More San Rafael nature, before San Francisco

11/18/21

I had one more day back in San Rafael today, before my San Francisco adventure begins tomorrow. I mostly took it easy, relaxing and chatting with my very interesting host, who has been a political activist and labor union attorney for decades. He is currently focused on climate change, and specifically working with California labor unions on addressing climate change.

After a good chat and some good snacks, I did head out to explore the nature around San Rafael for a bit. The bay looked beautiful from the waterfront park area near the house, and then I checked out a very small portion of China Camp State Park. (The Doobie Brothers’ China Grove played involuntarily and relentlessly in my head all day—every time I was reminded of the park’s name—for better or worse.)

This park exploration involved a bit of “off-roading,” which I rarely do. The Brompton isn’t designed for it (it’s a London commuter bike by design, meant for city riding and folding to take on the Tube) and mountain biking has never been my jam anyway. But I braved a bit of it today, walking the bike up the steepest and most uneven terrain. I got to some amazing views at the top of a hill, then gingerly alternately rode and walked the bike back down the steep and rocky slope into a neighborhood. I stopped to rest for a bit in a neighborhood park, then went back to the house, via what I thought was a shortcut, but which turned out to be a very steep hill. (They are ubiquitous here!) Rather than turning around, I challenged myself to climb it. After a few rests, I made it to the top, and along the way there were some cool clumps of trees in traffic-calming islands. The descent was once again kind of scary, even on smooth pavement, but I rode the brakes and made it back to the house.

My hosts were heading into the city for a fundraiser concert tonight, and were willing to tote me and my rig along with them in their car, so that I could avoid the rigorous ride and climb across the Golden Gate Bridge. Driving across it tonight was my first time experiencing the bridge, and it was as beautiful as I had expected in the nearly-faded daylight. I’m looking forward, though, to going back tomorrow on my bike (sans trailer) to experience the bridge more fully. I did bike through Golden Gate Park tonight, to get to my next Warmshowers host, who lives in a charming house built in 1936, the same year the bridge was opened. (The bathroom tile—which I assume is original—is wonderful!)

I was feeling a bit lonely tonight, since it’s been very difficult for me to stay connected to existing friends. I’ve been socializing nonstop on this journey, in person with new people, and I love it. But it can be overwhelming, and it’s a lot to take in, energetically and informationally. Meanwhile, I miss the feeling of connection to my friends and family. I put out a post on Facebook tonight to see if anyone was up for a phone call, and ended up talking to a Portland friend for an hour, which felt great.

Now it’s time to sleep. Tomorrow, I’m excited to see the bridge, the park, and the city in daylight!

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