USA Road Trip No. 1 - San Francisco to New York


Saturday, 24 December 2011

Verse 5: San Francisco Day 2 - The Streets of San Francisco Part 2

Monday 4th January. Awoke early again thanks to the remnants of jet lag and 7am feeling more like 3pm. Aaron’s "getting jiggy with it" housemate recommended we try out breakfast at St Francis Fountain diner on York St and 24th in the Mission area, they also recommended Boogaloo’s but we’d already been there so went for St Francisco Fountains.


Very cool original retro, slightly rough round the edges classic diner with booths and tables in the window and staffed by the Kings of Leon. More expensive and not as much choice as Boogaloo’s, good if you want that classic American city diner vibe though – you can tell it’s an institution with locals and it was fun to watch the world wake up and start going about its working day. We even came up with a name for our future band – The GoGo Bats, inspired by some graffiti in the toilets.


Igloo spotted a cheap hairdresser across the road and decided to get his barnet chopped as the Hitler Youth Franz Ferdinand fringe he was sporting was pissing him off. So we popped across the road and were accosted by the friendliest, most healthy glowing homeless person we’ve ever seen. Happy and sprightly he was. Igloo bought a SF version of The Big Issue from him and he gave us a bottle of sparkling white wine (?!!) and waltzed off.  We ducked into the hairdresser and entered an episode of Ugly Betty, a speedy $10 haircut later and Igloo was a new man. Adios hair!

The matriarch of the salon didn’t speak English, only Spanish and gleefully told the Minx that she had a 'pico pico moustache', great thanks for that! She was surely hawking for more business. The Minx bought some Veet hair remover instead and did it herself. Can’t beat a bit of direct honesty, especially when it’s delivered with sucha winning smile and a throaty laugh!


After wandering round the Mission for another couple of hours soaking up the atmosphere we decided that the lure of the famed Big Sur coastline was just too much. We decided to see if we get the car earlier and head out by evening time and spend the night at a hostel down the coast so that we could start Big Sur early and catch a sunrise over the sea. Not that we didn’t like San Francisco but this is a road trip and the urge to move on to the next sight and the next adventure is impossible to resist.

We booked our car in the UK with Alamo. The [reasonable] plan was to go for a mid-price Pointiac G5 but when we picked up the car in San Francisco a day earlier than planned they only had a small ugly Pointiac Vibe or a big fast Nissan Maxima. We got the Nissan for an extra $300. It has a 3,5 liter V6, 290 hp and drives like a dream. A unreasonable dream, but if you are about to spend four weeks in a car, you don't want to spend them in a shitty car. No way José.

We packed our bags and said good bye to our hosts, apart from Aaron – after our Mexican meal on the first day we had managed to completely miss him everyday and we never saw him again as he headed off to Europe for a tour with his band Rupa and the April Fishes, good luck and best wishes to him as he’s a lovely man.

Before driving out of the city we popped into a pizza place (Escape from New York) next to Revolution Café on 22nd. The kind of place with two tables and a counter with slices of dripping, hot, tasty pizza calling out to you, it’s a chain but it’s pretty good, big slices but not to cheap. We just wanted something quick and on the run and it was that in between time when cafes are closing and evening food joints are not yet open so it was perfect and filled a hole.

After swearing at my English mobile for a while and not being able to work out how to dial American numbers, a really friendly behind the counter guy in a coffee shop on Harrison and 24th, sporting sky blue nail varnish and a beard, helped us out by lending us his phone and explaining how to dial US numbers – rocket science!

As the sun was setting, Igloo popped into a T Mobile shop and purchased a T Mobile phone. We couldn’t just get the SIM card as our phones weren’t fully unlocked, although I swear they both are – anyway we had to buy a basic handset for $10 and a prepay contract for $30, still cheaper than using our UK phone.

We set the GPS for as near to Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel as we could get it and then set off. Bye bye San Francisco, good fun for a couple of days. Maybe a summer time trip next time and more hanging out rather than just scratching the surface. An easy drive out of SF in the dark and along the coats road with the sea to our right, not that we could see anything apart from darkness punctuated by stars.

After an hour of driving in the darkness along the apparently picturesque Highway 1 we arrived at Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel, the sound of waves crashing on the rocks, the tang of salty sea air in our nostrils and the hypnotic beams of light from the towering lighthouse.. What a contrast to an hour before. Let the road trip begin. Arriving in the dark is quite exciting, as you have no idea what you will be waking up to the next morning.

We managed to blag a whole dorm room to ourselves, complete with bunk beds and an en-suite bathroom. Better than the private doubles as they didn’t have en-suite facilities. The bungalow that the dorm was in was really well equipped with a big kitchen, dining area and cosy lounge. The lovely lady at the desk was really friendly and after a long and heartfelt conversation about death and love and moving, booked us a slot in the hot tub for 8.30pm. And what an experience that was, the tub was out on a private deck, hidden from view to all but the stars and the sea, the waves tumbling onto the rocks at the bottom of cliffs below us and the powerful beams from the lighthouse reaching far out to sea, the stars  put on a good show and we wallowed in the steaming hot water as the wind whipped around out heads. We emerged glowing some 50 minutes later and fell into our bunk beds and a deep, deep sleep…



  1. I stayed at Pigeon Point lighthouse! With Dani (who I also met in Plakias). When we checked out the manager told us that if we weren't leaving that day they would have asked us to leave anyway because we gave a minor his first alcoholic drink. Not true, he was 18 and Dutch and insisted he'd been drunk loads of times. Obviously his mum who he was travelling with didn't know that...

  2. Shocking behaviour, Jerry. Shocking..

  3. I expect nothing less from Ms Bland

  4. Thanks or writing your trip up, will make interesting reading (will read more over time).

    Phil - West Cornwall