2978 ft of Climbing
Where did that extra day go? It has been 14 days, since my last rest day in Astoria, and I though it was high time for my legs to take a break. So I gave myself an extra day at the Fort Mason Hostel, in San Francisco. Thursday, I slept in, ate the hostel’s hearty granola breakfast, caught up the four days I was behind on my blog, then cycled to Safeway, to resupply on a few items and pick up some deli dinner. Back at the hostel, a small feeding frenzy took place (an entire package of Lays Barbecue Potato Chips, two types of pasta salad, a bowl of chicken corn chowder, topped off with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk), before turning in for the night. A night sleeping in a hostel dorm, like the one I was in, can only be restful if you’ve had a complete lobotomy, have amazing earplugs or are exceedingly sleep deprived. There were 20 people sleeping in a dank bunkbed lined room, at least 1/4th of who were hearty snorers. We’re not talking symphonic snoring, here. It was non-stop, full on brass band snoring. I slept like a baby.
I had programmed in a short day of riding, for Friday, so once I had reconstituted my cycling setup, I was off to see some sights. I started at Fort Mason, a US Army installation for over 100 years, and the San Francisco Port of Embarkation, during World War II and the Korean War. Now, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, it is a huge grassy park with walking and cycling paths, historic buildings, and cool statues, Iike this one of former California Congressman Phillip Burton, who was instrumental in the creation of the Recreation Area.
No trip to San Francisco is complete without a stop at the Palace of Fine Arts, which, in my humble opinion, is the most beautiful European influenced building in the US. Apparently,it’s also a popular spot for photo shoots.Down the road, crossed through the Presidio, where I once went for my National Guard annual training, staying in one of the two buildings below, which at the time were rickety barracks. The cannons and cannon balls are at the entrance to the fort, and the plaque marks the place where the General’s quarters for the post commander, General John Joseph Pershing, the World War I Commander of the Expeditionary Forces on the Western Front, once stood. It stood there until it burned down, killing his wife and three daughters, which is quite tragic, if you ask me.‘A couple of miles and a ridiculous hill climb away, was Golden Gate Park. I’ve been there several times, over the years.
The oldest monument in the park, is the statue of President Garfield, who, I was reminded, was assassinated. The woman kneeling at the foot of the statue symbolizes the mourning of the country for his loss. The Conservatory of Flowers is adjacent to the President Garfield statue, and it is just plain pretty, so I had to stop and check out the gardens.Somehow, I have never before seen the National AIDS Memorial Grove, which was dedicated in 1995. It was a really quiet place, with multiple stops for contemplation. The Circle of Friends is pretty catchy–no doubt a source of donations to fund building the memorial.‘The park is so huge, I don’t think I’ve ever made it to the western end, because I’d never before seen the Murphy Windmill, which was built in the early 1900s, to replace the water hauling wagons that used to manually move water through the park to keep things alive. The largest windmill of its type in the world, it used to pump up to 1.5 million gallons of water a day.Then across the road, at the west end of the park, are beaches that are also part of the Recreation Area.And this was the scene, as I now started cycling toward Half Moon Bay. Ocean on the right, and civilization on the left. And the road was nice and level, and my legs were enjoying a little holiday from grinding hill climbs.All the way down the coast, people were stopped at and enjoying the beaches. I paused to watch a bunch of surfers attempting to surf, and it reminded me of the amount of time and effort my dad used to put into trying to catch a fish. He put so much into learning techniques, making lures, getting his tackle together, finding the right spot, etc. Then, after all that, he would go out at just the right time of day and spend hours patiently waiting for a fish to come along, which usually did not happen. Very similar to these surfers waiting for waves and never really catching them.A coastal bike bath took me off Highway 1 for a few miles, then before I knew it, I was at my campground.
Tents were set up at all the hiker/biker picnic tables, so I approached a gal, who appeared to be camping alone, to see if she would mind me camping nearby.
After talking to her for just a couple of minutes, I knew she was Noor, a cyclist from the Netherlands, who I’ve heard about from Viktoria, Talan and Mary. Noor is on an 18 month sabbatical from her job as a tissue donor doctor, to do some bicycle traveling. She’s been on the road since May, and is cycling down to Patagonia. Now that’s ambition!
After eating dinner, we watched a spectacular sunset unfold, together, then I headed out for my campground shower, while she turned in for the night.