Tuesday, May 11, 2010

San Francisco Part I

Dear Reader

As I made my way up California St. in San Francisco, I felt like Captain Kirk in Star Trek, “Scotty full power ahead”, “Captain I’m giving you everything she’s got, but I don’t think the ship can take anymore.” My 8.3 Cummins engine was running at full power, the mighty Ambassador struggled to climb the 15% grade. The light changes to red, I engaged the parking brake, hoping it would hold the 34,000-pound RV in place, it does. The light changes to green, I throttle the engine to 1500 rpm, I release the parking brake, and the motor home slowly gains speed. The Allison transmission changes to second gear, the engine roars to life as I pass four cylinder cars huffing and puffing. I turn at Taylor Street; on my right is Huntington Park, an oasis in a city made of high-rise buildings. I am in Nob Hill, a place one can spend $8,000 a month on a flat, the well to do call this place home. The people of Nob Hill are very friendly; they did not mind our film shoot. One middle age Asian woman thought her dog was a kid, as she swung her dog on the swing. Tourist and regulars with their exotic dogs walked by, the bells from Grace Cathedral rang out, today is Sunday, as churchgoers run up the stairs for service. Parking is illusive in San Francisco, the church provides parking for their guest at a bargain price of $11, I indicate “bargain”, parking in SF can easily exceed $40 a day. And that $8,000 a month apartment does not include parking, that is another $300 to $400 a month. This is what makes SF such an expensive place to live.

We move to our next location, a park on Greenwich Street called the George Sterling Memorial Park, just off of Hyde Street. The park has tennis courts and a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge. The parking lot is on a suicide slope, normally I would go all the way forward and then cut my wheel hard left, the incline was so steep, I felt the motor home would continue to go forward and not stop until the front of the RV collided with the wall in front of me. I decided to stay put, we only had two shots and then we would wrap for the day, I cloaked my rear wheels. The sun was slowly starting to set, in a magnificent hues of orange and yellow, in the center of the Golden Gate Bridge was the sun fading to black. Two crew members guided me out of Greenwich Street, and onto Hyde St, a street famous for the San Francisco cable cars, since I was backing up, I needed my guides to block traffic for me and watch the rear end of the RV. A car decides to enter the park just as I back up, bad idea; my spotters dissuade the driver from that thought. I carefully pull out into the busy street, blocking traffic for a moment, I pull forward, I made the maneuver in one arc, damn I’m good.

I engage the exhaust brake, as I navigate the roller coaster like streets of San Francisco, in fifteen minutes we arrive back at the Palomar Hotel on 4th street, I drop off my crew and head back to my base in Oakland.