In 2010, the lady friend and I took a trip up to the Bay Area of California that I have aptly labeled Oaklancisco (Oakland+San Francisco for our slower readers…) It was on this premiere vacation that I first discovered the wind. I’m not referring to the wind that Chicago has become so very famous for (although that was quite present as well). I’m referring to the multicolored wind that Pocahontas was singing about in that one movie.

See, Emma and I would be avid readers of ‘Young and Broke’ magazine if such a publication existed, so it was easier for us to travel without plans because most plans require what we call: “cash money.” You plan to go see a show? $60 each – You stumble into a cool townie bookstore and chat up the old blue-hair behind the counter? $0 total. Make sense? We thought so.

So with the wind at our backs (and our fronts for that matter, the weather was being a right little shit) we got off the BART from Oakland and entered it’s more talked about sister city: San Francisco.  We really only had two ideas of what to conquer. With San Fran being only a mythical city to my Midwestern mind, I merely wanted to ride a cable car – Emma, being a native, had heard of a bar called Top of the Mark that she wanted to attend. This was our simple (read: cheap) blueprint for the trip. A blueprint that, as it would seem, the wind was going to blow out of our hands in the form of…

…a gigantic line of people waiting for the nearest cable car. Literally a line of people about 50 yards long, all waiting to ride a piece of transportation that has been obsolete for decades.

Now, there are very few things that I really don’t like in this world, and right behind “People Who Tweet About How Tired They Are” is “Waiting In Long Ass Lines.” So, while I agreed that this primitive form of Public Transit was incredibly interesting, I’m not gonna waste my afternoon waiting for it to pull up.

So the trip began and, like amateur parasailers, the wind tossed us around the city at it’s every whim and desire. We had little say in the matter. We marched blindly through the rain and stumbled upon all kinds of unknown treasures. First a brewery annex of one of my favorite micro-brew companies (1 PM beers anyone?), then a hike up to an observatory tower where we saw Alcatraz just like the inmates did, through barred windows (our windows happened to be in Coit Tower looking out across the bay but it’s pretty much the same, right?). Our stumblings continued to a shop overflowing with taffy, the bookstore that birthed Jack Kerouac and the restaurant where they shot The Godfather. All of these destinations were more or less surprises and cost us a total of about $25 (as usual, most of that was spent on beer).

Eventually though, the rain was too much and we decided to head home. Far from the nearest BART station, we started what was bound to be a wet, cold and miserable walk. Then, as if to taunt us, a cable car approached with no bus stop in sight. Our wet heads and tired legs watched longingly as it clunked on by.

And then something magical happened. Out of nowhere, a woman ran out into the street and just jumped onto the cable car!  “But there’s no stop here” I thought. Not wanting to wait and ask questions, we followed the woman – who must be the wind personified – and we jumped onto the cable car with her. Standing there, we couldn’t help but feel victorious. Not only had we escaped the rain but we had thwarted all of those fools waiting in line who, no doubt, were Tweeting about their discomfort. However, much like Joaquin Phoenix’s rap career, this feeling of triumph was short lived. We looked out to the street to see that we were now traveling in the exact direction we had just come from. Crap. A brief check in with the conductor confirmed our fears – we were traveling away from the nearest train station. Crap confirmed.

Well, at least we had gotten onto a cable car. A small victory. So we rode the car for a short while, drying off, resting and getting further and further from our final destination. At least we had completed half of our two-item list. Finally, with the bittersweet feeling of marginal success, we jumped off the cable car a good many miles from the station and headed back down the hill.

It was at this moment, that Emma walked under an awning that would live in infamy. I went to take her picture and saw that the awning read “Top Of The Mark.”  That’s right, the only other item on our list. We had no idea where it was when the trip started and here we were. Completely by accident? Or delivered here by the will of the Bay area winds?

I have no idea. I just know that we took the elevator to the top floor where we found the lounge bar looking out over the whole city. We ordered our drinks, relaxed and toasted to the wind. Taking solace in the fact that our daunting task list for the day had been completed.

And thanks to the wind, San Francisco will remain a mythical city. At least to my Midwestern mind.

And it warrants asking – Hey Chicago, can your wind do that?


-       dc


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