Friday, September 03, 2010

Debbie's Big Adventure - Pacifica

I did something big yesterday.  I drove myself to Pacifica, a few miles south of San Francisco.  It's been over 30 years since I've driven to the Bay Area.  I have been to Pacifica many times using BART and city bus.  Recently I got a fancy phone with talking GPS, which has been giving me courage to venture to new places.  So yesterday I drove the 2+ hours to beautiful seaside Pacifica.

I didn't have any problems driving there.  I just did what the GPS lady told me to do.  Google Maps prefers the Bay Bridge for the trip, but I wasn't quite ready for that.  So before I left home I set up the trip in two parts:  to the San Mateo Bridge, then from the bridge to Pacifica.  I printed directions, too, as backup just in case my phone pooped out, and I was really surprised to see that Southland Mall in Hayward was so close to the bridge.  Really?  I was just there a month ago and didn't know I was right next to the bay.  Wow.

When I was in line to pay at the bridge I switched my destination to Pacifica.  That was my first time driving across the bridge, instead of being a passenger, and it was fine.  I drove past San Francisco Airport, where I'd flown out of several times.  Would I drive to the airport?  I don't know.  I might keep taking BART, which has a station in the airport.  You can park at BART for $10/night, which I'm guessing is a lot less than at the airport.

As I passed Colma, I could see a couple of familiar places:  Seton Hospital where I visited a sick friend last year, and Serramonte Mall where I'd been a couple of times by city bus.  Eventually I got to Pacifica, and as I came down the hill toward it, I could see the coastline and the pier.  I laughed.  I made it!  Now that I knew where I was, I turned off the GPS.  I drove through Pacifica, and saw lots of familar places, but also noticed signs I'd never seen before, such as exits for the various districts.  It felt so different driving versus taking the bus.  I drove past Gorilla Barbecue, where I've eaten a few times, past Rockaway where I hang out most often, and on to Linda Mar where a Safeway shopping center is.  I was hoping to find Jamba Juice near Safeway, but didn't see one, so I stopped at McDonald's and got a Wildberry Smoothie.

Back to Rockaway and parked in the parking lot of Nick's restaurant and the adjacent Seabreeze Motel, where I stay for my quilting retreats.  I sat on one of my favorite benches and sipped my smoothie as I watched the waves.

Views from one of my favorite benches

After a bit I walked over to Hoffmann's wine and snack shop to see Alice, who I always say hello to when I come to Pacifica.  I bought a cold bottle of water and we chatted a little while.  It was several hours till sunset, and I decided to drive to nearby Colma to hang out at Barnes and Noble.  I could come back to see the sunset later.

I had just pulled off the freeway into Colma, when I had a GPS moment of confusion.  The street split in two parts and I couldn't tell which way I was supposed to go, so I just picked a direction.  I couldn't tell if I was going back on the freeway or what.  It was a little scary.  Luckily I was still on a surface street, but the GPS lady was quiet.  What?  What do you want me to do?  Finally, she came back on...taking me past (maybe through) a cemetery.  That was weird.  [I checked the directions later.  Coming off the freeway I missed a hairpin turn and had gone straight ahead instead.  The lady was quiet while she figured out what to do next.  I'll know better next time.]  A minute later I pulled into the shopping center.  I saw Joann's, which was a nice surprise.  Kind of behind me was Barnes and Noble.  I parked about halfway between the two.  I went to Joann's first--didn't buy anything.  Then I went to Barnes and Noble, reading quilting books for a while.

I noticed it seemed to be getting kind of dark outside--earlier than I expected.  I looked out the window and saw fog coming in.  Okay, I wouldn't be able to see the sunset.  Maybe I could go ahead and drive back to Pacifica to sit by the water for a while.  That seemed okay.  But when I left the store, here's what I saw:

No chance of seeing the sunset

It was cold, too, and I didn't bring a sweater.  It would be even colder sitting by the water, so I ditched the idea of going back to Pacifica.  I used my phone to search for someplace to eat and chose Betty Boop's Diner, part of Lori's Diner chain.  They are 50's style restaurants and I've eaten at a couple of them in San Francisco.  Betty Boop's sounded like a good place to go.  It was at the nearby Serramonte Mall, and I used GPS to get me there.  Once in the mall, I didn't see the restaurant listed on the mall map, and I learned from the information desk that the restaurant was no longer there.  Darn.  I considered Elephant Bar, but wanted to spend a little less money, so I ended up at a kabob place in the food court.  It was pretty good.  I'll probably eat there again.

After dinner I drove home.  No problems except for one sudden braking situation on an on-ramp, but it turned out okay.  I'm pretty proud of myself for branching out.  Yesterday's experience was good, so I'll try some other Bay Area trips.  I'm already thinking about driving to the International Pacific Quilt Festival in the San Jose area next month.  We'll see.

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