Road Trip USA 2009 ...

The Pacific Coast

I considered stopping in Seattle as I had heard good things about the city, however once I got into the crazy highway system complete with signs warning 'Motorcyclists use extreme caution' I decided to ride straight on through to the beginning of US101. I did stop at Best Buy where they quite happily exchanged my broken camera for a new one, I guess had I bought the camera at an independent store in Lubbock, Texas rather than in a large 'box store' I would not have been so lucky! Eventually exhausted I stopped in a small town called Shelton where I booked in to the local Inn for two nights so I could have a day's rest off the bike.

I quite liked Shelton, it was still largely a main street town with two bars, a barber, a hair dresser, a coffee shop, a few resturants and a rather large (for the size of town) furniture store. Shelton's main industry was and still is lumber and this was commemorated by a rather nice statue and emphasised by a massive lumber mill that blocks the towns access to the water.

Statue of a logger, Shelton, Washington

Statue of a logger, Shelton, Washington

A large train also dominates the main street of town and serves as the Information Office run by volunteers.

The heart of the city, Shelton, Washington

The heart of the city, Shelton, Washington

On the first night I was in Shelton I went looking for a drinking hole to have a few beers, I chanced upon the Town Pub and Grill, where darts seemed to be the main focus of the patrons. Although it was not darts as we know it in Europe, here they had electric dart boards that made big noises every time you hit the big numbers. One player was obviously very serious about his darts as he had a small metal case that contained twelve darts, tools, flights, and a large number of spare tips! It was also surprising that they did not seem to be playing 501 but were playing a very basic form of killer! It was a very American interpretation of the game, short, noisy and accompanied by flashing lights!

I spent the evening talking with a guy who fixes harbour cranes for a living, he said business was bad at the moment as the amount of goods passing through the ports had fallen drastically with the economic crash. Things were going well until he asked me if I smoke, and he did not mean cigarettes! Hope he doesn't mix his hobby with his job!

Or is this the heart, the Town Pub and Grill, Shelton, Washington

Or is this the heart, the Town Pub and Grill, Shelton, Washington

The following day I went for a haircut at the local barber, the first time I have had someone else cut my hair in years! The lady who cut my hair was a bit ditzy, when she asked where I was from and I said Zimbabwe, she laughed and said she liked the sound of the word and then asked if we have lions in Zimbabwe. I'm always tempted to say 'yes in Africa you have to be careful walking through the city at night because the lions might attack you'! That night I spent hours talking to Cliff, owner and manager of the local fast food joint, Route 66. He used to be a software engineer working ninety hours a week and had bought the building as an investment, when the tennant defaulted he took over running the fast food joint. An interesting way to change career paths! He was interested in getting into boating, and spent a lot of time reading about boats in the library trying to decide what he needed and trying to learn how to run a boat. I tried convincing him to go to the local yacht club and to take a weekend's lessons to see if he liked it first!

After a days rest it was time to get rolling again, so I headed up the US101 stopping only to give the bike a bit of a wash as it was very dirty from Alaska. I turned up US112 to ride all the way to Cape Flattery, I thought this would be a quick detour but the road is very narrow and twisty and it passes through a number of beach towns along the way.

I stopped in Neah Bay on the way to have a coffee and the biggest cup cake I had ever seen. Cape Flattery was well worth the detour and the hour hike to the point, the views were spectacular.

View from the cape, Cape Flattery, Washington

View from the cape, Cape Flattery, Washington

View of the light house, Cape Flattery, Washington

View of the light house, Cape Flattery, Washington

On the way back I stopped at the Veterens / Fort Nunez Park. I thought it an interesting combination, remembering fallen heroes and a fort where Spanish colonialists 'abused the women', according to the information board.

Veterns Park and Fort Nunez, Neah Bay, Washington

Veterns Park and Fort Nunez, Neah Bay, Washington

I also stopped at the excellent Makah Museum, where they have built a Makah long house based upon an archelogical dig and also built a few large Sitka Spruce canoes. The workmanship on the canoe replicas, built using traditional techniques and tools, is phenominal. I They are so smooth and sleek I found it difficult to believe an electric sander wasn't used!

