beauties (a stained-glass window that even Tiffany's can't put a price on). If you're ever in San Jose, check it out. The main house tour is the attraction, the behind-the-scenes tour was a little underwhelming for me.

A morning departure had me out of the city all bleary-eyed at about noon. Freeway traffic all the way out the Bay Area was a constant battle of stop-and-go, merging and mysterious lanes coming and going. One annoying bug in the middle of it all, one that I just had to smash on my windshield, took my eyes off the traffic for just long enough for me to rear-end some pickup. When we finally got to the side of the road, we saw the damage. His bumper wasn't even scratched and my hood was crumpled up like a wad of used toilet paper. The truck's driver gave me a 'sucks to be you' look and a handshake as we decided to forgo information swapping. I bent, sat on and smoothed out my hood until it looked like normal and I swear it even latched.

Fast forward to Petaluma. I wouldn't call it the Bay Area, but it isn't far away. I stopped for some BBQ lunch and then was off to the 101 when KA-BOOM! My hood broke free of whatever latch, flew up and smashed my windshield. I was showered with millions of tiny glass needles. It felt like some sort of Irish Spring commercial. Luckily I was on a minor highway with no traffic, so I could just move to the shoulder without incident. One look at the damage and it was clear, I was fucked. The inside of my car looked like a disco ball exploded. Including my body. I was sparkling like a sweaty stripper. Outside the car was even worse. Once I got the hood down (two bungee cords and a strap to keep it there) the car was a mess. Bent wiper, dented in roof and then the windshield. Driving back to town felt like I was wearing kaleidoscope glasses. Windshield repair wasn't due 'til the morning, so I had a day to hang out in lovely Petaluma. Pretty boring. As was the rest of the trip.

Not quite like I was on acid, but still not easy to drive

The windshield repair took up the time that I'd allotted for the drive and camping up the coast, so I went part way up the coast before cutting inland to the 5 and rolling home with my tail between my legs. I never did vacuum my car, so every once in a while, I'll catch a little sparkle from the passenger seat. It's like my old windshield is winking at me. Thanks buddy. Thanks for giving me that shine.

1 comment:

  1. I remember Winchester Mystery House having an inordinate number of "13's," too, as the woman was obsessed with the occult. I was only 13 when I went there myself, so maybe I played that part up, but that's how I remember it. 13 holes in the sink drain, 13 steps to HELL, 13 lights on the chadelier, etc...

    Great windshield disaster story, too.

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