HAIGHT – ASHBURY
Last weekend I visited my other daughter who now lives in San Francisco. I had been there a few times years ago and had done my tourist time at Alcatraz, and filled my gut at Fisherman’s Wharf with chocolate, beer and seafood. This time it was more of a walk and talk with a beautiful woman who will always be that mischievous fun-loving little girl in my eyes.
A long Friday night flight, led to world-class Sushi for dinner in Sausalito and eventually the drive back to their home and fall into exhausted slumber. The next morning, we went to some park near Haight-Ashbury, that was on the top of a hill that viewed the Golden Gate Bridge, way in the distance.
We warmed up with a dizzying hike and decided to head down the hill, into the heart of hippie-town. But first I had to grab a few shots of fellow hikers wandering around in the same park. When we look at complete strangers in a foreign place, what can we really know about them? When strangers look at us, what do they wonder? What do they see?
Four guys walking through a park could be old friends, escaped convicts, a burglary crew casing a new job or perhaps they are in a band and they just arrived in town and went for an ordinary tourist walk… same as we did. Maybe, they were in Uncle John’s Band?
As we got closer to the heart of 1960s transformation, we had to stop at the legendary Grateful Dead House; the place where the band did acid, lived together and started a movement that even today resonates with curious existential travelers. Strangely, the week before my trip out there, I unknowingly discovered the Grateful Dead channel on Sirius and had been listening to it all week on my commutes into work.
Here’s the one I like the best…it seemed to go on for ever and ever… like their music probably will. Feel free to play it and listen as you read and view the rest of the blog. I swear you’ll feel like you were in Frisco with me.
As we got closer to the corner of Haight and Ashbury… I passed a woman guarding a motorcycle on hill. She nodded hello as I took the shot. I felt like I had entered some weird time machine where children of the 60s and 70s recognize each other and just nod with the same memories of basement parties filled tie dye skirts and tee shirts, indian blankets hanging from the ceiling, lava lamps and the smokey trails of sandalwood incense dancing through the air.
As I kept on truckin’ like the doo-dah man in a typical daydream, I came across a fairy pushing open a garage door. Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me, other times I can barely see. Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been.
Once we got to the Haight, we ran into a number of characters. This one here was obviously a friend of the devil…and a friend of the devil is a friend of mine.
Further down the road I passed a couple of guys who didn’t appreciate me taking their picture. So I yelled out at them, “the trouble with you is the trouble with me. We got two good eyes but we still can’t see.”
Eventually the street ran out and we found ourselves at a park that was loaded with homeless folks. Deep into the park we came across a conservatory that was loaded with flowers. I wondered if they had any Scarlet Begonias, Sugar Magnolias or any blossoms blooming.
We left the Conservatory and the park and I was goin’ down the road and feeling bad. I was tired and hungry and on the way back to my daughter’s home we stopped at this great restaurant where the water tasted like wine. Drunk and exhausted we went home, relaxed and decided to watch some movies.
Here’s a trailer from the one we saw… it was actually kind of fun to watch. We fell off to sleep, speaking to each other in terrible english accents.
The next day we woke and headed over to a Palo Alto landmark called Philz Coffee. They make each cup special for each customer’s taste and preference… and it was glorious. The place was filled with smart people drinking delicious coffee, while working on Apple lap tops, and face-timing with relatives from around the world.
We toured the streets while drinking our coffee and I grabbed a few random shots where ever I could of what ever I could.
Last stop was the Stanford Campus before they took me back to the airport. I collected the requisite archway shot and when I walked out into the square the sun was setting oddly at the precise point above the chapel behind the cross. I smiled to myself and felt extremely Grateful for my beautiful daughter and this wonderful weekend.
I thought this might not be the greatest story ever told, but I had got what I came for and was ready to go.