Hey these guys are tall, dig their hats though, Makah Museum, Neah Bay, Washington

Hey these guys are tall, dig their hats though, Makah Museum, Neah Bay, Washington

I turned up the Ozette road looking for a campsite, fortunately an information sign at the start of the dead end road warned that the campsite was full so the detour wasn't a long one. I did see a really nice old wooden barn though.

An old barn on the road to Ozette, Washington

An old barn on the road to Ozette, Washington

Eventually I ended up back at a campsite I had spotted earlier, $7 for the night, right on the beach and managed by the local tavern.

My campsite for the night, could it get better, Clallum Bay, Washington

My campsite for the night, could it get better, Clallum Bay, Washington

After setting up for the night, I went to the tavern in search of a beer. The barmaid was obviously very popular, because when she left a few hours later the whole place emptied out. Her boyfriend came in for some stick for the MPV he was driving; 'hey nice car man, really masculine, what's that a f*&^ing Prius or something?'. Up in Washington it's a truck or nothing! I was left talking to a guy who I mistook to be 'the only gay in the village' as he was dressed in track shoes, way too close fitting yellow running shorts and a white vest. A look that would fit perfectly in the music video for the Village People. It turned out he was a fisherman who was trying to loose weight, by jogging to the bar, downing six or seven pints and then getting a lift home. He was very proud as he had lost a pound so far! We talked for a while about sport fishing, and the economics of comercial fishing.

After a few beers I decided to leave as I did not want a repeat of the Fairbanks episode, so I went for a walk down the beach. The sand was covered with these little tiny green insects that looked like fleas, they couldnt fly and could only jump a few inches. Fortunatelly I was still wearing bike boots so they couldn't bite me.

A stroll down a flea infested beach, Clallum Bay, Washington

A stroll down a flea infested beach, Clallum Bay, Washington

Drift wood chair to watch the sun set, Clallum Bay, Washington

Drift wood chair to watch the sun set, Clallum Bay, Washington

Sun sets over the Straight of Juan de Fuca, Clallum Bay, Washington

Sun sets over the Straight of Juan de Fuca, Clallum Bay, Washington

The next day I took a short cut down US113 to US101, the road was bumpy but there was no traffic so I had great fun carving up the corners. After riding 'slightly' faster than the speed limit it didn't take long to reach the intersection with US101 where I saw a police car heading in the opposite direction, had he left the donut shop a few minutes earlier I'm pretty sure I would have been trying to explain myself!

As it was early with little traffic it didn't take me long to reach the small town of Forks, Washington. I have always wanted to see a traditional July 4 parade, so was happy to see the posters and flags advertising that Forks was going to hold one. Unfortunately I was two days early so thinking that another small town was bound to have a parade, decided not to stay. I did take a walk around the town before setting off, and it wasn't long before I noticed the town's income from the lumber trade was suplemented by something called Twilight tourism. I asked one of the many gift shops what Twilight was and they looked at me like I was from another planet! Apparently it's something to do with a vampire series and film that was written by a woman from Utah, that is very popular with teenage girls. I was told that when she was trying to find a setting for the story, she typed 'most rainy, gloomy and isolated town in America' (or words to that effect) into a search engine and got Forks back as the answer. It was a very sunny day when I rode through though, which I was told was unusual and tended to happen every decade or so.

A traditional July 4 parade, always wanted to see one of those, Forks, Washington

A traditional July 4 parade, always wanted to see one of those, Forks, Washington

Further down US101 I stopped at Ruby Beach, it was very cold and foggy near the coast but the worth the stop although getting to the beach over the piles and piles of drift wood was challenging!

A misty view of Ruby Beach, Washington

A misty view of Ruby Beach, Washington

A misty view of Ruby Beach, Washington

A misty view of Ruby Beach, Washington

I also went for a drive around the small town of Queets, boy what a dump. It was dirty and the local native Indians had already started drinking. I thought, maybe rather uncharitably, 'you may be unemployed, you may be poor, but you don't have to live in a slum, get off your arses, get a broom and clean this place up'. They just stared at me and when I left, yelled abuse at me!

As I was passing through Hoquiam I gave Chris (Triumph Bonnie rider I rode with in Utah) a call, well to be honest I probably called ten or fifteen times over the hour I was there, in the hope we could meet up and ride. After not getting an answer, and thinking 'maybe after so many calls she thinks I'm a stalker' I headed south out of town. I talked to her later and discovered she was working during the long weekend so we wouldn't be able to ride anyway. She said she wanted to 'work another year and then go live in Australia', so who knows maybe we'll meet in a few years on a trans-Australia ride!

