San Fransisco. You can ride this city - taking highways to carry you up and over the hilly streets. Or you may get down on those streets for the urban hike. You can bike, take trains, go by street car, or cab, or add another car body to the traffic flow. Whether you mean to or not, every walk in this rolling place becomes a hike. I could have calves like Schwarzenegger if I traipsed around here long enough. Up and down the steep hills-for-roads, I thought - things could really get away from you here! Strollers, groceries, cars - my sister lost a complete carton of fresh blue berries. They spilled and the city took them from her like an offering. No 10 second rule. People on roller skates must have nerves of steel!
The place is a microcosm with collections of people and things from across the globe, a harbor to world goods, shipping in that we may buy (or some may buy). There's China Town, and Japan Town and The Castro - and even famous corners like Haight-Ashbury where I stood and wondered about that Summer of Love (while eating a crepe) . . . hmmm counterculture, communal living, freedom to do anything! There is the vast Golden Gate park where you wander through forest. You could live there. And some people do.
I was lost often in San Fransisco and I've trekked a lot of cities - La Paz, Lima, Cairo - maybe it's those hills - I had to find places to get perspective and landmarks, but I couldn't always see those. And yes, there is an ocean and a big bridge, but really sometimes, in a maze of house-lined streets ziggy like ric-rac, I could find no sea, no golden gate!
I hung above San Fransisco in the Starlight Room of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. Perched there I could see the city lit up at night, visible miles above us as a rosy glow so that the astronauts and stars may see it too. I was up there to view a fashion debut of handmade dresses - all sewn by one entrepreneurial young woman. They were feathered and silky, short with gauze and crocheted parts (maybe even ric-rac) wrapped around gals who would tell you how they loved them. There was a sudden photo shoot when the dim, crowded space was assaulted by light(ning). When the dark returned so did the crowd's comfort - and they danced.
I left soon after that night. Maybe I've lived so long in small places and cannot love cities. I can stare at them and ride them too, but soon enough I have to get off. So I left for Big Sur hoping to see fewer of the things we've built and more of the nature, and even . . migrating whales.