I hate the f*ing San Francisco. I know that it’s not a popular thing to say, but that progressive, diverse, urban oasis of culture and commerce makes me want to puke. Between the clear air, temperate climate and public transportation, I find San Francisco irritatingly civilized. It’s like that girl in high school with the perfect hair, flawless teeth and impeccable grades. I hated that bitch. Plus, I’m a loyal Angelino, so loving SF just isn’t an option. Contrary to popular belief, LA & San Francisco aren’t exactly friends. We are more like young siblings—we coexist just fine but are prone to constant bickering and fierce competition. Of course, if an outsider dares to dismiss either one of us, we’ll f*ck you right up, but otherwise, we like to pretend we can’t stand each other.
Earlier this fall, I took a road trip north of San Francisco that may just have changed my relationship with my sister city. Normally, when I venture up there, I prepare with my LA armor, ready for the inevitable attack on my beloved smoggy city from the self-righteous, fog-loving freaks up North. This time, I took a road trip between SF, Petaluma, Santa Rosa and back again with Volvo (see my review of the S60 here), so I had to be on my best behavior because of ‘work.’ This meant I did something I rarely do. I let my guard down and something really weird happened:
We started in Sausalito at Cavallo Point, which is situated just over the Golden Gate Bridge at Fort Baker, a former Army post. Let me tell you people, the Lodge at Cavallo Point is flawless. It’s quiet, beautiful and private yet easily accessible to all of the excitement of the city. Plus, sitting on the gorgeous wrap around porch, you’re subjected to awful views like this:
Oh and because it’s in a state park, the area is filled with hiking trails and paths to the adjacent, slightly famous bridge offering plenty more spectacles at the ready.
Next up, the drive. After a brief stint on the freeway, we cut through Mill Valley until we got to the glory that is the Pacific Coast Highway. In LA, I drive on PCH pretty much every day (boo hoo, right?) but PCH up here is a totally different ball game. Southern PCH is a breezy, beachside cruise, but north of SF, this road gets real with precipitous, Big Sur-like plummets. But because I’m a speed demon and pretty sure people don’t die in Volvos, I let my Swedish chariot run wild. It was fantastic. Like someone took my favorite pastime, canyon carving, and decided to include me in the Basic Instinct edition—don’t mind if I do.
Then, as we passed Point Reyes, the magic kept on coming.
We turned on to Route 116 heading towards Petaluma and on this smooth, steady, gorgeous stretch of roadway, I started making of new friends right and left. There was this eccentric mid-westerner:
A white trash cowboy:
A run away trust fund kid:
And an aging, but stunningly elegant English gentleman:
What amazed me about these encounters was that they were just the kind I’ll never have in LA. Sure, I meet a lot of incredible cars at home. But a neglected classic parked on the side of the road? No, that’s not how we do in the City of Angels. We scoop it up, scrub it down, sizzle the shit out of it and then show it off. Much to my surprise, finding these beat up rides was refreshing to me. It was a relief to know that not every classic car in the world is already snatched up by a greedy billionaire, but some are still just chillin’ on the side of the road doing what some old cars are meant to do– just rust.
And suddenly, I saw this drive in a completely different light. Not as something to be ripped up and shredded, as is my default driving mode, but as something to be slowly savored like a stolen Snickers out of your kids’ Halloween candy. So I drove back towards the hotel doing something I rarely do. I let the fast kids pass, drove the speed limit and I made sure to look around and soak it all in. It was beautiful.
Back at Cavallo Point, I was met by a pile of car porn, like an automotive gift basket welcoming me to my new found state of mind.
And suddenly I felt funny. It was like the way I feel when my kid yells at a slow Prius. What was this? Was it love? Was I becoming one of those people who digs the Bay Area? Do I dare? Now that I’m a “grown up” I figure can love it the way I love my adult siblings, I can appreciate our similarities and celebrate our differences but I don’t have to make out with them. And kinda loving SF doesn’t make me any less of a fierce Angelino. And don’t worry, I’m not getting soft. Did I mention that I did some party tricks at the Sonoma Fair grounds in this Polestar?
More on that later..
In the meantime, SF, I’m here if you need me. Just lay off the wedgies..
Great read. I left LA in 1988 and moved to Sonoma County for 18 years. I moved back to So Cal in San Diego 8 years ago. I still work up there regularly and had a studio up until recently in Petaluma. Funny reading your comment about not dying in a Volvo on that road. I ran that road home one night in a Volvo 740 Turbo a long time ago. Almost died hitting gravel and ended up hanging over the edge. Whew, yes I was pretending I was still 19 running Topanga Canyon.
Hwy 116, 1, 12, Coleman Valley Rd… aaahhhhh
Ha! I love those 740