San Franscisco, and other things I thought today

It’s funny the difference a day can make. This morning, I got up in a quiet little home in West St. Paul, kissed my grandson on the head and took off out the door. Because Martin, my son-in-law, allows his generosity to overcome his common sense, Roy and I took the first leg of our journey in his Explorer. We parked it at the Minneapolis light rail station and we knew a moment of angnst as we contemplated locking the keys into the Explorer. After all, once we had done this, we were pretty much on our own and anything left inside, was not going to be going on vacation with us.

We spent an inordinate amount of time in the Minneapolis airport and that’s when I had my first random thought of the day: I’m so glad I’m not an employee of the airlines! They spend the whole day trying to get nervous, demanding, cranky, upset and otherwise intolerant people safely on planes to the right places with all their parcels and they must do it all whilst trying to guess which of these persons might be someone who wants to blow us all up so they can make a political statement or live in infamy! I heard one man grousing as he came through the security, “Before you know it, they’ll be having us travel naked!” The security clerk behind the desk intoned with a straight face, “Well, it would certainly save on the luggage check wouldn’t it sir.” As for me, I’ll gladly take off my belt, watch, shoes, jacket, etc. and stand in their little scanners and have all my personal items sorted through, just so long as they do manage to catch the nut who thinks blowing up my plane will improve the world!

It was at exactly 11:30 Central Daylight time and after we were lined up in the plane like sardines in a can that I had my second random thought: I should have packed a sandwich. Instead, Roy and I put in our time on the three-hour flight to San Francisco trying to make do with two cups of iced Coke and a packet of airline cookies that were seriously not Sara Lee or even General Lee in quality.

Our first thought when we got off the plane was: i want some food! We managed to find a poorly cooked toasted sandwich (one) in a small airport restaurant. I think the sandwich was a leftover from lunch…two days ago, but they made up for that by charging us as though it were the last bite of food on the planet and worth its weight in platinum. And we were so hungry that we actually ate the whole thing! The hunt for food was on.

We caught a shuttle to our hotel. The shuttle driver, who turned out to be pretty cool, figured out pretty fast that it was our first trip to San Franscico, so he took some of the sharp, steep hills with all the finesse of Steve McQueen in a scene from Bullit. It was actually pretty fun! Our hotel is an institution which is seriously the cutest, quaintest motel. And when I say cute, I mean small and when I say quaint, I mean expensive! It’s an older motel that relies heavily on atmosphere and despite my nasty words, I do find it to be a very unique little home for the next three nights.

We took a bus almost at once out to the bay because our next thought…not so random…was “where is this Golden Gate Bridge?” There is a sight that will not disappoint you. The bronzed cables and metal work rise up out of a beautiful bay and even though you’ve seen it a thousand times in pictures, it really is an awesome sight. We took pictures of the bay and the ocean and only about one hundred shots of that bridge. The view was clear today and we could see Alcatraz squatting out in the water and we tried to get down to Fort Point, but couldn’t find the right path.

We were still starving, so we did what we rarely do: we went into the snack shop at the Presidio and figured we’d get a Pepsi and a Snickers. Negatory. We ended up with a water and two of the flatest, hardest oatmeal cookies we have ever eaten. They were like flattened cardboard with twigs stuck in them, but we were so hungry, we ate them. They made the airline cookies seem like Mother’s homemade.  I wanted to go in and tell the cook, “In South Dakota, they make oatmeal cookies that you can sink your teeth in. Here you make cookies I could break my teeth on!”

After hiking around the Presidio and walking a ways out on the Golden Gate Bridge, which was really fun and really safe, because with empty stomachs, we wouldn’t cause the bridge to collapse, we left the bay, knowing full well we will never be able to convey in words what a beautiful sight it is.

We came  back to our motel still on a quest for food. We walked a couple of blocks and found an Italian place. We figured that was safe. They didn’t have cola products. What self-respecting eating place has no Coke and no Pepsi? Isn’t that illegal or something? They had a special on meatballs and so we decided to order that, but like a certain little place in Washington, DC that will be forever burned in my mind, everything else was extra. So, Roy ordered the small special of meatballs (which had no side) and I ordered the large order of meatballs and a side dish. We had no idea how much it cost or how much we got. Roy got three very small and very spicy meatballs and I got five with a small dish of roasted potatoes. I wanted to ask for butter and salt for them but I had a feeling that would display my rather prosaic eating habits, so I ate them plain. I shared my meatballs with Roy–okay, I gave him one of mine, that way we both had four! They asked if we wanted desert and we said no and paid the bill–which was not small and left. Truth was, I had my eye on a little desert place we had seen on the way down to the restaurant. It was called “Walgreens” and they not only had Pepsi–they also had Snickers!

And that’s how I managed to get up in a quiet little home in West St. Paul this morning and come to rest tonight in this quaint little hotel in San Francisco. Isn’t modern travel wonderful? Now if they could just do something about these cookies they’re handing out!

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