With the amount of pop culture I imbibe on a daily basis, I enter a lot of new experiences with prejudices and feelings related to what I’ve seen in movies and TV. The places we’ve visited on this road trip, places I’ve never been before, didn’t always feel so exciting and new because my idea of them had already been infused with a particular pop culture commentary. My mind drifted to visions of Brokeback Mountain at every horse farm we passed in Wyoming, I consistently compared the Redwoods Forest to Jurassic Park, and I was sorely disappointed to not find a single character from Portlandia in Portland. I wonder if living my life so much in the minds of others prevents me from having a truly unique, personal experience. It’s not too different from my compulsion to recite a Simpsons quote whenever it’s the tiny bit relevant.
I suppose this self-analysis started forming when we crossed over the Golden Gate Bridge and I couldn’t stop singing the Full House theme. I think the West Coast, and California in particular, has been the most sullied by my pop culture addled mind. I’ve barely seen any of the state, and yet I keep on comparing it to this pristine place in my imagination. I’m hoping that over the course of a week, my experiences will trump my idea of it.
We take a trolley car down to Fisherman’s Wharf, where Google told us we can see sea lions lounging about at Pier 39. In Q’s quest to see as much wildlife as one human possibly can on this trip, subsequently filling our cameras with nothing but animal pictures, Pier 39 becomes our first and most crucial stop in San Francisco. While we sit and watch the harem of sea lions play on the docks (that’s right, harem, I Wikipedia’d it), I glance over the hilly roads of San Fran and suggest that we walk back to Union Square instead of waiting in a long line for another trolley car. Big mistake.
How anyone who hasn’t successfully completed multiple Iron Mans can traverse the mountainous roads of San Francisco is beyond me. One single block of hilly terrain must be 100% in grade, though Google is trying to tell me that the steepest road in the city only gets up to 40%. Statistics, shmatistics, I say; traveling a couple blocks uphill from the Fisherman’s Wharf area feels like a human version of that yodeling Price is Right game, sans a NEW CAR! reward when we reach the top. It’s not long before we discover the bus system, though too late to avoid blistered feet, armpit sweat, and a reminder of how woefully unfit I am.
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