So I am not sure if acrophobia – the fear of heights – or vertigo – a feeling of sudden onset dizziness – are exactly what I experienced, but both seemed to play a role in my recent overnight trip to San Fran.
The occasion? A birthday trip for my daughter, as she and her friend Kristen, along with myself, headed out for a fun weekend of sightseeing, seafood-eating, and tourist-playing adventure.
Truth be told, I am somewhat of a chicken when it comes to driving on anything more than a couple of lanes in each direction but at my age, that is something I need to get over. Also since we opted for a rental car instead of braving the journey with our in-need-of-some-repairs everyday vehicle, I was the only one old enough (rental car rules) to do the driving. With Siri ready to make sure I got us there, it wasn’t too bad. Traffic was light and easy and there were no tie-ups, thankfully no accidents along our route and even driving over the Bay Bridge didn’t make me too nervous.
After being able to check into our Lombard Street hotel upon our late morning arrival we decided to explore on foot. First up, we just set off for a quick tour around the block to see what was within walking distance. We ended up at Chrissy Field and got some pictures of the Golden Gate from afar, then wanted to find the ‘crookedest’ part, the famous portion of Lombard Street. My daughter used her phone to plug in the cross streets that are supposed to be the best place to view Lombard and get photos and off we went. Since we were relatively close to our hotel already, we figured it couldn’t be far.
Well, maybe not by car.
After what seemed like an eternity of traipsing up one hill, only to be faced with another, we felt like we were going in circles and kept coming back around to the same streets, just a block or two farther away. After more than 90 minutes of futile searching, we gave up. Sat down on the curb to wait for a cable car. Three of them passed by without stopping. Finally jammed ourselves in to one and discovered if we had gone up one more hill and a block to the left, we would have been exactly where we wanted to be. As it was, we could only crane our necks to try and see Lombard’s crookedness as we rolled on by. The cable car dropped us off at the end of the line almost exactly where we started near Chrissy Field so after another walk closer to the wharf, it was time for a late clam chowder bowl lunch before heading back to the hotel.
Then my daughter talked me into checking out Twin Peaks, which she wanted to see at sunset. Never having heard of this tourist spot, I tried to push it off until the next day but she was adamant and it was her birthday trip, after all, so I relented.
Enter the A-V (Acrophobia-Vertigo) monster.
There wasn’t any other way to get there but straight up. Hills that literally made me feel like the car was going to flip over when we got to the top. And had to put on the brakes for the stop sign. Then climb another one just like it. And again. Cars are required to park at a 90-degree angle on those streets. I had a huge fear of our car rolling back into the one behind me when I tried to start out again after stopping at each stop sign. I started putting my left foot on the brake and keeping my right one on the gas, like you have to do with a clutch and stick shift. My hands felt like they were permanently clamped on to the steering wheel and my daughter wondered why I was driving with sound effects.
Apparently I was making unusual noises, which I basically told her was “the sound of fear” because it was the scariest driving I have ever done. Silly, I know, but I was dizzy, nauseated and wasn’t sure I could keep going.
The winding road up to the top of Twin Peaks was a picnic compared to the SF hills. The view, once there, was indescribably beautiful; the city spread out below. I had to admit, my daughter got it right when she wanted to go at sunset. Unforgettable.
I was careful not to get too close to the edge, though, as A-V was still giving me a little trouble.
We took plenty of photos, ooh-ed and aah-ed and thoroughly enjoyed it. Driving back down was way easier for me, though it did feel a little like a roller coaster.
Day two was another trek; this time we started first with brunch at the original Mel’s Diner (a block walk from the hotel) and then a quick shopping tour for tie-dye shirts in the Haight (I tried not to inhale). With the help of Siri, we headed to our final tourist destination: Black Sand Beach at Fort Funston. It should have been called the black sand and dog beach; there were just as many canines as people and again, well worth the drive as we spent the better part of the afternoon watching the waves and the dogs and taking in the sun and the wind, finding sand dollars and photographing nature’s wonders.
It was amazing what we were able to pack into a quick weekend getaway. A real whirlwind trip. You might even call it dizzying.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.