OK, for everyone who’s never gotten to walk or drive across the Golden Gate Bridge… this one’s for you. I’ve done both now (it’s much easier to drive it!) On my way back to San Francisco after exploring the small seaside towns of Jenner and Bodega Bay an hour or two north of there, I decided to film my re-entry to urban sprawl. Can’t beat the soundtrack that just happened to come in on cue from the radio, either!
Here’s the leadup to my “Golden Gate” video: After flying from O’Hare to SFO and picking up a rental car early Sunday afternoon, November 15th, I drove to a couple of San Francisco bookstores to sign their copies of The 13th. Then I headed north out of the city on Route 1 (detailed in a previous blog).
I woke up on Monday, November 16 in a small but beautiful motel resort called Rio Villa in Guerneville, CA. I would love to spend a week writing there; in the morning I woke up to find a gorgeous view off the back balcony of a fog-wreathed river and a lower patio surrounded in flowering trees and bushes. I sat on the wooden deck furniture, drank my pot of coffee and used the wi-fi to plan my route for the day.
As I was leaving, the owner, Ron Moore, surprised me with a gift for the road. He’d read my blog from the night before (I’d mentioned when I saw him off the balcony that I’d blogged about what a great place he had).
Ron asked me to hang on for a second after I paid the bill for the night. He ducked into one of the cabins, reached into a freezer and when he came out, presented me with an It’s It ice cream sandwich (if you read my last blog you know that I’d been looking for one the day before!)
Talk about sealing the deal… if I ever get back up that way, you know where I’m staying!
After I left Rio Villa, I drove up to Jenner to see the tiny town in daylight (I’d driven through it in darkness the night before), and was treated to some beautiful views.
The locals live high above the estuary where the Russian River meets the ocean, and many of the roads are single lane “goat” paths with houses dug into the cliff beside. It was quiet and peaceful up there, and I really didn’t want to leave… especially when I spotted the sea lions sunning themselves on the silt where the river meets the sea.
But the morning was getting on, so I finally left Jenner and drove down to Bodega Bay, where Hitchcock’s The Birds was filmed. I took a few pictures of surfers just outside of town, and bought my son a dragonfly “spinner” kite at Candy & Kites before heading inland towards the 101.
I grabbed a great homemade cup of clam chowder for the road at the Valley Ford Market, and 30 or 40 minutes later, I jumped off the 101 when I saw a Borders Books on the side of the road in San Rafael. I stopped in and met a couple of the managers and signed a couple copies of Covenant and Sacrifice… but the store’s shipment of The 13th wasn’t in yet.
After leaving the Borders, it was a race to get across the Golden Gate Bridge and through the city to get my car back to the airport rental car place on time. I made it with barely a minute to spare and then took a shuttle back to the city to check in to a cool room at the Argonaut Hotel (in the old Cannery at Fisherman’s Wharf).
I quickly stowed my stuff and changed before heading down to the San Francisco Center Borders Books to do a signing.
It was great to be back at that Borders (I signed Covenant there last year) and I ran into a number of interesting folks there before I called it a day and walked back to my hotel via the insanely steep Nob Hill (where I found a mint It’s It bar!! Score!!) I stopped at the venerable City Lights bookstore along the way and had dinner at a streetside Italian dinner in North Beach, before walking back to the room.
The next morning I did what I was actually SENT there for – participate in a 5-hour meeting for the dayjob… and then it was back to the airport for the long flight home. Talk about a whirlwind trip of experiences!
When I got home just before midnight that night, I found a couple treats waiting — the DVD of The ZomBeatles movie (which I saw at ZombieCon and promptly ordered) and a copy of Loren Rhoads’ Morbid Curiousity Cures the Blues, a book of amazing true stories culled from the late Morbid Curiousities Magazine. I was pleased to see they used my blurb at the top of the book’s first page – it reads:
“It’s a cliche that truth is stranger than fiction, but this compendium of real-life accounts of the bizarre, horrific and just plain freaky proves it. Heartfelt, heartaching and heart-attack fare all, these stories will haunt you long after the last twisted confession is told.”
