Cushioned in the nook with which I have been thoughtfully been provided by my Berkeley associate, whom we’ll call ‘K’ for internet reasons, I can hear the mournful call of the huge trains sidling up and down the Amtrack line which runs up the East coast of the Bay. It’s weird that I can hear them, because they’re a really, really long way away, a fact I know because I walked there today – infinite blocks of an infinite grid, how anyone finds anywhere is beyond me – and managed to get a very mild sun tan in the process (January! California!).
Flanked on one side by the railway, and on the other by the freeway, the discretely-hidden Aquatic Park is a haven for frisbee golf (no idea) and large pelicans (hilarious). The campus of an extremely large pharmaceutical company, spanning several blocks, made finding the entrance impossible for staunch ally ‘J.’ (internet reasons) and I, and a route to the nearby marina – with beautiful views across to San Fransisco – was also counter-intuitive. America was not built for pedestrians. But in the pelicans, which also did a victory flyby for the ferry I took across the Bay yesterday; in the oranges and avocados and sushi I’ve lately been guzzling; in the antiquated aesthetic of the urban transit systems; in the good-natured contentment of every resident I’ve so far met – in all these and more, there is much to admire about this place. I’ve done a lot of sidling down Berkeley’s famous Telegraph Avenue (went into the place that claimed to have invented the latte; had a root beer float). Yesterday I covered several miles of San Fransisco’s mission district, its Nob Hill (actually), Fisherman’s Wharf, the Embarcadero, Fort Mason. I saw trolley buses and Sea Lions. I also nearly died getting lost in the scummier end of the West Oakland docks – my pigeon-like instinctive attraction towards terrifying industrial environments may one day be my undoing – but survived, intact if sore of foot, ready to stroll another day. There’s been a lot of strolling, in short, and despite occasionally resisting it, this landscape has come over very well. LA and the Bay Area are supposed to be opposites, but I find myself bewitched by both, and hope I get an excuse to return one day.