I'm enjoying a cool, sunny day here in Albany, California, hanging out with my good friend Eric.
Eric and I were roommates back in Colorado (and back in Tucson, AZ, and way back at Denison U. in Ohio), and two months ago, around the same time I started my roadtrip, he moved here with his girlfriend Sarah. They have a gorgeous little place in the suburbs, right next to Berkeley (the city line is a few houses down) and just across the bay from San Francisco. It's all decked out and domesticated, and both of them love it here.
Two days ago I left Yosemite Valley, which was starting to get scorching hot (I guess it's 102 F there right now), and then drove across the Central Valley, which is always scorching. Then I crossed the Coastal range and dropped down into the Bay Area, and it was like another world! It's lush and green here with great cool ocean breezes. As I write this it's 73 degrees!
Taking advantage of the great weather, Eric and I went on a bike tour of San Fran yesterday. Even though he's been here 2 months, he hasn't really gotten a chance to do the whole tourist gig there, so we would both be doing some exploring. We started out by taking the subway across the bay to the Embarcadero, which is the bustling city center. We dodged cars and pedestrians on our bikes and made our way all the way across the peninsula to the Golden Gate park, which took us past a cross section of the city: the skyscrapers and business suits of the financial district, the neighborhood groceries stores and gang graffiti of the "Tenderloins" district, the City hall building complete with San Fran style political rally, and the hippy and homeless sector of the Haight Ashbury.
When we reached the Pacific side of the city, we sat on the beach for a while. Alas, it was to cold for a quick swim. Then we worked our way back northeast along the coast on some hilly bikepaths over to the Golden Gate Bridge. We rode across the bridge to Marin County, and hung out there enjoying the views, but being blasted by wind.
Back across the Golden Gate, we continued along the shore to the touristy Fisherman's Wharf area, where we grabbed some In-and-Out Bugers. Our stomachs full, we used that greasy fuel to power us up and down some of the steepest paved hills I'd ever seen. We even got to bike down Lombard street, the famous super-curvy one.
Then we decided to find Chinatown, which I had pictured in my mind as some dark network of narrow roads and crazy restaurants and groceries and laundries. I guess we didn't really find that, but I did get to go a real chinese grocery, and enjoyed seeing all the cryptic cans of eels and fish and foreign candies.
Finally, we rode down the coast, around the baseball stadium, out to some piers to enjoy the sunset on the city. A quick subway ride back under the Bay took us back home to complete a full touristy day.
I'm loving here by the Bay, and I think I'll hang out for a few more days with these great people until I head back to the mountains for some more rock climbing!