Thursday, May 14, 2009

Can't live without them...

Well, the unthinkable happened. After having my car in the shop twice last month, I didn't think it would happen where my car would return to be worked on, so soon again and so unexpectedly. Yesterday as I prepared to go pick up my sister from work - and leaving earlier than normal as more cars are on the road in warmer temperatures than in colder weather, plus lots of road projects are in progress in the downtown area causing jams and headaches - but the car wouldn't start! The starter was okay but the car engine just wouldn't crank. After a few moments of several attempts, I just gave up. Called my sister to inform her (she doesn't check for messages and didn't hear my voicemail mesages) and called AAA Emergency road services. They gave me an estimated time of arrival at my North Beach location of 40 minutes, so I settled down, made phone calls trying to find a vehicle, etc... when after only 10mins I saw the yellow tow truck coming down the steep hill toward me. I didn't have to even flag him down; he turned on his emergency flashers and drove to my side of the street where the car was parked on the street and instantly went to work.

After a few tries, he simply asked me where I wanted the car to be towed. The AAA service will have the car towed to a place of your choice within five miles for free, so I asked him to take it to a garage I've been using with great results, then called them to advise them of my car problems and that the car would be there soon. This tow truck driver hitched up my car, assembled the little rear tires wheel jack, and faster than I could finish moving out my things from the car, flipped out his clipboard for a signature and took off even before the estimated time he was supposed to be here!!! wow!!! Talk about service!

This morning I rented a vehicle from Enterprise at Fisherman's Wharf, just a quick four blocks from my sister's apartment - it was a tiny 4-door Chevy Aveo. RED - same color as my car!! It's strange to be renting a car because first-off, I usually don't have money to do it. Second, I've never rented a car in my hometown of San Francisco! sigh... I am doing so much here that I never was able to do as a youngster! I did a quick check and adjustments, then drove off. Spiffy power, handled well on the hills and stops, and then I was home. Parked on the street in exactly the same spot as my car when it died on me, then spent five minutes looking for the little buttons to raise/lower the windows, etc. I had opted for a economy-priced car that didn't have electric windows, or electric door locks. Boy, this nice Honda has really spoiled me!! I finally found how to roll up the windows: it has the same devices as in my old car in Spain... roll them up manually in a circular motion!! hahahaaaaa

So, I drove around all over the place while delivering my sister to various medical appointments and running errands. I called and got updates on my car repair and by early afternoon, came the call that my car was fixed and waiting for me. Now, trying to juggle driving my sister here and there, and getting to the garage to get my car before they close, plus turn in the vehicle so I'm not charged for another day! Impossible? Never! Difficult, perhaps... fun and an excuse to walk up hills: YES!!! Her last medical appointment would get her back in the rental car at about 5:30pm, and we were way across town and rush hour was at its peak, BUT still possible. It took 32 minutes driving in streets and traffic that makes a marine boot-camp training seem baby's play, zig-zagging in and out of traffic... but I finally arrived at her favorite place on Lombard Street, half a mile from the garage. So, I dropped her off there, drove to the garage and parked the rental. Did I say I hadn't eaten much over the day previous and this same day? ;-) Got my car, then drove back to the restaurant. Walked back to the garage and got the rental, then drove it half a mile towards the rental car agency at Fisherman's Wharf, about a mile away now. Using this method of "leap-frogging", I succeeded in a very slow manner to get both cars closer to the rental agency to return it a day earlier.

Things along the way... I had to do the last fill-up, so drove to a gas station where I promptly waited behind a sedan with Oregon plates and three girls each trying to get the pump working - with no success. I stepped out and made a joke about customers not needing to pump their own gas in Oregon, to which they agreed, and thus when necessary not knowing how!! We all laughed and I helped them with the credit card and pumping... they were very excited about being in the City.... an hour before while leap-frogging the two cars, I had seen a man walking with a Oregon "O" hat on!! hahahahaa

While parking the rental on a steep hill on Hyde street, a tourist helped me guide the car backing UP the steep incline.... nice tourist - must be from the boonies!!

And finally when parking the rental at the garage's top floor to finally be DONE with the rental, it was a gorgeous view from the top of the garage, so I snapped the below pix with my cell camera!

Dam cars; cannot live with cars and can't live without them!!! But when I live in Spain again, I won't be buying a car!!! ;-)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Flames and Fire

What a busy camera weekend but I love being busy!! The weekend had cleared up and was forecast to be cool in the evenings and Saturday the same conditions but with just a touch of clouds.... just imagine how really great it was to be... cool nights with just a slight haze over the whole Bay Area, with just a bit of wind sufficient to push away both clouds and smoke. To make it better, the waters of the Bay was just about still and it was just a very magical night! But I'm getting ahead of myself so please allow me explain my weekend started with late Friday night.

I drove to Davis - almost a two hour drive in traffic, the first jam being caused by a single CHP vehicle with lights on following a single car which caused 300 cars to drive the speed-limit. Once past that situation, the traffic cleared up drastically so I could make up for lost time.... to get to the campus of the University of California at Davis for their Whole Earth Festival celebration. Upon arrival I thought for a long hard moment as though I was transported to hiPPieLand (once again), or did I drive too far and actually end up in Eugene? hahahahaa Part of their events included two hours of fire-dancers from the area but also coming from as far away as Santa Cruz, so with my passion for fire-spinners growing, I wanted to see and photograph the fire-dancers performing at this event. The weather was great and though I brought a jacket, I didn't even need it! There was a slight hint of humidity which disappeared as the night came, though the flying bugs bothered me now and then during the performances ~ but not enough to ruin the magic I was to witness!

After a brief sight-seeing tour of the downtown area of Davis, I spent the rest of the night at a I-80 rest area, it being so late. Though a car isn't the best place to rest/sleep, it did give me fond memories of previous road-trips... the longest being my four-day road trip(s) to and from Germany from Spain, plus a few trips while living in Oregon.

With not even enough time to download and "process" the resulting images, Saturday night was to be just as busy - preparation and driving to the Marin County headlands and to be walking up a very rocky trail to a mountaintop to the top with the most gorgeous view of the Bay Area, and of my gorgeous hometown as I've never before seen. I went here to see the annual KFOG KaBOOM fireworks display which I've never seen, though I've seen a few other fireworks in SF.... What was to make it special was a full moon rising out of the East Bay hills, through the low fog and behind the fireworks!! It was a sight to treasure forever!!

Seriously, if I died that night I would've LOVED to see San Francisco as I saw it last night - in such a glorious view - from this high and tranquil location! Behind me the sun just set in a most intense and golden sky and the hike had me gasping for air but it was all worth it. I did take note of all those loose pebbles and rocks, and that I would trot down this same trail in the darkness, though I do have a tiny keychain light which has a very powerful blue light and I also ~ just in case ~ took a hand-crank light that I keep in my car.But what an experience this weekend has been - except for Sunday (now) when I have to process all of these image files, spending more time in front of the monitor which I just hate, and looking out the window to the nice day.... it was a fanTasTic weekend!
At our mountain-top location a group of hikers did appear shortly before the fireworks started, standing behind us and noisily watched both the fading sunset glow and the fireworks. Soon afterwards though, they left without so much of a single goodbye - and considering that I and fellow Flickr friend Stargazer introduced ourselves to them, they just left... taking their noise with them. I thought how rude!!!