June 04, 2010 GMT
San Francisco

San Francisco was one of the few cities I wanted to visit on this trip as I am mainly travelling between national and state parks and keeping to the more rural areas. I was here once before a long time ago and wanted to revisit some old haunts and reacquaint myself with the city.

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San Francisco Waterfront

The first mistake I made was not checking that my accommodation offered free parking. I was paying $26 per night for hostel accommodation and ended up having to pay a further $12 per day to park the bike. Still, parking seemed to be extra everywhere in the city centre and if I had stayed further out I would have had to ride the bike in each day and pay for parking and probably bridge tolls (There are tolls on the Bay and Golden Gate bridges).

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Alcatraz From Coit Tower

The first evening was spent wandering around Pier 39 and Fishermans Wharf. I didnít remember seals relaxing on the floating jetties at Pier 39 on my first trip to San Francisco.

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Seals At Pier 39

I had arranged to have a bike mirror that I had on back order forwarded to me in San Francisco. I had hoped to get it before leaving Montana but naturally it arrived there shortly after I left. On going to the post office I had asked for it to be sent to I was told they didnít deal with mail collection (General Delivery) and was redirected to a post office round the corner. When I got there I was told that I needed to go to the first post office! Visiting both post offices became a daily ritual.

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Cable Car

The most crooked street in the USA, a block of Lombard Street is on one of the steeper hills at 27%. I wondered how the residents felt as hoards of tourists wind passed their doors. The garages under some of the houses looked particularly challenging to get in and out of.

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The Most Crooked Street In The USA, Lombard Street

Coit Tower on the top of Telegraph Hill offers stunning views of the bay and city as well as displaying an interesting set of left wing murals inside.

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Coit Tower

Reaching the Pacific coast at San Francisco completes the crossing of the USA from coast to coast and it only took 13 months! Iím aiming for the slowest motorcycle trip on record.

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Garmin And I Agree That We Can't Go Any Further West!

While heading for the Italian, North Beach area of San Francisco I was walking through the up market area of Nob Hill and stumbled across an anti Barack Obama demonstration outside the Fairmont Hotel. Barack Obama was hosting a fund raising event there for Senator Barbara Boxer. I would like to point out to the FBI that I was not taking part in the demonstration but accidentally found myself in their midst.

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Anti Barack Obama Demonstration As Witnessed By Non Participating Tourist

Riding out to Lincoln Park, Haight district and The Castro district there were two holocaust memorials, the Pink Triangle Memorial for the Gays sent to the Nazi concentration camps at The Castro and the San Francisco Holocaust Memorial in Lincoln Park. The Gays had it tough as the ones that survived the concentration camps were liberated and re-arrested by the allies as gayness was illegal in those days.

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The Pink Triangle Holocaust Memorial, The Castro

The Haight district was home for many of the hippy generation stars. Janis Joplin had five houses there in succession. Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Grateful Dead and Graham Nash all lived in the Haight as did Sid Vicious. The Psychopath Charles Manson had a house there, Patty Hearst hid from the FBI there and most shockingly, Rudolph Nureyev and Dame Margot Fontaine were busted for smoking pot there. From an earlier time Wyatt Earp, Gunman, Lawman, Journalist and fight referee lived there.

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Lincoln Park Holocaust Memorial

The Palace Of The Legion Of Honour building in Lincoln Park is impressive and has one of the original Rodinís The Thinker statues is in the courtyard. I though there was only one original and that it was in Paris but it turns out that there are about 20 scattered around the world that are classed as originals.

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Rodin's The Thinker

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Palace Of The Legion Of Honour In Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park has a footpath along the cliff top to Landís End which gives some of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge on the city side of the bridge. It was a nice place to escape the big city for a while.

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Golden Gate Bridge From Lincoln Park

I left San Francisco without collecting my mirror that was being delivered to the Post Office (General Delivery). I eventually established that all General Delivery to San Francisco ends up at the same post office (101 Hyde St.) for collection. I will be back in San Francisco next week for a day and will check one last time then. If I ever need to have anything posted to me in future I will choose a smaller town where the post is less likely to go astray.

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San Francisco Pyramid Building

I had to move around a bit to get accommodation over the Memorial Day Weekend as everywhere I tried was fully booked for at least part of the long weekend. As this is my second Memorial Day Weekend on this trip I'm almost in agreement with the Department Of Homeland Security that I have been in the USA too long! The first destination was Montara Lighthouse 25 miles south of San Francisco.

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Golden Gate Bridge Sunset

It was raining quite heavily most of the morning I was due to leave San Francisco but it had fortunately stopped by the time the bike was loaded and I was ready to set off.

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San Francisco Street

I arrived at Montara Lighthouse at lunchtime unloaded my bag then went in search of groceries. Returning to Montara I turned off the main highway to post a card at the Post Office and picked up a rear wheel puncture. Luckily there was a filling station nearby and I walked the bike to it so that I could make use of the filling station compressor.

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My Temporary Home, Montara Lighthouse

I have to remove all the luggage to put the bike on the centre stand. I was then able to inspect the wheel and found an 1.5 inch screw buried till it was flush with the tyre. I have changed tyres and tubes before, sometimes without any problems and on other occasions I have sweated for hours. This time around I got the tube out without any major dramas but found a ĺ inch slit in the outer side of the tube and a number of smaller punctures on the inside as the screw had gone straight through both sides of the tube. I wasnít carrying spare tubes, only a puncture repair outfit and was doubtful that a patch would seal the slit. I put the largest patch I had over the slit and two smaller patches over the inside holes and put a bit of air into the tube. The tube inflated but I didnít have much confidence in the patches holding. There wasnít any other options to get mobile again that day so I installed the tube, refitted the wheel and reloaded the bike by which time as I half expected the tyre was flat again. I put my helmet on, re-inflated the tyre and rode the ĺ mile or so to Montara Lighthouse on the hard shoulder arriving with only a little air left in the tyre.

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Picturesque Place To Change A Tube

It took a good part of the following day to get two buses in each direction to the nearest bike shop in Daly City, buy a tube and get back to the bike. The tube was fitted without any problem but it took ages to blow up with the small hand pump I carry.

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Montara Lighthouse

Montara Lighthouse comprises of a number of Victorian buildings sitting on top of cliffs overlooking a secluded cove beach. There is a cliff top walk to a marine reserve with seals basking on the rocks. It is possible, but only just as I found out, to walk to the nearest town, Half Moon Bay along the cliff tops. As it was Memorial Day Weekend when I was there Half Moon Bay was hosting a free music concert. A Santana tribute band were just starting their session as I arrived so I sat on one of the straw bale seats listening to the music and admiring the ocean view. Santana music seemed appropriate as Carlos Santana lived in San Francisco.

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Californian Coast, Santana Music, It Could Almost Be The Summer Of Love!

From Montara I headed north up the coast spending a night at Marin Headlands on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge was busy with traffic and pedestrians as it was Memorial Day when I rode across. Marin Headlands used to be a military base but the buildings have now been leased to non profit organisations.

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Marin Headlands

I saw my first otter in the lagoon at Marin Headlands on the way to Point Bonita lighthouse which has great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city of San Francisco.

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Golden Gate Bridge From Point Bonita, Marin Headlands

Posted by ianmoor@tiscali.co.uk at June 04, 2010 11:36 PM GMT

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