I stopped at South Bend campsite for the night, when I said 'wow the traffic is heavy', he said 'because its July 4 celebration'. My reply that it wasn't a celebration for everyone, that it was a day to be mourned as the empire had lost one of its' colonies was met with stunned silence. I'm not sure he knew I was joking! I met a New Zeelander who had met his Canadian wife during a Land Rover trip across Africa in the late 1980s, they both swapped for Yamaha XT500s and rode Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe at a time when those countries were just comming out of war. The trip came to a premature end when she broke an arm on the Caprivi Strip. Talk about adventerous, and I'm worried about travelling through Mexico! During the night there seemed to be two parties going on, and in the middle of the night I think there was a small altercation between them as there was lots of swearing and shouting. So much for celebrations.

After all the shouting, swearing, loud music and explosions I woke up early and hit the road. It was a good decision as I had an incredible ride along the edge of the Willapa National Wildlife Rufuge. The road hugged the edge of a muddly lagoon on a surface that had recently been replaced so it was a fast and thrilling ride. As soon as traffic got heavier I had to back off.

Winding road along the edge of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, Washington

Winding road along the edge of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, Washington

My first target of the day was to go and see Oysterville, a 'historic' village. When I got there I was a bit disappointed, it was a pretty village but didn't look very 'historic' to me. Perhaps I'm becoming jaded from all of the 'historic' town centeres in towns that are barely one hundred and fifty years old.

The church in 'historic' Oysterville, Washington

The church in 'historic' Oysterville, Washington

Even though it was only 9am people were already staking their claim to the best spots on Long Beach to watch the firework display that night, beer cans were being opened and everyone seemed to be armed with thousands of dollars worth of explosives. I rode into Long Beach, parked up and went in search of breakfast cofee, I stopped at Marsh's Museum which is more gift and curio shop than museum but it was fun anyway.

Marsh's Museum, Long Beach, Washington

Marsh's Museum, Long Beach, Washington

One of the Marsh Museum's main attractions is Jake, half man and half alligator.

Jake, half man and half alligator, Long Beach, Washington

Jake, half man and half alligator, Long Beach, Washington

The other attraction is the 'World's Largest Frying Pan' which I can believe although the signs proclaiming the 24 miles of Long Beach as 'The World's Longest Beach' I find a bit more of a stretch.

The world's biggest frying pan, Long Beach, Washington

The world's biggest frying pan, Long Beach, Washington

Long Beach is a typical beach town, they are the same the world over. T-shirts, candy and amusements. Large areas of the Washinton coast reminded me of Cornwall, the same rugged coast and the same beach towns clustered around any bits of white sand!

Mmmmm candy, fudge and sweets, Long Beach, Washington

Mmmmm candy, fudge and sweets, Long Beach, Washington

After Long Beach I headed to Cape Disappointment which rather appropriately I found to be a ' bit disappointing'. The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center didn't add much to my knoweldge of the expedition that I had gathered along the way and the walk out to the light house was not rewarded with great views or even any information about when the history of lighthouses at the point.

The lighthouse at Cape Disappointment, Washington

The lighthouse at Cape Disappointment, Washington

The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment, Washington

The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, Cape Disappointment, Washington

There was no chance I was going to get a campsite or even a motel for the night near the coast as it was July 4 weekend so I headed inland and found a very basic walk-in campsite at Elk Creek, east of Tillamook on US6, for $5 for the night. I feel like I wasted a good opportunity to witness America party by spending July 4 camped out in the sticks! After an early night I was up early for the ride to Cape Meares, to see the lighthouse and the Ocotopus Tree, a tree which some argue was shaped by man and others by natural forces.

The lighthouse at Cape Meares, Oregon

The lighthouse at Cape Meares, Oregon

The Octopus Tree at Cape Meares, Oregon

The Octopus Tree at Cape Meares, Oregon

This part of the coast is beautiful, I especially enjoyed the view from Gammon Launch named after the pionier of hang gliding Dick Gammon.

The view from Gammon Launch, Oregon

The view from Gammon Launch, Oregon

I also stopped in Depoe Bay, to take a look at the smallest navigable harbour in the world and also spent some time watching the harbour seals waiting for scraps from the fish cleaning tables.

