"Sittiní on the dock of the bay, watching the tide roll awayÖ"
Ė Otis Redding

TODAYíS ROUTE:
Berkley, CA to San Francisco, CA: SR-13 West to I-580 North to San Rafael Bridge past San Quentin, Sir Francis Drake Boulevard West though San Anselmo and Fairfax through Olema to Point Reyes Bear Valley Visitor Center, SR-1 South along San Andreas Fault to Stinson Beach, continuing past Muir Beach to Muir Woods Road North to Muir Woods, back to SR-1 South to Tamalpais Valley through Saulsalito to Bunker Road West to Marin Headlands Visitor Center, back to McCullough Road to Conzelman Road to US-101 South across Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco. (
MAP)

THE DETAILS:
San Francisco is one of the greatest cities in the world, and probably my favorite place on earth. There is so much to do here, so much to see. And Iím going to try to do most of it in one day. Here goesÖ

Point Reves National Seashore is the first stop and the first stamp. Iíve been here before, to this peninsula north of the city with its long beaches, tall cliffs and dramatic lighthouse. But Iíve never walked the Earthquake Trail, a mile walk along the San Andreas Fault. Thereís a fence across the fault line, built before the great 1906 earthquake. Itís now cut in half and the two sections gap apart by 18 feet. (Thanks for recommending this Jeff and Nora.)

I head south on Route 1 and stop for an early lunch at the Parkside Cafť (43 Arenal Avenue) in Stinson Beach. Driving along Route 1, the California coastal road, gives me a special feeling. The power of the Pacific rises up these steep cliffs and lifts me up. Heading towards San Francisco, down this road, Iím reminded of the opening credit scene from the 1978 film "Foul Play" starring Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase. Goldie is driving down this road in her yellow VW Bug when she picks up that stranger with a broken down car. The camera pulls up to reveal the city across the bay and Barry Manilow breaks into "Ready To Take A Chance Again." Itís a special moment.

A turn in the road and Iím at my next stop: Muir Woods. Iíve been here before also, to this special grove of majestic coastal redwoods, but I still take the hour loop trail. This "best tree-lover's monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world", as John Muir described it, is just 45 minutes from downtown San Francisco. It would probably take less time on a motorcycle. I remember thinking when I came here for the first time how great it was, being so close to the city. I was living on LaGuardia Place in Greenwich Village at the time and I though to myself "What is 45 minutes from where I live?" And the only thing I could come up with was Harlem.

Muir Woods is also part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the largest urban park in the world, covering 77,000 acres and 28 miles of shoreline around San Francisco. And of course theyíve got a stamp for that. But I find out that the GGNRA also contains seven other sites around the bay, with seven other stamps. So my next stop is the Marin Headlands, just a bit further down the road. The views across the harbor entrance with the Golden Gate framing the city and the bay are simply magnificent. I soak up the vista for about an hour and then head across the bridge.

So Iím finally in San Francisco, my favorite town. Hey, I do love New York too. But I also hate it. And this town just doesnít give me any bad vibes. It took me 59 days and almost 18,000 miles to get here. Thatís got to be some kind of record. I think Mike Kneebone once rode his motorcycle from New York to San Francisco in something under 48 hours.

Just over the Golden Gate, are Fort Point and The Presidio, two more historic sites and two more stamps. I walk around the fort, climbing to the top, and get some interesting views of the bottom of the bridge. From there Iím off to the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park and Fort Mason, right next door. The Maritime Museum is very impressive, filled with beautifully detailed ship models, and six actual historic ships parked right in the harbor. Itís been a great day. I actually got two more stamps than I planned for and got to see a load of great stuff. So, thatís what happens when you wake up early.

My home for the night is the apartment of Toby Young, in Russian Hill. Toby, an expatriate from New York, works at Farallon Capital Management, Inc., an investment firm in the city. Her place is very nice with an incredible wrap around bay window and million dollar views of Alcatraz and Coit Tower. Sheís also got a garage, and Iím quite thankful because itís very difficult to park the bike on these hilly streets. Basically, Tobyís got no reason to ever move again, and if thereís an earthquake sheíll be pretty well off. Everything in Russian Hill is built on solid rock, as opposed to the mud and fill of the Marina District, which suffered the most damage in the 1989 quake ten years ago this week.

Speaking of the Marina, itís our destination for the evening. Kelly Breen has organized a little dinner party for me at a place called Cafe Marimba and Iíve invited everyone I know from the area. In attendance are Toby and Kelly, of course, along with Leigh Threlkel, a former Classic Sports colleauge; Julie Weinstein, a friend from New York who now works for The Gap out here; Diana Dyer, who went to Millbrook with me and is expecting her first child around the day this trip ends; and Geoff James, the husband of another Millbrook classmate Sandy Holbrook. Sandy couldnít make it, and we wonít delve into the details there. Letís just say that she knew about this 3 months ago and sheíll probably never be able to make it up to me. Oh well, Iíve got plenty of other friends.

Just kidding, Sandy.

THE DAILY TAKE:
Miles Today: 100.8
Total Miles: 17,669
Time on Motorcycle: 3Hours 25 Minutes
Average Speed: 29.5 MPH
States Visited today: 1 (CA)
Total States Visited: 32
National Park Service Passport Stamps: 8
NPS Stamp Totals: 134 Stamps, 29 States
Weather: Clouds turning to Sun
Bay Area Population change, in percent, since the 1989 Earthquake: +14%

SEEN ON THE ROAD:
"Smile! Youíre at Mr. Smileyís." Ė Kevin Spacey as Lester Burnham in American Beauty.

RANDOM PASSINGS:
"American Beauty", the new Kevin Spacey movie is playing at the Century Theaters on Chestnut Street in the Marina District, right near where we all had dinner. Iíve been hearing so much about this film that I had to see it the first chance I got. Friends have been telling me itís the best thing theyíve seen in years. So after dinner, I went to a late show and convinced Julie to join me. I was thinking about how tired Iíd be tomorrow and how I had so many journals to catch up on, but it didnít matter. I had to see this movie.

The film is wonderful. Yes, it is very dark, and disturbing, but it is also so insightful and truthful and funny and surprising and brilliant that Iím telling you right now to stop reading this and go see it. The tagline reads "Look Closer." The film is about looking at the world and seeing what incredible beauty there is, and finding beauty in places you wouldnít expect it. And itís about risking everything when youíve got nothing to lose.

The impact of this movie will stay will you for a long time after the credits have rolled and youíve left the theater. Do me a favor. Go see it and then call me to talk about it. If you donít like it Iíll give you the Neil Leifer guarantee, and pay for your tickets. Youíve got nothing to lose.

 


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