Monday, October 15, 2007
One Wrong Turn Deserves Another
This weekend Sis and I went down to the City to celebrate Bub's birthday. Gosh, what a gorgeous day it was. The weather was sunny and warm, and there wasn't a cloud in sight. We went to the beach, then into the city to the wharf for a tour of the wax museum and a sourdough bread bowl of clam chowder. It was a busy and terrific day with my two eldest kids!
Every time I drive to San Francisco, I'm reminded of the trip I took earlier this year where one wrong turn led to an epic adventure (soon to be a major motion picture).
First of all, I don't do a lot of freeway driving so it makes me a bit nervous. I do a lot of 2 lane windy highway driving which rarely involves going even 60mph, so when I get on I-5 and the speed limit is 70, it freaks me out a bit. Add to that all the crazy bay area drivers who believe that the safe following distance is somewhere between your bumper and your back seat, and the fact that I have no idea where I'm going, and you've got a recipe for driving hilarity.
Well, my friend and I are on our way to Marin, which in theory, is north of San Francisco, to see the famous Bellydance Superstars. I have my Yahoo map in hand and away we go. As we get closer to the bay, my friend B is reading the directions while I am trying to find the corresponding sign, and then try to figure out which lane to be in. It's kind of like some cruel real-time strategy game. Well, suffice it to say, when the 580 split, I missed it and headed to San Francisco rather than north and around it. B realizes that we're headed to the Bay Bridge, and traffic is getting thicker by the minute. She tells me to take the next right and get turned around, otherwise we're going to go way out of our way to reach our destination. Somehow I manage to convince the other drivers that I'm worthy of moving into their lane, and I finally reach the farthest right lane with an exit in sight. We will be back on track in no time.
As I exit I notice how there is no traffic on the ramp I'm now driving. What a rare and convenient occurrence in the bay area! I drive further and realize there is not another vehicle even in SIGHT on this ramp, and the ramp seems to be going parallel and over the lanes we just left. Hmmmm....Next I notice signs saying Bus Lane Only violators will be prosecuted. So that's why there are no other cars around; I'm on the bus ramp to go over the Bay Bridge! I have to laugh as we head back down the ramp towards the line of cars waiting to pay their toll. Red faced, I maneuver my car through some pylons that separate the bus lane from the law abiding citizens' lane and cut in front of someone who is shaking their head at my obvious hillbilly stupidity. B and I have a good laugh at this, and pay our toll. Whew! I'm glad I got away with that! Thankfully the bus ramp doesn't have cameras to send idiots tickets after the fact, and thankfully none of the other drivers I cut off were packing their guns that day.
B assures me that all we have to do now is go over the Golden Gate Bridge, and we'll be right on track. The exit for the Golden Gate comes up, and off I go. To get to the Golden Gate you have to go through the city for just a bit. I'm looking for signs to follow that are either too small, or hidden, or non existent, because I miss the turn and go straight. No problem, we'll just make a left, then another left and be right back on track. Easy enough, but strangely all the left turns are blocked off. We drive on and notice groups of people dressed in colorful costumes, then we notice floats parked on the side of the road, and realize that they are all getting ready for the Chinese New Year parade. Of all the days to be driving through the city, this is NOT the one. On the bright side we get a kind of drive-by view of the parade.
Traffic is stop and go, and really heavy and we are headed for the Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 tourist trap with no escape in sight. I have to go against all my instincts and start driving aggressively, running through lights at the last second, tailgating, and pushing my car into the lane I want. My nerves are shot, but the views of the city and the Golden Gate are incredible so I try to enjoy what I can. We really have no idea how to get to the Golden Gate from where we are. We can see it, but getting there may prove a bit more difficult especially with the luck I'm having today. I decide the best thing to do is follow a car that seems to know where it's going. I first pick a black Suburban. I have to abandon it after if parks. Then I see a blue BMW. It is driving with an air of authority, so I follow it like it's my mother duck. The BMW is a good bet and we are soon out of the crazy tourist area and headed to the bridge! Hooray!
Somehow we still manage to get to the show on time even after our hour and a half tour of the city. My only regret is that we didn't have time to stop at Ghiradelli Square on our impromptu detour through San Fran, because some chocolate would've done wonders to soothe my frazzled nerves.