The smallest navigable harbour in the world, Depoe Bay, Oregon

The smallest navigable harbour in the world, Depoe Bay, Oregon

Harbour seals wait patiently for dinner, Depoe Bay, Oregon

Harbour seals wait patiently for dinner, Depoe Bay, Oregon

I also decided to stop at Yacquina Head where I talked for a while with the National Parks officer about motorcycle touring, she and her husband had done a few weeks riding in New Zeeland and when they asked some fellow English riders about riding in England got the distinct impression that they should not even think about doing it. I know there are some downsides to riding in the UK including speed cameras, a bad image, too much traffic but there are still some beautiful rides especially in Wales, Scotland and South West England!

I climbed up the lighthouse, and commented to the volunteer guide that the windows needed cleaning. When he said 'I'm not doing it', I said 'but you're dressed as the keeper so it's your job'! He just laughed!

View from Yaquina Head, Oregon

View from Yaquina Head, Oregon

Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Oregon

Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Oregon

Typical view south of Yachats, Oregon

Typical view south of Yachats, Oregon

Eventually after some stunning views I stopped in Florence for the night at an RV campground based right in the port and a short walk downtown. I went for a walk and then noticing a large number of cars outside the Waterfront Depot decided to stop in for dinner and a beer. It turned out to be a great choice, very good value for money especially as the barman gave me 'one on the house' as he ran out of beer I was drinking. I spent a lot of time talking with a council official from Eureka and his wife, who reserches environmentally friendly alternatives to pesticides. Sarah Palin's resignation was a big topic of discussion, and they agreed with my view that Ms Palin is a nut!

The excellent Waterfront Depot, Florence, Oregon

The excellent Waterfront Depot, Florence, Oregon

Dubious name for a shop if you know what I mean, Florence, Oregon

Dubious name for a shop if you know what I mean, Florence, Oregon

The next day, nursing a sore head, I headed off south again on US101! I stopped in the 'historic' old town of Bandon. The town have done a great job, building a waterfront boardwalk which featured wooden sculptures that the kids loved climbing on!

Crab sculpture, Bandon, Oregon

Crab sculpture with dedication 'Happy crabbing in heaven', Bandon, Oregon

South of Bandon US101 goes through the Oregon Dunes. This was the last thing I expected, on the north western coast of the US. For some reason I always imagined trees and a rugged rocky coast line but never 'some of the largest sand dunes in the world'! Another claim I am skeptical about!

Hey isn't this what California is supposed to look like, south of Port Orford, Oregon

Hey isn't this what California is supposed to look like, south of Port Orford, Oregon

However it is not long before the road heads back into the mountains, hugging a rocky cliff lined coast.

Back into rugged coast views, south Oregon

Back into rugged coast views, Samuel H Boardman State Park, south Oregon

When I got to Cresent City, I stopped in at the Information Office and was told all campsites were full except Mill Creek which was only seven miles south. Relunctantly I stopped early for the night but at least I had time to enjoy a short hike through my first stand of redwood trees, even if they had only been growing since the 1930s.

The next day I headed off early, I was going to see the 'Trees of Mystery' but when I got there it looked way to tacky and expensive for me! I spent some time talking with a couple from British Colombia who were riding a Honda but where wearing Harley gear (iis that trying to hard) and who told me they always ride in America as 'the Canadians are too stand offish and would never stop to help you if you needed it'!

Trees of Mystery, California

Trees of Mystery, California

A poor copy of End of the Trail, Trees of Mystery, California

A poor copy of End of the Trail, Trees of Mystery, California

They didn't seem to have a very good idea of where they were going so I tried to give them a few pointers, telling them to turn off US101 on the Newton B Drury scenic parkway and telling them to ride US1 rather than US101 into San Francisco. The Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park was my first taste of full grown redwoods, it is hard to describe how you feel standing under these massive, ancient trees! It is somewhere between a feeling of awe, of tranquility and feeling insignificant both in terms of size and longevity (some trees live for thousands of years)!

Tree burnt into a screw shape, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

Tree burnt into a screw shape, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

Typical scene on Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

Typical scene on Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

Along the way I spotted a banana slug, something people apparently actively go looking for when they visit the park.

