Monday, June 4, 2012

"I left my heart in San Francisco"

It certainly started on a rough note.  However lovely the ride on Golden Gate Bridge may be, it is still a rather wide bridge that forbids easy view of the crystal water beyond the faded red of the railings.  Later, when we made it to the various vista points, we were disappointed once more by overcast skies and benevolent fellow tourists who offered to take our picture yet inexplicably neglected to include the massive bridge behind us.  Circuitous roads and confusing directions and occasion disagreements with the GPS caused us to miss Golden Gate Park entirely.  Admittedly, tension was high at this point, but it was nothing a good sandwich couldn’t cure for the Decker men.  

Thankfully, we found a nice couple with better photography skills at the second vista point.

We recovered from our Golden Gate folly at Boudin Sourdough Bakery, a local bread bakery and factory famous for creating San Francisco sourdough French Bread (  This is one of the many food joints Dug recommended for this journey, and despite our failure to try out the Bellagio’s legendary buffet in Vegas (I’m sorry!), I think we made up for our indiscretions with this place.  Naturally, the bread was fantastic, and memories of our delicious lunch actually brought us back for dinner later that night.  Next time, though, we won’t forget to order soup with our sandwiches (this is probably the one and only time Bill will make that mistake!).  This bread begs to be dipped in clam chowder or tomato soup.

With food in our stomachs and liberation from the car, we happily wandered Fisherman’s Wharf—San Francisco’s northern waterfront—in search of something to do.  We walked long rows of seaside shops filled to the brim with garish statues, obligatory San Fran merchandise, and disheveled art prints that vaguely reminded us of Ocean City.  But before we were disillusioned by the been-there-done-that feeling, we discovered the ferry, purchased tickets to Sausalito (a neighboring city across the San Francisco Bay), and boarded the boat for another Californian destination.   

This is my favorite picture from the day.  I took so many from this angle, but it wasn't perfect until both sailboats were in the frame.  I had to fool around with the image settings after I noticed my camera lens was smudged in two different places(!!!), but I think it turned out well in the end. 

The view of Sausalito from the ferry.

The first thing you notice about Sausalito is the diminutive size of the town plaza.  You walk a quick block away from the ferry and you're already in the heart of the town pulsing with tourists, hordes of teens, and sun-tanned locals.  We surveyed the buildings along the central strip distinguished by flashy colors and unique architectural designs featuring large open windows, solid oak doors, and busy interiors, but we mostly focused on the art galleries.  We were particularly drawn to one gallery that highlighted a flat sculpture of North America made out of license plates.  It was a cool $12,500, but I think I'm going to start collecting abandoned license plates to make it for myself.  Looked easy enough...

One of my favorite moments, though, came at the end of our brief walk through Sausalito.  On the way back to the ferry, I noticed one of the local performers playing his guitar with a small dog resting between his arm and chest and the curve of his guitar.  He was explaining to a few passersby that his pup, an adorable dachshund named Diamond, was the real entertainer.  He showed the crowd that she would bare her teeth and get very perturbed if anyone said the word "toothbrush" or showed her "the claw"--a menacing hand gesture.  After this comical demonstration, he asked the crowd if anyone wanted to hold Diamond while he played music...there was a moment of silence...and then I scooped her up and sat down to listen to the next song or story.  Of course, for those of you who are unsettled by the fact that Diamond's owner/dad literally compels her to be angry--possibly scared--never fear!  When his patrons walked on and he was left alone with her, and when I joined dad in the line for the ferry, I watched him whisper in her ear, tell her something sweet, serve her water, and then take her for a walk.  She is loved.  They are happy.

The next hopelessly touristy thing we made sure to accomplish was a ride on the San Francisco cable car.  We waited in line for just shy of an hour, but the experience proved to be worth the wait.  We elected to stand on the outside of the car, holding on by the railing as the cable car climbed and dipped through tall city hills and steep concrete valleys.  It took a minute or so to feel fully acclimated to the rush of the car and the force of the curves, and we narrowly missed contact with the opposing cable car passengers coming at us from opposite directions.  Yet, we saw the better part of the city in less than 30 minutes, and by the time we were done, our stomachs growled once more.  

As I mentioned before, we returned to Boudin's Sourdough Bakery for dinner...probably the most decadent dinner we've both enjoyed on this trip.  It was the kind of meal I'm sure Jon would have hated to share with me, for I was lost in one of my dreamy stupors of deliciousness that often result in unseemly murmurs and moans.  I sweetly devoured the Sourdough Gnocchi Al Pesto with Lobster, and dad dined on the Wild Caught Halibut after he finished his clam chowder bread bowl (win!). 

The day should have concluded with dinner, but I made sure to reunite with at least one friend on this road trip, and that friend is Aliza.  I first met Aliza when I was still very much a kid studying abroad in Oxford, England.  We bonded over our love affair with our tiny school building's computer lab.  We, with a small band of computer lab regulars, exchanged funny YouTube videos, music, stories, disappointments, and recent class gossip while we fervently composed our papers and hoped to God that our professors wouldn't see through the pages and pages of eloquent bullshit.  We became fast friends, but life, obligations, and very different states kept us apart for four years.  After a chance reunion in New York earlier this Winter and our brief conversation yesterday in San Francisco, I think it's safe to say that we're making sure another four years doesn't come and go without another one of these pictures.

June 2012

January 2012

November 2008


  1. Matthew! What a fantastic writer you are! I mean, this is not the first time I have been utterly impressed by your eloquent writing BUT it has been a long time (too long) since I have had the pleasure of indulging in it. Bravo and I cannot wait to read more!

  2. Matt, Sorry I have been tardy in my comments ...
    I don't know where to even begin! First let me say, I am so jealous!!! I could have totally gone & been your part time photographer. Part time because you need someone reliable, English speaking & able to take pics of you & Bill with important elements in the background, hello, I am your girl... So next time... Second, You Deckers know how to eat!! My god, all of that food looks amazing! You had me at crusty, sourdough bread! Your photos are absolutely amazing! I love the one that is your favorite also, with the sailboats. Just a perfect shot. I love that you sat down with the dog. That's great! Looks like a terrific city. It's also on my bucket list, so thank you for confirming my hunches on that. Glad you got to see your friend. Boy, she sure is pretty. My second favorite photo is of you on the trolley with Bill. Just another great shot. Sausalito looks like a quaint place. Thanks to you I am adding that to my list. Keep up the good work. ox Chrissy

  3. What's the scoop RE: Monterey & coastal drive day?

    PS - You've made up for nothing