Check it out — this one’s worth a read! Several, really.
Just a couple days after I got home, I drove down for another manic signing weekend to Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Louisville. But that’s another story…
I probably won’t get to posting about the second half of my San Francisco trip for a bit, but in the meantime, here is perhaps the best horror movie trailer that isn’t a trailer of all time:
Thanks to Jeff Strand for finding and poaching this first!
Taxis only show up early when you’re not ready. Otherwise, they’re late when you really need to be… on the road!
This morning, my cab was early. He sat in the drive as I pulled my son’s socks on for him since mom was in the shower, gulped a half cup of coffee re-warmed from yesterday’s unemptied pot, and downed a Claritin-D. And then I was off to O’Hare Airport on a Sunday morning… and got there in half the usual time, which means I really could have slept in longer…
How could I have a late start after a week of “staycation”? I could blame Nina Kiriki Hoffman, since I started her latest novel Fall of Light last night and read too late. Or it could have been because I seemed to fill every hour of every day last week with busywork, from putting up the Christmas lights early to planting flower bulbs to clearing out my office to recording about 30 hours of my favorite Internet radio station in preparation for its end of the year demise. More on that in a minute.
I’m in Northern California now, and within two hours of getting off the plane I’d rented a car, stopped at three San Francisco bookstores to sign their copies of THE 13TH, and driven across the Golden Gate Bridge.
I’m on the west coast for a business meeting on Tuesday morning. So why am I here on Sunday? Well, I figured that Monday I wouldn’t be at work since it would be a travel day to be here for Tuesday morning… and given that, I decided to come out a day early on my dime to drive up the coast and spec out some of the area I’m planning to use in my next novel.
Tomorrow afternoon I need to be back in the city to do a booksigning at the Borders in City Center, at 845 Market Street, but this afternoon, after stopping at a couple stores, I drove across the bridge, stopped and took the requisite tourist self portrait and then continued up Route 1 which snakes its way around a series of hills bordering Muir Woods and Muir Beach along the ocean for a good hour before it begins to even out a little. I didn’t count on it getting dark here so early (the sun was gone before 5:30) so much of the view I came to see will have to wait until the drive back in the morning.
I stopped and had a Boont Amber Ale at the Old Western Saloon in Point Reyes and sought in vain for an It’s It ice cream sandwich at the local grocery before driving another hour through some eerie stands of redwoods in the dark before coasting through Bodega Bay, opting to continue on a few more miles to see what Jenner was like (tiny!), and then ulimately heading inland a few miles to find a nice room complete with microwave, TV, DVD player, fridge, coffeemaker, futon and fake fireplace at the Rio Villa Beach Resort. I wish I could stay here a week!
Heck, they even have Wi-Fi, which was a relief. The darker it got as I drove, the fewer radio stations came in. At the end, in Jenner, the only station I got was a talk radio program interviewing military officials about the mistreatment of war prisoners. I definitely had begun to get the feeling that I had left civilization. And then when I stopped to price a B&B in Jenner, I walked through a room of people all dressed in period costumes from the ’20s (some kind of private party). Had I stepped into the Twilight Zone?
The place did NOT have 1920s prices though, which is why I ended up in Guerneville.
It was a great relief once I got my room to turn on the laptop, hook into the net and turn on my favorite internet radio station, Auralgasms. Suddenly the dark and silence and Twilight Zone vibes all disappeared, and I was back in My zone. I only wish I could hear the station in stereo — my left ear has been completely blocked since I got off the plane. Talk about being locked inside your head. I can tell you about internal echoes…
I’ve listened to Auralgasms pretty much exclusively now for 4-5 years, so you can imagine my horror when I tuned in a couple weeks ago to hear that they had started a countdown until the station goes off the net!
What am I going to do when THAT happens? The whole world will suddenly feel like my left ear right now… or Jenner: isolated, dark, remote, disconnected.
Maybe I didn’t need to drive up here today after all. I could have just waited six more weeks and experienced the emptiness in my home office when I turn on my computer to find my musical heartbeat gone.