Wednesday, May 11, 2011

First Time in San Francisco

The plane landed from Tucscon just after sundown. It was during a time in my life when my wants did not translate in to real costs but somehow my parents came up with the money in 1979 to send me around the country to visit friends from Junior High. We used to live in the same town in Germany but that was the year before. Now the whims and ways of the United States Armed Forces scattered us all to the far corners of the United States and I missed them. After ten days in Southern Arizona I was now on my way to the second leg of the trip, ten days in Northern California with my other good buddy from back in the day.

Arizona was fun but unbelievably hot. I remember my friend's family admonishing me to stop wearing long pants, something to this day I still prefer over shorts but in Arizona I accepted and then came to like the adjustment quite well. After the blistering heat of the Sonora Desert some time in the ocean breezes along the west coast would be welcome relief indeed. My friend and his family met me at the airport and proceeded north in to San Francisco and the Presidio, the famous Army base overlooking the Golden Gate.

I don't remember the precise route we took in to the city but I was understandably disoriented after my time in the Southwest and never having been to the city by the sea before in my life. Part of me was envious of my friend because they were posted to this new and wonderful part of the country whereas my family had returned to familiar territory in Central Maryland at Ft. Meade situated between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Who hadn't heard the amazing stories coming out of the Bay Area, the bridges, the waterfront, the constant weather and the eclectic mix of people, culture and curiosity. It was all around me albeit shrouded in the darkness of the night and the famous rolling fog that started in from the ocean a tad earlier than usual so I was told.

Unbeknownst to me my welcoming party had planned a small tour and took me straight to Ft. Point just under the south landing of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was dark, it was foggy, there was a mist in the air but out of the car we got and groped our way to the very edge of the water. The waves crashed below us and the mighty bellow of the bridge foghorn sounded up above somewhere in the thickness of the swirl. I was facing north and didn't know it. Alcatraz Island was off my right hand shoulder but I couldn't see it. One of the greatest cities in the world was at my back and I had no clue. I stood there in vocal disbelief that I was anywhere near the bridge as well; there was no visual proof of anything other than the white-gray of the fog swallowing everything as if out of some cheesy 1950s horror film.

We finally made it to the home of my friend and his family deeper in to the Presidio and I welcomed cool linens and a soft pillow after my travels from Arizona and the ride in from the airport. I was safe and happy in San Francisco and though tired couldn't wait to begin touring the area. And I was in for the biggest surprise in the world when we went back to the same spot under the bridge the next morning!

Gotta go.

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