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Arriving in San Francisco

Started: 2016-05-01 20:21:32

Submitted: 2016-05-01 23:08:20

Visibility: World-readable

5 February 2016: In which the intrepid narrator crosses the Great Basin and arrives in San Francisco to start his new job

After spending two days skiing at Park City, I spent all day on Friday, 5 February driving the rest of the way to San Francisco. According to my favorite Internet mapping site, this was 760 miles, which counted as a long hard day driving.

On my way out of Park City, I picked up my cat Willow at the kennel she'd been staying in, placing her carrier box in the space I'd allocated for it, in the seat behind the front passenger seat. She settled into the long drive, though occasionally she fussed and I tried to scratch her head through the bars of her cage.

I followed I-80 west, out of the Wasatch Range, through Salt Lake City, and onto the salt flats next to the Great Salt Lake.

I-80 somewhere in western Utah
I-80 somewhere in western Utah

I crossed the border into Nevada and followed the highway as it wound up and down the minor mountains in the middle of the Great Basin. I stopped for lunch at a sub sandwich shop at a gas station in Lovelock, Nevada, an otherwise-unremarkable Interstate town in the Great Basin. I continued inexorably westward, past Reno, along the Truckee River, and crossed the state line into California. I stopped for coffee in Truckee in the middle of the afternoon (and noted that I appeared to be simply hopping from ski town to ski town), then climbed into the Sierra Nevada mountains to cross Donner Summit.

I followed I-80 as it descended from Donner Summit into suburban Sacramento, through broad forested valleys that looked just like the US-50 corridor east from Sacramento (and that, now that I think about it, were probably carved by similar glaciers in an earlier eon). I drove past Sacramento as the sun set over the Central Valley, and finally crossed Hunter Hill to enter the Bay Area.

As I drove through the East Bay traffic slowed, and Google Maps tried to get me to take a surface street detour, which it thought would save time. With the Bay Bridge -- and San Francisco itself -- approaching, I searched my iPod to find the right music to take me across the bay into my new city. (I had neglected to put together a playlist in advance, though I did try -- and fail -- to figure out what Simon and Garfunkel song was playing in The Graduate when Dustin Hoffman drives across the Bay Bridge (never mind that next thing you know he's in Berkeley, because everyone knows that the top deck of the Bay Bridge goes westbound to San Francisco).)

The first song I picked in my ad-hoc playlist was the song "San Francisco" by the band The Mowgli's, as remixed by Little Daylight. While reading this you should hit play on the embed below (assuming the link doesn't rot). It probably won't quite get you in the right mood, because this song now means many more things to me than it does to you, but it's a good start.

I followed I-80 through the toll plaza and onto the eastern approach to the New Bay Bridge. The open bridge deck was brightly illuminated, in contrast to the old bridge, looming in the dark to my left, slowly being disassembled, piece by piece, shaped a hulking mass of steel trusses forming a cage around the old roadway.

(I always thought the Bay Bridge's western suspension span was by far the more elegant span, but I will miss the starkly utilitarian hulking steel trusses of the eastern cantilevered section once it's fully disassembled and sold for scrap.)

I drove through the tunnel through Yerba Buena Island and saw San Francisco's waterfront skyline, lit up brightly at night, laid out in front of me.

Then I took the exit my phone told me to take and found myself on a maze of little streets, all alike. I drove into the Mission Bay neighborhood and tried to find the office of the temporary housing company my new employer was using. This proved somewhat easier said than done, since the Super Bowl would be played in two days, and San Francisco was the official host city (even though the actual game would be played 50 miles to the south in San Jose), so Mission Bay was filled with official tie-in parties and other events, and the streets were even more difficult to navigate than I assumed was usual. I found the office I was supposed to visit, failed to find parking, and looped around to find an open space where I probably wasn't supposed to park (because if I could park there, someone would have parked there already). I scurried across the street and found a dozen lockboxes attached to the front door. One of them had my name on it, and yielded a key when I entered the code I'd been given. I ran into was another guy trying to do the same thing, with the code he'd been given, and I wished him good luck and headed back to my car to find my new temporary apartment.

I found my new apartment building (called "Venue" for no obvious reason) right where it was supposed to be, at 1155 4th Street, at the very northern end of Mission Bay. The basement and ground floor held a parking garage in the central core. The ground floor also held the main entrance and a modest lobby, the leasing office, and several empty storefronts waiting to be leased and occupied. There were a few apartments that opened onto the street on the north side of the building (on the half-floor 'mezzanine' inside the building), but the rest of the apartments were located on the second floor and above, in a u-shaped structure surrounding an elevated courtyard built on the roof of the parking garage.

I parked and found my apartment, number 308, on the third floor. It contained the RFID tag that would open the parking garage, so I moved my car into my assigned parking space and moved Willow's carrying cage out of the car lot into the apartment. I set out her food and water and set her free. She was happy to be free of the cage, but skittish from being cooped up all day. She found the bed and hid under it, a nice compact space she could control.

Since I would be living by myself, I asked for a one-bedroom apartment. (It was furnished, it appeared, mostly with Ikea furniture; in particular, I specifically recognized the bathroom rug and the kitchen utensils when I finally made it to Ikea myself.) The kitchen was actually larger and better-laid-out, with more counter space, than my kitchen in my house in Boulder. It opened onto a living area, with a small desk, a couch, an awkwardly-placed recliner, and a TV.

I carried my suitcase and a few boxes up from my car, the minimum that I needed to survive overnight, and went to bed, happy to be in my temporary apartment, eager to see what adventures lay next.