Part 6: Portland to San Francisco and on to New York and Boston

Finally the rain stopped after ten days, and I slowly made my way along the scenic Oregon coastline south. Sea Lion Cave is quite a spectacle. The cave is at the bottom of a steep cliff, with the waves crushing on the rocks inside. There were around 80 sea lions, which made it rather crowded, with a constant coming and going. Some of the bulls were screaming for attention of the females, and with the roaring of the waves and the strong smell of sea lion droppings it was an intense experience.
What can I say about San Francisco? I think it's the greatest city of them all, beautifully located between the Pacific and the S.F. Bay, with lots of spectacular views thanks to its steep hills, and plenty of parks and green. It does get very touristy in some spots -e.g. Fishermens Wharf-, but those places can be avoided. Just north of the Golden Gate are beaches, Giant Redwood forests and hills to hike that are less crowded. Mt. Tamalpais offers a great view of the Northern Bay. If you want to hang out around seemingly smart people, the nice UC Berkeley campus beckons just across the Bay, a short subway ride away. I stayed a full week, sold my car and had a good time just hanging out.
My camera is unfortunately out of order; I got some sand in it a week earlier on a beach in Oregon, and now the zoom lens doesn't zoom anymore. In fact, all the camera does is tell me "E18", which according to a tech rep means that the zoom lens is out of order (no surprise there), and that I need to send it in for service. But since my trip is coming to an end anyway, this isn't as bad as it could be. (Postscript: Canon Service wants 265 Euro for repairing the camera. Since the new and improved successor model can be had for around $400, I passed.)
I took Amtrak back East -the "California Zephyr" train-, which takes more than three days, with a stop in Chicago to change trains to New York. I opted for sleeping accommodations, which is more comfortable than I expected. I have a two-person compartment to myself, so it's not too crowded, though getting dressed requires some athletic ability, as does taking a shower. The food is quite good -nothing at all like airline food-, and you get to sit and chat with different folks at every meal (though my lunch conversation today kind of stalled when I asked the other guy where he got on board, and the response was "I can't quite remember."). Between meals you can hang out with the other passengers in the Sightseer Car, which sports large panoramic windows on the upper deck and swivel chairs, so you don't miss anything outside. The drive through Utah and Colorado was spectacular (but I'm glad we crossed Nebraska by night :-). After that the route gets flatter and passes mostly through grain fields, which stops being exciting after a few hours, so you do need to bring something to read. There are also leaflets telling you everything you never wanted to know about the area you're passing through. It does mention the odd interesting trivia though, e.g. the site of the first train robbery, where a load of gold Wells Fargo sent East never made it, and the same train got robbed again a day later, and the robbers didn't find a single thing left worth stealing on the train. All in all it's the total Garfield experience: eat, sleep, hang out. They even show movies and have Happy Hour. Recommended.
I arrived a couple days before Thanksgiving in New York, and stayed a full week. NY is cold at this time of year, but I had a number of brewpubs to check out, and the usual plethora of museums to go to. I also managed to see "Punch Drunk Love" -I had so far refused to watch Adam Sandler movies, but this one was quite funny- and "The Emperor's Club", which struck me as a mix of "Dead Poet's Society" and "Mr Hollands Opus".
The last few days in Boston were cold and windy, and mostly consumed by saying goodbye and having several last drinks with everyone. Not much sightseeing happened, but if after living in the place for four years there had still been much I wanted to see, I probably wouldn't have left in the first place...

Pictures

San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge 1
Golden Gate Bridge 2
Alcatraz
A thorough car wash
Guggenheim Museum
Brooklyn Bridge
Boston City Hall
Holocaust Memorial
Trinity Church
 

Brewpubs

San Francisco Brewing Co, San Francisco
E & O Trading Co, San Francisco (Asian food)
Thirsty Bear Brewing, San Francisco (Spanish food)
Gordon Biersch, San Francisco
Chelsea Brewing Co, New York
Heartland Brewery, New York (3 locations)
Typhoon Restaurant & Brewery, New York
New Amsterdam Brewing Co, New York

Links

Sea Lion Cave
Oregon Dunes NRA
Mt. Tamalpais State Park
Muir Woods NM
Golden Gate NRA
Alcatraz
  California Zephyr train
Lakeshore Limited train
Smart-Ass Guide to New York by Dan Meth
Guggenheim Museum
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Prologue | Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Epilogue

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© Ulf Dittmer 2002, 2003