If You're Going to San Francisco (you need brakes)

Trip Start Apr 30, 2010
Trip End Sep 05, 2010

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, May 20, 2010

Well, we have hit our first official roadblock. The dead radio, just a few miles from home, was annoying but by no means serious. However, we had been hearing a bit of a squeak from the front wheels for a few days, and at one point – braving the steep inclines of the Sierra Nevadas – we had even thought we smelled a bit of burning rubber. We had assumed the brakes were a bit exhausted from the impossibly steep grades in the hills, and as we started to roll out of Monterey a new, forceful pull to the left let us know that the Beast wanted some love.

We headed to faithful GPS' nearest garage, a Goodyear a couple of blocks away. Tony, the chatty mechanic, informed us that we would have to replace our front brakes. I guess it’s not a shocker, considering we have put as many miles on the Beast in three weeks as many average drivers do in half a year. We waited patiently – well sort of patiently, Matt paced like an expectant father – for the parts to arrive and the work to be done. Awesome Geoff came by, on scooter of course, to say one last goodbye and offer best wishes for the van’s speedy recovery. Thankfully, we were only set back a couple of hours and a couple of hundred bucks. At about one o’clock, we were on the road again.

A bit delayed, we finally jumped on the famous Pacific Highway One – well worth the wait! What a stunning drive. We pulled over several times to drink in the dramatic scenery. The steely gray-blue Pacific hurtled towards the jagged coast and smashed over toothy black rocks on the edge where sea met sky. Several times, we marveled at the number of VW buses in one spot and gazed at the fearless kite and wind surfers ripping across the white caps crashing towards the beach.

We finally rolled – or maybe lumbered is a better word – into San Francisco, whose steep hilly inclines make upper Peel Street look like the Prairies. We checked into the Days Inn, as San Fran was another fairly large city that we thought merited a hotel instead of a parking lot, and made a plan to head out.

Matt has visited San Francisco before, so he had decent bearings and a few good suggestions of where to go. We biked over to Fisherman’s Wharf – our second Fisherman’s Wharf in as many days , ha ha – and tracked down a pub Matt knew from his last visit: Jack’s, who offers 85 different beers, and more importantly, the Habs game live. We enjoyed some local ales and a Habs victory – a perfect start to our sojourn in San Fran.

Afterwards, we of course had to hop a Streetcar. San Francisco, named by our driving companion The Rough Guide as "America’s favourite city", is really breezy to get around in via public transportation. While the streetcars remain mostly the domain of tourists, described by the Guide as having fares “as steep as the hills they climb”, the rickety cars still connect you from fairly central point A to B and are a pretty cool flash from one hundreds’ year past. We walked around the mainstays such as Market, Mason and Powell, checking out bohemian corners and swank shops alike before grabbing a quick pint at Johnny’s Irish House. As an alternative to the streetcar, we rode the electric car back to our hotel and figured out a plan for the next day.
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