Monday, May 07, 2007

haight to the ocean

Haight St remains the hippy centre of San Francisco; a long, straight road climbing parallel through the centre of the city and lined with amazing little shops - one gets the sense that it's more of a tourist destination than a still-thriving community (there are whole shops dedicated to selling Grateful Dead T-shirts), but it still yields remarkable finds; little boutiques selling fiercely original stuff, record shops with indie rock sections the size of a small Sainsburys supermarket, and the occasional stoned old-timer for whom the universe is perpetually 1967. I stopped at a store selling art materials - as much to cool down as anything - and overheard the shop assistant warning a customer to be careful of the guy looking round at the back of the shop, because 'he's on acid'.

Once I had walked the length of the road I stopped to hire a bicycle and rode through Golden Gate Park until I hit the ocean. It was a long ride, and I remember noticing after a while that I had done a lot of freewheeling, it dimly registering that an uphill pedal on the way back would be required. It was, but that scarcely mattered. Half an hour in, despite the blue sky, it began getting really windy, and then suddenly I turned a corner and saw the Pacific. I wheeled my bike down onto the beach and ran my fingers through the fine sand, amazed to be there.

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