A big banana slug, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

A big banana slug, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

Another highlight was the Big Tree which is ummmm big, the Parkway was built specifically to allow access to the tree and it used to pass right alongside the tree. Apparently at one time an entrepreneur wanted to buy the tree, chop it down and then use the stump as a dance floor! I'm glad that's one business plan that flopped!

The Big Tree, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

The Big Tree, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

Next stop on the way was the Lady Bird Johnson grove, where there was a mile and half self guided trail through an old grove of redwoods. The guide included stops that explained various species in the forest and how they grow.

Wow these things are tall, Lady Bird Johnson Grove, California

Wow these things are tall, Lady Bird Johnson Grove, California

After the 'wilds' (well maintained trails and roads, hardly wild) of Prairie Creek State Park and the Redwood National Park a stop back in civilisation in the historic old town of Eureka was welcome. At least Eureka can lay some claim to being historic as it was the first port on the northern California coast. I really enjoyed the town center, it has a strong focus on art and books with a couple of large second hand book shops dominating the town center.

Historic center of Eureka, California

Historic center of Eureka, California

It wasn't long though before I was back into the trees riding the 'Avenue of the Giants' through Humbolt Redwoods State Park. If you only have a day to see the redwoods this is the drive you should make. A stop and hike at the Pionier Grove was definitely worthwhile.

Founders Tree, Pionier Grove, California

Founders Tree, Pionier Grove, California

Standing in a Goosepen, Pionier Grove, California

Standing in a Goosepen, Pionier Grove, California

Tree that recently fell, the crash sounded 'like a train wreck', Pionier Grove, California

Tree that recently fell, the crash sounded 'like a train wreck', Pionier Grove, California

Of course I had to drive through a tree, unfortunately I think I chose the smallest one to drive through but I guess it still counts. On this trip I have ridden across a covered bridge and now I have ridden through a tree'!

Drive through tree, Meyers Flat, California

Drive through tree, Meyers Flat, California

I stopped for the night at Hidden Springs campground in the Humboldt Redwood State Park where I was attacked by a swarm of mosquitos and bugs. I was beginning to look forward to sleeping in a bed for a while. I expected it to be a short ride out of the trees, but I discovered I still had quite a few miles to ride before I got to the US1 intersection.

Avenue of Giants, Humboldt Redwood State Park, California

Avenue of Giants, Humboldt Redwood State Park, California

After following US101 all the way from Seattle, it was time to turn off and ride the fantastic US1 north of San Francisco. I thought it was somehow fitting that the USA saved its best road (well at least that I have ridden) until last! What a ride, it was like the Tail of the Draggon except it went on for a hundred miles, corner after corner with big elevation changes from sea side to feeling vertigo high above the waves. The only negative to the ride was the big logging trucks that I always seemed to meet coming the other way and some rather dozy driving from tourists who did not pull over to let the bikes past. I didn't take a lot of photographs on this part of the trip, I just enjoyed the ride.

The awesome US1, California

The awesome US1, California

The awesome US1, California

The awesome US1, California

Along the way I stopped to catch my breath and recover from a bout of motion sickness in Westport and in Mendocino.

Breakfast at Westport General Store, Westport, California

Breakfast at Westport General Store, Westport, California

Crazy arty house, Mendocino, California

Crazy arty house, Mendocino, California

Church now an alternative therapy store, Mendocino, California

Church now an alternative therapy store, Mendocino, California

At a stop in Manchester, my ego was boosted by a group of riders who gathered around my bike to look at all the stickers I have gathered along the way. They were amazed at how far I had ridden, and about my plans for South America. At a lunch stop in Jenner I met a old, slightly tubby GSXR rider riding a tricked out bike complete with carbon fibre wheels, race suspension and ceramic brake disks. Initially I thought he just had more money than sense but looking at his ripped up tires I asked him 'did you used to race' and he reluctantly said 'yes, a bit, back in the day'. I had the feeling he was holding back and that he really knew what he was doing! When I said 'I'm not a good rider' (which I'm not) he disagreed, saying 'if you've come this far you must be a good rider'. That was another boost to my ego, maybe I am getting a big head!

So feeling confident I hit the five lane highway into San Francisco, after months of rural riding it was a big shock to me! Everyone was doing thirty miles above the speed limit so I just sped up and tried to ignore the tail gaiters and lane weavers.

