Mar 4, 2010

Fake Tales Of San Francisco

Friday 26th - Day 19

"Yeah, I'd love to tell you all my problems
You're not from New York City, you're from Rotherham"

If the weather had been good we would have driven down the north California coast. But it wasn't. It was raining like it would if Noah moved to Manchester. It made us decide to head back inland, but not before looking at the Mendocino coastline again. I know inclement weather isn't everyone's cup of tea but it works for me. Two sugars please! Man, the Mendo coast was amazing today. The sea was a gorgeous jade green, but it was angry. Neptune was losing his rag big time. Huge brilliant white spumes of foam would spurt upwards as the breakers crashed against the rocks with an apoplectic fury. All beneath not a sky but a dark grey blanket of cloud. Literally awesome. And, but for the bone crushing rocks, I could see why the north California Pacific is loved by surfers. We sure weren't in Blackpool.

Each day on this trip it feels like the roads are trying to outdo their predecessors with a mixture of beauty and terror. Sometimes the roads are aided by the dark, sometimes by traffic, sometimes by altitude and sometimes by the weather. Today after 10 miles on the coastal road (Highway 1) we struck inland on Highway 128. It took us through 55 miles of highland Mendocino county wine country and through a massive rain cloud. How massive? I'd say about 55 miles massive. Insane rain. Every river, every stream, every gulch, creek, rivulet and slight crack in the fields were foaming, frothing bodies of boiling cafe au lait. Erosion in action.

We stopped at a vineyard and did a bit of tasting. The cheeky sods were charging 5 bucks a piece for tasting. They should have been grateful to get anyone through the door on a day like that. They did wave the fee if you bought something. So of course I did.
I went for a half bottle of their dessert wine thinking it would be the cheapest option. Wrong. It was the most expensive option. Still the label is very pretty, reminds me of a classic Barclay James Harvest album cover. We got drenched running from the car to the restrooms. Turned out there was only one restroom so we had to share or one of us would have had to get drenched a couple of times more. I'm sure they thought we were up to something.

We had lunch in a town called Healdsburg. Ate some soup from a small unit called Love Farms. Everything they sold they grew. It was cheap and delicious. We got to hold an Ostrich egg. Weighed as much as a head I'd say.

But we couldn't stay. San Francisco was beckoning us. We were going to stay with another Postcarder. To use the Lord of the Rings personality test, most Postcarders would be classified as Dwarfs - grumpy curmudgeons. Our host in Seattle, Zeno, would probably be an Elf, but one who had gone a little astray. However, our SF host Berkeley Mike must be considered a Wizard. When it comes to knowledge of classic rock 'n' roll he's your man. He's seen just about everyone. Been to some of the most iconic concerts of all time. And many of his stories sound like the outtakes from a Cheech & Chong movie. Berkeley Mike is called Berkeley Mike because he lives in Berkeley. Now apologies if you know this, but Berkeley isn't in San Francisco, it's just 15 minutes away but it's a separate city. As is Oakland, and Palo Alta and Napa. In fact, there are 50 cities in the Bay area. Don't believe me? Then click here. I expect there are songs about many/most/all of them. But I'm not going to look them up. We did look at them all, from a hilltop above Berkeley just as the sun slid below the horizon and 7.4 million people were turning their lights on. It was stunning. You can't see a sight like that in the UK. Though you probably can in South America. Maybe Europe. I think it's we, the British and Irish, who are the oddities. We're like Hobbits.

Now in a city, whoops, in a collection of cities, with 7.4 million people there are lots of places to see music. Still we felt very lucky that Richard Buckner (see post about The Showboat Motel Casper Night) was in Berkeley that night. We have a recording from the show. If I get permission then I'll put it up here. But until then let me tell you he was stunning. I spoke to him afterwards and asked him about the Showboat Motel and his night there. He didn't give up too much detail, just that it was at a point in his life when he was living on the road, his stuff in storage and the name of the motel just seemed to be a metaphor for his life. The next line too... "the river's high and losing." Richard is, in his own words "not touring much", I don't think that's his own choice. I hope we're not losing him. He used to be a big enough small act to be on local SF TV.

Volkswagen used a Buckner track in one of their TV commercials. I can't find that ad now but I'm sure it used to be on Youtube. The world has no taste.


  1. honey I want you in the worst way - the way we used to be

    I don't think I've ever considered that line too closely before. That's an all-timer.

  2. That line just recently started kicking my ass too Ward.