San Francisco

Tall trees and fall leaves

Sometimes at the end of a week – taking into account the myriad of little or large highs and lows, the eclectic spectrum of people we’ve met and the variety of landscapes we’ve seen – it’s difficult to remember all the details. Then we look back through our photos and smile at the memories, the experiences, and the pleasure of another week’s achievements.

For example, how long ago it feels that we were extracting ourselves from the clutches of San Francisco, which may not be a particularly big city when it comes to population size but certainly seemed sizeable enough when it came to finding a good hitching spot. Around eight miles later, we made it to the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, a very special landmark to stroll over.

IMG_8027


And then we were off, journeying into wine country and through towns preparing themselves for Tuesday’s (4 Nov.) mid-term elections. The calls were various: Tim Meinken for City Council! Yes on R! No on 98! We weren’t always sure what the letters and numbers meant, but we were sorry that we couldn’t help these ladies by voting “No on P!” (which turned out to be about ‘fluoridation’, which we were none too sure about either).

IMG_8055 

Onwards, ever onwards, and into redwood country. WOW. There are not many words adequate to describe the sense of awe and wonder when surrounded by such ancient and giant trees as the redwoods. We were very lucky to have several drivers take us off the highway so that we could explore the forests at a more appropriate pace, and we craned our necks as far as possible to take in their lofty grandeur.

Spot the human.

Spot the human.

The time was drawing near when we would have to bid farewell to the Californian coastline and start heading inland, but before we did that there was still time to see bewitching fog rolling over the ocean, a herd of elks having some down time in a car park and an interesting collection of artefacts in a Native Indian museum. Thank you to David for making all of that possible.

IMG_8210

Sporting a beard that Steve can but dream of… And a music catalogue to boot. You can check out this Alabama rocker’s tunes at http://www.davidshaneduke.com

There were several route options available as we continued north, and our inland direction was prompted by an invitation we had to uphold: visiting Jim and Suzanne, American friends who live in the town of Redmond in Oregon. En route, we accepted what turned out to be one of the more bizarre suggestions of recent times: to visit hot springs, primarily frequented by naked people. (You’ll forgive us for withholding the photos).

Our day off with Jim and Suzanne was a wonderful time of enjoying yet more of the natural beauty America has to offer. Redmond is located in an area known as ‘high desert’ – just think of your typical idea of a Western film and you’ll get the idea. Our hike around local beauty spot Smith Rock afforded views of daredevil rock climbers, the Nike owner’s luxury pad and a rock called “Monkey Face”.

IMG_8283


Finally for this week, we have come to Oregon’s main city called Portland. Renowned for its liberal and arty feel, we have made an effort to sample the plethora of tasty coffee, beers and food on offer, guided by our friend-of-a-friend host, Josh. We have also been wooed by the delightful colours of autumn all around – it’s a lovely time me of year to be passing through.

It seems like an unwritten rule that a man can't be a resident in Portland without an excellent beard.

It seems like an unwritten rule that a man can’t be a resident in Portland without an excellent beard. Hats off, Josh.

IMG_8329

Total number of lifts: 361
Week Thirty-Three distance travelled: 857 miles/ 1379 km
Total distance travelled: 22,647 miles / 36,446 km

IMG_8335

Flirting with the law in a country not built for hitch-hiking

To most Americans, our struggles while hitch-hiking this week will not come as a surprise, but perhaps the manner of our struggles will.

You see, we have had no problem finding willing American drivers. Quite the contrary. Our problems have been a result only of infrastructure and legality.

There just aren’t any good hitch-hiking spots here in the USA. Freeways are fast, highly populated and multi-laned, and gas stations are off the main road. The best alternative we have found is freeway entrances, but these come in all shapes and sizes, and can be very popular or hardly used.

IMG_7810

At one such spot this week, on the edge of the tiny town of San Miguel, we waited for three hours and were assured by two separate passersby that we had zero chance of being picked up in the next two weeks and had better walk on the freeway.

The concept was in no way attractive and most certainly illegal, but we felt we had little alternative.

IMG_7851

An hour later, we were picked up on the hard shoulder by this crazy lady:

IMG_7854

Thanks Caitlin.

Caitlin left us at a busy freeway entrance on the outskirts of San Jose, just 50 miles short of San Francisco. We were feeling much happier.

But then something strange happened… A policeman approached on his bike, dismounted, flicked on the flashing lights and reached for his baton.

“You’re breaking the law,” he informed us gleefully, as he swaggered towards us.

“Oh, are we? I thought it was OK on freeway entrances,” Steve replied.

“Look, we can argue about this all day, but the law’s the law,” he said.

The man’s odious and officious nature was hard to stomach, but we held our tongues and called it a day.

The next day, we found a different freeway entrance and successfully avoided another telling off, but as we approach the beginning of a new week, it is rather discomforting to think that our efforts are almost certain to involve a bit more law breaking. It has never been our intention to break the rules, but here in the USA, it seems our very mission is against the Constitution.

…A few of this week’s highlights:

IMG_7735

Hitting Hollywood Boulevard.

Watching the crazies at Venice Beach.

Watching the crazies at Venice Beach.

IMG_7761

America’s somewhat counter-intuitive signage.

It took us some time to work out that this wasn't pointing out a nearby Chinese school.

It took us some time to realise that this sign wasn’t advertising a nearby Chinese school.

IMG_7762

Discovering that here in California, $40 and a bout of anxiety, or just about any bodily ailment, is sufficient for a cannabis license.

Halloween in San Francisco with our generous host, Vijay.

Halloween in San Francisco with our generous host, Vijay.

And seeing the sights of the City by the Bay.

And seeing the sights of the City by the Bay.

Total number of lifts: 342
Week Thirty-Two distance travelled: 508 miles/ 817 km
Total distance travelled: 21,790 miles / 35,067 km

IMG_8021