Riding across the Golden Gate bridge into San Francisco I felt a mixture of elation, relief, and sadness (that it's over) but overall just really really joyful! Part of me wanted to do a Bernard Moitessier and just keep on going!

Elated after crossing the Golden Gate, my arm looks bad, San Francisco, California

Elated after crossing the Golden Gate, my arm looks bad, San Francisco, California

My view of the Golden Gate, my arm looks bad, San Francisco, California

My view of Golden Gate, San Francisco, California

I booked into the Redwood Inn for a week with the aim of organising transport of my bike and myself to Quito, Ecuador. It has not gone well, at first I was quoted $3800 for a container to ship my bike to Ecuador but it would take at least a month by the sea route. Then I was quoted $20170 to fly it to Quito and finally after a few days of trying to find a forwarder I was finally quoted $6800 for air freight which is still outside of my budget. I was tempted to take Jorge's advice to just ride to Panama and try get transport from there but at the start of the trip I decided that I did not want to ride in Mexico or in central America. There have been a few times where I almost packed my bike in the middle of the night, sent a mail to my family saying 'I'm going to be out of touch for six months and I may or may not be dead' and just hit the road for Panama.

If I look at it logically it does not make sense riding South America yet: the timing is wrong (it's cold down there right now), it's unsafe to ride alone (I need a co-pilot) and I don't have the budget to cut out central America. However decisions I have made in the past based on logical reasoning have been particularly bad ones, especially those regarding my career, so part of me just wants to say 'f*&k it, I'm doing it and to hell with what people think'. I already know that it will be a decision that I'll regret in the future!

Having made the decision not to fly to South America, yet, I had some time to look around San Francisco. I really like the city: I like that it is so compact you can walk from one side to the other, I like that people can live in fantastic three storey Victorian houses and walk to work, I like culture mix, I like the crazy people who walk around muttering to themselves and I like its' left leaning free spirited atmosphere.

How do you know you're in California? When people drop their dogs off at the doggy day care, Darling! San Francisco, California

How do you know you're in California? When people drop their dogs off at the doggy day care, Darling! San Francisco, California

I spent a lot of time just walking around, although there is a great public transport system in San Francisco I find I enjoy going places it does not.

The 'Crookedest Street' looking towards Little Italy and Coit Tower, San Francisco, California

The 'Crookedest Street' looking towards Little Italy and Coit Tower, San Francisco, California

A street mural on the way to Coit Tower, San Francisco, California

A street mural on the way to Coit Tower, San Francisco, California

I also like that civil minded benefactors donate huge sums of money to 'beautify the city they love' although some efforts are better than others!

Coit Tower, San Francisco, California

Coit Tower, I thought it was a bit ugly, San Francisco, California

The murals in Coit Tower look a bit amateurish, although this scene is appropriate to me (homeless), San Francisco, California

The murals in Coit Tower look a bit amateurish, although this scene is appropriate to me (homeless) San Francisco, California

View of financial district from Coit TOwer, San Francisco, California

View of financial district from Coit Tower, San Francisco, California

Walking around the city can be hard on the legs, some of the hills are crazily steep but that doesn't seem to stop anyone building on them!

Try parking a bike on a street at this angle, San Francisco, California

Try parking a bike on a street at this angle, San Francisco, California

My favourite area of the city is Chinatown, I loved the smells of the strange food eminating from the fresh food markets. This is how we should all shop, forget all that plastic packaged santised Wal-Mart trash and shop local! I especially loved the wierd names they gave to shops, dishes and playgrounds!

I'm sick of people who just look, in my shop people look *and* buy or else, San Francisco, California

I'm sick of people who just look, in my shop people look *and* buy or else, San Francisco, California

Something I have never seen, an inebriated chicken, San Francisco, California

Something I have never seen, an inebriated chicken, San Francisco, California

In England their would be a lynch mob if anyone who called himself Willie Woo Woo Wong went anywhere near a playground, San Francisco, California

In England their would be a lynch mob if anyone who called himself Willie Woo Woo Wong went anywhere near a playground, San Francisco, California

I loved the sounds and sights of a culture that is somehow still so foreign and difficult to understand after hundreds of years of contact!

Why not just light up your home made bong right on the street, San Francisco, California

Why not just light up your home made bong right on the street, San Francisco, California

And I loved all the cheap, nasty tourist tat that was on sale in the shops, in some cases marked as antique although being clearly brand new! It's a good thing I'm homeless otherwise I'd be tempted to fill a room with all this tacky trash!

