Told in the collective first person, jointly from Stu and Janell Clarke's perspective.
Narrated Audio Blog
We arrived in San Francisco the day before Halloween and intended to stay just two nights before heading south but instead hung around for six days. Who can resist San Francisco, right? A great city is one thing, but what makes a stay "frantastic" is the company. We'd contacted Paige through TentSpace a few days before arriving, Paige had a no bullshit attitude, you wanted to stay with her you picked up the phone and called. We knew from the outset we were going to like Paige. Calling a TentSpace host is actually unusual, most contact to hosts is made via messages, in fact we'd never spoken to a host before arrival in all our prior experience with TentSpace.
Paige was a chef and part time property developer. What a combination, not only did she cook amazing meals, she put us up in a house next door which she had recently purchased to renovate. The house wasn't anything to write home about, or was it? There was limited power and no running water, the walls were rotting with large sections of plasterboard missing and there were plants growing down from the ceiling. A most fitting dwelling to spend Halloween! We did however, only sleep there, we socialised and used the ablutions at Paige's house.
Paige was a busy lady and couldn't spend the entire time with us. For Halloween we caught the tram (with our girls) into the Central Embarcadero Piers Historic District and walked along the foreshore. The effort people had gone to with their costumes was on a whole other level and this was only during the day, imagine what the place would be like at night. But we wouldn't find out, we returned the girls to the house with the intention of heading out to see the nightlife but when we got in our tiredness got the better of us and we got something to eat locally and called it a night.
Paige made sure we saw plenty of the city during her time off and she was well informed on the best new restaurants, coffee shops and exciting activities. Some highlights were a winery tasting in Bonny Doon, Riding across the Golden Gate Bridge, experiencing nitrous coffee and riding Lombard Rd. San Francisco has some very steep and windy roads, lots that haven't made it into the movies. Paige had a 1200GS with a sidecar that she co-owned with a friend, Chris in Mexico and took us (Stu pillion and Janell in the sidecar) up and down some of these more infamous roads. It was a thrilling experience. But after nearly a week of hanging out and getting to know Paige we again needed to say our goodbyes. So it was back on the bikes and off we rode.
While serving in South Sudan Stu had made a couple of friends in the US military and of course promised to visit when he travelled through. Both conveniently enough were called Chris and both were living in California. We made sure to meet up with both Chris's for a meal and drink and talk about old times. Unfortunately there is never enough time with these kinds of encounters but it was good to recall so many good stories even for just a little while.
We made the obligatory visit to Hollywood Boulevard and got photos with the "Stars" but this was only a brief stop enroute to San Diego. One of Janell's cousins had invited us to stay with her and promised to show us around her neck of the woods, and again were we in for some serious spoiling.
Kim was genuinely excited to have us come and stay, she had been a passionate follower of our story since the beginning and never failed to keep up with our activities. She too was very active and as well as showing us the best "hole in the wall" Mexican joints she organised for us all to go kayaking and dog walking and get out to some pretty fancy beachside bars. Kim also decided it was time for Stu to get a haircut, after nearly 2 years. Stu wasn't overly excited about it but Kim didn't really ask, it was just going to happen. It was all a conspiracy contrived by Kim and Janell, but man it was nice to see his handsome head again. Really what chance does a man have against two determined ladies.
We weren't intending to return to San Diego after we departed, our route was to take us down Baja and then by ferry over to the mainland and travel back up to New York via Texas. After a week of good times and good food it was time to say a fond farewell to Kim. Little did we know that we'd be back knocking on Kim's door within a month.
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