Respect to Obama, bobble head version anyone? San Francisco, California

Respect to Obama, bobble head version anyone? San Francisco, California

Smutty ash tray? Classy! San Francisco, California

Smutty ash tray? Classy! San Francisco, California

Around the Broadway area, you can find any 'entertainment' you want. It is even advertised in the brochures they hand out in California visitor centers, although I'm still not sure what goes on in a Naughty Laundry!

Smutty ash tray? Classy! San Francisco, California

Smutty ash tray? Classy! San Francisco, California

I like that people are publically willing to tell 'the man' to stick it!

Global corporate bastards get bent! San Francisco, California

Global corporate bastards get bent! San Francisco, California

Around the Civic Center the city has a lot more of a European feel, however it still manages to have a distinctly outlandish Californian quality. While there I saw a European teaching Asians Samurai sword technique, and the Evangelistico Hispano Pentecostal church were holding a concert trying to convert the heathen with spanish, christian music sung to a Ska beat. A music I associate with dope smoking, drinking, dancing and a number of other activities that may not be considered to be holy!

City hall viewed from United Nations square,  San Francisco, California

City hall viewed from United Nations square, looks very European, San Francisco, California

City hall plays host to Pentecostal Ska beats,  San Francisco, California

City hall plays host to Pentecostal Ska beats, San Francisco, California

A westerner leads Asian's in their own martial arts,  San Francisco, California

A westerner leads Asian's in their own martial arts, San Francisco, California

It is easy to notice that San Francisco renews itself once every hundred years or so after the big one, as new meets old and stlyes of architecture live side by side.

New meets old, brick and glass, in a cycle of renewal,  San Francisco, California

New meets old, brick and glass, in a cycle of renewal, San Francisco, California

San Francisco is not milk and honey to all, along market street and in SOMA (south of market) you see all those who have been bypassed by the American dream, those who suffer in absolute poverty and those whose brains have been fried by years of adiction to LSD. It was particularly galling for me that only a few blocks away at Union Square people were buying over priced, branded crap that they do not really need, walking around with tiny bags that say Sax Fifth Avenenue or to my mind even worse singing about the love of Jesus (another pentecostal band playing in Union Square) while completely oblivious of the suffering of their fellow man! Do not ask me what the answer is, I have seen similar suffering all over the world including places in socialist societies such as Cuba where 'all are equal', all I know is that it is wrong, no one should have to dig in the trash for a meal and no one should have to sleep on the streets!

Some were so far gone, that they looked like extras from Beyond the Thunderdome, forget about some impending apocalypse from North Korea's imaginary nuclear weapons or weapons of mass distruction in Iran. America is already in the grip of an apocalypse, it is the combined might of poverty and drug abuse!

LSD brain fried extra from Beyond the Thunderdome,  San Francisco, California

LSD brain fried extra from Beyond the Thunderdome, San Francisco, California

It was good to see that some could retain their sense of humour despite complaints from the public!

Joke outside of Kelly's Bar,  San Francisco, California

Joke outside of Kelly's Bar, San Francisco, California

I went search for some Painted Ladies and all I got was a row of houses.

Painted Ladies, Alamo Square, San Francisco, California

Painted Ladies, Alamo Square, San Francisco, California

And I loved that the city recognised the importance of maintaining green areas. In such a compact city, it was great that a few minutes walk along a cycle / pedestrian pathway takes you to the beach near Fort Point.

Sails and Steel in the Fog, San Francisco, California

Sails and Steel in the Fog, San Francisco, California

Barbequing in sight of the bridge, San Francisco, California

Barbequing in sight of the bridge, San Francisco, California

Fort Point and the bridge, San Francisco, California

Fort Point and the bridge, San Francisco, California

Still green, San Francisco, California

Still green, San Francisco, California

And finally San Francisco had some great bars, Fiddlers Green, Kellys, Rogue and Jacks where the beer was always cold, always hand crafted and always on draft (68 draft beers at Jacks in The Cannery) and the people were always friendly and willing to talk with a lonely stranger with a thousand yard stare! Definitely one of the few, if not the only city, in the USA that I could call home!

Click here for the next page...

Comments